A Historic Moment for the Bronx

The Bronx took an historic turn last week with official Borough Historian Lloyd Ultan turning the title and the job over to his long-time deputy, Angel Hernandez.
Ultan, first appointed to the job 26 years ago by then-Borough President Fernando Ferrer, is pretty much a walking encyclopedia of the Bronx, having authored a number of books and publications, given countless talks and walking tours, and taught at local colleges.
He will remain close to the Bronx he loves as Borough Historian Emeritus, said Borough President Vanessa Gibson, who was joined by the Bronx Tourism Council, community leaders, and residents on Friday, May 5 at Borough Hall to announce Hernandez’ appointment and praise Ultan for his service.
Ultan “has had an immeasurable impact on the history of our borough. His passion for the Bronx is infectious, and his attention to detail and dedication to preserving its history is truly remarkable,” said Gibson. “I know his legacy will continue to inspire us and as we move forward with a new historian, Angel Hernandez.
She called Hernandez “committed to telling the stories of the Bronx, creating new opportunities for our future generations, and ensuring our history is highlighted and preserved.
Hernandez, who called Bronx history “a true passion for me,” served nine years as Director of Programs and External Relations for The Bronx County Historical Society, where he began The Bronx Latino History Project, raised funds for audio tours to be implemented at the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage and the Valentine-Varian House (Museum of Bronx History), and conducted numerous walking tours and lectures on Bronx history. 
In a major step to preserving borough history with modern technology, he helped secure nearly $200,000 in capital funding from Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.’s office to start a digitization project. 
“Studying our beautiful borough’s historic past and sharing it with the world not only fulfills my duty to our great society but also invokes personal pride. I know I have big shoes to fill, yet I am confident that in this special role in today’s Bronx, I will be able to forge connections from the past and convey them as valuable lessons for the future.”
Ulltan, 85, said he was proud of the discoveries he has made through his research “that a lot of people did not know about,” spreading the information through his books, talks and other outlets, “all with the hope of spreading the word on how great a place the Bronx really is.”
 Bronx Tourism Council executive director Sulma Arzu-Brown praised both Ultan and Hernandez.
“From the art deco designs of buildings on the Grand Concourse to cultural & culinary corridors, to salsa and hip hop, every element of the Bronx has a story,” she said. “Who better to tell those stories than two outstanding citizens of our borough.”
Officials said the historian’s job in the unpaid position is to collect historical data, determine its authenticity and significance; and track and trace historical developments within the Bronx. The Historian also engages with the public through educational programs and presentations.

Newly announced official Bronx Historian Angel Hernandez joins Borough President Vanessa Gibson and the prolific Lloyd Ultan, who served in the position for 26 years, and will now be Borough Historian Emeritus. (Photo by Bronx Borough President’s office)

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