In 1783 Lewis Morris, legislator and signer of the Declaration of Independence, proposed that the new republic build its capital on his estate, Morrisania, in what is now the southwest Bronx. With more than 2,000 acres on the mainland, and deepwater access, the Morris manor was not an unlikely seat for a new city. Although the offer was tabled, Morrisania retained its local prominence by linking itself, earlier than most of its neighbors, with New York City to the south. The New York and Harlem Railroad was extended from Manhattan to Morrisania in 1842, bringing first laborers and then more substantial residents to the village, incorporated in 1848. German immigrants predominated, establishing piano factories, breweries, turnveriene (athletic clubs) and choral societies. Annexed to New York in 1874, Morrisania filled with tenements after the Third Avenue Elevated Railroad, entering the Bronx in 1888, made it cheap and easy for workers to commute to jobs downtown. In 1904, the first year of its operation, the New York subway crossed southern Morrisania (called Melrose) along 149th Street, intersecting the El at the congested "Hub," which rapidly became the entertainment and shopping center of the borough. By 1920, the section had reached the peak of its population (in which Eastern Europeans had joined Italians, Irish, and Germans) and prestige, although residents were already leaving, following the new subway lines north and east. A later Manhattan legacy were Puerto Rican and African-Americans, often forced from their homes by urban renewal projects, who came to Morrisania in the 1950s. Morrisania has two main east-west streets. Along 149th street are sited Lincoln Hospital (1976), Hostos College (1968), the main Post Office (1937) and the still-thriving shopping center at the Hub, where Third Avenue meets Westchester Avenue. 161st Street, anchored at the west by Yankee Stadium (1923), leads past the Bronx County Building (1934). (An earlier court building, 1906, still stands at the intersection of 161st and Third Avenue.) The Grand Concourse, which originally began at 161st Street and headed north, was extended southward to 137th Street in 1927, forming, with Jerome Avenue and Third Avenue, Morrisania's north-south axes.
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