The Grand Concourse, the boulevard of dreams (Check out the book by Constance Rosenblum on the history of the Grand Concourse) which ties all Bronxites together and is the spine of The Bronx, was once closed on Sundays from 1991-1996 thanks the visionary leadership of then Borough President Fernando Ferrer along with Transportation Alternatives.
From 161st street to 198th Street (3.45 miles!), each Sunday, the center lanes of The Grand Concourse were closed off during the Months of July and August for pedestrian use only, including bicycling, skating, rollerblading and tons of passive activities including neighbors just setting up chairs and hanging out and interacting with each other on an entire different level and environment.
It became The Bronx’s front and backyard if you will, one giant stoop gathering going through communities of hundreds of thousands of Bronxites.
Ferrer’s program proved so successful for The Bronx that it was expanded from just the summer months and straight through mid November, but alas, Giuliani came along and axed the program in 1996.
Last year, residents and local community based organizations alike, including The Bronx Museum of The Arts and Transportation Alternatives banded together to revive the popular event.
In 2014 we just got a few blocks from 165th Street to 167th Street for just 3 Sundays but this year we’re getting 8 blocks for 3 Sundays on August 2nd, 9th, and 16th from Noon to 4PM!
A video of last year’s event, check out how beautiful the tapestry of The People of The Bronx is in this video showing our diversity. Everyone getting along and having fun.
We spoke with former Borough President Fernando Ferrer about this to which he had to say:
“I’m glad this is back, even in abbreviated form. I always thought that, along the length of Grand Concourse, with cycling, skating strolling, concerts, farmers markets and police officers on bikes, everybody got along and enjoyed their own streets for at least a day a week. More, there was an easy relationship with police officers patrolling on bikes and the people seemed to enjoy that. Not an excessive amount of police…just the right amount so that people could enjoy each others’ company and families could play with their kids.”
And that was the crux of what Ferrer and TA accomplished in the 5 years that the program ran and was expanded until it met its untimely demise under Giuliani.
Each Sunday from July through November, that’s exactly what you saw and experienced on The Concourse.
Boogie on The Boulevard is indeed starting out in abbreviated form but it’s popularity last year clearly showed that this is something that the people wanted back so its expansion this year is a testament to the fact that former Bronx BP Ferrer was on to something and in touch with the community’s wants and needs.
NY1’s Erin Clark did a piece last year on the program:
Although the event is only for 3 days and on a much smaller scale, it is our hope that with each passing year, we can prove how necessary this is in The Bronx to strengthen our communities, create summer activities for our children, help combat obesity by creating a safe passage for walking the wide and beautiful Grand Concourse and Boulevard, devoid of vehicles.
If you are an organization that would like to volunteer and participate in this wonderful event, please fill out this application and check of your interests along with your contact information. Some of the categories that are needed to make this a success are:
- Senior Citizens