Melrose Magnificence

4 Apr

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I was in Melrose today. At the corner of East 160th Street and Elton Avenue is a glorious community garden, called the Rock Garden. Melrose is famous for its gardens, as so many took root following the arson and abandonment that leveled much of the neighborhood in the 1970s. Many have been replaced by new residential buildings but some stayed put. This garden took root in just the last few years though.

I took a few photos through the fence from the sidewalk. I know community gardens are open to, and for, the public, but I hadn’t been there before and didn’t feel comfortable walking in and snapping photos without checking in with someone. Well that happened when Jose Almodovar approached me and warmly encouraged me to come in. After taking some photos in the glorious sunshine of flowers and chickens and the playful structures built by some, I spoke a bit with Ralph Rivera, who has lived across the street from the garden for a few years. He helped build the shelter-like structures on the site and he told me about all the great activities that go on there: an Easter Egg hunt, a Halloween party, a domino league, trips to Six Flags for kids. He told me that Lillian Reyes and Carmen Martinez oversee the gardening activities. The garden is also home to hens that produce eggs.

Melrose has been undergoing a phenomenal transformation in recent years. There are many new residential buildings that will be followed by many more, but there’s also gorgeous architecture and open space that was protected by community activists who prevented the city’s plans to raze much of the community in the early 1990s. It’s an exciting urban planning experiment, shaped at the grassroots,  that is still under way.

Speaking of Melrose, activist Ed Garcia Conde has a map on his welcome2melrose blog today indicating all the places in Melrose and the south Bronx where there are bike racks.

One of the lesser thought of means of getting to Melrose and the surrounding neighborhoods is via good ole fashioned sweat power – the bike. With its unparalleled access to Manhattan via FIVE bridges (Third, Willis, Madison Avenues, 145th Street and Macomb Dam Bridges) biking is one of the best options available to the community, employees and visitors alike. …

Enjoy the slideshow above, a first on Bronx Matters.

-Jordan Moss


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