By the mid 90’s, The Bronx was in the beginning stages of recovery. The Bronx had survived the greed-inspired arson and corruption of the 1970’s and 80’s and ever-resilient Bronxites were eager to move on from the perception of a war zone civilization depicted by the active and over-reaching imagination of Hollywood.
Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer had assumed the title in April of 1987 after the previous leader was forced to resign amid scandal. Ferrer felt the borough had been through enough crisis and was eager to lift the spirits of its citizenry as well as present a more accurate image of his beloved borough to the rest of the world. In 1994 he launched the cycling event Tour de Bronx with a few hundred participants riding through the borough’s historic neighborhoods, waterfronts, and newly developed greenways. Participation pre pandemic grew to over 10,000 riders making the event the largest free cycling event in New York State.
In 1997 Ferrer introduced the Bronx Walk of Fame, a way to celebrate the sons and daughters of the borough who had achieved great things within their illustrious careers. Though the idea drew a less than tepid response from New York City government and then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Ferrer soldiered on and made the Grand Concourse the home of the new initiative installing street signs to commemorate celebrities that were born in The Bronx or, at some point in their lives called the borough home.
Each year new inductees are nominated by the community, vetted, and selected by a committee which consists of the office of the Bronx Borough President, The Bronx Tourism Council and The Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation. Inductees unveil their signs amid family, friends and fans in front of the Bronx County Courthouse on the Grand Concourse between East 158th Street and East 161st Street and are honored at the annual Bronx Ball during Bronx Week, a two-week celebration of the Best of The Borough. The more recent Inductee’s street signs remain in that location for one year before being relocated to other locations along the historic Grand Concourse.
The original design featured, on one side, a representation of the County Courthouse, headquarters to Bronx government and located in the epicenter of the borough – 161st street and The Grand Concourse. On the other side of the sign was an image of a storefront to depict commerce as well as the vibrancy of the community.
In 2007, The Bronx Walk of Fame signage experienced its first facelift. The courthouse icon became more pronounced accentuating the columns and windows of the art deco structure and the images were replaced with a more accurate representation of the Courthouse and its architectural style. As many of the buildings along the Grand Concourse were Art Deco structures, contributing to the borough’s distinction of being the second largest conglomeration of this genre of architecture, an image of such a building flanked the other side of the sign.
Though the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 forced the cancellation of the induction ceremony, 2021 saw yet another creative transformation of the signage but was not fully integrated until Bronx Week 2022. The new design incorporated a logo featuring the colors of The Bronx Flag against a blue background. The buildings were removed to give the inductee’s name more visibility and the inductees profession and year of induction was added. Moreover, to enhance the spectator experience, the Bronx Walk of Fame web page was included to give fans the opportunity to read about their hometown hero and learn of the rich history of The Bronx and the Grand Concourse.
Currently there are over 125 Bronx Walk of Fame inductees lining the sidewalks of the historic Grand Concourse.