Our guide was our friend and neighbor Irving Fishman. Born July 1918, he died at age 95 in March 2014. Irv grew up in the Bronx. He lived from the early 1950s on the Lower East Side in high-rise coops that he moved to after his service in the Army in World War II. We explored his childhood streets in the Bronx on a beautiful September day in 2012. My husband Steve Giles accompanied us, and I took pictures.
Bordered by the Cross-Bronx Expressway and Tremont Avenue, between Park and Third Avenues, the immediate neighborhood is part of the Bathgate section of East Tremont. It is a different area ethnically than it was when Irv grew up there in the 1920s and '30s. Then it was Jewish/Italian/Irish. Now it's Hispanic and black. But in some ways, it's the same—striving immigrants and their children in a gritty industrial/residential area.
People were friendly and engaging. Around the corner from Irv's old apartment building (now demolished), Manuel de la Cruz runs a "jugo" stand. He lives in the building next door (above) with his wife. He’s been here from the Dominican Republic for nine years. He was a lawyer there.
On Washington Ave., around the corner from Irv’s old address is a four-story tenement that Irv said is like the one he grew up in. He showed us this because his building was torn down.
This is the spot that where there was once the tenement building where Irv grew up, 456 175th Street. The Cross-Bronx Expressway, visible above, was built starting in 1948, long after Irv left.
This is nearly across the street from where Irv grew up at 175th St. and Washington Ave. There were houses then. “When these were demolished, they found human bones,” he says.
Bathgate is one of the poorest neighborhood in the poorest county in the state. There's a good description of the demographics and housing in the neighborhood here.
For a map that marks where Irv lived and went to school in the 1920s, click here.
For more photos, a map, and the story of Bathgate and Irv, click here.