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.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Pelham's Most Famous Lovers' Lanes: Beech Tree Lane Was the Favorite

There was a time when the road we know today as Pelhamdale Avenue was little more than a winding cowpath leading inland from Long Island Sound toward today's Boston Post Road.  During the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, a second pathway slowly extended from the pathway that became Pelhamdale.  The second pathway grew toward today's Pelham Bay Park and on toward Hunter's Island in Long Island Sound.  That unpaved country path eventually became an unpaved country roadway, known today as Beech Tree Lane.  

The pathway, even before it became "Beech Tree Lane" in 1927 was famous as a "Lovers' Lane" where lovers strolled while visiting the "picnic grounds" as the woods from the New Haven Branch Line tracks to the Bolton Priory estate were known.  

Once Beech Tree Lane was paved and opened in about 1927, its honor of being the most celebrated lovers' lane in the Town of Pelham only grew.  That honor was quite an accomplishment given that all three villages at the time had their own lovers' lanes.  Those of the Village of Pelham Manor were better-known, however, and, thus, were more frequented  by Pelhamites and non-Pehamites alike.

Every small town and community, of course, likely has had at one time or another one or more lovers' lanes.  Lovers' lanes became more widespread with the development, during the early twentieth century, of the culture of the automobile.  For much of the first half of the twentieth century, Pelham's dark and quiet streets seemed to have served as excellent lovers' lanes, although few seemed to have rivaled the lane that had no name until it became "Beech Tree Lane."  The issue seems to have grown particularly annoying to local residents, however, during the mid-1930s.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog documents a few of the lovers' lanes in our Town.  There were several dark and secluded lanes, mostly in Pelham Manor where lovers spent their precious time.  Most interestingly, Beech Tree Lane always seemed to be the prime destination for lovers, but the lane parallel to it that, like Beech Tree Lane, ended at Pelham Bay Park was another lovers' lane:  Park Lane.  Undeveloped portions of Secor Lane and Wolfs Lane in Pelham Manor were other well-known lovers' lanes during the 1930s.  In today's Village of Pelham, the principal lovers' lane during the 1930s was Ninth Avenue.

These lovers' lanes were so widely known that most who used them were from outside Pelham.  Indeed, the problem grew so acute in 1934 that Pelham Manor police began hauling drivers out of the parked cars and taking them before the Village Court and charging them with "parking without lights" on the streets.  At about the same time, the Village Trustees of Peham Manor voted to prohibit parking on both sides of Park Lane for a distance of 350 feet west from the New York City line in an effort to shut down the portion of that lane used by lovers.  The following year, the Village of North Pelham began an initiative to prevent parking by lovers "admiring the scenery" along Ninth Avenue.

“Map of Section 2 Manor Circle Property of the Robert C. Black
Realty Co. Pelham Manor Westchester County, N.Y.” Certified
as Approved by the Planning Commission of the Village of Pelham
Manor on May 17, 1926.  Maps Shows the Winding Country
Road in an As-Yet-Undeveloped Area Centered Around
Beech Tree Lane.  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

Transcribed below is the text from a number of articles from local newspapers describing local lovers lanes in the Town of Pelham.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.  

Village Board Orders Police to Route All Parkers From Sparsely Settled Section.

Beech Tree Lane may be romantically titled, but the Pelham Manor village fathers are determined that it shall not be Lovers' Lane.  Monday night the police department was instructed to rout all motorists who park their machines on the thoroughfare after dark.  Complaint about the many parkers on the street was received by the trustees.

Beech Tree Lane is a new street and is close to the site of the old roadway through the woods from Pelham Manor to Hunter's Island.  The famous old Lovers' Lane has given way to a modern residential district which, although sparsely settled, is now one of the beauty spots of the village."

Source:  PETTERS, BEWARE!  BEECH TREE LANE NOT FOR LOVERS,  The Pelham Sun, Oct. 10, 1930, p. 10, col. 1.  

"Lanes In Manor Not For Lovers

Although the street signs read Wolf's Lane and Secor Lane in Pelham Manor, they might just as well read, 'Lovers' Lanes,' for that seems to be the way they are known to out-of-town motorists.  Two men appeared before Judge Frank Roberson in Manor court Friday night and pleaded guilty to charges of parking without lights on these streets.

'Seems to be a favorite trysting place,' commented the Judge.  'I've never had a parking case of this type yet that wasn't within 100 yards of either Secor or Wolf's Lane.' 

The men, Robert Mattes, 29, of No. 1019 East 179th street, New York City, and Thomas Garner, 29, of No. 510 Dyckman street, Peekskill, paid fines of $3.00 each.  

The Pelham Manor trustees abolished one 'Lovers' Lane'  Monday night, when on recommendation of Trustee Christopher T. Chenery, the board voted to prohibit parking on both sides of Park Lane for a distance of 350 feet west from the New York City line.  Chief of Police Michael J. Grady was instructed to see that the ordinance was put in force immediately and also to have two signs installed on each side of the street, warning prospective parkers."

Source:  Lanes In Manor Not For Lovers, The Pelham Sun, Jun. 15, 1934, p. 2, col. 2.   

"Ninth Avenue Will No Longer Be A Haven For Parkers In North Pelham

'Parkers' who have made a habit of parking on Ninth avenue are going to find themselves dispossessed.  John Grael of No. 314 Ninth avenue complained to the North Pelham police on Sunday night that couples in parked cars had become a nusiance.

Police willl not allow the couples who are frequently in silent automobiles 'just admiring the scenery,' to do their admiring in Pelham, especially since there is no scenery to be seen in that section of Ninth avenue.

The condition is one which annoys residents who live adjacent to some choice 'lovers' lane,' so called, and when a resident files a complaint with police, no time is lost in dispersing the 'sparkers.'  

Periodically the lovers of nature invade Pelham, or so it would seem as police of all the three villages get their complaints of the condition in groups.  And the trouble, the 'sparkers' have found, is that patrolmen are not the least bit sympathetic.

Pelham Manor police, because the village has many heavily treed avenues and outlying streets, have chased many a parked car off its highways.  Pelham Heights is visited by the 'petters' only infrequently as is North Pelham."

Source:  Ninth Avenue Will No Longer Be A Haven For Parkers In Noth Pelham, The Pelham Sun, Sep. 13, 1935, p. 3, cols. 1-2.  

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