Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

27 February 2011

Industrial Idylls

Where is this house?  Park Slope?  The Upper West Side?  Carroll Gardens?

Would you believe the South Bronx?

To be precise, it's on Beck Street.  It's about two and a half miles from Yankee Stadium.  Colin Powell (who, as far as I am concerned, gave the US one of the saddest days in its history) grew up a few blocks away.

In fact, the block on which that house stands is full of handsome brownstone and Victorian houses.  So are some of the nearby streets.  Somehow they survived the fires and other disasters that befell the Bronx during the 1970's and '80's.

As you can imagine, those streets make for some pleasant cycling, especially on a Sunday.

So, interestingly enough, do the nearby industrial areas of Point Morris and Hunt's Point.  

See that?  No worries about having or taking a lane here!

The weather was milder than we've had through most of this winter.  The temperature reached 55F and the thinnest wisps of clouds streaked the sky.  And, even though I was near the East River or Long Island Sound through most of my ride, the slight breezes carried only the faintest hint of chill from the water, which will be cold well into the spring.

I took Marianela because I thought there might still be some clumps of snow or slush, as well as potholes.  About the latter I was right, though the streets weren't as bad as I'd expected them to be.  

Speaking of streets: 

In almost every street name I've seen in the English-speaking world, the "Street," "Avenue," "Boulevard" or other designation came after the name.  I associate the practice of the designation preceding the name with French, Italian and Spanish cities.  

I wondered why I found a street named in the Latinate manner in the South Bronx, of all places.  I thought it might have to do with some French community that lived there at one time.  Gallic immigrants indeed settled in the Bronx, which was mainly rural, during the 19th Century, and opened spinning and weaving mills. And there is a parish of St. John (Jean) Vianney just steps away from that sign.

However, I found out that the street is actually named for a George St. John, who was one of the early English landowners of the area.  Still, I could find no explanation of why "Avenue" precedes rather than follows his name.  I guess he wasn't anticiapting curious cyclists riding by.


  1. I agree, that was one of our saddest days, and we are still paying for that.

  2. Could there already be a St. John Avenue? Love the pics and views of your Sunday ride.

  3. Never seen that on a US street sign before!