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five blocks north of the Mott Iron Works complex. By 1885, additional industrial concerns—including a plan- i n g m i l l , c a b i n e t m a k e r , a n d n i c k e l w o r k s , a n d f a c t o r i e s m a k i n g c a r p e t s a n d s u r g i c a l i n s t r u m e n t s h a d s p r u n g u p i n M o t t H a v e n , n e a r a n d b e l o w 1 3 8 t h S t r e e t , a n d c l o s e t o T h i r d A v e n u e . T h e e x p a n d e d r a i l y a r d b e l o w 132nd Street, at that point operated by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, connected directly to new docks at the foot of Willis Avenue. A few factories had sprouted up in the area east of Lincoln Avenue, as the Estey Piano Company Factory, then under construction at the northeast corner of Lincoln Avenue and Southern (now Bruckner) Boulevard, shared a block with the expansive works of the New York Lumber and Woodworking Company. 10

The 1886 opening of the Second Avenue Bridge just a few blocks from the Estey Factory provided a Harlem River crossing for the trains of the new Suburban Rapid Transit Company. The Suburban’s line, which would come to be known in the Bronx as the Third Avenue El, was the first to bring rapid transit service to the Annexed District. With its southern terminus on the Manhattan side of the Harlem, where it met Man- hattan’s east-side elevated lines, the Suburban stopped at Southern Boulevard, before continuing northward; service on the line was expanded and improved between 1887 and 1902.11 While the Suburban was under construction, Real Estate Record & Builders’ Guide predicted that it would have an enormous impact on the North Side, calling it, in 1885, “a great thing for the [Annexed District], as well as for New York City. It will furnish cheap homes for a poorer population, as well as choice rural habitations for the well-to-do. We may expect many light manufacturing industries to become naturalized on the other side of the Harlem.”12 And the line did come to play a crucial role in Mott Haven’s late-nineteenth-century development, spurring rowhouse construction in the late 1880s and 1890s. As new housing sprouted up, so too did industry; an 1894 drawing of the Harlem River east of Third Avenue shows a busy waterfront with docks and factories on both sides of the r i v e r , i n c l u d i n g t h e E s t e y F a c t o r y , w i t h i t s d i s t i n c t i v e c l o c k t o w e r c l e a r l y v i s i b l e . 1 3 I n 1 8 9 5 , t h e N e w Y o r k T i m e s n o t e d t h a t t h a t p a r t o f t h e 2 3 r d W a r d a l o n g t h e H a r l e m R i v e r t h a t i s , t h e s o u t h e r n m o s t p o r t i o n o f t h e Annexed District, including Mott Haven—was “a very busy manufacturing place.” 14

Improved rapid transit connections with Manhattan aided Mott Haven’s residential growth, but the area’s industrial development was spurred by its Harlem River location and the expansion of its freight-rail i n f r a s t r u c t u r e . 1 5 B y t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y , t h e N e w Y o r k , N e w H a v e n & H a r t f o r d w i t h a f r e i g h t d e p o t l o c a t e d o n e b l o c k s o u t h o f t h e E s t e y F a c t o r y , a t L i n c o l n A v e n u e a n d 1 3 2 n d S t r e e t c o n n e c t e d with dozens of railroads providing service throughout the eastern and midwestern United States, and into Can- ada. The New York Central system, with extensive yards close by in Melrose, was just as far-reaching.16 And the southern Bronx retained these transportation advantages into the twentieth century. Writing in 1908 about the proliferation of piano factories, many of which were in the southern Bronx, lifelong piano man William P.H. Bacon pointed to the borough’s “superior transportation and shipping facilities, both by water and land,” as well as “the opportunity of getting land for the erection of commodious factories at reasonable figures.”17 In experiencing strong manufacturing growth in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Mott Haven was a microcosm of the Bronx and the city as a whole: by 1920, New York City had 12% of the country’s factory workers, and by 1927, the Bronx had 2,700 plants with more than 100,000 employees. 18

Industrial growth had been rapid in the southern Bronx; Bacon wrote, in 1908, of “the busy hum of commerce where but a few years ago, the lowing of cattle and other sylvan sounds were the only noises heard.”19 The end of World War II marked the apex of manufacturing in New York, as in 1947, more manu- facturing jobs existed in the city than in Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia combined. But industrial activity in the Bronx would soon begin to decline, reflecting city-wide trends. By the 1950s, New York City was rapidly losing industrial jobs, with manufacturers leaving in droves for the suburbs, or departing the region entirely.20 Between 1969 and 1999, the number of manufacturing jobs in the city fell by two- thirds.21 Contributing to the decline of industry in the southern Bronx was the destruction of manufacturing space with the construction of broad new highways; the building of the earliest portions of the Major Deegan Expressway through Mott Haven between 1935 and 1939, for example, wiped out several industrial buildings on the block immediately to the north of the Estey Factory, including the former factory of the Brambach Pi- ano Company.22 In 1997, the New York City Department of City Planning, citing an underutilization of industrial space in Mott Haven, rezoned a portion of Bruckner Boulevard including the block containing the former Estey Factory, to allow for residential uses and community facilities. This special mixed-use zoning was expanded to blocks to the east, west, and south in 2005. 23

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