Note: Bygonebronxville is an Instagram page curated by a person who goes by the name "Lancaster Underhill." The real Lancaster Underhill was the first postmaster of Bronxville.
Sept 21, 2023: MyHometownBronxville recently caught up with Lancaster Underhill of the popular @bygonebronxville Instagram page to learn more about its genesis and evolution.
Here is a summary of what he shared.
"Sixteen months ago, when I joined Instagram it never occurred to me that MyHometownBronxville would think that @bygonebronxville would be worthy of an article.
It all began some years ago when I started late night searches for historical photographs of Bronxville, the Village of my youth. After accumulating 300 or more images I began to wonder if there was an endgame to this pursuit.
Soon the idea of creating an Instagram page formed as perhaps there were others who were reflecting on their past in such an idyllic setting. But what would the page be called and should I attach my real name? In no time @bygonebronxville bubbled up as did Lancaster Underhill, the Village’s 1st postmaster who seemed like an ideal host.
The idea was simple: post 3 photos daily 7 days a week until the useable photo supply was exhausted. I say useable because many of the images I had were unfocused, too dark, poorly cropped or copies of copies of copies.
But the more I posted the more the ideas for making it interesting arose: posting multiple images of a property over time that tell a story, posting then and now images of a property, spotlighting a notable Villager, posting photos of memorable incidents or creating a comedic yard around an otherwise uninteresting photo.
Almost immediately the page attracted followers and before long they began to engage with comments. Any good host knows that comments should be responded to asap and soon the page required routing monitoring and informed replies. As more followers logged on the DM’s began to arrive and personal conversations unfolded mostly along the lines of “do you have any photos of such and such?”
I started focusing searches on specific targets which led to the discovery of online archives and historical newspaper collections. It seemed that every time my photo supply ran low a new treasure trove was uncovered. But the mother-load of historical Village photos was ultimately found in the first place I should have looked - - The Historical Collection in the basement of the Village Library under the watchful eye of Village Historian Raymond Geselbracht. The photo yield from that source sustains @bygonebronxville to this day.
During my hours with Ray I came to realize that I had been outbidding him for years on eBay on Village items that he wanted to add to the collection. On my last visit I donated all of those items to their rightful home where I know they will be curated properly.
I truly had modest expectations when @bygonebronxville debuted. At best I thought perhaps a few dozen other Village history buffs might log on and show some interest. But it soon blossomed into something much greater and more impactful than I imagined. Followers were sharing personal remembrances; people were reconnecting with old friends and memories were being stirred to the point of almost reliving moments from a long-ago time and place. It morphed into a platform where community, connection, cooperation, collaboration and creativity flowed and wove.
While I tried to foster this, it essentially evolved organically from the energies of the followers who were moved by the photos they saw and the memories and feelings they rekindled. Most of the time I felt like I was along for the rise like everyone else.
How much longer @bygonebronxville will be able to provide content remains to be seen. Until then I will endeavor to furnish the most interesting photos and commentary with just a dash of nostalgia and humor mixed in. My sincere gratitude to all followers of #bygonebronxville and particularly those who actively engaged with the page. You have made it a more interesting and enjoyable journey for me.
I am honored to have been invited by Mayor Marvin to reveal my identity, speak briefly and answer questions at the Village’s 125th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, October 1, between 1:00-4:00.
The festivities will occur on Pondfield Road which will be closed to vehicular traffic between Midland and Gramatan Avenues. I hope my followers will join in the fun and I look forward to meeting as many as possible.
Bronxville is a quaint village (one square mile) located just 16 miles north of midtown Manhattan (roughly 30 minutes on the train) and has a population of approximately 6,500. It is known as a premier community with an excellent public school (K-12) and easy access to Manhattan. Bronxville offers many amenities including an attractive business district, a hospital (Lawrence Hospital), public paddle and tennis courts, fine dining at local restaurants, two private country clubs and a community library.
While the earliest settlers of Bronxville date back to the first half of the 18th century, the history of the modern suburb of Bronxville began in 1890 when William Van Duzer Lawrence purchased a farm and commissioned the architect, William A. Bates, to design a planned community of houses for well-known artists and professionals that became a thriving art colony. This community, now called Lawrence Park, is listed on the National register of Historic Places and many of the homes still have artists’ studios. A neighborhood association within Lawrence Park called “The Hilltop Association” keeps this heritage alive with art shows and other events for neighbors.
Bronxville offers many charming neighborhoods as well as a variety of living options for residents including single family homes, town houses, cooperatives and condominiums. One of the chief benefits of living in “the village” is that your children can attend the Bronxville School.
The Bronxville postal zone (10708, known as “Bronxville PO”) includes the village of Bronxville as well as the Chester Heights section of Eastchester, parts of Tuckahoe and the Lawrence Park West, Cedar Knolls, Armour Villa and Longvale sections of Yonkers. Many of these areas have their own distinct character. For instance, the Armour Villa section has many historic homes and even has its own newsletter called “The Villa Voice” which reports on neighborhood news.
Village of Bronxville Administrative Offices
Open 9:00am - 4pm excluding holidays and weekends
Bronxville Police Department
Open 24 hours
Bronxville Parking Violations
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Bronxville Fire Deparment