inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #51 of 85: Connie Rosenblum (crosenblum) Fri 4 Dec 09 11:29
    
Hi, David--

I'm so glad you asked about the wedding photographer. He was known as
Mr. Kirk, and his thousands of images, which his daughter has kept and
protected well, are remarkable in many respects. You're absolutely
right that they are sociological documents. In multiple conversations,
his daughter described to me his extraordinary story, some of which was
the focus of an article I wrote for the New York Times City section,
entitled "The Memory Maker" and published in April of 2002. 

I hope that someday Mr. Kirk's images can be the subject of an
exhibition or perhaps a book of their own. In addition to weddings, he
photographed graduations, bar mitzvahs, soldiers going off to war and
many, many family groups. His pictures give an incredibly vivid and
intimate sense of what it was like to live in this part of the Bronx
during much of the 20th century. I'm grateful to his daughter for
protecting her father's images so well and telling his story so
poignantly.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #52 of 85: Searchlight Casting (jstrahl) Fri 4 Dec 09 13:06
    
Connie: is gentrification actually happening in The Bronx? I've taken
a Google Maps "tour" of parts of The Bronx,noticed a whole slew of
single family homes on Charlotte Street, right by Crotona Park,  
Carter stopped by in '77 and then Reagan in '80, looks like a part of
suburbia transplanted into The Bronx,is this what you are referring to?
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #53 of 85: For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Fri 4 Dec 09 20:00
    
trivial question: my favorite book by fantasy-writer peter s. beagle
is 'lila the werewolf', written in the early 60s. it a sly knowing
pitchperfect novella, set in the nyc of the early folkie and protest days.
anyway, lila is a perfectly normal young woman --- except she's a
werewolf...
anyway, at the denouement of the story (which i wont spoil here), the best
friend of the protagonist makes a comment to him about girls from the bronx.
it was one of the time/place comments i couldnt quite get --- it seemed to
imply something like 'those girls from the bronx --- everyone knows to
avoid'. as lila was a nice jewish girl with parents who were members of the
old left, i never knew what to make of the significance of her bronxyness.
what would have been connoted -then- by such a remark?
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #54 of 85: Searchlight Casting (jstrahl) Fri 4 Dec 09 21:45
    
Sounds to me like something being said by a Brooklynite, i've heard
the same thing being said in The Bronx about girls from Brooklyn:-) 
Interesting wolf connection, there was a movie in 1981 titled Wolfen,
set (and shot) in the South Bronx, starring Albert Finney.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfen_(film) 
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #55 of 85: For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Sat 5 Dec 09 09:35
    
wolfen was a hoot. 'lila the werewolf' very different in tone; deadpan funny
--- the opposite of self-serious camp, like wolfen.
i dont remember if the bf of the protag was from brooklyn, however...
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #56 of 85: David Wilson (dlwilson) Sun 6 Dec 09 09:56
    
So Connie, what makes the Concourse a "Bronx" story?  From your book
it seems to be a jewish story, somewhat of a black story, a little bit
of an italian story, and then the puerto rican hordes invaded.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #57 of 85: Connie Rosenblum (crosenblum) Sun 6 Dec 09 15:51
    
hi jstahl--

re gentrification, I'm familiar with the little houses on and near
Charlotte Street that you're referring to. These were the houses built
as a way of rescuing one of the most blighted areas in the city. But I
wouldn't call them a symbol of gentrification. That term usually refers
to the displacement of an indigenous population by more affluent
newcomers, at times bringing with them the trappings of yuppie or
hipster existence. this is the sort of thing that happened with a
vengeance in the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan and in
so many Brooklyn brownstone neighborhoods. It usually means that the
indigenous population is priced out and forced out. On Charlotte
Street, the indigenous population was largely gone before the new
housing arrived.

I'll pass on the werewolves discussion, thanks.

And to David--

As to what makes the Concourse a Bronx story? I guess because it's the
most illustrious street in the borough and witnessed so much of the
transformative change that swept over the Bronx during the last
century. And you're absolutely right, it's also a Jewish story, an
Irish story, a black story, etc. etc. To me, that's one of the things
that make it so interesting.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #58 of 85: Searchlight Casting (jstrahl) Sun 6 Dec 09 21:45
    
Connie: so where is the gentrification which is happening in The
Bronx? You referred to some of that happening, that's why i asked, did
i misunderstand you? And who moved into those house on Charlotte St?
Were there people living in the area who could afford them? Are there
more "villages" like that in The Bronx?
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #59 of 85: Connie Rosenblum (crosenblum) Mon 7 Dec 09 05:15
    
The gentrification is happening in the very southern tip of the Bronx,
where there are some converted lofts, a few cafes and galleries and a
small smattering of artists. The area is sometimes called Sobro, a tip
of the hat to SoHo. 

Re Charlotte Street, by the time President Carter visited in the
1970s, it was a pretty desolate place, and though I couldnt prove it,
I'd be surprised if many of the original residents were among those who
moved back. There is other similar housing in once-devastated parts of
the borough -- it has its critics, but many people are delighted to
live in these places now.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #60 of 85: Searchlight Casting (jstrahl) Mon 7 Dec 09 09:39
    
Sobro?:-) I have a personal relationship to that area. When we arrived
in New York (in fact, yesterday was the 51st anniversary of that),
soon after my father got his first job there at a small supermarket on
St Anne's and 138th (on the latter, i believe), worked there till early
'61, my brother worked there part time during Summer '60.  Drove
through the area many times,as the freeway connection from the Major
Deegan Highway to the Triborough Bridge was not finished yet,so one had
to get off at the southern end of the Deegan and drive on 138th St to
get on the road to the bridge. My father and brother talked often of
how there was still a small remnant of the Irish community which used
to live in the area hanging on but shrinking by the week, the area felt
really dangerous even in daylight. Makes sense it's being targeted for
gentrification, easy access to Manhattan. 
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #61 of 85: Connie Rosenblum (crosenblum) Mon 7 Dec 09 10:34
    
wow, you have a good memory!
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #62 of 85: David Wilson (dlwilson) Mon 7 Dec 09 11:06
    
Connie.  Did you know Gilbert Milstein at the Times?  It was his son
who I visited on the Concourse.  Gilbert used to get review albums so
his kids had a great record collection.  We would call Symphony Sid up
on the radio and ask him to play records we knew he wouldn't play. 
This was 1962.  One time we asked him to play anything by Ornette
Coleman.  He said he would only play "Lonely Woman" by the Modern Jazz
Quartet.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #63 of 85: Connie Rosenblum (crosenblum) Mon 7 Dec 09 12:06
    
Hi, David--

The name Gilbert Milstein rings a bell, but I never knew him; think he
was before my time here.  
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #64 of 85: David Wilson (dlwilson) Mon 7 Dec 09 12:23
    
His book review in the Times of Kerouac's "On the Road" got the ball
rolling for Jack.

He was an editor for the Sunday magazine.  He used to take us on
incredible walking tours of the neighborhoods.  He wowed us.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #65 of 85: Connie Rosenblum (crosenblum) Tue 8 Dec 09 05:42
    
yeah, I read that review when I was trying to refresh my memory as to
who he was. really a time capsule.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #66 of 85: David Wilson (dlwilson) Tue 8 Dec 09 11:31
    
Thanks Connie for coming by the Well and hanging out with us.  What is
your next project?  

Let me guess.  Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn?  Or Seagate?  Maybe a
restaurant guide to Queens?  I bet you would be the only person to find
the only Eskimo restaurant in the city.  You probably know the
abandoned refrigerated building in Long Island City where all the
Eskimos in New York live.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #67 of 85: Connie Rosenblum (crosenblum) Tue 8 Dec 09 12:07
    
Hi, David--

Eskimo restaurants? Hmmm, probably not. But this has been lots of fun.
And there's never a lack of New York-themed subjects worth writing
about, so I guess you never know what comes next.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #68 of 85: Searchlight Casting (jstrahl) Tue 8 Dec 09 22:10
    
Thanks indeed for hanging out with us, Connie. Any ideas on why the
Belmont neighborhood held together fairly well while everything around
it decayed? At least it's my impression that it held, the Italian delis
are still functioning. 
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #69 of 85: Connie Rosenblum (crosenblum) Wed 9 Dec 09 07:25
    
Ah, Belmont. In discussing changes in the Bronx, people often mention
that neighborhood. Partly, I think, the explanation has to do with the
fact that Italian neighborhoods are generally more stable than Jewish
ones; even today, you can find areas in which two and even three
generations of Italian-American families still live under the same
roof. 

But in recent years Belmont has been buffeted by its own shifts. A
growing community of Albanians exists in this area, and in many of
these delis and restaurants, you'll find Albanian countermen and clerks
serving up the pasta and red wine.



 
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #70 of 85: Searchlight Casting (jstrahl) Wed 9 Dec 09 12:16
    
Interesting. Logical, given the proximity of Albania to Italy's "heel"
and the large Albanian population in southern Italy. I've read of this
happening in lots of New York Italian neighborhoods. Good point about
the stability, i'm familiar with it, as my mom was a native of Italy
(Italian Jews, but those are Italians first:-). 
Do you happen to know how the big apartment buildings on the Concourse
have survived the changes? Did they drastically reduce rents so the
newcomers could afford them? Back in the early '60s it cost a lot of
money (for back then) to rent an apartment on the Concourse, we
couldn't afford it.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #71 of 85: Connie Rosenblum (crosenblum) Wed 9 Dec 09 13:04
    
The big apartment buildings are in some cases among the success
stories of the Grand Concourse. A number of those beautiful Art Deco
apartment houses have been converted into co-ops, complete with doormen
and spruced-up lobbies, and are accommodating a new and very grateful
population. Even though prices are climbing these days, as these
buildings become newly popular, they're still a lot cheaper than
apartments in much of Manhattan and a good part of Brooklyn.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #72 of 85: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 9 Dec 09 13:38
    
This is such an interesting conversation.  It's hard to believe we've
been at it for two weeks.

Thank you so much, Connie.  We have started the next conversation, but
that does not mean you have to stop until you want to stop. Feel free
to continue here as you wish, or to drop in later if you have news or
announcements.  Kudos to David, Jstrahl and everybody who brought
stories, questions and insights to this topic, too.     
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #73 of 85: Connie Rosenblum (crosenblum) Wed 9 Dec 09 13:44
    
Hi, Gail--

I've really enjoyed it. I'd be happy to keep it going as long as
anyone wished. I'll keep checking in. I've really enjoyed hearing the
recollections and observations from the various participants; I learn
something new each time, and it's great.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #74 of 85: Lisa Harris (lrph) Wed 9 Dec 09 13:54
    
We'd love to have you stick around.  thanks for being here.
  
inkwell.vue.370 : Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams
permalink #75 of 85: Searchlight Casting (jstrahl) Wed 9 Dec 09 21:40
    
Connie, what i meant is, how did those buildings survive through the
hellfire years? Didn't the traditional residents pretty much abandon
the area by the 1970s? Why didn't the Concourse get to looking like a
grander version of Charlotte St?  Did the city put in money to ensure
building maintenance? 
  

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