Monday, August 2, 2010

The Bronx Accent by Lloyd Olden

The Bronx Accent: A Literary and Pictorial History of the Borough is not your ordinary dry history book. This book starts with the arrival of the Dutch in the 1600s. It explained how Jonas Bronck (1600–1643) was not a Dutch immigrant as previously believed but was actually an immigrant from Komstad in Sävsjö, Sweden. Jonas Bronck had a farm that spanned only half of what is currently known as the Bronx. Later the borough was expanded north, which was once part of Westchester County.

It went on to talk about some prominent people from the literary world who lived in the borough such as, Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain and Theodore Dreiser to name a few.

The book is peppered with excerpts from stories about The Bronx and poetry about the borough. Not to mention pictures from earlier in the 20th century and before that, drawings of places familiar to Bronxites such as Kingsbridge, and Varian House.

Lloyd Ultan is the current Bronx historian. He has had his hand in several books about The Bronx, all which are amazing.

People usually have a negative view of The Bronx, thanks to movies such as "Fort Apache, The Bronx". Although that movie was accurate to the time. In the 1960s and 1970s, The Bronx was a hell hole, and buildings burned on a daily basis. It amazes me how we made it out of those decades alive. We have our Mayor at the time Ed Koch and Jimmy Carter (who was President), who was the only President to ever visited The Bronx. Thanks to their efforts, the borough was rebuilt.

The Bronx has a rich history. A lot of famous people were born and grew up here, and others transplanted themselves here. Regis Philbin who lived at 1990 Cruger Avenue (now named Regis Philbin Way), Bobby Darin, Anne Bancroft, Ralph Lauren, Woody Allen, Penny & Garry Marshall, and many more.

Maybe one day, my name will be added to that list.

I don't think anyone who isn't from The Bronx, would have much interest in this book. I came across it because of a Book Challenge to read a book about my local history. It isn't hard to find a book about the history of New York city, but I wanted to get even more local. I was happy with this book. 4.5 out of 5.

And even cooler, was a picture of my current neighborhood was on the back cover. However, this is actually a drawing, and is quite old. Probably from when the neighborhood was first built in 1940.

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