Building the Bronx
BUILDING THE BRONX
The Bronx is unique in New York City. It is the only portion of the city not on an island, the only part physically located on the North American continent, and the only borough that allows—some might say demands—an article in its title.
The New York Transit Museum’s newest exhibit, Building The Bronx is now on view at Grand Central Terminal. The exhibit traces more than 350 years of the borough’s transit history, from horse cars and steam railroads to the arrival of the subway to the current Penn Station Access project that promises more commuter rail transit options to the East Bronx. Along the way, photographs and objects from the Transit Museum’s extensive collections celebrate transportation’s contributions to the cultural diversity of The Bronx, as well as the borough’s key role in the economic and social development of New York City.
“The show is meant to be an overview of how many different types of transportation have connected the people of The Bronx to each other, the rest of New York City, and the rest of the country” says New York Transit Museum Curator Jodi Shapiro. “There’s so much to talk about, and we’re only scratching the surface.”
Since its settlement by Europeans in 1639, The Bronx has seen its share of triumph, turmoil, decline, and rebirth. Its strategic location between fresh water sources and Manhattan’s teeming population made it attractive, and transportation systems put in place to connect to what are now Westchester, Nassau, and Bergen Counties were a key factor in the expansion of New York City as a whole.
In 1900 The Bronx had about 200,000 residents—and its own, disparate transportation network, parts of which harkened back to the days when the borough’s 42 square miles were filled with farms. By 2020, The Bronx’s population had grown to over 1.4 million, mostly people of color; the median household income is around $40,000 per year, and most Bronx residents still rely on public transit.
The distinctiveness of The Bronx’s architecture and neighborhoods is a testament to the people who arrived in two waves of urbanization caused by developing transportation: the steam railroads that connected the area to upstate New York, Connecticut, and beyond, and the expansion of the subway.
Building The Bronx is on view through October 2022 at the New York Transit Museum Gallery & Store at Grand Central Terminal. The Museum’s Gallery & Store are open Wednesdays through Fridays, 11:30am to 6pm. It is located in the shuttle passage on 42nd Street and Park Avenue, adjacent to the Station Master’s Office, and is free to the public year-round. Plan your visit at nytransitmuseum.org/visit.
Building The Bronx is sponsored by Stephen J. Vaccaro, di Domenico + Partners – Architects, Susan and Eli Gilbert, and other generous donors. It is made possible by the Architecture + Design program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the New York State Legislature, and supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Exhibits at the Grand Central Gallery are supported by the Hugoton Foundation. Special thanks to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation and The Lenape Center.
Now through October
Wednesdays through Fridays 11:30am – 6pm
11:30am - 6:00pm
New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex & Store
Grand Central Terminal