South Broadway, Yonkers, NY

My Dad grew up in Yonkers, NY, a city in Westchester County (though for a long time I thought it was part of the Bronx, and thus part of New York City.) Sometime in the 1970s or 80s my Dad took me on a drive to his former neighborhood. I do not recall much of the sight seeing, but a recent visit caused me to dig out old newspaper clippings about my grandfather and his business.

My Dad and his family lived at 272 S. Broadway in an apartment building named Parkhill Gardens. (These many years later, I teach at a school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. On occasions when the highway is backed up, I exit in Yonkers and take the local roads, not far from my Dad's old haunts.)

Recently I traveled with my older son and grandchildren to scope out the apartment building as well as the location, a few blocks south, of the Studebaker dealership owned and managed by my Dad's father.

Of the three photos below, the two without the street entrance were taken on our visit. The one showing the arch from the street is from a Redfin real estate page. The Redfin page answered a question I had, which was curiosity over the street level entrance. On my recent visit, that lovely arch was no longer in place. Instead there is a white metal arched gate that appears to get locked in the evenings, a different set of steps leading to up the building's courtyard, and a small elevator on the right to permit access for anyone unable to navigate the steps. [Updated 10-24-17 – A picture of the current entrance, taken on our visit, has been added to the set below.]

In his 1995 single-spaced, typed memoire, here is how my Dad described the building.

They were called the roaring 20's, but by the time we hit the 30's, the market crashed and the great depression took over. The family was living in Yonkers, NY, and my Dad ran the Studebaker auto dealership there. We lived in a brand new apartment house on the 4th floor. Every apt. had a "dumb waiter" (a shaft that had ropes that went to the top floor into which each family could access by opening a door.) Newspapers could be placed in the dumb waiter and at the appointed time, with the signal of a bell a worker in the basement would pull on the ropes and pull down the papers to be discarded. Our Apt. house was called The Parkhill Gardens (272 So. Broadway).

We lived in the ParkHill Gardens for about 8 years, moving to a rented house at 68 Ridge Road. That move took us to the Park Hill section of town and a new school. [You can learn more about the Park Hill section of Yonkers here and here.]

In 1934 after 5 years in our house, we moved back to the Park Hill Gardens into the same size apartment and wing that we had been in before, being on the 6th floor in place of the 4th … The "Great Depression" took it's toll on many, including our family. My parents were suffering the same financial strains that everyone else was experiencing, but I at 9 years old was blissfully unaware of these events.

Indelibly etched in my mind is a story my Dad shared of antics on the roof. My Dad and his two cousins (siblings around the same age as my Dad, and whose family also lived at 272 So. Broadway) would scamper to the roof of their apartment building and toss water balloons down on unsuspecting pedestrians. However, no fun deed goes unnoticed by neighbors, and upon descending back to their apartments they were reprimanded by their mothers. Having visited the building, I think the "roof" in reference is the area directly over the storefronts, rather than the roof above the top floor of the building.

The picture below is of my Dad and the two cousins noted above. The photo was taken by Ada, my Dad's mother, "from the roof top building at 272, South Broadway, Yonkers, N.Y., shortly after the return of Burt [right], Paul [left] and Harvey [center] after 'all the boys' came home" from World War II.