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Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx First Edition Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0814776087
ISBN-10: 0814776086
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx
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  • Just Kids from the Bronx: Telling It the Way It Was: An Oral History
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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

“ Boulevard of Dreams traces the evolution of the area surrounding the Concourse from orchard and farmland to inner-cityscape.”-The New Yorker

“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

“Like the Grand Concourse itself, Rosenblum’s Boulevard of Dreams is stately and elegant, proud and poignant. Building by building, block by block, character by character, she leads us on what is not just a tour of an epic thoroughfare, but of a city, a culture, and an era. People who love New York will devour this bittersweet and beautifully written book. Then they will make a bee-line to the Bronx for a shpatzir along the Concourse—to ponder how spectacular it once was, and to savor every bit of what remains.”-David Margolick,author of Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink

“Rosenblum has written with real thunder about the Grand Concourse and the wild dreamers who once lived there. Boulevard of Dreams is a passionate and deeply elegiac book.”-The Wall Street Journal

“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

“The book is a beautiful act of re-creation, untainted by nostalgia, and too varied, too accurate to be only despairing . . . Rosenblum has a fine feel for the everyday people who walked the Grand Concourse.”
-Columbia Magazine



“Rosenblum peels back the layers of time, grime and glory that have made this majestic boulevard all that it is and was to generations of immigrants . . . Each chapter unearths new thoughts and shares the fascinating history of the Grand Concourse and its passage through time.”
-Bronx Times-Reporter



"Rosenblum, a writer at The New York Times, traces the earliest days of the Concourse and its surrounding neighborhood, its decay during the 1960s and '70s, and its current renewal."-Ihsan Taylor,The New York Times Book Review

“Rosenblum’s book looks at the history of the Grand Concourse over its entire life, from a vibrant area dominated by upper middle-class Jewish families during the early and middle 20th century to the largely black and Latino communities who live there today.”
-The Berkshire Eagle



“Thanks to Rosenblum’s work, the Bronx’ glorious past will not be forgotten while a new, positive chapter for the neighborhood’s future is being written.”

-BeyondChron

“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.”-Publishers Weekly

“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

Boulevard of Dreams is a carefully researched and beautifully written work that reads with all the drive of a well-crafted novel. At once broad and detailed, Rosenblum’s descriptions will resonate with the diverse array of New Yorkers who have called the Grand Concourse home, and fascinate anyone with an interest in the evolution of American cities.”-Thomas Mellins,architectural historian and author

“Pride in the Grand Concourse and West Bronx remains alive. This affectionate volume will help keep it that way by serving as a tangible reminded of what is very much saving and restoring in the Bronx. There was and still is something special about that ‘boulevard of dreams.’ ”-History News Network

“ She takes us through the different generations of immigrants who made Concourse neighborhoods their home, looking at the big picture and the changing details of people’s lives.”-The New York Post



“A writer and editor at the New York Times, Rosenblum is an infectiously enthusiastic tour guide. You can almost feel her pulling you up and down the Grand Concourse—which was completed one hundred years ago—giddily pointing out the sights.”-The New York Times Book Review

“Like all great documents and painstaking works of love, Boulevard of Dreams is a portal. It opens up the Grand Concourse and, even if we’ve never lived there, gives us an imaginary address and lets us think what the world was like growing up with Stanley Kubrick and E.L. Doctorow.”-André Aciman,author of Out of Egypt: A Memoir

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

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press; First Edition edition (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814776086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814776087
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Excellent researched and well presented history of how The Bronx changed fro a rural quaint countryside to a "concrete jungle". My grandmother would tell me about the farms at West Farms and this never made sense to me because all I saw growing up was a bus hub that spewed out black smoke and an elevated train that kept the neighborhood streets in darkness. I needed to how this change about in the short time between my grandmother's experience and mine. Real Estate - location.
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