02 June 2007

Little Italy Has Actual Villa

Morris Park in the Bronx has something other Little Italys in New York don't: a villa and a piazza.

Get off the 180th Street stop on the 2 or 5 line for the first time and you're in for a shock. The subway station isn't some kiosk or hole in the ground; it's a cream-colored, three-story Italianate structure with columns and arched windows, fronted by a circular, brick-lined piazza complete with benchs and a central flagpole.

Why would the MTA lavish such fabulousness on some stop in the Bronx? Because, of course, they didn't build it. They only bought it from the bankrupt New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad , a railway in its own right which a century ago starting expanding in the Bronx. The owner build the 180th Street stop with the idea of rivaling Grand Central in grandeur. It built several other stations as well. Of course, it didn't work and the company went out of business in 1937. The city bought the NYWB in 1940. They kept the stations as is. Read here for more info.

Anyway, it certainly fits in with what is modern day Morris Park. The little old Italian ladies hanging out outside the station look like they're sitting in a piazza back in the old country.

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