Christopher Court

christopher

38 years ago today, the head of the Catholic Church blessed a vacant lot on Morris Avenue. Pope John Paul II was far from the only public figure to visit The Bronx in the late seventies. Politicians including Presidents Carter and Reagan visited the abandoned tenements of Charlotte Street, the symbol for the destruction of the South Bronx.

Why did the Pope visit the neighborhood of Melrose instead? The answer runs through the Italian island of Ponza and East 151st Street to a church called Our Lady of Pity. A church established by immigrants from Ponza in 1908, Our Lady of Pity was the center of an Italian neighborhood and according to New York Times article once had a parish of 4,000 families. As the neighborhood became increasingly Puerto Rican, the churches membership decreased. Local clergy from several churches pushed for new area housing to revitalize the area.

The Pope spoke to the local crowd, some hanging on fire escapes, in Spanish, English, and Italian went to dinner at Cardinal Hayes HS and then continued on to an audience of 80,000 at Yankee Stadium. Ultimately Christopher Courts would be completed in 1982 and this sign was erected two decades later.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s