The Bronx and Its People

HENRY BRUCKNER (1871-1942)

The soda magnate and Bronx politician was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for three terms from 1913 to 1917; after resigning his House seat, he served as Bronx Borough president from 1918 to 1934.  One of the Bronx’s main freeways, the Bruckner Expressway, is named in his honor



LOUIS HAFFEN (1854-1935)

Born in Melrose, the son of Haffen Brewery founder Matthias Haffen was the first Bronx Borough President.  He was elected four times and was known as the “Father of the Bronx”;  after leaving office, he resumed work as a consulting engineer for the Bronx Borough.



LOUIS J. HEINTZ (1861-1893)

An early Bronx civic leader, Heintz was the first Street Commissioner for the district of the Bronx.  At the base of Grand Concourse is a monument to Heintz in Joyce Kilmer Park.




While chancellor of New York University. MacCracken was responsible for the creation of Hall of Fame for Great Americans on today’s Bronx Community College, using the term “Hall of Fame” in English, inspired by Munich’s Ruhmeshalle (“hall of fame” in German).  Under his tenure, the university medical school was strengthened by union with Bellevue Hospital Medical College.



CYRUS MILLER (1867-1956)

The politician and lacrosse player was the third Borough President of The Bronx as well as the first official Bronx Borough Historian.  USA Lacrosse inducted him into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1957.



ROBERT MOSES (1888-1981)

The urban plannner reshaped New York City and its environs with his massive public works projects.  Among the projects Moses orchestrated were the Cross-Bronx Expressway, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Orchard Beach, and Co-Op City.



LOUIS A. RISSE (1852-1925)

The immigrant and engineer from Alsace-Lorraine designed the Grand Concourse when he was named official Engineer of the Concourse in 1890.  Norwood’s Risse Street Park’s namesake comes from the city engineer and Frenchman who modeled the Grand Concourse after the Champs-Élysées in Paris, the famous inner-city oasis of formal terraces, chestnut groves, and lush lawns that has a special place in Parisians’ hearts.



DAN TOPPING (1912-1974)

From 1945 to 1964, Topping was owner and president of the New York Yankees baseball team.  During his tenure as chief executive of the Yankees, the team won 14 American League pennants and 10 World Series championships.



WILLIAM H. WEBB (1816-1899)

One of the most versatile and successful shipbuilders of his day, Webb designed some of the fastest and most successful packet boats and clippers ever built as well as and some of the largest and most celebrated steamboats and steamships, including the giant ironclad USS Dunderberg.  Webb decided to create a school to train future designers of ships and marine machinery, and founded the Webb Academy and Home for Shipbuilders; the original Webb Academy campus was located on a bluff overlooking the Harlem and Hudson Rivers in the Bronx but today occupies the former country estate of Standard Oil chairman Herbert Pratt in Glen Cove, Long Island.



JAMES L. WELLS (1843-1928)

The businessman and politician was president of the North Side Board of Trade, director of the Twenty-Third Ward Bank, a trustee of the Dollar Savings Bank, and president of the Real Estate Auctioneers’ Association of New York City.  In 1921, the Bronx Board of Trade declared Wells “the Father of the Bronx” because of his work developing the borough and active public service.





Regarded as one of the best mayors in New York City’s history, LaGuardia served as the 99th Mayor of New York City.  During his unprecedented three terms as Mayor, he fought against Tammany Hall, increased the City budget by over $200 million, oversaw the development and completion of multiple infrastructure projects, and collaborated with President Franklin D. Roosevelt on New Deal policies.  As Mayor, LaGuadia used the Bartow-Pell Mansion in Pelham Bay Park as a summer office and residence.




Attilio and his five brothers came to New York from Carrara, Italy in 1888; the family of renowned marble carvers set up shop on 142nd Street between St. Ann’s and Willis Avenues.  At the pinnacle of their success, the Piccirillis were commissioned to work on such famous New York City landmarks as the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York Stock Exchange, Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, New York Public Library, and City Hall Park; the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and many other well-known public sculptures were actually carved in the Piccirilli Brothers’ 142nd Street studio




A familiar act at New York’s famed Apollo Theater, Markham was considered one of the greatest Black comics of the vaudevillian era; the book Showtime at the Apollo suggests, “He probably played the Apollo more often than any other performer.  Starting in the 1950s, Markham began appearing on television, making multiple appearances on the influential The Ed Sullivan Show, and became a popular figure with his “Heyeah (Here) Come Da Judge” skit with comedian Sammy Davis Jr. featured on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.



FRANZ SIGEL (1824-1904)

Born in Germany and a leader of the failed insurrections of 1848, Sigel rallied German-Americans to the Union cause in 1861 with the slogan, “I goes to fight mit Sigel.”  A colonel with the 3rd Missouri, Sigel led his troops in skirmishes near Camp Jackson, in St. Louis, and in Carthage, Missouri, and his ability to recruit German-speaking immigrants for the Union Army won the approval of President Abraham Lincoln.  An easy walk from Yankee Stadium, Franz Sigel Park is named for the military officer and patriot.



JOSEPH STELLA (1877-1946)

The Italian American Futurist painter is best known for his depictions of industrial America.  Combining elements of Futurism and Cubism, Stella produced his most famous work the Brooklyn Bridge, which captured its dizzying height and awesome scale; Stella’s Brooklyn Bridge is now at the Whitney Museum of American Art.



WILLIAM OGDEN (1805-1877)

Ogden was part of the committee that drafted a city charter to submit to the Illinois legislature; when Chicago became a city, he became its first mayor.  The politician and railroad executive was one of the prime movers that organized the digging of a canal from the Chicago River to Lake Michigan.



FRANKIE FRISCH (1898-1973)

Born in the Bronx, Frisch went on to Fordham University; starring in four sports: baseball, football, basketball, and track, he earned the nickname “the Fordham Flash.”  The second baseman won the National League Most Valuable Player Award with the Cardinals in 1931 while helping them capture the World Series both that year and in 1934.  Frisch was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947 and the Fordham Athletics Hall of Fame in 1970.  The Mosholu Baseball Field in Bedford Park was renamed Frank Frisch Field in 1948.




The Civil War drummer boy was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for aiding a wounded officer while under heavy fire in battle in Camden, NC.  After returning to New York, Langbein made his home in Norwood, and served as an assemblyman in the New York State legislature and judge of the Seventh Judicial District Court.



OLIVER TILDEN (1828-1862)

At the outbreak of the Civil War, the carpenter by trade enlisted in the Union Army and helped organize Company A of the 38th Volunteer New York Infantry Regiment.  Captain Oliver Tilden Triangle is a small island at an intersection in Morrisania that honors the first soldier from this neighborhood to give his life for the Union during the Civil War (Tilden was killed in combat at the Battle of Chantilly in Virginia in 1862).  His monument was erected by Oliver Tilden Post Number 96 of the Grand Army of the Republic, the largest Union veterans’ organization after the Civil War.




Zimmerman honed his baseball skills on the ultra-competitive sandlots of New York City—first at a park on the corner of 163rd Street and Southern Boulevard in Longwood—where he established himself as one of the finest semipro players in the metro area.  Zimmerman played in the Major Leagues for the Chicago Cubs and New York Giants.  The lifetime .295 hitter won the National League of Baseball Club’s Triple Crown in 1912.



William joined his father as a partner in the family publishing business, D. Appleton & Company; the firm published works by a range of noteworthy authors, including: Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species).  The internationally known publisher purchased Wave Hill and used it as a summer residence.


ROBERT COLGATE (1811-1885)

One of the three sons of pioneer soap manufacturer William Colgate, founder of what would become the Colgate Palmolive Company, Robert Colgate built a mansion in the Hudson Hill section of Riverdale.  The two-story picturesque Italianate villa built of ashlar Maine granite known as Stonehurst was declared an official New York City landmark in 1983.


WILLIAM E. DODGE (1833-1903)

One of the “Merchant Princes” of Wall Street in the years leading up to the Civil War, Dodge cofounded Phelps, Dodge & Company, one of the largest mining companies in the U.S.  In 1863, he built Greyston Conference Center in Hudson Hill; designed by architect James Renwick, Jr., Greyston is one of the city’s finest examples of Gothic Revival.


GEORGE PERKINS (1862-1920)

Perkins joined J.P. Morgan & Co. in 1901 and negotiated many complex deals, especially the formation of the International Harvester Corporation, International Mercantile Marine Co., and Northern Securities Company.  As chairman of the YMCA finance committee, he raised $200,000,000 for welfare work among American soldiers abroad.  Perkins moved to Riverdale in 1893 and bought Wave Hill; the conservationist worked relentlessly to beautify Wave Hill’s gardens and greenhouses.



Delafield went into banking and in 1914 was made vice president of the Franklin Trust Company, followed by president two years later; in 1920, the institution merged with the Bank of America.  From 1946 to 1968, Delafield was the Treasurer of Memorial Hospital for the Treatment of Cancer and Allied Diseases now known as the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  In 1965, Delafield donated a 13-acre property in Riverdale to Columbia University, which renamed it the Delafield Botanical Garden at Columbia University.


JOHN AGAR (1856-1935)

Agar Place in Country Club is named for the prominent New York lawyer and leader in the reform political movement, who served as the Judge Advocate during the Spanish-American War; Agar was a staunch advocate of the enforcement of civil service law in the appointment and promotion of teachers.



Bryan Park at the intersection of East Fordham Road and East Kingsbridge Road honors the Bronx veteran and member of the Allied Expeditionary Force that the U.S. sent to Europe during World War I; Bryan lost his life in the Meuse-Argonne campaign, one of the largest offensives in American military history.


HUGH CAMP (1827-1895)

Camp Street in Wakefield is named after Hugh Camp, a trustee of the Woodlawn Cemetery; the real estate developer improved large tracts of land in what was referred to as the “Annexed District” of the Bronx.


CELIA CRUZ (1925-2003)

The Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music in Kingsbridge Heights, the first high school of music in the Bronx, is named for the “Queen of Salsa”; one of the most famous and influential women in Latin music, the Cuban-American singer helped popularize salsa music in the U.S. as a member of the legendary Fania All-Stars musical group.



Hawkins Street in City Island is named after the family that made this Bronx region their home; interred in Woodlawn in 1881, merchant mariner and ship captain Elnathan Hawkins introduced flowering quince, an Asian fruit commonly used to make preserves, to the U.S. in 1811.