Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Pelham Did More than Its Share During the Third War Loan Bonds Initiative in 1943


Pelham, like all of America, was at war with Germany, Japan, and the Axis powers in 1943.  The world needs to understand that when our Town of Pelham is part of the war effort, the world doesn't have a chance against America -- and Pelham.  

In 1943, the outcome of World War II was still unresolved.  America, however, was fighting with resolve and had little doubt about the eventual outcome.  The country began its third of eight major War Bonds sales that eventually raised about $186 billion of bonds -- often noted as more than $2,000 per person in the United States when the average annual income per person was $2,000.  

It is almost impossible, given our current political situation, to understand that every American in 1943 had singular focus to preserve the American way.  Every person in Pelham from the youngest school child to the most elderly resident supported the War effort in every way possible.

One such way, of course, was to purchase War Bonds.  Bonds were available in denominations from $25 through $1,000.  Additionally, Americans could buy War Stamps for ten cents apiece.  The stamps were saved in special tiny stamp albums that, when full, could be redeemed for a War Bond.  As one might guess, War Stamps often were sold to children who wanted to do their part for the war effort.  Indeed, as will be seen below, the children of Pelham were shockingly successful raising money for the War effort through purchases of both stamps and War bonds.  


"Even a little can help a lot - NOW -- Buy U.S. WAR STAMPS
& BONDS"  A World War II War Stamps and War Bonds
Poster Showing a Mother and Daughter Affixing U.S. War
Stamps Into Their Own Albums With What Presumably Is
The Husband's and Father's Military Hat Next to the Girl.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

There were eight "War Loan Drives" held during and shortly after World War II.  In 1943, Pelham residents participated avidly in the Third War Loan Drive held from September 9 to October 1, 1943.  Communities, including Pelham, were assigned quotas of the amount they were expected to raise during such War Loan Drives.

For the Third War Loan Drive, Pelham was assigned a quota to raise $600,000 (about $8.44 million in today's dollars).  Virtually everyone in town participated including schoolchildren, adults, men's and womens' clubs, and businesses.  Indeed, if not every single business in town participated, then virtually every last one did from grocery stores, delicatessens, stationery stores, dress shops, the local newspaper and more.  Nearly sixty businesses helped raised money for Uncle Sam by selling War Stamps and War Bonds.  Kiosks were opened in many such businesses where the bonds and stamps were sold.

One local business, Dreyer's Drugstore, ran a "Victory Guess Contest."  Every time anyone purchased a War Stamp in Dreyer's they were allowed to write down a guess as to the exact date the United States would win the war against Germany.  Written guesses were slipped into a "Victory Barrel" in the drugstore to be opened (and a winner declared) when the war with Germany ended.

Pelham schoolchildren were extremely excited about the War Loan Drive.  If they could raise $100,000 to fund the purchase of a Grumman fighter aircraft.  In the case of any such purchase, Pelham kids were entitled to name the aircraft.  After weeks of effort and a vote by all Pelham schoolchildren, the name "The Pelham Hellcat" was selected by a mere six votes out of the 1,500 votes that were cast.  Now it was up to the kids to raise the money.

Pelham schoolchildren were merely following the lead of their parents.  Earlier in the war during an earlier War Loan Drive, Pelhamites easily raised $100,000 to fund the purchase of such an aircraft.  That aircraft was named "The Pelham Pilgrim."  

Patriotic Pelham and its schoolchildren did the job!  By the end of September, the Town of Pelham raised $1,188,454 (with more coming in during the days thereafter).  This was the equivalent of more than $16.7 million in today's dollars.  The massive full page headline of The Pelham Sun published on September 30 screamed "MILLION MARK PASSED AS BOND BUYING NEARLY DOUBLES QUOTA".


Front Page of the September 30, 1943 Issue of The Pelham Sun.


Even better, Pelham schoolchildren would have their "Pelham Hellcat."  The kids of the Town raised nearly $10,000 MORE than the required $100,000 to fund such an aircraft.

Pelham was doing its best for the war effort.  As with all other War Loan Drives during the War, Pelham did more than its share.


1943 Advertisement for Pelham Store's Contest to Encourage
Pelhamites to Buy United States War Bonds in the Third War Loan.
The Pelham Sun, Sep. 30, 1943, p. 3, cols. 5-8.  NOTE:  Click on image
to Enlarge.

To facilitate search, the text of the advertisement shown immediately above appears below:

"DREYER Announces a Victory Guess Contest

Our War With Nazi Germany Must Be Won . . . Shall Be Won . . . And Will Be Won . . . However.  We On The Home Front Must Never Relax Our Efforts To Help Win This War and Win It Soon.  We All Can Help by Buying All The War Stamps and Victory Bonds We Can Possibly Afford.

With Every Purchase From Us of a 25c Savings Stamp We Will Give You a Contest Blank On Which You Mark Your Estimate of When the War With Germany Will End.  The One Who Estimates The Nearest Date Will Receive from Us a $25 Bond Free.

The Purpose of This Contest IS TO STIMULATE THE SALE OF DEFENSE STAMPS
-----
We Place No Limit On The Number of Times You Wish to Estimate As Long As You Buy A 25 Cent Savings Stamp Which Remains Your Property, and Your Investment in Our Victory.
-----
ALL CONTEST BLANKS ARE DEPOSITED IN THE VICTORY BARREL IN OUR STORE.  THE BARREL WILL BE OPENED ON THE DAY HOSTILITIES WITH GERMANY CEASE.  THE WINNER'S NAME WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE PELHAM SUN AS SOON AS A COMPLETE CHECK IS MADE."



1943 Advertisement in The Pelham Sun to Encourage Purchases
of Extra War Bonds.  Source:  OUR DEMOCRACY -- By Matt
[Advertisement], The Pelham Sun, Sep. 30, 1943, p. 2, cols. 3-4.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

To facilitate search, the text of the advertisement shown immediately above appears below:

"OUR DEMOCRACY -- by Mat

EVEN THOUGH YOU'VE BOUGHT AND BOUGHT, REMEMBER THAT OUR BOYS HAVE FOUGHT AND FOUGHT AND THEY'RE GOING TO KEEP RIGHT ON FIGHTING UNTIL THEY WIN.  BACK THEIR ATTACK WITH EXTRA WAR BONDS THIS MONTH."

*          *          *          *          *

Below is the text of just a few of the countless news articles published in 1943 about Pelham's successful Third War Loan drive.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.

"MILLION MARK PASSED AS BOND BUYING NEARLY DOUBLES QUOTA
-----
Chairman of War Savings Staff Rejoices at the Great Response of Pelham People to the Call for Third War Loan; May Even Reach a Million and a Half in Determination to 'Back the Attack.'
-----

'Pelham has already subscribed more than a million dollars to the 3rd War Loan and the final total may be more than double the original quota of $600,000 before the Campaign officially ends.'  'That is the good news in the announcement by Carroll B. Haff, Chairman of the Pelham War Finance Committee.  The actual total subscribed so far in the Campaign $1,188,454.

'Pelham was the first town in Westchester County to have attained its quota, and we hope we shall have the added distinction of being the first to double its quota,' said Mr. Haff to a representative of The Pelham Sun.

'Again I want to give credit where credit is due.  The Women's Committee, of which Mrs. John F. Condon, Jr., is chairman is directly responsible for over $520,000 of our total.  Furthermore, the record shows that the women of our community have been the largest individual purchasers of bonds. . . . [partially illegible table omitted]

School Children Buy $53,059.60

'The school children are well on their way in their program to purchase enough stamps and bonds

(Continued on Page Three)

MILLION DOLLAR MARK PASSED IN THIRD WAR LOAN
-----
(Continued from Page 1)
-----

to present our fighting forces with a Grumman fighting plane, the last word in the air.  Their combined total up to Saturday, Sept. 25th was $53,039.65, and since that campaign runs until Oct. 15th, there is little doubt, according to Mrs. George T. Amis, chairman of the School Committee, that the children will have the satisfaction of having the name they select painted upon one of the new fighting machines.

'Willard N. Young, manager of the First National Bank of Mt. Vernon, Pelham Branch, reports that from Sept. 1st to the close of the business Saturday, Sept. 25th, a total of $527,325 in bonds has been sold by the Branch in Pelham.

'As has been pointed out, from time to time, in my reports our total figures do not tell the whole story, for several reasons.  First, many people are buying bonds through the Pay Roll Deduction Plan of the concern with which they are associated.  The combined purchases through these plans run up into real figures, yet we get no credit.  Second:  for business reasons, many people must purchase their 3rd War Loan bonds through their New York connections, and again Pelham gets no credit for these most substantial amounts.  Third:  we know of many Pelham residents who have made their purchases of bonds through their banking connections in New York and other cities, and have given up their home address as Pelham, thinking that we would get the credit.  Let me make it clear that unless you report your purchases directly to the Pelham War Finance Committee, we cannot get the credit for Pelham.  

'Please let me make this appeal.  Report your purchases direct to us promptly this week.  Your report will be held in strict confidence, and no one, other than the one person to whom the report is made, will know of it.'"

Source:  MILLION MARK PASSED AS BOND BUYING NEARLY DOUBLES QUOTA -- Chairman of War Savings Staff Rejoices at the Great Response of Pelham People to the Call for Third War Loan; May Even Reach a Million and a Half in Determination to "Back the Attack", The Pelham Sun, Sep. 30, 1943, p. 1, cols. 1-8 & p. 3, col. 4.  

"OVER THE TOP! WITH A BANG!
-----

More than a million dollars of War Savings Bonds and Stamps have been purchased by residents of the Pelhams during the last two weeks in the Third War Loan campaign.  

It is a glorious answer to the call of Uncle Sam to subscribe $600,000 -- our quota.

It's the sort of answer that makes us feel proud of our town, proud of its people, and must be a grand tonic for the men of our armed forces when they learn that what has been done in the Pelhams is being repeated all over this country.

Most of us have sons or relatives in the fighting forces.  To let them down by not raising our quota would have been akin to treachery.  To nearly double our quota is the finest moreal tonic that our men can have.  It means they and their allies shall have everything needed to carry on the war in the most vigorous manner until Victory is proclaimed for our side, and we can look forward to our boys coming back home.  

Quite optimistically last week we saw the quota passed and saw a million dollars on the horizon of Pelham flood of bond buying.

It arrived.  It has been exceeded and it is possible that the people of Pelham will have invested more than two and a half times their quota before time is called at the end of this week.

Hurry up and get in those last minute purchases this week so that they may be recorded.

Think of what a like result to this all over the U. S. means to our fighting men -- more munitions, more tanks, guns, planes, ships, bombers and fighters, subs and machine guns, food and clothing for those who are suffering cold and hunger in foreign lands.  A work of mercy going hand in hand with the methodical business of destroying our enemies who forced this fight on us.

More than a million dollars -- only $600,000 was requested.  That's our answer, and there's some more where that came from if and when it's needed."

Source:  OVER THE TOP! WITH A BANG!, The Pelham Sun, Sep. 30, 1943, p. 2, col. 1.  

"GREAT EFFORT OF SCHOOL CHILDREN IN BOND DRIVE
-----
Mrs. J. F. Condon, Jr., Chairman of Women's Division, Reports Final Totals Exceed $100,000.
-----

The school children of Pelham are not to be outdone by their elders.  Last week was the final week of their campaign to purchase enough stamps and bonds to provide our boys at the front with a Grumman fighter plane.  Sales for the week ending October 9th were $9,751.10 making a remarkable total in the campaign of $105,766.05.

'The children went over the top last week,' said Mrs. John F. Condon, Jr., chairman of the Women's Division.  'They just added almost $10,000 more this week for good measure.  Perhaps that will buy additional radio gear and confidential equipment for the plane after it leaves the factory line.  We hope so, anyway.'

The vote on the name was very close, 'The Pelham Hellcat' won by the margin of only 6 votes over the next most popular name.  More than 1,500 votes were cast.  The votes were counted by Mrs. Condon, Mrs. George W. Amis and Mrs. T. H. Holmes.

Burris Jenkins, Jr., internationally known artist and cartoonist, has volunteered to draw a sketch of a 'Hellcat' in color, under which will be painted, 'The Pelham Hellcat,' and Mr. Cowan of the Grumman Aircraft Corp. has announced that he will be delighted to have this sketch transposed

(Continued on Page Twelve)

Pelham Hellcat Is To Be Name of Plane Bought by Pupils
-----
(Continued from Page 1)

and painted on the plane to identify and designate it as the one bought by the Pelham school children.

Sales of stamps and bonds in the schools are as follows:

SCHOOL:                                Week ended Oct. 9th
Colonial:
Stamps..............................$      91.80
Bonds................................$ 4,050.00
Cumulative Total................$16,611.65

Hutchinson:
Stamps..............................$     165.85
Bonds................................$     350.00
Cumulative Total...............$ 10,091.10

Prospect Hill:
Stamps..............................$      166.45
Bonds................................$      250.00
Cumulative Total................$   9,359.80

Siwanoy:
Stamps..............................$       127.80
Bonds................................$       550.00
Cumulative Total................$  15,288.45

St. Catharine's:
Stamps..............................$       281.80
Bonds................................$    2,050.00
Cumulative Total................$  31,585.35

High Schools:
Stamps..............................$       386.15
Bonds................................$    1,025.00
Cumulative Total...............$   22,829.70
Conversions......................$       256.25

Total all schools 
week ended Oct. 9th         $    9,751.10
-----
Cumulative total 3rd
War Loan Drive.................$105,766.05

*     *      *     *

Sale of stamps and bonds in the booths were as follows:

Weeks ended Sat.        Oct. 9                  Oct. 2
A&P:
Stamps.........................$      143.60        $     179.00
Bonds...........................        225.00               400.00
Railroad Station:
Stamps.........................        145.90               170.05
Bonds...........................        200.00            3,350.00
Girl Scouts, Pic. House:
Stamps.........................          72.05                 65.00
Bonds...........................        150.00               850.00
Woman's Exchange:
Stamps.........................          35.50               118.40
Bonds...........................        150.00            7,600.00
Manor Club:
Bonds...........................                               5,000.00
Country Club:
Stamps.........................          30.00                 30.00
Bonds...........................     1,157.00
Merchants' Committee:
Stamps.........................        314.55              381.70
Bonds...........................     2,775.00           9,750.00
Pelham Knitting:
Bonds...........................                              4,000.00
All Schools:
Stamps, bonds.............      9,751.10        42,975.45
Lions Club:
Stamps.........................           68.50               55.00
Bonds...........................           50.00             100.00
Pel-Oaks Prog. Club:
Stamps.........................           11.00
Bonds...........................         250.00


Weeks ended Sat.        Oct. 9                  Oct. 2
Abarno's drugs.............$       103.30              251.25
I. Kahn, jeweler.............         105.00               10.00
Harris' drugs.................         106.00               10.00
Boren, stationer............           46.00               32.00
Lorman, stationer.........           26.00                  1.00
Hugo's Dlctsn...............             4.00                  4.00
J. V. Restaurant...........             5.00                   5.00
Pel. Ladies Shop..........         100.00                  8.70 
Dreyer's drugs..............           63.50              660.00
Mary El. Clark...............           54.00                25.00
Pelham Stationers........                                  101.25
Grand Union Stores:
113 Wolf's lane..............             2.00                 2.00
Pelham Manor...............         142.25               21.50
York, florist.....................           28.00               25.00
Pel. Hghts. Mrkt.............             8.00             107.00
Lane Stationers.............            20.00               10.00
Party Package...............              5.00               50.00
Klein's drugs..................              8.75               14.75
5th Ave. Bakery.............               2.00                5.00
Edward's Salon.............              10.00         1,833.00
Pel. Pain, Hdw..............             150.00            512.50
Manor Grocery..............                4.00                 5.00
Grand Store..................              27.50               25.00
Park View Drugs...........                5.00                 5.00
Wolf's Ln Dlctsn............              10.00                26.50
Wolf's Ln. Prod..............                5.00                 2.00
Pel Mel Salon................            105.00              111.00
Edwards Dresses..........              25.00                25.00
Pel. Wines, Liqs............              50.00                25.00
A. Archigian...................                1.00                  1.00
Schwartz, cigars............                1.00                  1.00
Swiss Cleaners..............              58.75                25.00
Millie's Salon..................            100.00                50.00
Manor Stationers...........               20.00               62.50
Pel-Station Gar..............               50.00               50.00
Dorothy Gaye................                  1.00                1.00
Alice Beauty...................                10.00            302.00        
Manookian, rugs............                  5.00                5.00
Walsh, plumber..............                  1.00              25.00
5th Ave. Salon...............                  2.00                2.00
Wise Hardware..............                  2.00                3.00
The Pelham Sun............              115.00              90.00
Amato's Garage.............                 8.50               32.50
Mirabelli, tailor................                 1.00               51.00
Elite Cleaners.................                 2.00                5.00
Lawler & Larsen..............      28.00               1.50
Beacon Cleaners............                12.00              12.00
Pel. Hand Laund.............                10.00
Bats, N. Y. Clean............                  2.25         5,050.00
Crystal Clean..................                 50.00              12.00
Arthur's Salon.................                125.00              25.00
A&P Manor......................           8.75                8.75
Safeway Stores...............                 25.00                7.00
Gristede Bros.:
  Fifth Avenue..................                210.00              10.00
  Wolf's Lane...................                   10.00            210.00
Martin's Salon.................                    5.00
Milbrandt, E&W...............                                  50.00
Cammerano's.................                   25.00              25.00

Totals..............................           $3,089.55       $9,750.00"

Source:  GREAT EFFORT OF SCHOOL CHILDREN IN BOND DRIVE -- Mrs. J. F. Condon, Jr., Chairman of Women's Division, Reports Final Totals Exceed $100,000, The Pelham Sun, Oct. 14, 1943, p. 1, col. 6 & p. 12, col. 6

"Pupils Exceed Grumman Goal

PELHAM - Pelham's school children went over the top last week in their campaign to buy enough war stamps and bonds to purchase a Grumman fighter plane, it was announced today by Mrs. John F. Condon, Jr., chairman of the women's division of the War Finance Committee -- and this week they have added nearly $10,000 for good measure -- enough, perhaps, to buy additional radio gear and other equipment for the plane after it leaves the factory.

The winning name for the plane, 'The Pelham Hellcat,' was chosen in a contest by a margin of six votes.  More than 1,500 votes were cast, which were counted by Mrs. Condon, Mrs. George W. Amis and Mrs. T. H. Holmes.

Burris Jenkins, Jr., noted cartoonist, has offered to sketch a 'Hellcat' in color, under which will be printed 'The Pelham Hellcat.'  The Grumman Aircraft Corporation has agreed to have the sketch transposed onto the Pelham plane."

Source:  Pupils Exceed Grumman Goal, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Oct. 15, 1943, p. 8, col. 4.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Did Pelham Residents Truly Want New York City to Annex the Town in 1887?


Did residents of the Town of Pelham really want the town to be annexed by New York City in 1887?  On March 22, 1887, the New York Times published the following report:

"WANTING TO BE NEW-YORKERS.

A meeting of Pelham, East Chester, and West Chester to urge the annexation of those towns to the city of New-York, was held last night at Stephen Odell's hotel, at East Chester.  Representative men from all the towns were present, and it was resolved that a petition should be circulated extensively and submitted to the Legislature at the earliest possible date, asking that the boundary lines of New York City be extended so as to include East Chester, West Chester, Pelham, and Washingtonville.  Ex-Assemblyman Charles P. McClelland made a speech in favor of the proposed annexation.  James T. Lane, editor of the West Chester Independent, presided over the meeting."

Source:  WANTING TO BE NEW-YORKERSN.Y. Times, Mar. 22, 1887, p. 1, col. 3 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).

No, despite this news report, Pelham residents did not want their town to be annexed by New York City in 1887.  Things were moving fast in March, April, and May of that year.  Pelham residents had come to the realization that New York City's condemnation and purchase of Pelham lands for the new Pelham Bay Park would take those lands off the tax assessment rolls and, thus, would more than double the property taxes of remaining Pelham residents.  Pelham residents were furious and were looking for any way possible to avoid such a tax increase.

Within a matter of days, the threatened petition to have Pelham annexed by New York City evolved into a petition asking cooperation from the Mayor and Common Council of New York City in requesting the State Legislature to repeal so much of the act of 1884 as related to the assumption of lands in Westchester County for a park to be known as Pelham Bay Park.

On March 24, 1887, a Pelham delegation led by Dr. John A. Hardenbrook of Bartow-on-the-Sound met with New York City Mayor Abram Stevens Hewitt and presented the petition signed by Pelham taxpayers.  The Pelham delegation also included Town Supervisor Sherman T. Pell, Postmaster Hogan, Roadmaster Hall, stage line operator Fred Vickery, Judge Henry D. Carey, Charles Mahoney, and a dozen others.

Mayor Hewitt accepted the petition and reportedly stated:  

"Gentlemen, I am very glad to meet you.  I appreciate the situation exactly.  I think it is an outrageous thing that the Legislature should have passed a bill to acquire lands for park purposes eight miles from the Harlem Bridge, and saddling the expense upon the taxpayers of this city.  I suppose you were a happy and contented community until some speculative rascals set their eyes upon your locality and sought to use it for their own selfish ends.  I am glad you have called, and I assure you I shall send your petition with my recommendation to the Board of Aldermen at its next meeting.'"

Truth be told, neither New York City nor Pelham was happy with the proposal to create Pelham Bay Park.  New York was furious that the State Legislature had passed a statute in 1884 requiring the City to purchase lands within the Town of Pelham to create Pelham Bay Park and to fund the purchase with New York City Taxpayer money.  The City argued that the lands were far too distant from the Harlem River Bridge and would not be easily accessible to most New York City residents.

New York City was willing to cooperate with Pelham to have the 1884 statute repealed, but it was furious with Pelham as well.  New York City had made an attempt in 1885 to have the statute repealed but had received no support from the Town of Pelham on that first occasion.  Pelham, it seems, was not aware at the time that the lands would be removed from the tax assessment rolls, driving up everyone's real estate taxes.  In this second attempt, in 1887, Pelham offered a weak excuse for its inaction two years earlier.  It said that so many Pelham citizens were getting such high prices from New York City for the lands being taken by the city for the park (up to $2,000 an acre, about $60,000 an acre for rural land in today's dollars), that Pelham did not want to risk bad political feelings by trying to stop the transactions.  

Within a short time, New York City came up with a multi-step plan to gain repeal of the 1884 law.  It decided first to seek a new State law that would allow the city to use eminent domain to take small parcels of neighborhood land in neighborhoods throughout the city to create smaller neighborhood parks rather than a giant park on the edge of the city in the Town of Pelham in Westchester County.  At the same time, it worked to gain repeal of the 1884 statute requiring the creation of Pelham Bay Park.  If all else failed, New York City Mayor Hewitt hoped to get power to negotiate with the landowners who had agreed to sell their lands for specific prices for releases from liability, and then to abandon Pelham Bay Park.  

As New York City embarked on its plan, the New York City Corporation Counsel expressed doubt that plans to open the park could be stopped.  Indeed, he could not resist chastising the Town of Pelham for arriving late to the party.  According to one account, he wrote in a letter as follows:

"'It is greatly to be regretted that the large number of residents and taxpayers of the town of Pelham, of whom you speak, did not appear in the early part of 1885 to assist the local authorities in passing the bill, which was then being urged to repeal the act of 1884, before any particular expenditure had been had or damage accrued under its terms.  They sedulously kept aloof at that time, the excuse advanced in favor of some of them being that their social surroundings would be made so unpleasant for them if they undertook to secure the repeal of the bill that they would not dare to oppose the wishes of their neighbors in the matter.  Had they possessed at that time some measure of the courage which they now exhibit, the passage of the repeal act, at a time when it could do least harm to the city, might have been secured.'"

New York City took an interesting tack.  It argued that those involved in convincing the State Legislature to pass the statute authorizing the creation of Pelham Bay Park in 1884 had, in effect, defrauded the State Legislature by using "false maps" of the area that failed to indicate that more than 300 acres of the lands were "swamp" that the city "could not use for park purposes."  

Things seemed to go a bit awry when State Senator Daly consequently proposed a bill to reduce the size of Pelham Bay Park rather than flatly repealing the original statute directing creation of the park.  On May 3, 1887, the State Senate Cities Committee held a hearing in which witnesses hotly contested whether the Daly bill should be reported out of Committee favorably.  

Barely two weeks later, the Governor signed into law a new statute authorizing New York City to use eminent domain to acquire small parcels of land in the city to create small neighborhood parks for the benefit of neighborhood residents.  Though the Mayor was happy with the result, efforts to gain repeal of the original 1884 statute failed miserably.

Pelham's love-hate relationship with the plan to create Pelham Bay Park would continue for years until the park and offshore islands including City Island were annexed by New York City in 1895.



1905 Map of Pelham Bay Park. Source: Office of the President of
the Borough of the Bronx Topographical Bureau, Topographical
Survey Sheets of the Borough of the Bronx Easterly of the Bronx
of the Bronx River" (1905) (Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map
Division, The New York Public Library). NOTE: Click Image to Enlarge.

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Below is the text of a number of news articles that form the basis for today's Historic Pelham article.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.

"PELHAM TAXPAYERS SEEK RELIEF.

Acting Mayor Beekman has received a letter signed by [Sherman] T. Pell, Supervisor of the town of Pelham; W. R. Lamberton, attorney; and Assemblyman William H. Hornridge, stating that Pelham Bay Park contains 1,700 acres; assessed at $500,000.  The total area of the town of Pelham is 3,0000 acres, assessed at $1,200,00.  Deducting the park area leaves only 1,300 acres and an assessment of $700,000, they ask that the park property bear its share of taxation, and as it now belongs to the City of New-York it should, under existing laws, be exempt.  Mr. Beekman has replied to this that the Legislature of 1884 compelled the city to take the property for a park, although the city authorities and its representatives in the Legislature protested.  Mr. Beekman suggests that the aggrieved officials prepare a bill to be presented to the Legislature providing for the release of the city from the ownership of this land, and the city authorities will gladly use every endeavor to have it become a law.  The city authorities will certainly not do anything to increase its burden of taxation."

Source:  PELHAM TAXPAYERS SEEK RELIEF, New-York Tribune, Mar. 5, 1887, p. 8, col. 3 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"WANTING TO BE NEW-YORKERS.

A meeting of Pelham, East Chester, and West Chester to urge the annexation of those towns to the city of New-York, was held last night at Stephen Odell's hotel, at East Chester.  Representative men from all the towns were present, and it was resolved that a petition should be circulated extensively and submitted to the Legislature at the earliest possible date, asking that the boundary lines of New York City be extended so as to include East Chester, West Chester, Pelham, and Washingtonville.  Ex-Assemblyman Charles P. McClelland made a speech in favor of the proposed annexation.  James T. Lane, editor of the West Chester Independent, presided over the meeting."

Source:  WANTING TO BE NEW-YORKERS, N.Y. Times, Mar. 22, 1887, p. 1, col. 3 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"THE PELHAM PARK.
WESTCHESTER PEOPLE ASK MAYOR HEWITT'S AID TO KILL THE SCHEME.

A large delegation from the town of Pelham, Westchester County, waited on Mayor Hewitt yesterday afternoon.  Dr. John A. Hardenbrook, of Bartow-on-Sound, introduced Supervisor Sherman T. Pell, Postmaster Hogan, Roadmaster Hall, Frederick Vickery, Henry D. Carey, Charles Mahoney, and a dozen or more other gentlemen.

Supervisor Pell, in addressing the Mayor, said that the delegation appeared for the purpose of presenting a petition signed by the taxpayers of the town, asking his co-operation and that of the Common Council in requesting the Legislature to repeal so much of the act of 1884 as related to the assumption of lands in Westchester County for a park to be known as Pelham Bay Park.  The petition sets forth that the taking of these lands in Westchester County was mainly in the interest of a few landed proprietors who expected to get upward of $2,000 an acre for swamp lands.

Mayor Hewitt emphatically said:  'Gentlemen, I am very glad to meet you.  I appreciate the situation exactly.  I think it is an outrageous thing that the Legislature should have passed a bill to acquire lands for park purposes eight miles from the Harlem Bridge, and saddling the expense upon the taxpayers of this city.  I suppose you were a happy and contented community until some speculative rascals set their eyes upon your locality and sought to use it for their own selfish ends.  I am glad you have called, and I assure you I shall send your petition with my recommendation to the Board of Aldermen at its next meeting.'"

Source:  THE PELHAM PARK -- WESTCHESTER PEOPLE ASK MAYOR HEWITT'S AID TO KILL THE SCHEME, N.Y. Times, Mar. 25, 1887, p. 2, col. 5 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"Pelham as Sick of the Park as We Are.

A delegation of officials and residents of the town of Pelham introduced by Dr. John A. Hardenbrook, called upon Mayor Hewitt yesterday, and urged the propriety of amending the scheme for the new uptown parks by taking off the park situated in the town of Pelham.  Mayor Hewitt received them graciously, and said:

'I am glad to meet you.  I appreciate the situation.  I think it was outrageous for the Legislature to pass the bill compelling the city of New York to buy a park eight miles from Harlem River Bridge, and compelling the taxpayers to pay for it.  I am opposed to such special legislation, and I will cheerfully cooperate with you to recommend its repeal.  I will forward your request to the Common Council at its meeting next Tuesday.'

Pelham got very tired of the park scheme when it discovered that the park lands would not be subject to taxation, and that taxes on the rest of the town for local purposes would, therefore, be doubled."

Source:  Pelham as Sick of the Park as We Are, The Sun [NY, NY], Mar. 25, 1887, p. 4, col. 3 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"Fainthearted Citizens of Pelham.

Corporation Counsel Lacombe has replied in a long letter, with reference to Mayor Hewitt's inquiries as to the effect of the repeal of the act requiring the city to purchase Pelham Bay Park.  He is in doubt as to whether the courts would compel the city to pay damages, or to what extent such damages might be recovered.  He concludes as follows:

'It is greatly to be regretted that the large number of residents and taxpayers of the town of Pelham, of whom you speak, did not appear in the early part of 1885 to assist the local authorities in passing the bill, which was then being urged to repeal the act of 1884, before any particular expenditure had been had or damage accrued under its terms.  They sedulously kept aloof at that time, the excuse advanced in favor of some of them being that their social surroundings would be made so unpleasant for them if they undertook to secure the repeal of the bill that they would not dare to oppose the wishes of their neighbors in the matter.  Had they possessed at that time some measure of the courage which they now exhibit, the passage of the repeal act, at a time when it could do least harm to the city, might have been secured.'"

Source:  Fainthearted Citizens of Pelham, The Sun [NY, NY], Mar. 29, 1887, p. 4, col. 2 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"NO PARK WANTED THERE.

The residents of Pelham, through the authorities of that town, having asked the authorities of this city to join in an application to the Legislature to repeal the act of 1884 which provides for Pelham Bay Park, Mayor Hewitt wrote to the Aldermen yesterday commending the suggestion.  He agrees with the people of Pelham that they ought not to be despoiled of so much territory, and protests that this city could buy breathing spots for $5,052,158.96 -- the sum wanted by the owners of the park -- much nearer the homes of those who need fresh air recreation.  Breathing and resting places for the poor in the crowded districts should be the first concern of the municipality, he says.  Such privileges are enjoyed fully where they exist, and cannot be multiplied too soon for the good order and general welfare of the community.  The Mayor reminds the Aldermen, however, that the incubus may not be easily unloaded.  If the Legislature should repeal the act without imposing specially onerous conditions in regard to damages, the Mayor would welcome the repeal as a relief from an unwise and unjust obligation, and as a positive benefaction so far as it would release the means required for numerous small parks.  If an unconditional repeal cannot be secured the Mayor thinks it would be desirable to get power to negotiate with the owners for a release, and then to abandon Pelham Bay Park.  Otherwise it would be necessary to go on and complete the purchase, in which case the Mayor would hope that authority would be secured to sell the property and apply the proceeds to the establishment of small parks."

Source:  NO PARK WANTED THERE, N.Y. Times, Mar. 30, 1887, p. 2, col. 2 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"HEARD IN COMMITTEE.
------
THE IVES POOL BILL TO BE REPORTED FAVORABLY.

ALBANY, May 3. . . .

The Senate Cities Committee listened to an argument by Mr. Frederic R. Coudert this afternoon against Senator Daly's bill empowering the Park Commissioners to diminish the area of Pelham Park.  He maintained that the land for the purpose had already been condemned and taken, and endless litigation would flow from the enactment of this bill.  The projected park system was a great blessing to New-York's future, and ought not, he believed, to be disturbed.

Assistant Corporation Counsel Scott favored the bill, as the Pelham Park project had been passed on false maps to deceive the Legislature of 1884, and about 300 acres were useless swamp, which the city could not use for park purposes. . . ."

Source:  HEARD IN COMMITTEE -- THE IVES POOL BILL TO BE REPORTED FAVORABLY, N.Y. Times, May 4, 1887, p. 2, col. 2 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"MORE PARKS FOR THE POOR.
-----
NEEDS OF THE TENEMENT DISTRICTS.
-----
A BILL TO FURNISH BREATHING-SPOTS IN CROWDED QUARTERS -- VIEWS OF CITY OFFICERS.

Among the most interesting schemes of public improvement which the present municipal government had undertaken is the proposition to provide a number of small parks or open places throughout the city below One-hundred-and-fifty-fifth-st., but particularly among the densely populated tenement districts.  Mayor Hewitt and President Beekman, of the Board of Aldermen, are warmly interested in the matter, and have had Corporation Counsel Lacombe prepare a bill, which, having passed through the Legislature, has just received the Governor's signature and has become a law.  It authorizes the local authorities to take the necessary land and apply it for the purposes of a public resort.  All the heads of the city departments are warmly opposed to the present law creating the larger parks up in Westchester County, and ask its repeal.  They look upon that plan as extravagant and not immediately necessary, while the small parks will not be extremely costly, and are pressingly demanded.

'I am very glad the bill has passed,' said the Mayor yesterday.  'It ought to have passed.  It is the city's duty to provide at least as many facilities for the poor as it does for the rich.  So far that has not been done.  The working-people and the poorer classes, so-called, have a substantial ground of complaint against the city in this respect.  The crowded parts of the city downtown are left almost wholly without breathing places.  The provision of such necessaries is a proper way to spend money.'

'Is it instead of the big Westchester parks that you have offered this measure?'

'Not at all.  I believe that every generation should take care of itself, and that it is unwise to spend money for the Pelham Bay property now.  But I didn't want this measure to depend on the repeal of the acts which require the city to take that park land.  If the Legislature won't let us out of that bad bargain, we must stand by it; that's all.  But those parks will not meet the exigencies of this case.  Even if we took them, they are much too far away to serve the needs of that vast body of poor people for whom the small parks are intended.  What they require are breathing places near their tenement-houses, where they can go in the evenings of hot summer days and rest in quiet with pure air and flowers and trees and other agreeable surroundings.  It is the lack of such things that has made an opportunity for Henry George.  The poor people feel that they are denied the commonest necessities of life, and they lend a willing ear to any one who promises them better things.  The only way to meet this case is to remove the causes of this discontent.  No person who has any human feeling could walk on hot nights through the crowded tenement districts and see these people forced to crowd up together on the tops of their houses and, indeed, to sleep there, in order to get a breath of fresh air, and then oppose this measure.  The bill provides for the expenditure of $1,000,000 a year in acquiring property to be thus employed.  That is not too large a sum.'

'For how many years!'

'The limit is not fixed.  Why should it be?  The work should be done thoroughly and it should go on year by year until enough of these places are provided to accommodate the people.  It should be done in a rational and not immoderate spirit, but it should be effectively done.  I should be in favor of utilizing the ends of blocks thus taken.  The ends looking out upon a park ought to be sold for half as much money as the block would cost.'

President Beekman, of the Board of Aldermen, is highly enthusiastic over the plan, and immensely gratified that it has received the Legislature's approval.  He thus presented his views to a TRIBUNE reporter:

'The city has very few parks for the recreation of the people south of Fifty-ninth-st., especially on the extreme east and west sides.  From the Battery up to Eighty-fourth-st. on the east side there are only two.  Tompkins Square and Stuyvesant Square.  It hardly needs argument to satisfy any mind that this portion of the city has been neglected.  In making proper provision for large open places where the people may find purer air and the opportunity for rest and recreation out of doors.  This necessity is especially pressing in the case of the masses of the people, who, because of their narrow means, are compelled to remain in the city during the heat of the summer months.  What it must mean to them and their families can only be appreciated by those who have gone in midsummer through the densely populated districts on the east and west sides, and have seen the streets filled with people trying to bear up under the exhaustion of the extreme heat.

'The purpose of this bill -- Assembly Bill No. 728 -- is to vest in the local authorities full discretionary power to locate and lay out public parks in any portion of the city south of One hundred-and-fifty-fifth-st.  The exercise of this discretion is confided to the Board of Street Opening and Improvement, which consists of the Mayor, the Controller, the Commissioner of Public Works, the President of the Department of Public Parks and the President of the Board of Aldermen, of whom three, Mr. Hewitt, Mr. Loew and myself, are members of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, in exercising this power, should the bill pass, the Board of Street Opening would no doubt, select plots of land in the thickly-populated tenement district.  There are many plots of land in New-York which have not only been built up along the streets and avenues bounding them, but so choked up by rear buildings that the internal space, which should always be kept open for ventilation, and must be under the new law, has been entirely closed.  All ventilation is thus impossible.  Of course, the sanitary condition of such blocks is about as bad as can be.  To take such blocks, remove the buildings and throw them open as parks would be to confer on the people an immense benefit.  Of course, this could not be done in all such cases.  The Board would use its best judgment as to the location of the squares.

'In its ninth section the bill provides that after the title to the various pieces of ground has been acquired the Department of Public Parks shall be vested with their care, custody and construction, and authorizes the Department to erect and furnish therein for public purposes, for the comfort, health and instruction of the people, such and so many buildings as the said Department of Public Parks, with the concurrence of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, shall determine to be necessary and expedient.'  The tenth section provides for an issue of bonds to meet the necessary expenditures under the bill.  I desire to call particular attention to the careful way in which the act has been drawn, so as to prevent any improvidence or extravagance.  No contract can be entered into or liability incurred until the plans therefor, and in the case of buildings, an estimate of their cost, have been prepared by the Park Department and approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment.  The act limits all expenditures to $1,000,000 in any one year.

'My idea with reference to the construction of these parks is to lay them out into lawns and paths, planting them with such carefully selected trees, shrubs and flowers as are best adapted to city life, and providing them with fountains and with means of holding occasional outdoor concerts, and with large spaces specially provided as playgrounds for children.  I would also, from time to time, proceeding in a conservative way, erect buildings along the exterior lines of these parks for lecture-rooms, restaurants, circulating libraries, and hot and cold baths.  The lecture-rooms I would place at the disposal of the Board of Education, under an arrangement providing for the free instruction of the public in the ordinary sanitary rules of everyday life, and in cookery, of which the people are so lamentably ignorant, and upon a correct knowledge of which their physical well-being so much depends.  The buildings for the circulating libraries could well be placed at the disposal of the Tilden Trust.  In this way the city could properly co-operate with the trustees in giving the widest possible scope to this noble benefaction of Mr. Tilden.  A proper provision for personal cleanliness and refreshment is, I think, indispensable to the health, not to speak of the comfort of a great city.  Public baths are provided for the people abroad, sometimes at great expense.  Hosts of poor people in New-York lack the proper facilities for bathing purposes.  It is a condition of affairs which cannot be remedied too soon.  The buildings for the restaurants could be leased upon the same conditions as apply to the rental of similar buildings in Central Park, the lessees paying to the city a certain percentage of their gross receipts, the Park Department reserving the right to control the prices charged for all supplies.

'I do not wish to convey the idea that all these buildings would or should be immediately erected.  Of course the Park Department and the Board of Estimate will proceed, especially at first, experimentally, testing the manner in which these various improvements work before going into any extensive construction.  The subject is an exceedingly interesting one, and deserves, as no doubt it will receive, a close and sympathetic study at the hands of the public.'"

Source:  MORE PARKS FOR THE POOR -- NEEDS OF THE TENEMENT DISTRICTS -- A BILL TO FURNISH BREATHING-SPOTS IN CROWDED QUARTERS -- VIEWS OF CITY OFFICERS, New-York Tribune, May 15, 1887, p. 9, col. 6.

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I have written before about Pelham's efforts to fight the threatened tax burdens its citizens would face if New York City were permitted to avoid Pelham property taxes.  Seee.g.:  

Mon., Jul. 10, 2017:  Proposal to Permit Pelham to Tax New York City Land in Pelham Bay Park in 1888.

Thu., Dec. 29, 2016:  Even New York City Didn't Want to Pay Pelham Taxes.

Fri., Jun. 13, 2014:  1887 Letter to Editor Details Tax Burdens Pelham Bore Due to the Creation of Pelham Bay Park.

Thu., Jun. 05, 2014:  Pelham Fights City Hall: Pelham Fights Creation of Pelham Bay Park During the 1880s

Tue., Jan. 19, 2010:  Pelham to New York City in 1888: "You Should Pay Taxes"! 

Fri., Feb. 06, 2009:  More on Pelham's Displeasure with the Loss of Pelham Bay Park Lands from the Tax Rolls in the 19th Century

Thu., Feb. 05, 2009:  New York City Corporation Counsel to Pelham in 1887:  We Told You So! 

Wed., Feb. 04, 2009:  Pelham Has Second Thoughts in 1887 About the Proposal To Create Pelham Bay Park

Mon., Jan. 21, 2008:  Litigation Over Compensation for Pelham Property Owners Whose Lands Were Taken by New York City for the New Pelham Bay Park

Fri., Sep. 23, 2005:  Pelham Tries To Kill the Plan to Create Pelham Bay Park:  1887

Fri., May 20, 2005:  1888 - Pelham Fears Bankruptcy Due to the Creation of Pelham Bay Park.

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