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The NEW South Bronx

Photos taken 09 April, 2001

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St Mary's Park

P.S. 65 - gone?
No, it's still there... a bit more colorful than in the past, and with a new name out front: "Mother Hale Academy". (No telling if it is now privatized, or is some sort of publicly-supported "charter school"...)
The photo on left shows the corner of Cypress and 141st, where the six-story apartment building (containing a candy store on the corner and a small vegetable market) have been replaced by a small upscale-Spanish grocery.

All of St. Mary's Street has been converted to private "row houses" like this - from St. Ann's Ave all across the southern border of the park to Jackson Ave. (Photo is the south side of St. Mary's street, looking east toward Powers Ave.) Thus, the upper parts of St. Ann's, Beekman, Cypress, Powers, and Jackson Avenues - facing the park - are now private homes. I was hoping to point out to the kids the bar at Jackson and St. Mary's where my father and I would enjoy a drink after a Sunday afternoon in the park. (A 15-cent beer for him, a ginger ale for me...) My loss, however, has a good purpose: someone's private home now stands where the bar used to be.

Travelling up St. Ann's "the Center" is still a main feature of the park - and amazingly free of graffitti or the ugly paint jobs which help prevent it. Perhaps the placards over the pool windows take the place of the ugly "artwork" - or maybe the kids just enjoy the place so much (like we did) that the idea of defacing the place never enters their mind...

The west side of St. Ann's Ave. is pretty much unchanged; the apartment buildings have undergone a facelift - but almost all of them are still there.

149th and St. Ann's
"The rock" is visible from St. Ann's, and gives a good indication of the projects built around 1960 on the opposite side of the park (facing Jackson Ave.). Of course, it is MUCH bigger when you are close up - and when you are nine years old.

North of 149th street, most of the apartment buildings and businesses have been flattened. You can see over the empy lots, probably up to 161st. Street. (For the first time, I noticed that there is a subway train coming up out of the ground just a little north of 149th street and St. Ann's. Was that the Dyre Ave. line? - or is it the vestiges of the Third Ave. El? I know I never saw it when I was a kid - and never had an occassion to visit that area up close.)

The ROCK

Still as popular as ever with the pre-teen set, there had to be a dozen tykes sliding down the thing as we passed on 149th Street. (Remember trying to climb up that thing when someone had dumped big handfuls of sand upon it - thus aiding their cardboard or linoleum "sleds" ? It was a great way to skin your knees - or break your neck at the bottom!)

Of course, every kid in the neighborhood knew that the "real gold" was contained in the smaller cliff facing St. Ann's near St. Mary's Street. Actually an outcropping of the common New York "Garnet-Mica Schist", the shiny flat plates of mica got ground up to make play "gold dust" - but if you looked REALLY close, you could find tiny garnets among the mica sand. (Useless as semi-precious stones - because they rarely were as big as the head of a pin - these actual garnets had pretty decent facets if observed with a mangifying glass. They would shatter into fine red dust if you squeezed them real hard with a pair of pliers... ask me how I know!!!)


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Photographs and content © 1998,1999, 2001 John P. Tomany