Originally called the "Grand Boulevard and Concourse," but later shortened for the benefit of sign makers, cab drivers and local residents, the Grand Concourse serves as a north-south lifeline for the western Bronx. In addition to serving the needs of local and through traffic, the Grand Concourse, through the classical and Art Deco architectural landmarks that line the route, has contributed greatly to the culture of the borough.

In 1870, engineer Louis Risse first conceived the Grand Concourse as a tree-lined boulevard similar in nature to Brooklyn's Ocean Parkway. By 1909, the original boulevard was constructed from Bronx Borough Hall at 161st Street north to the vicinity of Van Cortlandt Park. The Grand Concourse was extended south to 138th Street in 1927 after Mott Avenue, along whose alignment the new extension would run, was widened to accommodate the boulevard. The route was completed in 1939, when the approach to the new Major Deegan Expressway (and the Triborough Bridge) opened to traffic. At its widest point, the Grand Concourse is eleven lanes wide, and incorporates a four-carriageway, local-express configuration.

CONVERTING THE GRAND CONCOURSE INTO AN EXPRESSWAY: In 1941, the New York City Planning Department proposed a conversion of the Grand Concourse, a major boulevard with express and local roadways, into an expressway facility. The route, which probably would have had the NY 22 and NY 100 designations, was described as follows:

The conversion of this important major north-south route to an express highway would serve to speed up north-south travel through the Bronx. It could be accomplished by constructing three additional grade separations, and by continuing the separation malls, closing off access to the center express roadways at local streets.

The expressway was to connect the Major Deegan Expressway and the proposed Park Avenue Express Highway to the south with the Mosholu Parkway to the north. It was to incorporate the existing grade separations at the following locations:

  • East 139th Street
  • East 161st Street
  • East 167th Street
  • East 170th Street
  • East Tremont Avenue
  • East Burnside Avenue
  • Fordham Road
  • Kingsbridge Road
  • Bedford Park Boulevard
  • East 204th Street

With the southern extension of the Bronx River Parkway to the South Bronx community of Sound View in the 1940's, and the northern extension of the Major Deegan Expressway (I-87) to the New York State Thruway in the 1950's, plans for converting the Grand Concourse into an expressway were abandoned.

In 1962, the NY 100 designation was dropped from the Grand Concourse, and in 1972, the NY 22 disappeared from the route. For a period in the 1980's and 1990's, the Grand Concourse had exit numbers for the ramps exiting from the express (through) roadways to the local roadways.

This 1939 photo shows a close-up of the Grand Concourse approach to the Major Deegan Expressway. (Photo by Bronx County Historical Society.)

SOURCES: "Bridge Approach in the Bronx Is Ready," The New York Times (4/30/1939); "Master Plan: Express Highways, Parkways and Major Streets," New York City Planning Department (1941); The Bronx: It Was Only Yesterday, 1935-1965 by Lloyd Ultan and Gary Hermalyn, The Bronx County Historical Society (1992); Jeff Saltzman; Kevin Walsh.

  • NY 22 and NY 100 shields by Ralph Herman.
  • Lightpost by Jeff Saltzman.


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