The Grand Concourse has been compared with grand boulevards from the Champs Élysées in Paris to Park Avenue in Manhattan. As a result, it is a great choice to sample some of the best architecture the Bronx has to offer. From its inception in 1890 through today, its history has mirrored that of the Bronx. The Grand Concourse, which was once called the Boulevard of Dreams, highlights sites varying from those associated with the area when it was farmland, before it was incorporated into New York City to those which showcase the Borough’s future.
The Bronx County Courthouse (now The Bronx County Building) at 851 Grand Concourse is one of the best examples of Art Moderne architecture in New York City. The opening of the courthouse was heralded citywide in 1934. Part of the inaugural ceremonies included Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia officially transferring the seat of the municipal government from City Hall to the new courthouse for three days. Additionally, speeches, a military parade, a concert, and luncheons were held to celebrate the courthouse and the 20th anniversary of the Bronx as a county.
The building’s interior is not to be missed either. Its grand ceremonial hall (Veteran’s Memorial Hall) contains four murals created by James Monroe Hewlett as a WPA commission. The murals depict scenes from Bronx history including the landing of Jonas Bronck, George Washington in the Bronx, and Van Cortlandt Park. Until 1988, the murals were hidden by offices. Under Borough President Fernando Ferrer the murals were brought back into public view. In 2010, damage to one of the murals caused minor outrage, but these museum quality murals are still well worth a trip to the Bronx.