Car-free-Sundays return to Grand Concourse

They’re taking back the streets!: A group of Bronxites, led by Transportation Alternatives and the Bronx Museum, will close a stretch of the Grand Concourse to traffic and hang out on August Sundays.
Photo by Edwin Soto

Welcome back to the no-car — and all fun — zone.

A popular Bronx street party tradition nixed under Mayor Rudy Giuliani is coming back —albeit in a smaller form — to the Grand Concourse for three Sundays in August.

The middle lanes of the Grand Concourse between E. 165th and E. 167th streets will shut down for a few hours to car traffic for “Boogie on the Boulevard” on August 3, 10 and 17.

Blast from the past

Part block party, part street festival, the event is drumming up memories of the original Boulevard Boogie, which shut down three miles of the Grand Concourse to car traffic on summer Sundays in the early 1990s.

Former borough president Fernando Ferrer engineered those original car-free-Sundays, before the event was axed in 1996 under Giuliani. Ferrer’s successor, Adolfo Carrion, brought the event back on a trial basis in 2006, but it petered out soon after.

Now, revelers will have the chance to set up chairs and hang out on the blacktop from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. in a stress-free environment.

Locals join forces

And organizers have big plans for how to use the space, including setting up art installations, music performances and serving food.

“It’s not just about cars moving back and forth,” said Hatuey Ramos-Fermîn, curator of education at the Bronx Museum of Arts. “There are so many other things that we can do here.”

The Bronx Museum is co-sponsoring the 2014 version of car-free Sundays with pedestrian-friendly activist group Transportation Alternatives, who started a petition to bring the tradition back in late 2013.

Since then, a coalition of local businesses and leaders has joined the push, and the local 44th Precinct has given its stamp of approval.

“This is a great way to bring the community together,” said Community Board 4 district manager Jose Rodriguez, whose board voted 27-1 in January to approve the event.

The Borough of Walks

The city Department of Transportation approved the “Boogie on the Boulevard” as one of its “Weekend Walks” programs, which close down commercial streets to host public, pedestrian-friendly events.

Other Weekend Walks include one to be sponsored by the Pelham Bay Merchants Association on Saturdays August 16 and August 23, on Buhre Avenue between Crosby and Jarvis avenues.

That street party will include a rock climbing wall and karate and dance classes, as well as back-to-school gift packs.

The Westchester Square Business Improvement District also held its own Weekend Walk, on Lane Avenue between E. Tremont and Westchester avenues for two Saturday nights in June.

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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