Melrose, The Bronx

Moving further north, the Port Morris Branch passes under 156th Street, then passes through a short tunnel under Brooke Avenue between 157th Street and Third Avenue.

The Beaux-Arts Bronx Borough Courthouse was designed by Oscar Bluemner and completed in 1915. It is the sole survivor of what was a complex of government buildings. Troubles for the star-crossed building began even before it opened. It was finished a decade behind schedule and over budget. A corrupt Tammany Hall operative claimed the credit (and the commission) for the building. Surrounding elevated trains made it difficult to hear in the courtrooms and closing the windows made it unbearably hot. Growing population made the courthouse undersized and obsolete within a couple of decades of its opening and much of its caseload moved west to a new courthouse in the 1930s. It later served as a night court and storage building before being abandoned in the 1970s.

Ideas for reuse of the landmark building came and went over the years but the Giuliani Administration finally auctioned it off in 1996 for $130,000. When that bidder never paid, a second auction in 1998 got $300,000 from a speculator who promptly did nothing but sit on it and wait for the surrounding community to improve. Plans for a school in the building began circulating in 2007, although the site was listed for sale in 2007 at $25 million. In the Spring of 2008, plans to convert the building into a charter school were announced, although as of Summer 2008, no action at all seems to be taking place.

The rail line in this area sits in the shadow of a ridge topped by Eagle Avenue. I took a little side trip up the hill to have a look around the neighborhood. This was a wasteland after the fires of the late 1970s, but much of it has been nicely redeveloped by both the city housing authority and by private developers. I'm not sure I'd want to live here, but its alot better than it was.

Returning to the rail line - after a short stretch of open trench between Third Avenue and East 161st Street, the track proceeds into another short tunnel under O'Neill Triangle and Elton Avenue. The tunnel has obviously been rebuilt recently, perhaps covering a formerly open section of trench to create O'Neill Triangle.

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156th Street bridge over the Port Morris Branch
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North side of the 156th Street bridge
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Trench between 156th and Brook Avenue tunnel
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Looking south at 156th Street Bridge
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Railyard passing into a short tunnel under Brook Avenue
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Old guard railing beside trench
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South entrance to Brook Avenue tunnel
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Hegney Place and Melrose Condominiums parking lot over the rail tunnel
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Melrose Condominiums
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Melrose Condominiums
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Melrose Condos parking place reserver
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New gentrified development - east of the rail line
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Vacant lot over the Brook Avenue tunnel at 158th Street
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Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church
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Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church
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Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church
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Vestigial wall top at 159th Street - perhaps predating the tunnel
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Tattered fencing protecting the north portal of the Brook Avenue tunnel
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Tattered fencing protecting the north portal of the Brook Avenue tunnel
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North portal to the Brook Avenue tunnel
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Right-of-way emerging from the Brook Avenue tunnel
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Closeup of trench wall
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Rail line passing under Third Avenue
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South side of Third Avenue Bridge
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Railing along rail line just south of Third Avenue Bridge
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Third Avenue Bridge over tracks
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South guard wall of Third Avenue Bridge
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North guard wall of Third Avenue Bridge
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Right of way proceeding north of Third Avenue between some older buildings
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Vacant lot off Brook Avenue looking into the trench
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Overgrown rail line looking south from the 161st Street Tunnel
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Old Bronx Borough Courthouse
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Old Bronx Borough Courthouse
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Justice - not blind
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Koch-era sign proclaiming seal-up of the derelict building
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Old Bronx Borough Courthouse
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East side of the courthouse
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North side of the courthouse
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North side of the courthouse
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West side of the courthouse
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Where all those Delicioso Coco Helado carts come from
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Older building on the corner of 161st Street across from the courthouse
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We have things them
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Hillside up to Eagle Avenue
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Union Rincoena Social Club
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NYCHA South Bronx Area
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NYCHA South Bronx Area
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NYCHA South Bronx Area
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Rebuilt row houses on 158th Street
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Grove Hill Playground
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Grove Hill Playground
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Community garden in Grove Hill Playground
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Parking over the hillside off Eagle Avenue
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El Batey Borincano Community Garden - Eagle Avenue
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El Batey Borincano
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El Batey Borincano
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View of courthouse from Eagle Avenue
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831 Eagle Avenue
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831 Eagle Avenue
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831 Eagle Avenue
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831 Eagle Avenue
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Casita
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Eagle Avenue Bridge over East 161st Street
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Eagle Avenue Bridge over East 161st Street
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East 161st Street south of Eagle Avenue
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East 161st Street north of Eagle Avenue
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New Hope for All Saints Lutheran Church
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Shops off Third Avenue at 161st Street
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Kennedy Fried Chicken!
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Wall of the rail trench between buildings
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Looking into the trench from off Washington Avenue
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Entrance to the newly rebuilt Elton Avenue Tunnel
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Warning sign at entrance to the Elton Avenue Tunnel
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Washington Ave. curving onto East 161st Street over the tunnel
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O'Neill Triangle - sitting area over the tunnel
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O'Neill Triangle - tunnel path is obvious
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Some kind of civil building off O'Neill Triangle
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Cops parked behind the building
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Elton Avenue crossing the tracks
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Trees in the trench east of Elton Avenue
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Gentrification off Elton Avenue

Next: The Harlem Line