Welcome to our first on-line Hunt’s Point walking tour!
In two parts, you’ll see this New York City neighborhood including the westerly streets that were divided from it by the Bruckner Expressway and now called “Longwood.” Tour no. 2 is a shorter (1 hour) walk including parks, historic structures, and shout-outs to local civic boosters. Click here to enjoy that alternate Hunt’s Point journey.
The picture you see above comes from Bronx River Sankofa’s first Hunt’s Point tour. It was given in March 2013. The final on-street guided tours were conducted in summer 2014. While most Sankofa tours were attended primarily by those over 25 years in age, it was fun to have a young adult audience for these neighborhood explorations. Now it’s your turn to make the trip!
Please note that all text in colors other than black are hyperlinks you may click on to explore a site further. All photos may be seen larger and in greater detail by clicking on them.
WALK 1 (two hour tour) points of Interest:
A. The Point: where community and creativity connect
B. 889 Hunt’s Point Avenue (incubator of big ideas)
C. The South Bronx Greenway
D. Yes She Can Mural
E (5). Hunt’s Point’s Post Office reflects citizens’ ambitions for their neighborhood
F. Corpus Christi Monastery
G. Hunt’s Point Recreation Center
H. P.S. 48 where students and teachers have revived interest in the Joseph Rodman Drake Park Cemetery and Enslaved African Burial Ground
I. Barretto Community Garden
J (10). American Bank Note Company printing complex
K. SEBCO (South East Bronx Community Organization)
L. Hunts Point Library
M. St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church
N. Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education
O (15). Banana Kelly, an iconic Bronx Street made famous in biographies and hip hop lore
P. Mothers on the Move, a center of local activism
Q. Rainey Park, almost one whole block of green space where housing stood 60 years ago
R. PS 39 building once housed Longwood Arts Gallery, Pregones Theater, and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Bronx office. It is now the Holcolm L. Rucker School of Community Research, a high school
S. Police Athletic League (Longwood Center)
T (20). Longwood Historic District
U. Prospect Hospital (where Bronx Frontier was born; See Gardening and Garvey article)
V. Dra. Evelina Antonetty Way
W. Casa Amadeo, where Afro-Caribbean music lives!
START: The Point Community Development Corporation is headquartered at 940 Garrison Avenue (3 blocks from the Hunt’s Point station of the no. 6 train line). This indoor/outdoor youth-focused community center was built a century ago as part of the sprawling American Bank Note Company’s printing complex anchored across the street. It later became a bagel factory before falling into cliche illicit uses by the 1980s. This industrial gem was re-purposed as a youth-centered community center in the early 1990s largely by staff from Seneca Center– formerly on Hunt’s Point Avenue– where they did similar work. As the type of funding Seneca sought began to seem unreliable support for non-traditional youth work like theater, key Seneca staff established The Point two blocks away.
Please walk north along Garrison Avenue in the direction of the nearest visibly busy street with shops just one block away. That’s Hunt’s Point Avenue. Once at the intersection, turn right and walk a few stores deeper into the Hunt’s Point neighborhood. Stop at 889 Hunt’s Point Avenue where the Hunt’s Point Alliance for Children is located.
STOP 2. Many social entrepreneurial projects have been based here beginning with an annex to The Point. The Point leased this storefront for community arts programming here around 2000 before sub-leasing the space to the then new Sustainable South Bronx (SSB) in 2001 founded by Majora Carter. SSB moved to the American Bank Note Co. building we will see later. Then, for two years–still under lease from The Point–the Bronx Museum of the Arts operated an artists-in-residence program there while administering the Hunt’s Point Fish Parade.
The following five years were guided by local artist Alejandra Delphin (already on-site as a BMA artist in residence) who remade the space into a print-making studio (Studio 889), sharing the space through 2008 with Michael Wiggins’ theater group Mud/Bone Collective who have relocated. The current tenant succeeded Delphin who does print and on-line graphic work and programming at The Point.
The sidewalk, street and view farther into Hunt’s Point Avenue from the place where you stand show most of the key elements in our next attraction.
STOP 3. The South Bronx Greenway is a long-planned and recently expanded linear park and system of park-connectors between Hunt’s Point and Randall’s Island. Click on the hyperlink that begins this section for a comprehensive impression of how much greener it’s made and may make these places. The South Bronx Greenway won about $60,000,000.00 from the 2009 federal stimulus bill. What you see here is a small part of what that money paid for–far beyond this street are new bike paths at the extreme other end of the greenway and more! The cobble-stone walkways surrounding the street trees, uniform tree guards, younger trees planted off the curb, metal benches, sleek new light posts, and generously planted medians that calm traffic are just part of this new amenity. Omar Freilla of Green Worker Cooperatives, just over a decade ago, developed a survey for locals to express their hopes and wishes for its design once the original Sustainable South Bronx team won a million dollar grant to study and propose designs for this relatively new expansion of the local tree canopy!
Continue to walk in the same direction–southwest–along Hunt’s Point Avenue on the same block until you approach the last apartment building before the US Post Office. Stop just beyond 823 Hunt’s Point Avenue and look up at the mural covering the stucco-faced south wall.
STOP 4. Yes She Can mural by Majora Carter Group, LLC
!Si Ella Puede!/ Yes She Can was painted c. 2009 (fence panels added later). Majora Carter Group, LLC hired Goundswell to execute the design concept, which they jointly solicited from community members. Don’t move, improve has been a Bronx rallying cry since the 1970s and this woman-focused image is a great update to that concept. Read more about it by clicking here.
Tanya Fields worked on this mural for the Majora Carter Group. Tanya(b.1980-) is CEO/ Founder/ Executive Director of The Blk Projek. She holds a bachelors degree from Baruch College/CUNY in Political Science with a minor in Black and Hispanic Studies. Fields moved to the Longwood neighborhood of the Bronx from her native Harlem in late 2001 in search of affordability. She has had a long history of local civic participation as a member of Mothers on the Move (MoMs), Sustainable South Bronx and other groups. Tanya sees unity between culture and ecology. She promotes this vision with events centered on healthful food, yoga and more. She means to empower and link progressive African-American women and Latinas in concrete community building that improves housing, diet, social and career experience in sustainable ways that are self generated.
Tanya’s a powerful public speaker and writer. She is featured in the book The Next Eco Warriors: 22 Young Men and Women Who are Saving the Planet, edited by Emily Hunter with a forward by Farley Mowat, published 2011.
You’ll want to see the front of the post office next door so continue a few more steps to the end of the block and turn right onto Lafayette Avenue. Now walk to the middle of the block so you can see the entrance to this low-rise building where it forms the corner of Lafayette and Manida Street.
STOP 5. Hunt’s Point’s Post Office mirrors citizens’ ambitions for the neighborhood. Cybeale Ross has lived on this block since 1958 and long been involved in preserving it. Manida’s Street’s 800 block has long been among the best preserved in the whole district.
Before this relatively new branch was constructed, earlier generations knew their closest USPS station as the one that remains on Westchester Avenue between Freeman and Simpson–quite a walk! Mrs. Ross made a point of attending meetings surrounding the establishment of this branch. The building reflects that wisdom. Note that vehicular traffic is oriented onto the commercial streets and away from Manida’s tree-lined calm. The low-rise scale and planted courtyard were her ideas too.
Across the street on Lafayette Avenue and just beyond Manida Street towers a stone-clad religious cloister you couldn’t miss if you tried.
STOP 6. Corpus Christi Monastery is located at 1230 Lafayette Avenue. It was constructed in 1890. According to the American Institute of Architects Guide to New York City, “The best time to visit this cloistered community of Dominican nuns is on Sunday afternoon, when they sing their office.” This black and white image was taken around 2005 for Bronx River Sankofa’s founder by the late great photographer and musician Ibrahim Gonzalez.
Locals call the field at the intersection of Lafayette and Manida Street Manida Park—not it’s official name—and have come to enjoy it’s modern recreation center visible from our last two sites. Walk along the broad field of this park until you reach 765 Manida Street.
STOP 7. Hunt’s Point Recreation Center (not shown) is operated by the Department of Parks and Recreation of the City of New York. It is very active with all kinds of activities for all ages 12 months of the year. It’s also one of the newest recreation centers anywhere in the city.
Our next destination is the corner ahead of us. We won’t be visiting but simply looking over to it where Manida Street and Spofford Avenue cross. Do you see the imposing red brick schoolhouse one block away to your left?
STOP 8. P.S. 48 where students and teachers have revived interest in the Joseph Rodman Drake Park Cemetery and Enslaved African Burial Ground. See how they publish their research by clicking here!
Take Spofford Avenue one block farther away from P.S. 48 walking down-hill to Barretto Street–which you’ll walk half-of-one-block into for the first green space you see to your left. You’ll know you’re approaching it because of its distinctive foundation planting outside the fence in the public right-of-way bordering the sidewalk.
STOP 9. Barretto Community Garden was one of the first community gardens in Hunt’s Point.
Double back up Barretto Street to Spofford Avenue, turn left so you are continuing down the gentle hill —passing Casanova Street—and join Tiffany Street. Now turn right. Be mindful that you’re on a heavily trafficked commercial route as you head north. The Bruckner Expressway will be visible in the distance. Where Tiffany reconnects you with Lafayette Avenue, a massive twentieth century red brick industrial building will command your attention on your right (across from Corpus Christi Monastery).
STOP 10. American Bank Note Company printing complex (built 1911) is an official NYC Landmark. Read all about it in its official designation report by clicking here. This highly productive facility once employed hundreds who worked in three consecutive shifts. Among it’s many products were South American currencies and American Express Traveler’s Checks.
Tiffany Street unfolds with great sites as we continue toward, below, and immediately on the other side of the Bruckner Expressway above head. Now, at the intersection of the Bruckner Boulevard (at street level) and Tiffany, a powerful community development group presents buildings visible on both north and south sides of the street.
STOP 11. SEBCO (South East Bronx Community Organization) was founded in 1968 and has done a great deal to improve the lives of many in the Hunt’s Point-Longwood neighborhoods. Much has been written about this group over the years. To your left is a low-rise health center they initiated over a decade ago. The tall senior housing facility on the right (although it faces the next block: Southern Boulevard) has the name “Sister Thomas Apartments” facing you. Housing and health are just two of their areas of action. Father Louis Gigante of St. Athanasius Church and other locals formed the South East Bronx Community Organization (SEBCO) as a community development non-profit. Many came to know SEBCO for having painted on some of the buildings they rehabilitated the words “Father Louis Gigante Rebuilding the South Bronx.” This large declaration was seen for decades from the Bruckner Expressway. Learn more by visiting their website here.
Looking just one block ahead on Tiffany Street, let’s head to the Renaissance-inspired building at 877 Southern Boulevard.
STOP 12. Hunts Point Library. This site indicates a rich man’s literacy revolution. The Andrew Carnegie endowment built libraries throughout North American and Britain. The Hunt’s Point Branch was the final NYC branch built under this endowment; it opened in 1928. At one time, the New York Public Library houses a substantial Latino literature department here. Today, you would find a similar specialty collection at the Bronx Library Center a few miles to the north.
This important public building is situated on Father Gigante Plaza, a pedestrian-oriented public open space framed by a gated park and fountain to the south (maintained by SEBCO), Fox Street on the west and our next attraction.
STOP 13. St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church
Skirt the church building, leaving the plaza, and examine its beautiful westerly windows on Fox Street. Then continue along Fox 1.5 blocks (passing Barretto St.) to 928 Fox Street.
The Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education has developed their own South Bronx Culture Trail. Their mission is to empower youth and their families by creating a culture of learning through high quality social, cultural, and educational opportunities.
They welcome kids at the age of six and stay with them until college while providing family learning through the arts. They distinguish themselves in the plurality of ways in which they attract community members to utilize their services. Their students introduce their parents to their cultural programs, while their public programs guide parents to wide ranging education programs. Founded in 1934, they have served many who have gone on to enrich the world through culture, public service, education, and business. Alumni and program providers have been many. Some highlights include:
Tina Ramirez, Founder of Ballet Hispanico
Joe Conzo, Jr., Photographer
DJ GrandWizzard Theodore, Hip Hop pioneer
Hon. Annabel Palma, NYC Council Member
David Gonzalez, Journalist and Photographer
Wandee “WanderPop” Candelario, Dancer
Rita Moreno, Singer/Actress/Dancer
Dave Valentin, Latin Jazz Musician and Composer
BG 183, Tats Cru
Lorraine A. Cortes Vazques, 65th Secretary of State of New York
Marta Rivera, Educator
Francisco Molina Reyes II, Photographer
Americo Casiano, Poet
Double back along Fox street to Father Gigante Plaza where the church we visited stands. Now walk away from the plaza along Tiffany Street so that you are seeing low-rise private homes to your left. Join E. 163rd Street two blocks away, then walk along that street to where E. 163rd and Kelly streets cross. Looking into Kelly Street, take a moment to appreciate the crescent shape of this block as well as it’s early 20th century feel.
STOP 15. Kelly Street (aka Banana Kelly) is an iconic Bronx Street.
It’s been made famous around the world by memoirs of locals including General Colin Powell who recall living and playing here.
Walk slowly down this crescent-shaped street toward the park one block ahead. Next, turn right and find 928 Intervale Avenue.
STOP 16. Mothers on the Move (MoMs) is a community organizing group. There has been good power sharing between Latinos and African-Americans here. Joyce Culler, a long-standing Bronx Community Board 2 member, is a MOMs board member. MoMs works on education, transportation and other issues. It has been led for over a decade by Wanda Salaman, a modest and highly effective Latina of African descent.
Next door is a convenience shop where you may want to grab a drink and a snack so you can enjoy a break in the park across the street.
STOP 17 (SHADE/REST/BATHROOM BREAK). Rainey Park has athletic fields rimmed with shaded strolling paths and benches and a comfort station. It symbolizes the Bronx rebuilt. Similar to most community gardens, it occupies land where housing stood 60 years ago. Today, it’s a park named for a major local African-American civic leader–William F. Rainey (1920-1985)–who once ran the local Police Athletic League. Once you’ve enjoyed the charms of this relatively recently renovated park, proceed to the school anchored at its southern end.
STOP 18. The PS 39 building once housed Longwood Arts Gallery, Pregones Theater, and Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension Bronx office. It is now the Holcolm L. Rucker School of Community Research, a high school. This is where a young and blessed Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) attended school too. Carmichael’s legacy deserves to be remembered as we celebrate so many anniversaries of the Civil Rights Movement.
Across the street at 991 Longwood Avenue (at Beck Street) is the most recent incarnation of a longstanding children’s play/learning/health institution.
STOP 19. Police Athletic League (Longwood Center). The building you see here dates to 1996. Since 1914 PAL has been serving New York City’s youth with safe, structured programming designed to engage boys and girls in positive activities that improve their quality of life, present developmental opportunities, and offer the prospect of a brighter future. What started out as the closing of streets by the New York City Police Department to enable the city’s unsupervised youth to play became a city-wide Cops & Kids movement and later national model that brought communities and police together in ways that prevail to this day.
Cross Longwood Avenue into Beck Street. Explore the length of this block until Beck Street meets E. 156th Street.
STOP 20. Longwood Historic District According to the Lehman College Art Gallery website, “Built at the turn of the 20th century, the Longwood Historic District is an enclave of primarily two and three story row houses constructed in anticipation of the population surge expected into the area. Real estate developer George B. Johnson purchased the old S. B. White estate on speculation and hired architect Warren C. Dickerson (also known for his work on Mott Haven Historic District structures) to design and construct houses. By the time that the IRT subway line (today’s no. 6 train) from Manhattan reached the neighborhood in 1904, Dickerson’s houses were completed and clustered nearby.” Read the complete entry by clicking here. See a simulation of the old White mansion on the SE corner of Beck Street and E. 156th Street.
STOP 21. Prospect Hospital (not shown) is where Irma Fleck hatched a late 1970s green business with help from a veteran of the federal War on Poverty scene. Bronx Frontier was born here. See the earlier Gardening and Garvey article to learn more about that Bronx success story.
Continue along E. 156th Street for three blocks until you arrive at Prospect Avenue. Please look up at the street signs on this corner by Public School 130.
STOP 22. Dra. Evelina Antonetty Way was unveiled in 2011. The street sign is located at the intersection of Prospect Avenue and E. 156th Street.
Take time to reflect and be empowered by the legacy of Dr. Evelina Lopez Antonetty (1922-1984). “Titi” or “Auntie,” as she was often called, created United Bronx Parents and was a force for establishing bi-lingual education locally and nationally. Among her hundreds of accomplishments, she protested, periodically shut down filming for, and got twenty jobs for local people-of-color in the filming of Fort Apache, a fictional film set in the Bronx. Her mural across the street (below) reads her words from 1980: “We will never stop struggling here in the Bronx, even though they’ve destroyed it around us. We would pitch tents if we have to rather than move from here. We would fight back, there is nothing we would not do. They will never take us away from here. I feel very much a part of this and I’m never going to leave. And, after me, my children will be here to carry on…I have very strong children…and very strong grandchildren.”
Titi’s daughter Anita Antonetty once provided career counseling services to the youths of Rocking the Boat in Hunt’s Point. Many were pleasantly surprised to encounter a mature Latina deeply aware of Bronx ecology issues and trends. Anita continues to make her mark on the Bronx sustainability front through community boards and beyond.
Our final destination for today’s tour is across from the nearest train station. Please make a right on Prospect Avenue and walk toward the very visible train tracks above Westchester Avenue in the near distance. Just before you reach this refurbished and remodeled Victorian Revival-styled train station, you’ll see 786 Prospect Avenue. You have arrived!
CONCLUSION: Casa Amadeo is regarded as a national landmark. It’s a music store specializing in Afro-caribbean sounds. You can even buy musical instruments there. If you’re lucky, you may visit when a spontaneous jam session is happening live in the back room. The owner, Mike Amadeo, is a musician and composer who is well known in traditional Latin music circles. The elegant Old Bronx building they occupy once houses both Tito Puente and Celia Cruz.
Thank you for walking with us! Bronx River Sankofa invites you to always move forward strengthened by the wisdom of reflecting periodically!
About the Author
Morgan Powell founded Bronx River Sankofa in 2011 as a spin-off from the Bronx African-American History Project (founded in 2003). He has used the Project’s methods of combining oral history and classical scholarship to assemble an inspiring and useful history of Bronx African-Americans. Beyond the thousands reached by his research in televised interviews and walking tours as well as published writing at Outdoor Afro, Sakofa once met over 1,400 members of the public in power point talks and walking tours.