They say in order to understand the present, one must learn from the past. What better place to do this than Bronx Community College’s Gould Memorial Library Rotunda, best described as the Bronx’s hidden gem?
This architectural marvel was designed by Stanford White after being inspired by the splendor of the Roman Pantheon and its influence is certainly felt throughout. When the guests made their way to the building, two large ornate bronze doors opened to welcome them after completing a tour of the campus and the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. Passing through a revolving door, their eager eyes now sit fixed upon an ascending set of stairs, leading up to the entrance of another room. The air was filled with excitement and curiosity as they proceeded up to the room for the evening’s Bronx Centennial Ceremony.
As the door gave way, the crowd walked inside, amazed by what they were seeing. It was as if the room they now resided in had emerged from a bygone age. The circular room was supported by 16 solid Connemara Irish green marble columns rooted into the Italian style marble floor. A dome golden leaf -tinged ceiling dwelled above them as life-sized statues of the mythological Greek Muses gazed down from their inscribed lofts. The soon fading daylight peered through the kaleidoscopic created by the Tiffany stained glass windows underneath the loft. What was once used as a library now stands stripped of any books or shelves. The link to its past were the names of those famous historical, literary, and philosophical figures whose works and tales once called this place home.
On the evening of Tuesday, October 7, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Bronx Community College invited the media, elected officials, and historians from all over the Bronx to celebrate the historic milestone inside of the neoclassical library. Many were in attendance and there was food and drink to be had. As the guests wined and dined, classical violin music graced the senses, serving as a beautiful compliment to the already breathtaking scenery. Prior to this, a tour showcasing the crescent shaped Hall of Fame for Great Americans which features 98 bronze busts of the country’s most famous historic figures was given.
Much like an actual birthday party, guests were given “goodie-bags” which included a copy of the “Borough Reporter from Ruben Diaz Jr.” newspaper, a visitor map and guide to the Bronx, a sticker and a pin commemorating one hundred years, and flyers announcing upcoming events. Once everyone was settled, the celebration was soon underway. beginning with a viewing of a PBS documentary on these two architectural wonders. Once it concluded, the guests of honor heard from a wide range of speakers including Sara Sanabria, the Bronx borough president’s director of special events; Jay Hershenson, CUNY senior-vice chancellor; Dr. Eduardo Marti, Bronx Community College’s interim president; and finally from the borough president. Each one expressed the significance behind the Bronx reaching a century’s length in its establishment as a borough.
Diaz, Jr. expressed gratitude for everyone’s involvement in helping to better the Bronx as a community. The borough president stated during his address that “the Bronx is heading in the right direction” and that “today isn’t just about celebrating these past one hundred years, it’s also about how can we move on to another hundred years.”.
“We have created thousands of jobs in the last five years,” he stated. “We have seen the lowest crime rate since 1968. There is a lot to celebrate for today.”
As the ceremony came to a close, the borough president offered all in attendance at this once-in-a-lifetime event this thought to consider.
“This is not the time to rest on our laurals,” Diaz Jr. expressed. “This is the time to put the peddle to the metal. I believe that the best is yet to come.”