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Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx Hardcover – August 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0814776087 ISBN-10: 0814776086 Edition: 0th

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Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx + The Bronx (Columbia History of Urban Life)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814776086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814776087
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #561,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Bronx's Grand Concourse, with its Art Deco structures, is one of New York City's architectural delights, and its political and social history is the worthy subject of this new book by New York Times staffer Rosenblum, who edited the paper's now-defunct City section and now writes a column for its Sunday real estate section. Stretching over four-and-a-half miles, the thoroughfare designed by Louis Aloys Risse, an Alsatian immigrant, and modeled after Paris's Champs Elysées—was completed in 1909 and saw the arrival of upwardly mobile Jews in the first five decades of the 20th century, followed by waves of Irish and Italian immigrants seeking to pursue their culture and careers in a safe environment. While Rosenblum explores various aspects of Jewish communal life near the boulevard, she also dissects the rivalry between West Bronx affluence and the working-class East Bronx, and the racial tensions that led to white suburban flight and the decline and neglect of the area. The author also draws attention to the many noteworthy characters who lived on or near the Concourse such as Edgar Allan Poe and fallen NBA star Jacob Louis Molinas. A seminal recounting of the rise, fall and current revival of a major landmark, this book, with many archival photos and drawings, is a must for those interested in the cultural history of the Bronx and New York City. 43 illus., 1 map. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“For those of us to whom the neighborhood in the city was not just an idea, but a reality, its sweetness and sadness precious, Boulevard of Dreams is a book one must long reflect upon.”

-Haaertz,

“Rosenbaum has told a harrowing story of construction and destruction, ending with the realistic requirement for changes in attitudes to restore the happy days that once made the Bronx a desirable place to live.”-National Jewish Post & Opinion,

“For anyone who has ever loved a great street or neighborhood as change after change swept over it and dreams and challenges converged. So in fact this is a book for anyone who has ever lived anywhere. It’s a rich, sometimes wild ride through a century of history, beautifully written by a gifted observer.”-Tony Hiss,author of The Experience of Place

“A must read for anyone who cares about the history of the city. Rosenblum writes with deep feeling and an acute eye and the result is a rare, unsentimental look at a much maligned borough.”-Laura Shaine Cunningham,author of Sleeping Arrangements

“Constance Rosenblum’s account of the history of the street is evocative and informative.”-Jewish Book World,

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James Schuyler on September 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As soon as I heard about this book, I knew that I should be one of the first to read it. I grew up on the Grand Concourse, "in the shadow of Yankee Stadium". While there is much that brings back memories, smiles, and some sadness, Constance Rosenblum also provides new information and stories and puts the story of this great boulevard in context and gives it perspective. Why would you read a book about a street, particularly if you didn't live there and may not even know where it is? The answer is simple--the author brings to life a group of neighborhoods, a way of life, a variety of cultures, and two eras (the forties and fifties and its blossoming as a home to the upwardly-mobile middle class; the seventies and eighties and a city in turmoil) and leaves us with a sense of hope as the Grand Concourse is beginning to emerge as a beacon of hope to a new generation of Bronxites. Instead of Ogden Nash's short couplet written in 1931, "The Bronx, No Thonx", you may agree with Nash's observation thirty-three years later: "Now I'm an older, wiser man, I cry 'The Bronx, God bless them'." God bless Constance Rosenblum for bringing "them"--all of the Grand Concourse--to life in its 100th anniversary year. As so many of my neighbors used to say, "The Grand Concourse--what's not to like?"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert B. Herman on September 22, 2009
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It is a quick read, but a vivid depiction of the middle-class life in the Bronx centering around the boulevard where so much happened and was so vivid.
In my time living in that part of the Bronx, I saw at least 4 presidents drive down the street. FDR, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and JFK. As a school kid and then a young adult it was all memorable. As big city kids we took it for granted and this book was a great reminder of life and times along that street.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Scutellaro on December 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My ex-husband always enjoyed telling me about his childhood in the Bronx. After reviewing, I decided to buy the book for him as a gift. He was thrilled with the book and the scenes and stories that he remembered from his youth. He began telling me about the boy he knew from the neighborhood who had a vision of the Virgin Mary in an empty lot in the Bronx. Then he flipped through the pages and found the author's recounting of the tale. It is a great book for anyone who grew up near the "Grand Concourse" or wants to know more about it's past.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Scoushe on October 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I'm not Irish, I often listen to and totally get Irish music, which reveals the hopes and dreams of immigrants, speaks of the pain of parting, and mourns for the Emerald Isle that they'll probably never see again. Humans develop an attachment to their environment and it sometimes doesn't seem to matter how harsh it might have been. Most of my childhood was spent growing up in the intergraded Patterson housing project on 145th and Morris Avenue in the South Bronx hub, within walking distance of the shopping area, government and legal offices, and the Grand Concourse, which Constance Rosenblum has titled "Boulevard of Dreams" in this wonderful book.

We bought stamps at the majestic post office at 149th and Grand Concourse, zone 51 because zip codes didn't yet exist; we visited Franz Siegel Park, which is south of the Court House, and knew of the nightclubs and the Alex and Henry's catering hall that most people rented for their weddings and other special events. I bought strawberry egg creams at one of the local candy stores. As a teenager, one of my friends worked as a doorman at the Concourse Plaza, which is on 161st Street, facing the Court House. And, there was always that luxurious and elegant estate with its wrought iron fence and carefully landscaped grounds that I often wondered about: "What is this place?" I asked myself whenever I passed by.

Naturally, when I heard that a hard cover book about the Grand Concourse would soon be out, I ordered it for less than fifteen dollars at Strand's via the Amazon website. The original hard cover edition is a beautiful book includes a few color photos that this smaller paperback version does not have.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By newnewyorker on May 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Boulevard of Dreams is a breezy read about the Grand Concourse and the people who lived there, mostly in its heyday. You can tell the author tries to profile other residents from other times, but her heart (and book) is mostly about the Jewish families who inhabited the marvelous Grand Concourse from the 1930s to the 1960s. At times it seems as if those decades were normative and desirable, while more recent times were just dangerous and horrifying.

I don't disagree with her about the GC prime years, and it's a wonderful read, but she should have just stopped writing there. Once the Sixties come along, she loses interest and her human stories falter along with her narrative, which becomes more about scared and astounded seniors and much less about new residents.

Overall, when the book comes to a somewhat abrupt end, you feel Constance Rosenblum wanted to end her story when the Grand Concourse started going south; after all, who can blame her. But the last few pages are very unsatisfying and almost feel like filler, especially the part about Noonan Plaza, a building ten blocks away from the Grand Concourse.
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