Saturday, January 31, 2009

Park Versailles Revealed

BoogieDowner raised the question about the origin and existence of the nabe Park Versailles (along with some others like Foxhurst and North New York) when it showed up on the NY Times' new and not improved real estate listings search engine.

A while later, a BoogieDowner reader sent an email explaining that Park Versailles was Parkchester before Parkchester existed.

Now the NY Times City section's FYI Q&A feature explains Park Versailles and goes a bit further into the past:

Versailles in the Bronx

Q. I’ve come upon references to a Bronx neighborhood called Park Versailles, from the 1930s. It certainly sounds elegant. Was it a real neighborhood?

A. It was a name that developers tried to push. But just as some glamorous Fifi LaTour in Hollywood turns out to be Sadie Schwartz back in the Bronx, Park Versailles turns out to be the Mapes Farm.

As Bill Twomey, author of “The Bronx, in Bits and Pieces,” explained in an e-mail message, the Mapes family was well established in the West Farms area of the Bronx when, in 1851, Leonard Mapes bought a farm — a large tract of land east of the Bronx River bounded by East Tremont Avenue, Croes Avenue, White Plains Road and Westchester Avenue. One of his sons, John Simonson Mapes, took over the farm in the early 1870s. His father died in 1880, and John tired of farming.

“He decided to auction off the old family farm but needed an attractive name for the land,” Mr. Twomey wrote. “No one knows why, but he finally decided on Park Versailles. The name appeared on some early real estate maps but never really caught on.”

The name was revived in 1920 when the remaining 200 lots were auctioned, but most locals kept calling it the Mapes Farm.

Interesting. Now BoogieDowner's last question is why does the Times use Park Versailles for its real estate search function when its own publication states it "never really caught on?"


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

John Simonson Mapes was my great grandmother's father. She lived to a ripe old age and we were very close. Not only am I aware of the oral history of the family through my disussions with her but have done extensive research with ivy league academic institutions that have scholars interested in the history of this particular area. I will not waste everyone's time but if anyone is interested in an accurate history of the mapes family, mapes farm, Mary Mapes Dodge, General Jonas Mapes, the Mapes Temperance house, the Mapes founding donation to Ezra Cornell's fledgling university or relations to the early founding and the revolution, please let me know and I will set up a detailed posting.