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Bronx Historian to Discuss New Guidebook for Borough at Bronx Museum

By Eddie Small | August 20, 2015 2:20pm
 On Aug. 22, Shelley Olson and Lloyd Ultan will discuss their book
On Aug. 22, Shelley Olson and Lloyd Ultan will discuss their book "The Bronx: The Ultimate Guide to New York City's Beautiful Borough" at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
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Dilip Kondepudi

CONCOURSE — A new book celebrating some of the lesser-known attractions in The Bronx — including a cottage where Edgar Allan Poe wrote poetry and a Hall of Fame for Great Americans that has not held an election since 1976 — will be on full display at the Bronx Museum of the Arts this weekend.

The book, called "The Bronx: The Ultimate Guide to New York City's Beautiful Borough," was co-written by borough historian Lloyd Ultan and author and composer Shelley Olson, who will discuss it during an Aug. 22 event at the museum.

Ultan bills the book as the first comprehensive guidebook to The Bronx and a welcome change of pace from the abundance of guidebooks that focus almost exclusively on Manhattan.

"If any of them mention anything outside of Manhattan, it's only about 10 pages long and includes all of the other boroughs," he said. "So they don’t give any information about the other boroughs."

The book is divided up into three sections. The first, titled "Attractions," contains a list of 12 sites visitors to The Bronx should check out.

These include popular places like Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden, which Ultan described as "the big three," along with lesser-known destinations, such as The Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College and the cottage at Kingsbridge Road and Grand Concourse where Edgar Allan Poe wrote poems like "Annabel Lee" and "Eureka."

The second part details walking tours of Bronx neighborhoods including Mott Haven, Belmont and City Island, while part three focuses on attractions like museums, art galleries and professional music and theater venues.

"It is quite comprehensive in what it covers," Ultan said. "It would interest somebody who is a visitor who has never been to The Bronx before, and also it would interest people in New York City who never thought there was anything in The Bronx."

Olson said she hoped the book would help readers move past any prejudices they might have about the borough.

"I hope they realize that if they have preconceptions about The Bronx, as I must confess that I initially did, most of them are very, very outdated," she said. "The Bronx is a lovely, friendly, user-friendly and affordable part of New York."

The Bronx Museum event runs from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 22 and includes lunch from David Greco's Arthur Avenue Caterers. The cost for non-members is $10, while members get in for free.

The talk is part of the museum's "Back in The Bronx" program, which aims to welcome former Bronx residents back to their borough. The series has featured actor Chazz Palminteri and author Avery Corman in the past.

'We’re thrilled to have Lloyd here in this context," said Bronx Museum of the Arts spokeswoman Lauren Click. "We have his book for sale in the shop, so it’s really rounding out, showing our support for local Bronx authors and for his work as a historian."

At the event, Ultan and Olson will read excerpts, talk about their own experiences in the borough and sign copies of the book.

However, Ultan cautioned that people should not be too eager to get his signature.

"I always warn them that the moment I put my name in the book, the value immediately goes down," he said.