2. Bronx General Post Office

Main bronx po

The Bronx General Post Office at 558 Grand Concourse was constructed between 1935 and 1937 and designed by Thomas Harlan Ellett and Louis A. Simon. The gray brick building almost camouflages into the streetscape but its real treasure lies inside, where there are thirteen murals by Ben Shahn and Bernarda Bryson Shahn. The paintings were inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem I Hear America Singing.

Bronx Post Office

In one of the panes, Whitman points to a blackboard with a verse from his poem. Originally it was supposed to read – “to recast poems, churches, art; (Recast, maybe discard them, end them – Maybe their work is done, who knows).” However, a Fordham University ethics professor argued that the passage was an “insult to all religiously minded men and to Christianity.” As a result, Shahn took a different quote from Whitman’s poem, likely afraid his work might meet the same fate of an earlier mural he worked on – Diego Rivera’s Rockefeller Center mural “Man at Crossroads.”

Main Bronx po mural5

As the United States Postal Service struggles amid massive debt, it has started selling off its real estate. This includes numerous architecturally and artistically important locations, including the Grand Concourse location. One can only hope that even if the building is sold, its unique art will still be readily available to the public for generations to come.

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6 thoughts on “8 Architectural Gems along the Bronx’s Grand Concourse: County Courthouse, Post Office, Loew’s Paradise Theater, Poe Cottage

  1. There are a couple of inaccuracies in the Poe Cottage entry. Firstly it was in May of 1846 that the Poe family moved to Fordham. Poe’s wife, Virginia, passed away in the cottage on January 30th 1847. Poe Park was opened in 1902. The November 5th 1913 date was when the cottage was first opened to the public after having been moved onto Poe Park earlier that year.

  2. I am seeking to obtain a copy of James Monroe Hewlett’s mural (1932) call “Establishment of the Courts of Justice”. This mural depicts a jury trial in early America. The actual mural sits in the Bronx County Courthouse. Any assistance would be appreciated.

  3. Your information regarding Tremont Temple is INCORRECT. An aquaintence who is the great neice of the Cantor who served Tremont Temple from 1937 until his death in the early 1960’s has copies of the agreements of employment between the congregation and The Reverand Cantor Henry Heller. Should you want any further information please feel free to contact me and I will assist you in making contact.
    Herbert A. Cohn

    1. Cantor Henry Heller tutored me for my bar mitzvah which took place on June 19, 1943 at the nearby conservative synagogue Adath Israel. Incidentally, the Cantor there (Richard Tucker) then had the distinction of being known as ‘Jan Peerce’s brother-in-law’.
      I remember that Cantor Heller had been a Cantor in Germany before escaping to the Bronx. He told me that he was glad to be a Cantor at a Reform temple, because he had promised his grandfather that he would not ride on the Sabbath when he got to America. He could take the bus on Sunday to the reform temple.

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