Lloyd Ultan was named the official Bronx Borough Historian by the Borough President in 1996. Born and raised in the Bronx, Ultan has written several books about the borough, and has taught courses about its history at both Lehman College and Fairleigh Dickinson University.
What do you like about the neighborhood today?
Well to me it’s the ambiance. I grew up on the Grand Concourse area; when I grew up it was a very largely Jewish neighborhood, with upscale people living on the upper end of the economic scale there. When you walk around Riverdale today at about 235th Street and Johnston Avenue for instance, in the streets around there the ambiance is very similar, so it reminds me of the Bronx of the 1940s and 1950s that I knew.
Who has been Riverdale’s most interesting resident?
I really couldn’t say – but I will say at one time Willie Mays lived in an apartment building on Henry Hudson Parkway West, so obviously he is a fascinating person. Again if you go as far [back] as you can even Boss Tweed had a summer home there.
What’s your favorite thing to do here?
Eat. They have some very fine restaurants in Riverdale and in many different kinds. There are Chinese, Greek, Italian restaurants — and in Riverdale you will find at least two kosher restaurants and you don’t find many of those around in the Bronx anymore.