Morris Park, Bronx
Morris Park is a neighborhood in the Bronx borough of New York City. The neighborhood is part of Community Board 11 in the East Bronx. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: Pelham Parkway to the north, the Amtrak Northeast Corridor tracks to the east and south, and Bronxdale-Muliner Avenues to the west. It borders the neighborhoods of Van Nest to its southwest and Indian Village to its northeast. Williamsbridge Road and Morris Park Avenue are the primary thoroughfares through Morris Park. The local subway is the IRT Dyre Avenue Line, operating along Esplanade. Zip codes include 10461 and 10462. The area is patrolled by the 49th Precinct located at 2121 Eastchester Road. The neighborhood has a large Italian American population.
Morris Park is named after John Albert Morris, who built the Morris Park Racecourse, which existed from 1889 until 1910. In 1890 the Morris Park Racecourse hosted the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, which continued to be run there until 1905. The track was later used for auto racing and the first public air show. After a 1910 fire the property was divided into lots for the current neighborhood. Many streets in Morris Park are named after mayors of New York City from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Land use and terrain
Morris Park is dominated by one and two family homes of various types. The neighborhood also has several apartment buildings. The total land area is roughly one square mile. The area is low laying and flat.
As an Italian American neighborhood, the residents have close ties to their heritage. With Italy’s World Cup victory in 2006, over 30,000 Italians flocked to the neighborhood for an all-day party. Since then, Morris Park has gained a rival reputation with Arthur Avenue for the true Bronx Italian-American neighborhood. The Bronx Columbus Day Parade is held in Morris Park, an event that both former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have attended in recent years. Morris Park has one of the highest Italian populations in the city, along with Bensonhurst and Staten Island.
Morris Park is famous for its annual Columbus Day Parade, which began in 1977 to honor Christopher Columbus, a controversial figure who was simultaneously the first European to reach the Americas and a ruthless tyrant who cut the hands off of Taino Indians who did not satisfy his demand to bring him gold It is held on the Sunday before the national Columbus Day holiday. The parade begins on the intersection of Morris Park Avenue and White Plains Road. The parade route turns left on Williamsbridge Road and ends at Pelham Parkway South. The reviewing stand, where the parade's dignitaries such as local politicians, civic and business leaders, and the parade's Grand Marshal sit, is located on Williamsbridge Road between Lydig and Neill avenues. Past Grand Marshals include actors Tony LoBianco, Chazz Palminteri, television personality Regis Philbin, and Yankee first baseman Joe Pepitone.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Jacobi Medical Center, and the Jack D. Weiler Hospital division of Montefiore Medical Center are all located on the eastern edge of the neighborhood. Matthews Park, Van Nest Lanes (a bowling alley), The 24 Hour Store, St. Francis Xavier School; St. Clare of Assisi School: whose Girls Varsity Basketball team won the Bronx Championship in '98. Our Saviour Lutheran School, P.S. 83; whose Girls Varsity Basketball team won the Bronx championship in 2006-2007, and most notably P.S. 108 which has been rated as one of the top schools in the Bronx for its academic achievement and performance. The neighborhood is also home to Bronx Psychiatric Center and Calvary Hospital.
Loreto Park is undergoing renovation to its main entrance portion which is located on Van Nest Avenue. Councilman James Vacca allocated $500,000 from the City Council for the reconstruction. Additions include a play area for toddlers, wheel-chair accessible equipment and planting beds. New benches, fencing and game tables are also slated to be added to the park. The existing bocce court as well will be renovated. The project is expected to be completed by spring 2012.
Joseph Garofalo, a World War II veteran, persuaded John Dormi & Sons Funeral Home in Morris Park to display his collection of medals and war memorabilia in what he has christened the Bronx Military Museum. People in the Morris Park neighborhood have contributed the military memorabilia that once belonged to their relatives.
- Bx8: to 225th Street 2 5 trains station or Locust Point (via Williamsbridge Road)
- Bx12: to Bay Plaza Shopping Center or Inwood – 207th Street A train station (via Fordham Road and Pelham Parkway)
- Bx21: to Westchester Square station or Third Avenue – 138th Street station (6 <6> trains, via Boston Road and Morris Park Avenue)
- Bx31: to Woodlawn or Westchester Square station (6 train, via Eastchester Road)
- BxM10: express to Midtown Manhattan
- Bee Line bus routes 60, 61, and 62 to lower Westchester run along Boston Road.
- Pelham Parkway (IRT Dyre Avenue Line) (5 train)
- Morris Park (IRT Dyre Avenue Line) (5 train)
A reflection of its heavily Italian-American and Catholic population, Morris Park was politically conservative and remained one of the Bronx's few solidly Republican neighborhoods until the 1990s. It was represented in the U.S. Congress from 1953 to 1969 by Paul Fino, a Republican, and them from 1969 to 1988 by Mario Biaggi, a socially conservative and law and order Democrat. Republican State Senators such as John D. Calandra and Guy Velella drew extensive support from Morris Park residents. In his three mayoral campaigns in 1989, 1993, and 1997, Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican, carried Morris Park by substantial margins. In recent years, changing demographics altered the neighborhood's political landscape. State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, a moderate Democrat and lifelong Morris Park resident, enjoys the popularity with Morris Park residents that both Calandra and Velella previously enjoyed. Mark Gjonaj, a newly elected member of the New York State Assembly and also a Democrat, currently represents Morris Park in the New York State Assembly, and his district office is located in the area. He recently moved into the community after being elected. James Vacca, a moderate Democrat, represents the neighborhood in the New York City Council.
- Cara Buono, actress
- Mary Higgins Clark, best-selling mystery author
- Abel Ferrara, film director
- Jeffrey D. Klein, New York State Senator (Democrat)
- Jake LaMotta, former professional boxer and middleweight champion
- James Madio, actor
- Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, cast member of Jersey Shore
- Luis Resto, former welterweight boxer and subject of HBO documentary "Assault in the Ring"
- Anthony Ribustello, actor
- Nancy Savoca, film director
- Guy Velella, former New York State Senator (Republican) and Bronx Republican Chairman
- The Seven-Ups (1973), directed by Philip D'Antoni
- Kiss Me Guido (1997), directed by Tony Vitale
- Raging Bull (1980), directed by Martin Scorsese
- True Love (1989), directed by Nancy Savoca
- Bad Lieutenant (1991)
- Summer of Sam (1999), directed by Spike Lee
- Men in Black 3 (2012)
- Warshawer, Gabby (April 4, 2014). "No More Off to Races, Which Suits Morris Park: Once Home to the Belmont, Preakness Races, Bronx Area is Now Residential". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- Bleyer, Jennifer (December 30, 2007). "Another Little Italy, With Scant Parking to Match". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
- Bronx Community District 11
- Morris Park, Bronx NY Detailed Profile - residents and real estate info
- Zinn, H. (1980). A People's History of the United States. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
- Signorile, Vito (July 11, 2011). "Much anticipated renovations underway at Loreto Park". Bronx Times Reporter. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
- Vincent M. Mallozzi, In a Bronx Funeral Parlor, a Veteran’s War Memorial, The New York Times, June 10, 2008 (retrieved October 20, 2010)
- "The Scavenger". Vimeo. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- DiBrino, Nicholas. The History of the Morris Park Racecourse and the Morris Family (1977)