Public Relations

Keeping Work on Track

From the early days of parkway planning through the project’s completion, the BPC worked to promote the parkway through an aggressive public relations campaign. Publicity efforts included newspaper accounts, public presentations, illustrated annual reports, and extensive photograph documentation. These methods helped to convince government officials and the general public to support the BRPR.

In 1911 and 1912, the BPC launched media campaigns to garner support for the BRPR. Numerous articles in local newspapers explained the importance of the Bronx River Parkway as a public works project designed to eliminate nuisance conditions along the Bronx River. The Evening Sun predicted that if the river was not cleaned up, a disastrous epidemic was bound to occur. The Real Estate Record of Westchester County presented the parkway as an excellent opportunity to stimulate the county’s economy and boost local real estate values. The BRPR was also championed as a means to preserve Westchester County’s rural charm. "Every public improvement," the paper claimed, was "an added barrier against undesirable city encroachments."(73) Many of the stories appeared in Westchester County newspapers, but the newspaper articles also played into the BPC’s attempts to convince New York City authorities to approve the parkway and provide financial support the BRPR.

The BPC was intent on keeping its achievements in the public eye. Reports of the commission’s progress were especially important after the BPC began acquiring property and reclaiming the river. Downer, Niles, and BPC staff members lectured numerous community groups about the BRPR’s virtues and achievements. Niles’s typical presentation began by recalling the Bronx River of his boyhood. He then demonstrated how it had been ruined, and concluded with an overview of the manner in which the BPC would restore it to its former glory.(74) Newspapers would often carry nearly identical stories, suggesting that the commissioners were masters of the carefully prepared press release. The BPC-generated press coverage typically celebrated the "wonderful transformation" of the river and its environs. The Bronxville Review reported that the area near Pondfield Road and Swain Street had been remarkably improved by the elimination of a crooked muddy road surrounded by a shantytown. Much of this publicity seemed overly optimistic in its predictions of a rapid conclusion to the project. The May 1915 edition of the Bronxville Review enthused that the parkway had advanced so rapidly that the job would be completed by mid 1916.(75)


(73)Evening Sun, September 22, 1912; Real Estate Record of Westchester County, October 24, 1912.
(74)Eastchester Bulletin, February 3, 1915; White Plains Record, January 14, 1915; "Parkway Lecture Well Attended," Bronxville Review, December 11, 1914; "Sherwood Park Hears All About New Bronx Parkway," Yonkers Herald, December 3, 1914; "Pres. Niles, of the North Side Board of Trade, Lectures on the Building of Bronx Parkway," Bronx Record Times, November 15, 1913.
(75)"A Wonderful Transformation," Bronxville Review, August 14, 1914; "Completion of Bronx Parkway is Now in Sight," New York Herald, November 1, 1914; "Completion of Bronx Parkway is Now In Sight," Scarsdale Inquirer, November 7, 1914; "Parkway Progress," Bronxville Review, May 7, 1915.