Even more obscure to imagine is that everything north of 42nd Street in Manhattan was quite pastoral in the year 1846 when American poet Edgar Allan Poe left his downtown home to move to the Fordham section of the Bronx.
Believing and hoping that the fresh, country air would benefit his tuberculosis stricken wife, Poe rented a small cottage on the Valentine farmland estate, for which he paid $100 annually. Unfortunately, the poet’s efforts would be in vain as Virginia Poe would succumb to the disease six months after their arrival.
From a historical perspective, not only was this cottage the home of Edgar Allan Poe for three years, but it is also the second oldest house in the Bronx, believed to have been built in 1797, with the oldest being Van Cortland House, dating back to 1748.
Today, Poe Cottage is part of the Historic House Trust and listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980. Interestingly, the little house was not always situated at its current location. It was moved from Kingsbridge and Briggs to the current location in 1913, as part of a restoration, which, at that time, cost the city of New York $5,000 or $100,000 by today’s standards.
The living room for example, contains several original pieces, including a mirror and rocking chair, set a few feet away from a large bust of Poe sculpted in 1909, for the 100th Year Anniversary of his birth. Adjacent to this room on the first floor is the bedroom within which, Poe’s wife would eventually die.
The High Bridge and its rocky ledge along The Bronx River was another nearby destination that Poe is said to have spent a great deal of time - walking back and forth, hours at a time. Situated on the land that was then-owned by St. John’s College, it is now part of the land that comprises The New York Botanical Gardens.
Poe moved out of the Bronx and died in Baltimore at the age of forty in 1849. His death is still a cold case, as he was said to have died from “congestion of the brain,” a loose medical term, but the actual cause of death has never been definitively determined, adding to the the mysterious legacy of the poet.
Edgar Allan Poe is remembered for his bizarre and thought provoking poems and short stories and has been called the Father of the Modern Detective story because of his creation of C. Auguste Dupin, the first literary ‘genius detective,’ which pre-dates Sherlock Holmes.
Poe Cottage is a piece of American and Bronx History and a must-see for kids and adults alike.
Poe Cottage/Poe Park
2640 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10458