Last Saturday a friend and I ventured to the Bronx.  After Staten Island this is the borough I know the least.  My friend and I made a pact to visit the borough more often this fall.

When one thinks of Colonial America, New York City does not spring to mind.  That is because so little of Gotham’s Colonial past remains.  The Valentine-Varian house lies on the Boston Post Road.

The Valentines were the original owners.  They tried to stay neutral during the Revolutionary War but still lost their fortune. After the war the Valentines began to struggle financially and the estate eventually fell into the hands of the Varians.  When it comes to New York City real estate, the more things change the more they stay the same.

A reminder that for a good portion of America’s history slavery was not confined to the South.

The Bronx River Soldier has a long history.  The Civil War statue was built in the 1890s and was in various locations and states of condition before finding a permanent home at the historical society.  At one point, during New York City’s Dark Years, the statue had even literally fallen into the Bronx River and been left due to scarce financial resources and indifference. Thankfully it was eventually rescued and now serves as a reminder of the sacrifice made by the men of the area.

I am sorry the location names are illegible.  A better camera is in my near future, I promise.  At least one can see from the title that Civil War memory was important to the area in the post war years.  As I always say, history is all around us if we just stop to look.  This particular book covers Brooklyn, not the Bronx, but here is one of my favorite titles.

William Saward was a member of the 9th New York, Hawkins Zouaves.  The 9th New York served under Ambrose Burnside. Saward died in April 1862.

Yes, that is the General Warren statue on Little Round Top.  The Saward family visited Gettysburg in the late 1890s.  I love the lady holding the parasol on the far right.

As elsewhere, the Grand Army of the Republic was a powerful presence in the Bronx.

This is a Decoration Day, 1911.

…and Memorial Day circa 1950.  Note the cars to the right.  In that decade before the Centennial there were still many people throughout the country with a living connection, through their parents or grandparents, to the war.


We walked ten or so blocks to the Edgar Allen Poe house on the Grand Concourse.  The house is closed for renovation but at least we saw it from the outside.  Poe rented the cottage from the Varians.

When Poe lived here the Bronx was rural and remote.  As the photo shows, it now lies in the heart of this vibrant community.

The afternoon made me realize that the Bronx is more than just getting on the subway and going to a baseball game.  I look forward to exploring the only borough that lies within the contiguous U.S. in greater depth.  When I do, I will bring that new camera.