In the 1880s, forty "villas", large suburban houses, were built in the northeast Bronx on a 23-acre tract named after a planned "garden" community in London. Its only neighbor, the fashionable Jerome Park Racecourse just to the west, was sold in 1894 to provide land for a new reservoir. Bedford Park retained its rural exclusiveness until the 1920s, when real estate developers, following the Grand Concourse and new El and subway lines northward, started to build smaller residences and apartment houses in the vicinity. Another boost to development: unused land alongside the Jerome Park Reservoir provided sites for some major Bronx institutions - the Kingsbridge Armory (1917), one of the world's largest, the campus of Lehman College (begun in the early 'thirties as Hunter College in the Bronx), and three high schools - Walton, DeWitt Clinton, and the Bronx High School of Science. (Recently the Reservoir itself, with the surrounding green, has been designated a Bronx landmark.)

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