Grand Concourse Plan
1850 - 1925

Louis Aloys Risse

Born in Saint-Avold, France, Risse graduated from a Christian Brothers school with high honors, immigrating to the United States in 1868 at the age of seventeen and settling in the Bronx. From 1868 to 1869, he surveyed and created maps for the New York and Harlem Railroad. Risse drafted a street map of the town of Morrisania (South Bronx) from 1870 to 1871. Between 1871 and 1873, he surveyed and mapped the towns of West Farms and Kingsbridge, and subsequently created maps of Long Island City. In 1874, Risse became an assistant engineer and draftsman in the New York City Department of Parks. He was appointed Assistant Engineer of Construction in 1878, and in 1880 became the superintendent of streets, roads, bridges, and sewers, a position he held until he resigned and began his private engineering and surveying practice in 1886. In 1891, Risse was appointed Chief Engineer of street improvements, during which time he surveyed, mapped, and laid out the final street system west of the Bronx River and devised the Grand Concourse to link the park systems of Manhattan with the then sparsely-settled Bronx. He became Chief Topographical Engineer and Engineer of Concourse in 1895, and Chief Topographical Engineer of Greater New York in 1898. His 1899 topographical map of Greater New York took first prize at the Paris Exposition, and while there, he was named an officer of the Legion of Honor. Risse oversaw the installation of the New York City Exhibit at the St. Louis Exposition, and was a member of the International Jury of Engineers at Paris in 1900. He retired to private practice in Manhattan upon the elimination of the Board of Public Improvements in 1902. Risse died at the age of 74 in the Bronx, and was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.