"Belmont" was the name of the nineteenth-century estate of Jacob Lorillard, adjoining the factory and mill on the Bronx River where he manufactured tobacco products. A small village nearby kept the name after the factory was sold and the estate broken up in the 1880's. (The Lorillard house itself became a hospice, today St. Barnabas Hospital.) A decade later, construction of the neighboring Bronx Zoo and the Jerome Park Reservoir drew immigrant Italian artisans and laborers to Belmont, a population reinforced when the Third Avenue El and IRT connected the neighborhood with downtown Manhattan. The streets around Arthur Avenue, site of the Enrico Fermi Cultural Center, are still lined with Italian markets, bakeries, and restaurants.

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