Oh bless you, Kevin Walsh-- without your magical work at Forgotten-NY, we'd never learn about out-of-the-way neighborhoods like Harding Park in the Bronx. For those of you who aren't familiar with the area (that should be just about everyone-- we asked a Bronx old-timer if he knew where Harding Park was, and he had no idea), the neighborhood is just across the East River from Riker's Island, near the mouth of the Bronx River. Only about four miles from upper-Manhattan, it looks completely bucolic, and definitely lives up the FNY "you'd never believe you are in New York" moniker. As usual, in addition to his great pix, Kevin dug up the history of the area:
By 1900 the Higgs family maintained a beach and amusement area on the western end of Clason Point, and in the early 1920s Thomas Higgs, who owned about 100 acres of beachfront property, began leasing tents to visitors and the area formalized its own street layout and summer bungalow colony. Good patriots that they were, they named the colony for the sitting President at the time, Warren Gamaliel Harding (1865-1923). After World War II these became permanent year-round residences due to a housing shortage, eventually sheltering over 250 families.
Though Robert Moses attempted to tear down what he called the "Soundview Slums" (Moses didn't like anything that wasn't a Corbusian-esque housing project or an expressway; his Utopia would have been a city composed of residential skyscrapers connected by superhighways), Harding Park survived, but became City property in 1979.
3 years later, though, in 1982, Harding Park Homeowners Association, the first cooperatively owned low and moderate-income community in the city was formed. Harding Park now appears as if it will carry on in the future indefinitely with its city views, great fishing, and relative privacy.
Be sure ot check out the rest of the FNY-YNBYINY archives. And if you are dead-set on never leaving the city, check out his great history of the Meat Packing District from last week.
Bonus: FNY is having their 19th (!) walking tour next Sunday-- don't miss it. (D'oh! The 19th tour was last year-- next tour is #24, but still unscheduled.)