8. The Grand Concourse Was Modeled After the Champs-Élysées in Paris
The Grand Concourse is also known as the “Champs-Élysées of the Bronx, which is what the road’s French designer, Louis Aloys Risse, intended when he designed it. Later, Risse would work for New York Central Railroad and would be appointed chief topographical engineer for the New York City government. The original intention for the Grand Concourse was to connect Manhattan to the Bronx, which was a bucolic juxtaposition to the hustle and bustle of the city.
Risse first conceptualized the thoroughfare in 1890, and construction began in 1894. By 1909, the Grand Concourse was completed and opened to traffic. It was built at the height of the “City Beautiful movement,” which sought to introduce old world grandeur to new cities. Risse’s design was based on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, but on a larger scale. The concourse, which is separated into three roadways, is four miles long and measures 180 feet across.