When the area east of the Bronx River was joined to New York in 1894, Louis Risse, the imaginative engineer who designed the Grand Concourse, had big plans for its development. But his street design, with avenues meeting in monumental traffic circles, was opposed by large landholders, who succeeded in having all but one of the circles expunged from the final 1903 plan. That one survivor, Hugh J. Grant Circle on Westchester Avenue, became the focus of an major East Bronx neighborhood in 1938, when the Metropolitan Insurance Company chose a 129-acre tract just to the northeast for its city-within-the-city of 40,000 residents, Parkchester. The great housing development, with its parks and walkways, still survives, its apartments largely converted to co-ops, its original "whites only" rental policy (challenged and changed in the 1960s) happily forgotten by the multi-ethnic residents.
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