Events & News

In Memoriam: Robert Kornfeld, Sr.

October 14, 2010
Article from the Fall 2010 Newsletter

Robert Kornfeld, instrumental in creating the Riverdale Historic District, passed away in Inwood on August 23, 2010. Co-author of the book Landmarks of the Bronx and chairman of the Bronx Landmarks Task Force, Mr. Kornfeld was passionate about preserving the Bronx and in particular Riverdale, the neighborhood he called home for 56 years. “He felt that Riverdale was so beautiful and that it shouldn’t be changed. It meant so much to him that he was an important part of Riverdale,” Celia Kornfeld, Mr. Kornfeld’s widow, said. In 1967, after more than ten years watching his idyllic Riverdale slowly become overwhelmed by apartment buildings and institutional development, Kornfeld began a personal quest to designate a portion of Riverdale as a historic district. Singlehandedly performing much of the research at various city archives, he would later distinctly recall the thrill of stumbling across treasure troves of information at these collections. After more than 20 years of hard work, Kornfeld convinced the Landmarks Preservation Commission of Riverdale’s merits. The Riverdale Historic was designated in 1990 for its “picturesque, physical interrelationship” of houses and because it is the “earliest known railroad suburb within New York City and as such is a rare surviving suburban development.” Riverdale remains beautifully intact as Kornfeld’s great legacy to the city of New York. The Archive Project was lucky enough to work with Shannon Haltiwanger from Pratt Institute’s Historic Preservation Program on an oral history with Kornfeld in 2007. This is one of the only such oral histories to document Kornfeld’s significant role in the preservation world. A full obituary can be found in the September 1, 2010 issue of The Riverdale Press. 

Above: Robert Kornfeld, Sr.; Courtesy of The New York Times