The neighborhood of Mott Haven is located in the South Bronx, and is situated on a portion of land historically referred to as Morrisania, named after the powerful Morris family who held possession of it for centuries. Richard and Lewis Morris, merchants from Barbados, purchased the land from Jonas Bronck in 1670. Alexander Avenue, which extends through the heart of the Mott Haven Historic District, is reputed to have been named after Alexander Bathgate, the overseer of the Morris manor.
In 1828, Jordan L. Mott, an inventor and industrialist, purchased land from the Morris family to establish a foundry for his ironworks on the Harlem River at 134th Street. By the 1840s he'd purchased a second tract of land with the idea of building the village of Mott Haven. By 1850, Mott had drawn up plans for the lower part of the Mott Haven Canal, which, once completed, allowed canal boats to travel as far north as 138th Street.