Offbeat New York

Bronx Attractions: Art, History, Museums and More

Arthur Avenue -- Little Italy in the Bronx

The Bronx has its own Little Italy on Belmont and Arthur Avenues (not to be confused with Little Italy in Lower Manhattan). Bronx Museum of the Arts
1040 Grand Concourse
718/681-6000
Innovative exhibits of contemporary art by mostly emerging and unrecognized artists. Plus intriguing public programs including:
On Point: Perspectives on Contemporary Arts and Culture -- a series of dialogues, panels and presentations featuring curators, artists, critics, scholars and other cultural producers.

Sample -– a cutting edge program introducing the latest in contemporary art and culture to our Bronx audiences. The series features screenings of short films, performances, music and spoken word.

Bounce -– a multi-media evening event designed to highlight and/or celebrate a particular exhibition or program.

Bronx County Historical Society
Phone: 718 881-8900
You'll want to make note of the Bronx County Historical Society that organizes tours of the Bronx from yesterday and today.

Bronx Zoo
Fordham Road and the Bronx River Parkway
Bronx, New York
Phone: 718 367-1010, 800 937-2868)

Beloved by New Yorkers, the Bronx Zoo is the largest urban zoo in the country, and the heart of the Wildlife Conservation Society and its work to save wildlife and wild places around the globe. It is home to more than 4,000 animals representing more than 600 species in specialized environments. Plus they offer a comprehensive program of visitor experiences including:

Tiger Enrichment Sessions -- watch the tigers explore different fun items and activities while the animal-keepers discuss their work;

Primate Training -- watch animal keepers as they conduct their daily training sessions with our New World monkeys;

Sea Lion Feeding -- watch these large marine mammals enjoy their fish food while animal keepers share some special sea lion information;

Penguin Feeding -- watch Megallanic penguins in a naturalistic habitat designed to simulate the Patagonian coastline;

And more

City Island

When people think of the Bronx, they don't usually think charming, historic, water-side community. But, there it is. City Island, a small island surrounded by the waters of the Long Island Sound and Eastchester Bay. The main street, City Island Avenue, is fringed with Victorian homes dating back to the 1800s when it was a thriving shipbuilding and yachting center (think America's Cup). Today boaters on the north shore of Long Island frequently sail up there for a seafood dinner and a stroll around town. You don't have to have a boat to reach it. Cars do fine over the land route.

While you're there, you can visit:

City Island Historical Nautical Museum
190 Fordham Street (off City Island Avenue)
Bronx, New York 10464
Phone: 718 885-0008

The City Island Historical Society displays of artifacts in the Nautical Museum. The building itself is the old Public School 17, built in 1897 and continued as a school until 1975. Several old classrooms now serve as galleries for the museum. Staffed by volunteers, it's only open on Sunday from 1 pm - 5 pm; other times by appointment.

The Culture Trolley

This popular program of Bronx Council on the Arts (BCA) uses a replica of an early 20th century trolley to make a cultural loop of the lower Grand Concourse. It runs on the first Wednesday of every month (except January), stopping at several of the area’s hottest entertainment, cultural and culinary attractions.

The Grand Concourse

This bit of history dates back to the 1920s when the mile-long Grand Concourse was envisioned as New York’s Champs Elysees, lined with elaborate Art Deco buildings. Some of the remaining buildings are:

Bronx Museum of the Arts
1040 Grand Concourse
Phone: 718 681-6000
Exhibits contemporary art by mostly emerging and unrecognized artists, plus resources for artists in the community. Plus creative and innovative public programs.

Edgar Allan Poe Cottage
Poe Park
Grand Concourse at Kingsbridge Road
Bronx, New York 10458
Phone: 718 881-8900
The small wooden farmhouse, built about 1812, once offered unobstructed views of the rolling Bronx hills, perhaps even to the shores of Long Island. It was Poe's home from 1846 to 1849, the last three years of his life. He wrote some of his most famous works, including Annabel Lee, The Bells.

Administered by the Bronx County Historical Society since 1975, the cottage is restored to its original appearance, with authentic period furnishings. There's a film presentation and guided tour.

Bronx County Building
851 Grand Concourse (at 161 Street)
Bronx, New York 10451
Phone:718 590-3545
This large square-block building is a dominant feature of the famous Grand Concourse and combines Art Deco and neo-classic style elements. The ground floor Veterans Memorial Hall features murals of American history scenes. The building's current occupants are the Bronx Supreme Court and the Office of the Bronx Borough President.

Bronx General Post Office
Grand Concourse at 150th Street
Bronx, New York

Another large square-block building, and one of the best-known structures, known for the 13 murals by Ben Shahn (1898-1969) created as part of a Depression era publicly-sponsored program.

Woodlawn Cemetery

Webster Avenue & E. 233rd Street
Bronx, New York 10470
Phone:718 920-0500

Yes, we do have a thing for cemeteries. But they just seem to be interesting places reflecting the surrounding area and its history. Since its founding in 1863, the Woodlawn Cemetery has been the final resting place for folks such as song-writer George M. Cohan (I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy, Augustus D. Julliard (of Julliard School of Music fame), music greats Duke Ellington and Miles Davis, and merchant kings F. W. Woolworth, J.C. Penney and R.H. Macy. Cultural events take place throughout the year, including Memorial Day and 4th of July concerts featuring the music of Cohan, Ellington and Davis. Group tours by appointment.

Hall of Fame For Great Americans

Bronx Community College at University Avenue
University Avenue & W. 181 Street
Bronx, New York 10453
Phone: 718 289-5161

Okay, how many readers knew that this 630-foot long, semi-circular colonnade was the nation’s original Hall of Fame? Built in 1900 with a view the Harlem and Hudson Rivers it houses 98 bronze busts. The adjacent Gould Memorial Library was designed by Stanford White in the Beaux Arts style and built 1897-1899. Both buildings are New York City landmarks.

Yankee Stadium Tours

161st St. and River Avenue
Sure, you could go there to watch a game, but that wouldn't be very offbeat. How about a tour? Highlights of the Classic Tour, which lasts about one hour with a capacity of 100 people, include: Discussion of Yankee history; Field access; Dugout visit area; Press Box; Monument Park; and the Clubhouse. Special group tours are also available.

Bronx Mansions and Gardens

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum
Pelham Bay Park
Bronx, New York 10464
Phone: 718 885-1461
The Bartow-Pell mansion is the only survivor of more than a dozen architectural gems overlooking Long Island Sound. In 1836 Robert Bartow built the present Grecian style stone mansion with Greek Revival interiors, moving in with his family 1842. The Bartow-Pell Mansion opened as a museum in 1946. It's part of The Historic House Trust of New York City.

We confess to an interest in cemeteries so we want to mention that About 100 yards southeast of the Bartow-Pell Manison Museum is a small rectangular burying ground of roughly 100 square feet. When the plot’s posts and rails were installed in1891, it contained seven stone markers, six of which indicated the 18th century graves of Pell family members. Four of these gravestones are presently located in the historic plot, the remaining two have been moved inside the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum. The Bronx County Historical Society offers scheduled tours for the general public.

Wave Hill
675 West 252nd Street
Bronx, New York 10471
Phone: 718 549-3200
This 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooks the Hudson River and Palisades, making for some spectacular views. It includes a woodland restoration project, a landmark mansion, plus a number of arts and environmental programs. The greenhouses serve as laboratory and gallery.Offers programs in horticulture and landscape design, urban woodland management and the arts.

New York Botanical Gardens
200th Street & Kazimiroff (Southern) Blvd.
Bronx, New York
Phone: 718 817-8700
Also known as the Bronx Botanical Gardens, it's one of the largest and oldest in the country. Amid the 250 acres of this botanical beauty you'll find over 40 acres of New York City's original forest, a river and cascading waterfall, undulating hills, wetlands, ponds, and more. Special attractions include display gardens, walking trails, and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a landmark turn of the century crystal palace which houses jungles, deserts, a palm court, fern forest, and seasonal displays. The Everett Children's Adventure Garden is a 12-acre indoor/outdoor science exploration wonderland for kids with forty hands-on nature discovery activities, mazes, galleries, topiaries, and more. Special events take place year round. It's also a National Historic Landmark.

Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler
SUNY Maritime College
6 Pennyfield Avenue (the end of Pennyfield Ave; under the Throgs Neck Bridge)
Bronx, NY 10465
Phone: 718 409-7218
The main exhibit area encompasses the history of seafaring from the ancient Phoenicians to present day steamship and passenger ship lines. Exhibitions include paintings, models, tools and navigational instruments documenting progress from the earliest sailing vessels to modern technology. Lovely waterfront location, too.

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