The Bronx is the northernmost of New York City's five boroughs and the newest of New York State's 62 counties. It is located northeast of Manhattan and south of Westchester County. The Bronx is the only borough situated primarily on the North American mainland (while the other four are on islands). In 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the borough's population on July 1, 2007 was 1,373,659, ranking 4th of the five boroughs in population, 4th in area, and 3rd in density.
The Bronx is divided by the Bronx River into a hillier section in the west, closer to Manhattan, and the flatter East Bronx, closer to Queens and Long Island. The West Bronx was annexed to New York City (then largely confined to Manhattan) in 1874, and the areas east of the Bronx River in 1895. The Bronx first assumed a distinct legal identity when it became a borough of Greater New York in 1898.
Although the Bronx is the third-most-densely-populated county in the U.S., about a quarter of its land is open space, including Woodlawn Cemetery, Van Cortlandt Park, Pelham Bay Park, the New York Botanical Gardens and the Bronx Zoo in the borough's north and center, on land deliberately preserved in the late 19th century as urban development progressed northwards and eastwards from Manhattan with roads, bridges and railroads.
The indigenous Lenape (Delaware) American Indians were slowly displaced after 1643 by settlers from the Netherlands and Great Britain. The Bronx received many Irish, German, Jewish and Italian immigrants as its once-rural population exploded between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries. They were succeeded after 1945 by African-Americans and Hispanic Americans, together with immigrants from the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. In recent years, this cultural mix has made the Bronx a wellspring of both Latin music and Hip hop (rap music).
While the Bronx contains the nation's poorest Congressional District (the 16th), it has a wide variety of neighborhoods, including the affluent Riverdale and Country Club. The Bronx, particularly the South Bronx, saw a sharp decline in population, livable housing and quality of life in the late 1960s and the 1970s, culminating in a wave of arson, but has shown significant signs of revival in recent years.
Jonas Bronck (died 1643), a Dutch sea-captain born in Sweden (about 1600), entering New Netherland in 1639, became the first recorded European settler in the area. He leased land from the Dutch West India Company on the neck of the mainland immediately north of the Dutch settlement in Harlem, and bought additional tracts from the local tribes. He eventually accumulated 500 acres (about 200 hectares, 2 square km, or 3/4 of a square mile) between the Harlem River and the Aquahung, which became known as Bronck's River, or "the Bronx". Dutch and English settlers referred to the area as Bronck's Land.
The development of the Bronx is directly connected to its strategic location between New England and New York (Manhattan). Control over the bridges across the Harlem River plagued the period of British colonial rule. Kingsbridge, built in 1693 where Broadway reached the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, was a possession of the lords of Philipse Manor. The tolls they charged were resented by Bronx farmers with crops and cattle to sell in New York. It was angry farmers who built a "free bridge" across the Harlem River which led to the abandonment of tolls altogether. The territory now contained within Bronx County was originally part of Westchester County, one of the 12 original counties of the English Province of New York. The present Bronx County was contained in the town of Westchester and parts of the towns of Yonkers, Eastchester, and Pelham. In 1846, a new town, West Farms, was created by division of Westchester; in turn, in 1855, the town of Morrisania was created from West Farms. In 1873, the town of Kingsbridge (roughly corresponding to the modern Bronx neighborhoods of Kingsbridge, Riverdale, and Woodlawn) was established within the former borders of Yonkers.
The consolidation of the Bronx into New York City proceeded in two stages. In 1873, the state legislature annexed Kingsbridge, West Farms and Morrisania to New York, effective in 1874; the three towns were abolished in the process. In 1895, three years before New York's consolidation with Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, the whole of the territory east of the Bronx River, including the Town of Westchester (which had voted in 1894 against consolidation) and portions of Eastchester and Pelham, were annexed to the city. City Island, a nautical community, voted to join the city in 1896.
On January 1, 1898, the consolidated City of New York was born, including the Bronx as one of the five distinct Boroughs. (At the same time the Bronx's territory moved from Westchester County into New York County, which already contained Manhattan and the rest of pre-1874 New York City.)
On April 19, 1912, those parts of New York County which had been annexed from Westchester County in the past decades were newly constituted as Bronx County, the 62nd and last county to be created by the state, effective in 1914. Bronx County's courts opened for business on January 2, 1914 (the same day that John P. Mitchel started work as Mayor of New York City).
The Bronx underwent rapid growth after World War I. Extensions of the New York City Subway contributed to the increase in population as thousands of immigrants flooded the Bronx, resulting in a major boom in residential construction. Among these groups, many Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans and especially Jewish-Americans settled here. Author Willa Cather, tobacco merchant Pierre Lorillard, and inventor Jordan L. Mott were famous settlers. In addition, French, German, and Polish immigrants moved into the borough. The Jewish population also increased notably during this time. In 1937, according to Jewish organizations, 592,185 Jews lived in the Bronx (43.9% of the borough's population), while in 2002, only about 45,000 did. Many synagogues still stand in the Bronx, but most have been converted to other uses.
In Prohibition days (1920-33), bootleggers and gangs ran rampant in the Bronx. Irish, Italian and Polish immigrants smuggled in most of the illegal whiskey. By 1926, the Bronx was noted for its high crime rate and its many speakeasies.
After the 1930s, the Irish immigrant population in the Bronx decreased. The German population followed suit in the 1940s, as did many Italians in the 1950s and Jews in the 1960s. As the generation of the 1930s retired, many moved to southeastern Florida, west of Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. The migration has left a Hispanic (mostly Puerto Rican and Dominican) and African-American population, along with some non-Hispanic white areas in the far southeastern and northwestern parts of the county.
|Bronx residents born abroad or overseas, 1930 and 2000|
|1930 United States Census||2000 United States Census|
|Total Population||1,265,258||Total Population||1,332,650|
|All born abroad or overseas ‡||524,410||39.4%|
|Foreign-born Whites||477,342||37.7%||All foreign-born||385,827||29.0%|
|White persons born in Russia||135,210||10.7%||Dominican Republic||124,032||9.3%|
|White persons born in Italy||67,732||5.4%||Jamaica||51,120||3.8%|
|White persons born in Poland||55,969||4.4%||Mexico||20,962||1.6%|
|White persons born in Germany||43,349||3.4%||Guyana||14,868||1.1%|
|White persons born in the Irish Free State †||34,538||2.7%||Ecuador||14,800||1.1%|
|Other foreign birthplaces of Whites||140,544||11.1%||Other foreign birthplaces||160,045||12.0%|
|† the 26 counties now within the Republic of Ireland||‡ beyond the 50 states & District of Columbia|
During the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, the Bronx went into an era of sharp change in the residents' quality of life. Historians and social scientists have put forward many factors. They include the theory (elaborated in Robert Caro's biography The Power Broker) that Robert Moses' Cross-Bronx Expressway destroyed existing residential neighborhoods. Another (unintended) factor in the Bronx's decline may have been the development of high-rise housing projects. Yet another may have been a reduction in the real-estate listings and property-related financial services (such as mortgages or insurance policies) offered in some areas of the Bronx — a process known as redlining. Others have suggested a "planned shrinkage" of municipal services, such as fire-fighting. There was also much debate as to whether rent control laws had made it less profitable (or more costly) for landlords to maintain existing buildings with their existing tenants than to abandon or destroy those buildings.
In the 1970s, the Bronx was plagued by a wave of arson. The burning of buildings was mostly in the South Bronx, concentrated especially along Westchester Avenue and in West Farms. The most common explanation of what occurred was that landlords decided to burn their buildings and take the insurance money as profit. Competing explanations blamed the insurance companies —since their non-renewals of policies might have encouraged the landlords— or the residents themselves. After the destruction of many buildings in the South Bronx, the arsons slowed significantly in the later part of the decade, but the after-effects were still felt into the early 1990s.
Since the mid-1980s, significant residential development has occurred, stimulated by the city's "Ten-Year Housing Plan" and community members working to rebuild the social, economic and environmental infrastructure by creating affordable housing. Groups affiliated with South Bronx churches erected the Nehemiah Homes with about 1,000 units. The grass roots organization Nos Quedamos' endeavor known as Melrose Commons began to rebuild the South Bronx. The ripple effects have been felt borough-wide. As a result of the growing population, the IRT White Plains Road Line has had an increase in riders. Chains such as Marshalls, Staples and Target have opened stores in the Bronx. More bank branches have opened in the Bronx as a whole (rising from 106 in 1997 to 149 in 2007), although not primarily in poor or minority neighborhoods, while the Bronx still has fewer branches per person than wealthier boroughs.
In 1997, the Bronx was designated an "All America City" by the National Civic League, signifying its comeback from the decline of the 1970s. In 2006, The New York Times reported that "construction cranes have become the borough's new visual metaphor, replacing the window decals of the 1980s in which pictures of potted plants and drawn curtains were placed in the windows of abandoned buildings.". The borough has experienced substantial new building construction since 2002. Between 2002 and June 2007, 33,687 new units of housing were built or were under way and $4.8 billion has been invested in new housing. In the first six months of 2007 alone total investment in new residential development was $965 million and 5,187 residential units were scheduled to be completed. Much of the new development is springing up in formerly vacant lots across the South Bronx.
The Bronx is almost entirely situated on the North American mainland. The Hudson River separates the Bronx on the west from Alpine, Tenafly and Englewood Cliffs in Bergen County, New Jersey; the Harlem River separates it from the island of Manhattan to the southwest; the East River separates it from Queens to the southeast; and, to the east, Long Island Sound separates it from Nassau County in western Long Island. Directly north of the Bronx are (from west to east) the adjoining Westchester County communities of Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Pelham Manor and New Rochelle.
The Bronx River flows south from Westchester County through the borough, emptying into the East River; it is the largest freshwater river in New York City. A smaller river, the Hutchinson River (named after the religious leader Anne Hutchinson, killed along its banks in 1641), passes through the east Bronx and empties into Eastchester Bay.
The Bronx also includes several small islands in the East River and Long Island Sound, such as City Island and Hart Island. Although part of the Bronx, Rikers Island in the East River, home to the large jail complex for the entire City, can be reached only by water, by air, or—since 1966—over the Francis Buono Bridge from Queens.
The Bronx's highest elevation—about 280 feet or 85 meters—is in the northwest corner, west of Van Cortlandt Park and in the Chapel Farm area near the Riverdale Country School. The opposite (southeastern) side of the Bronx has four large low peninsulas or "necks" of low-lying land that jut into the waters of the East River and were once saltmarsh †: Hunt's Point, Clason's Point, Screvin's Neck and Throg's Neck. Further up the coastline, Rodman's Neck lies between Pelham Bay Park in the northeast and City Island.
Almost 27% of the Bronx's total area is water (15.4 square miles or 40 km²), and the irregular shoreline extends for 75 miles (120 km).
|Selected Parks and Open Space in the Bronx|
|ac- quired||name||acres||sq. miles||hect- ares||sq. km|
|1888||Pelham Bay Park||2,764||4.3||1,119||11.2|
|Van Cortlandt Park||1,146||1.8||464||4.6|
|1890||Jerome Park Reservoir||94||0.15||38||0.4|
|1897||St. James Park||11||0.02||4.6||0.0|
|1899||Macomb's Dam Park †||28||0.04||12||0.1|
|1909||Henry Hudson Park||9||0.01||4||0.0|
|1937||Ferry Point Park||414||0.65||168||1.7|
|Land area of the Bronx in 2000||26,897||42.0||10,885||108.8|
|† closed in 2007 to build a new park & New Yankee Stadium|
|Main source: New York City Department of Parks & Recreation|
Although, in 2006, it was the third most densely populated county in the United States (after Manhattan and Brooklyn), about one-fifth of the Bronx's area, and one-quarter of its land area, is given over to park land: about 7,000 acres or 11 square miles (2,800 hectares or 28 square km).
Woodlawn Cemetery, one of the largest cemeteries in New York City, sits on the western bank of the Bronx River near Yonkers. It opened in 1863, at a time when the Bronx was still considered a rural area.
The northern side of the borough includes two of the largest parks in New York City, Pelham Bay Park and Van Cortlandt Park. Pelham Bay Park, in the northeast giving onto Eastchester Bay and Long Island Sound, includes Orchard Beach, a large man-made public beach. Van Cortlandt Park, directly west of Woodlawn Cemetery and bordering Yonkers, contains the Bronx's oldest standing house and largest freshwater lake
Nearer the borough's center, and along the Bronx River, is Bronx Park. Its northern end houses the New York Botanical Gardens, which preserve the last patch of the original hemlock forest which once covered the entire City, and its southern end the Bronx Zoo, the largest urban zoological gardens in the U.S.
Farther south is Crotona Park, home to a 3.3 acre (1.3 hectare) lake, 28 species of trees and a large swimming pool.. The land for these parks, and many others, was bought by New York City in 1888, while land was still open and cheap, in anticipation of future needs and future pressures for development.
Some of the acquired land was set aside for the Grand Concourse and Pelham Parkway, the first of a series of boulevards and parkways, or thoroughfares lined with trees, vegetation and greenery. Later projects included the Bronx River Parkway, which developed a road while restoring the riverbank and reducing pollution, Mosholu Parkway and the Henry Hudson Parkway.
Just south of Van Cortlandt Park is the Jerome Park Reservoir, surrounded by two miles (3.2 km) of stone walls and bordering several small parks in the Bedford Park neighborhood. It was built in the 1890s to store New York City's drinking water, on the site of the former Jerome Park Racetrack (1866-1889), the birthplace of horse-racing's Belmont Stakes.
Wave Hill, the former estate of George W. Perkins — known for a historic house, gardens, changing site-specific art installations and concerts — overlooks the New Jersey Palisades from a promontory on the Hudson in Riverdale.
In 2006, a five-year, $220-million program of capital improvements and natural restoration in 70 Bronx parks was begun (financed by water and sewer revenues) as part of an agreement that allowed a water-filtration plant under Van Cortlandt Park's golf course. One major focus is on opening more of the Bronx River's banks and restoring them to a natural state.
The number, locations and boundaries of the Bronx's neighborhoods (many of them sitting on the sites of 19th-century villages) have become unclear with time and successive waves of newcomers. In 2006, Manny Fernandez of The New York Times wrote,
"According to a Department of City Planning map of the city’s neighborhoods, the Bronx has 49. The map publisher Hagstrom identifies 69. The borough president, Adolfo Carrión Jr., says 61. The Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit, in a listing of the borough’s community boards, names 68. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, lists 44."Notable Bronx neighborhoods include the South Bronx, Little Italy on Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section, and Riverdale.
(Bronx Community Boards 9 [south central], 10 [east], 11 [east central] and 12 [north central] )
East of the Bronx River, the borough is relatively flat, and includes four large low peninsulas or necks of low-lying land which jut into the waters of the East River and were once saltmarsh: Hunts Point, Clason's Point, Screvin's Neck (Castle Hill Point) and Throgs Neck. The East Bronx has older tenement buildings, low income public housing complexes, and multifamily homes, as well as smaller and larger single family homes. It includes New York City's largest park: Pelham Bay Park along the Westchester-Bronx border.
Neighborhoods include: Clason's Point, Harding Park, Soundview, Castle Hill, Parkchester (under Board 9), Throgs Neck, Country Club, City Island, Pelham Bay, Co-op City (Board 10), Westchester Square, Van Nest, Pelham Parkway, Morris Park (Board 11), Williamsbridge, Eastchester, Baychester, Edenwald and Wakefield (Board 12).
City Island is located east of Pelham Bay Park in Long Island Sound, and is known for its seafood restaurants and waterfront private homes. City Island's single shopping street, City Island Avenue, is reminiscent of a small New England town. It is connected to Rodman's Neck on the mainland by the City Island Bridge.
East of City Island is Hart Island which is uninhabited and not open to the public. It once served as a prison and now houses New York City's Potter's Field or pauper's graveyard for unclaimed bodies.
(Bronx Community Boards 1 to 8, progressing roughly from south to northwest)
The western parts of the Bronx are hillier and are dominated by a series of parallel ridges, running south to north. The West Bronx has older apartment buildings, low income public housing complexes, multifamily homes in its lower income areas as well as larger single family homes in more affluent areas such as Riverdale. It includes New York City's fourth largest park: Van Cortlandt Park along the Westchester-Bronx border. The Grand Concourse, a wide boulevard, runs through it, north to south.
Neighborhoods include: Fordham-Bedford, Bedford Park, Norwood, Kingsbridge Heights (Board 7), Kingsbridge, Riverdale (Board 8), and Woodlawn (Board 12). (Marble Hill, Manhattan is now connected by land to the Bronx rather than Manhattan and is served by Bronx Community Board 8.)
(Bronx Community Boards 1 to 6 plus part of Board 7 —— progressing northwards, Boards 2, 3 and 6 border the Bronx River from its mouth to Bronx Park, while 1, 4, 5 and 7 face Manhattan across the Harlem River)
The South Bronx has no official boundaries. The name has been used to represent poverty in the Bronx. The informal designation has moved northward in recent decades so that by the 2000s the name, the South Bronx, has come to be applied to the area roughly bound by Fordham Road to the north and the Bronx River to the east. Today neighborhoods outside of this area are economically distressed, as well. The South Bronx is filled with high-density apartment buildings, low income public housing complexes, and multi-unit homes. The South Bronx is home to the Bronx County Court House, Borough Hall, and other government buildings, as well as Yankee Stadium. The Cross Bronx Expressway bisects it, east to west. The South Bronx has some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, as well as very high crime areas.
Neighborhoods include: The Hub (a retail district at Third Avenue and East 149th Street), Port Morris, Mott Haven (Board 1), Melrose (Board 1 & Board 3), Morrisania, East Morrisania [also known as Crotona Park East] (Board 3), Hunts Point, Longwood (Board 2) , Highbridge, Concourse (Board 4), West Farms, Belmont, East Tremont (Board 6), Tremont, Morris Heights (Board 5), University Heights, and Fordham (Board 5 & Board 7).
Prominent shopping areas in the Bronx include Fordham Road, Bay Plaza (in Co-op City), The Hub, Riverdale/Kingsbridge Shopping center and Bruckner Boulevard. Shops are also concentrated on streets aligned underneath elevated railroad lines, including Westchester Avenue, White Plains Road, Jerome Avenue, Southern Boulevard and Broadway.
Roads and Streets
The Bronx street grid is irregular. The west Bronx's hilly terrain leaves a relatively free street grid that closely resembles that of extreme upper Manhattan which has similar terrain. Much of the west Bronx follows the Manhattan street grid, and some of the streets are numbered. Because the street numbering carries over from upper Manhattan, the lowest numbered street in the Bronx is East 132nd Street. However, the numbering does not match the Manhattan grid exactly. This dates from the mid-nineteenth century when the southwestern area of Westchester County west of the Bronx River, was incorporated into New York City and known as the Northside.
Three major north-south thoroughfares run between Manhattan and the Bronx: Third Avenue, Park Avenue, and Broadway. Other major north-south roads include the Grand Concourse, Jerome Avenue, Webster Avenue, and White Plains Road. Major east-west thoroughfares include Mosholu Parkway, Gun Hill Road, Fordham Road, Pelham Parkway, Boston Road and Tremont Avenue.
Most east-west streets are prefixed with either East or West, to indicate on which side of Jerome Avenue they lie (continuing the similar system in Manhattan, which uses Fifth Avenue as the dividing line).
Several major limited access highways traverse the Bronx. These include:
Bridges and tunnels
Many bridges and tunnels connect the Bronx to Manhattan and Queens. These include, from west to east:
To Manhattan: the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, the Henry Hudson Bridge, the Broadway Bridge, the University Heights Bridge, the Washington Bridge, the Alexander Hamilton Bridge, the High Bridge, the Concourse Tunnel, the Macombs Dam Bridge, the 145th Street Bridge, the 149th Street Tunnel, the Madison Avenue Bridge, the Park Avenue Bridge, the Lexington Avenue Tunnel, the Third Avenue Bridge (southbound traffic only), and the Willis Avenue Bridge (northbound traffic only).
To Manhattan or Queens: the Triborough Bridge
The Bronx is served by six lines of the New York City Subway:
Two Metro-North Railroad commuter rail lines (the Harlem Line and the Hudson Line) serve 11 stations in the Bronx. (Marble Hill, between the Spuyten Duyvil and University Heights stations, is actually in the only part of Manhattan connected to the mainland.) In addition, trains serving the New Haven Line stop at Fordham Road.
As of the United States Census of 2000, there were 1,332,650 people, 463,212 households, and 314,984 families residing in the borough. The population density was 12,242.2/km² (31,709.3/sq mi). There were 490,659 housing units at an average density of 4,507.4/km² (11,674.8/sq mi). There were 463,212 households out of which 38.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.4% were married couples living together, 30.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.0% were non-families. 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.37.
The age distribution of the population in the Bronx was as follows: 29.8% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 87.0 males.
The 1999 median income for a household in the borough was $27,611, and the median income for a family was $30,682. Males had a median income of $31,178 versus $29,429 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $13,959. About 28.0% of families and 30.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.5% of those under age 18 and 21.3% of those age 65 or over.
The principal ethnic groups of the borough in the 2000 Census (simplifying official classifications) were:
The Bronx has some of the nation's highest percentages of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans with 24.0% and 10.0%, respectively. The 2007 U.S. Census estimates for July 1, 2006 indicate a Hispanic majority of just under 51.0%, or 693,884 Hispanic to 667,589 non-Hispanic Bronxites, including 178,659 non-Hispanic monoracial Whites (13.1%). The same estimates give a Black or African-American single-race population of 581,350 (42.7%) — 153,821 Hispanic Black (11.3%) and 427,529 (31.4%) non-Hispanic Black.
The Census of 1930, by contrast, counted only 1.0% (12,930) of the Bronx's population as Negro (while making no distinct counts of Hispanic or Spanish-surname residents).
Immigrants from Ghana have clustered along the Grand Concourse.
Based on sample data from the 2000 census, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 47.3% of the population five and older spoke only English at home, while 43.7% spoke Spanish at home, either exclusively or along with English. Other languages or groups of languages spoken at home by more than 0.25% of the population of the Bronx include Italian (1.36%), Kru, Ibo, or Yoruba [West Africa] (0.72%) and French (0.54%).
The main European ancestries of Bronx residents, 2000 (percentage of total borough population):
Since New York City's consolidation in 1898, the Bronx has been governed by the New York City Charter that provides for a "strong" mayor-council system. The centralized New York City government is responsible for public education, correctional institutions, libraries, public safety, recreational facilities, sanitation, water supply, and welfare services in the Bronx.
The office of Borough President was created in the consolidation of 1898 to balance centralization with local authority. Each borough president had a powerful administrative role derived from having a vote on the New York City Board of Estimate, which was responsible for creating and approving the city's budget and proposals for land use. In 1989 the Supreme Court of the United States declared the Board of Estimate unconstitutional on the grounds that Brooklyn, the most populous borough, had no greater effective representation on the Board than Staten Island, the least populous borough, a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause pursuant to the high court's 1964 "one man, one vote" decision.
Since 1990 the Borough President has acted as an advocate for the borough at the mayoral agencies, the City Council, the New York state government, and corporations. The Borough President of the Bronx is Adolfo Carrión Jr., elected as a Democrat in 2001 and re-elected in 2005. (For his predecessors, see the List of Bronx Borough Presidents.)
The Democratic Party holds the majority of public offices. Local party platforms center on affordable housing, education and economic development. Controversial political issues in the Bronx include environmental issues, the cost of housing, and annexation of parkland for New Yankee Stadium.
Since its separation from New York County on January 1, 1914, the Bronx, has had, like each of the other 61 counties of New York State, its own criminal court system and District Attorney, the chief public prosecutor who is directly elected by popular vote. Robert T. Johnson, a Democrat, has been the District Attorney of Bronx County since 1989. He was the first African-American District Attorney in New York State.
Eight members of the New York City Council represent districts wholly within the Bronx, while a ninth represents a Manhattan district (8) that also includes a small area of the Bronx. (All of them were Democrats in 2008.) One of those members, Joel Rivera (District 15), has been the Council's Majority Leader since 2002.
The Bronx also has twelve Community Boards, appointed bodies that field complaints and advise on land use and municipal facilities and services for local residents, businesses and institutions. (They are listed at Bronx Community Boards).
In 2008, three Democrats represented almost all of the Bronx in the United States House of Representatives.
All of these Representatives won over 75% of their districts' respective votes in both 2004 and 2006. National Journal's neutral rating system placed all of their voting records in 2005 and 2006 somewhere between very liberal and extremely liberal.
Eleven out of 150 members of the New York State Assembly (the lower house of the state legislature) represent districts wholly within the Bronx. Six State Senators out of 62 represent Bronx districts, half of them wholly within the County, and half straddling other counties. All these legislators are Democrats who won between 65% and 100% of their districts' vote in 2006.
In the 2004 presidential election, Senator John F. Kerry (Democratic and Working Families Parties) received 81.8% of the vote in the Bronx while successfully-reelected President George W. Bush (Republican and Conservative Parties) received 16.3%.
A year later, the Democratic former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer won 59.8% of the borough's vote against 38.8% for Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Republican and Independence Party) who carried every other borough in his winning campaign for re-election.
In 2006, successfully-reelected Senator Hillary Clinton (Democratic, Working Families & Independence) won 89.5% of the Bronx's vote against 9.6% for Yonkers ex-Mayor John Spencer (Republican and Conservative), while Eliot Spitzer (Democratic, Working Families & Independence) received 88.8% of the Borough's vote in winning the Governorship against John Faso (Republican & Conservative), who received 9.7% of the Bronx's vote.
In the Presidential primary elections of February 5, 2008, Sen. Clinton won 61.2% of the Bronx's 148,636 Democratic votes against 37.8% for Barack Obama and 1.0% for the other four candidates combined. At the same time, John McCain won 54.4% of the borough's 5,643 Republican votes, Mitt Romney 20.8%, Mike Huckabee 8.2%, Ron Paul 7.4%, Rudy Giuliani 5.6%, and the other three candidates 3.6% between them.
After becoming a separate county in 1914, the Bronx has supported only two Republican Presidential candidates. It voted heavily for the winning Republican Warren G. Harding in 1920, but much more narrowly on a split vote for his victorious Republican successor Calvin Coolidge in 1924 (Coolidge 79,562; John W. Davis, Dem., 72,834; Robert La Follette, 62,202 equally divided between the Progressive and Socialist lines).
Since then, the Bronx has always supported the Democratic Party's nominee for President, starting with a vote of 2-1 for the unsuccessful Al Smith in 1928, followed by four 2-1 votes for the successful Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Both had been Governors of New York, but the Bronx voted against two former Republican Governors who ran for President: Charles Evans Hughes in 1916 and Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 and 1948.)
The Bronx has often shown striking differences from other boroughs in elections for Mayor. The only Republican to carry the Bronx since 1914 was Fiorello La Guardia in 1933, 1937 and 1941 (and in the latter two elections, only because his 30-32% vote on the American Labor Party line was added to 22-23% as a Republican).. The Bronx was thus the only borough not carried by the successful Republican re-election campaigns of Mayors Rudolph Giuliani in 1997 and Michael Bloomberg in 2005. The anti-war Socialist campaign of Morris Hillquit in the 1917 mayoral election won over 31% of the Bronx's vote, putting him second and well ahead of the 20% won by the incumbent pro-war Fusion Mayor John P. Mitchel, who came in second (ahead of Hillquit) everywhere else and outpolled Hillquit city-wide by 23.2% to 21.7%.
Educational attainment: In 2000, according to the U.S. Census, out of the nearly 800,000 people in the Bronx who were then at least 25 years old, 62.3% had graduated from high school and 14.6% held a bachelor's or higher college degree. These percentages were lower than those for New York's other boroughs, which ranged from 68.8% (Brooklyn) to 82.6% (Staten Island) for high school graduates over 24, and from 21.8% (Brooklyn) to 49.4% (Manhattan) for college graduates. (The respective state and national percentages were [NY] 79.1% & 27.4% and [US] 80.4% & 24.4%.)
In the 2000 Census, 79,240 of the nearly 95,000 Bronx residents enrolled in high school attended public schools.
Many public high schools are located in the borough including the élite Bronx High School of Science, DeWitt Clinton High School and High School of American Studies. The Bronx is also home to three of New York City's most prestigious private, secular schools: Fieldston, Horace Mann, and Riverdale Country School.
High schools linked to the Roman Catholic Church include: Monsignor Scanlan High School, St. Raymond High School for Boys, All Hallows High School, Cardinal Hayes High School, Cardinal Spellman High School, Fordham Preparatory School, The Academy of Mount Saint Ursula, Aquinas High School, Preston High School, St. Catharine Academy, and Mount Saint Michael Academy.
In the 1990s, New York City began closing the large, public high schools in the Bronx and replacing them with small high schools. Among the reasons cited for the changes were poor graduation rates and concerns about safety. Schools that have been closed or reduced in size include John F. Kennedy, James Monroe, Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, Evander Childs, Christopher Columbus, Morris, Walton, and South Bronx High Schools. More recently the City has started phasing out large middle schools, also replacing them with smaller schools.
In 2000, 49,442 (57.5%) of the 86,014 Bronx residents seeking college, graduate or professional degrees attended public institutions.
Several colleges and universities are located in the Bronx.
Fordham University, a coeducational undergraduate and graduate university, was founded in 1841. It is officially an independent institution but strongly embraces its Jesuit heritage. The Bronx campus, known as Rose Hill, is the main campus of the university (other Fordham campuses are located in Manhattan and Westchester County).
Three campuses of the City University of New York are in the Bronx: Hostos Community College, Bronx Community College (occupying the former University Heights Campus of New York University) and Lehman College (formerly the uptown campus of Hunter College), which offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Manhattan College is a Catholic college in Riverdale which offers undergraduate programs in the arts, business, education, engineering, and science. It also offers graduate programs in education and engineering.
The College of Mount Saint Vincent is a Catholic liberal arts college in Riverdale under the direction of the Sisters of Charity of New York. Founded in 1847 as a school for girls, the academy became a degree-granting college in 1911 and began admitting men in 1974. The school serves 1,600 students. Its campus is also home to the Academy for Jewish Religion, a transdenominational rabbinical and cantorial school. Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Yeshiva University, is in Morris Park.
Two colleges based in Westchester County have Bronx campuses. The Catholic and nearly-all-female College of New Rochelle maintains satellite campuses at Co-op City and in The Hub. The coeducational and non-sectarian Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, founded by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy in 1950, has a campus near Westchester Square.
By contrast, the private, proprietary Monroe College, focused on preparation for business and the professions, started in the Bronx in 1933 but now has a campus in New Rochelle (Westchester County) as well the Bronx's Fordham neighborhood. The State University of New York Maritime College in Fort Schuyler (Throggs Neck)—at the far southeastern tip of the Bronx—is a national leader in maritime education and houses the Maritime Industry Museum. (Directly across Long Island Sound is Kings Point, Long Island, home of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and the American Merchant Marine Museum.)
The Bronx's evolution from a hot bed of Latin jazz to an incubator of Hip hop was the subject of an award-winning documentary, produced by City Lore and broadcast on PBS in 2006, "From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale" Hip Hop first emerged in the South Bronx in the early 1970s. The New York Times has identified 1520 Sedgwick Avenue "an otherwise unremarkable high-rise just north of the Cross Bronx Expressway and hard along the Major Deegan Expressway" as the starting point, where DJ Kool Herc presided over parties in the community room. Beginning with the advent of beat match DJ'ing, in which Bronx DJs (Disc Jockeys) including Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc extended the breaks of funk records, a major new musical genre emerged that sought to isolate the percussion breaks of hit funk, disco and soul songs. As hip hop's popularity grew, performers began speaking ("rapping") in sync with the beats, and became known as MCs or emcees. The Herculoids, made up of Herc, Coke La Rock, and DJ Clark Kent, were the earliest to gain major fame. The Bronx is referred to in hip-hop slang as "The Boogie Down Bronx", or just "The Boogie Down". This was hip-hop pioneer KRS-One's inspiration for his thought provoking group BDP, or Boogie Down Productions, which included DJ Scott La Rock. Newer hip hop artists from the Bronx include Swizz Beatz, Drag-On, Fat Joe and Terror Squad.
Hush Hip Hop Tours has established a sightseeing tour of the Bronx showcasing the locations that helped shape hip hop culture and has the pioneers of hip hop as tour guides. The recent recognition of the Bronx as an important center of African-American culture, led Fordham University to establish the ongoing "Bronx African-American History Project (BAAHP)"
The Bronx is home to several Off-Off-Broadway theaters, many staging new works by immigrant playwrights from Latin America and Africa. The Pregones Theater, which produces Latin American work, opened a new 130-seat theater in 2005 on Walton Avenue in the South Bronx. Some artists from elsewhere in New York City have begun to converge on the area, and housing prices have nearly quadrupled in the area since 2002. However rising prices directly correlate to a housing shortage across the city and the entire metro area.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts, founded in 1971, exhibits 20th century and contemporary art through its central museum space and of galleries. Many of its exhibitions are on themes of special interest to the Bronx. Its permanent collection features more than 800 works of art, primarily by artists from Africa, Asia and Latin America, including paintings, photographs, prints, drawings, and mixed media. The museum was temporarily closed in 2006 while it underwent a major expansion designed by the architectural firm Arquitectonica.
The Bronx has also become home to a peculiar poetic tribute, in the form of the Heinrich Heine Memorial, better known as the Lorelei Fountain from one of Heine's best-known works (1838) After Heine's German birthplace of Düsseldorf had rejected, allegedly for anti-Semitic motives, a centennial monument to the radical German-Jewish poet (1797-1856), his incensed German-American admirers, including Carl Schurz, started a movement to place one instead in Midtown Manhattan, at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. However, this intention was thwarted by a combination of ethnic antagonism, aesthetic controversy and political struggles over the institutional control of public art. In 1899, the memorial, by the Berlin sculptor Ernst Gustav Herter (1846-1917), finally came to rest, although subject to repeated vandalism, in the Bronx, at 164th Street and the Grand Concourse, or Joyce Kilmer Park near today's Yankee Stadium. (In 1999, it was moved to 161st Street and the Concourse.) In 2007, Christopher Gray of The New York Times described it as "a writhing composition in white Tyrolean marble depicting Lorelei, the mythical German figure, surrounded by mermaids, dolphins and seashells."
A national landmark in the Bronx is the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, overlooking the Harlem River and designed by the renowned architect Stanford White. The never–landmarked Yankee Stadium, the "House that Ruth Built" and home to the New York Yankees since 1923, is being replaced with a new look-alike facility.
The peninsular borough's maritime heritage is acknowledged in several ways. The City Island Historical Society and Nautical Museum occupies a former public school designed by the New York City school system's turn-of-the-last-century master architect C. B. J. Snyder. The state's Maritime College in Fort Schuyler (on the southeastern shore) houses the Maritime Industry Museum.. In addition, the Harlem River is reemerging as "Scullers' Row" due in large part to the efforts of the New York Restoration Project. Canoeing and kayaking on the borough's namesake river have been promoted by the Bronx River Alliance
The Bronx has several local newspapers, including The Bronx News , Parkchester News, City News, The Riverdale Press, Riverdale Review, The Bronx Times Reporter, Inner City Press (which now has more of a focus on national issues) and Co-Op City Times. Four non-profit news outlets, Norwood News, Mount Hope Monitor, Highbridge Horizon and The Hunts Point Express serve the borough's poorer communities. The editor and co-publisher of The Riverdale Press, Bernard Stein, won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing for his editorials about Bronx and New York City issues in 1998. (Stein graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1959.)
The Bronx once had its own daily newspaper, The Bronx Home News, which started publishing on January 20, 1907 and merged into the New York Post in 1948. It became a special section of the Post, sold only in the Bronx, and eventually disappeared from view.
Radio & Television
One of New York City's major non-commercial radio broadcasters is WFUV, an National Public Radio–affiliated 50,000-watt station broadcasting from Fordham University's Rose Hill campus in the Bronx. The radio station's antenna is atop an apartment building owned by Montefiore Medical Center.
The City of New York has an official television station run by the NYC Media Group and broadcasting from Bronx Community College, and Cablevision operates News 12 The Bronx, both of which feature programming based in the Bronx. Co-op City was the first area in the Bronx, and the first in New York beyond Manhattan, to have its own cable television provider. The local cable access station BRONXNET provides public affairs programming in addition to programming produced by Bronx residents.
Originally, movies set in the Bronx portrayed densely-settled, working-class, urban culture. Paddy Chayefsky's Academy Award-winning Marty is the epitome of this, with its tag line, "What are you doing, Marty? Nothing." This thematic line has continued in the 1993 Robert De Niro/Chazz Palminteri film, A Bronx Tale, Spike Lee's 1999 movie Summer of Sam, centered in an Italian-American Bronx community, 1994's I Like It Like That that takes place in the predominately Puerto Rican neighborhood of the South Bronx, and Doughboys, the story of two Italian-American brothers who are in danger of losing their bakery thanks to one brother's gambling debts.
The Bronx's gritty urban life had worked its way into the movies even earlier, with the use of the term "Bronx cheer", a loud flatulent-like sound of disapproval, allegedly first made by New York Yankees fans. In 1942, Spike Jones sings "Der Fuehrer's Face" (from the Disney animated film of the same name), repeatedly lambasting Adolf Hitler with:"We'll Heil! (Bronx cheer) Heil! (Bronx cheer) Right in Der Fuehrer's Face!
Starting in the 1970s, the Bronx often symbolized violence, decay, and urban ruin. The wave of arson in the South Bronx in the 1960s and 1970s launched the phrase the Bronx is burning: in 1974 it was the title of both a New York Times editorial and a BBC documentary film. The line entered the pop-consciousness with Game Two of the 1977 World Series, when a fire broke out near Yankee Stadium as the team was playing the Los Angeles Dodgers. As the fire was captured on live television, announcer Howard Cosell intoned, "There it is, ladies and gentlemen: the Bronx is burning". Historians of New York City frequently point to Cosell's remark as a sign of both the city and the borough's decline. A new feature-length documentary film by Edwin Pagan called Bronx Burning is in production in 2006, chronicling what led up to the arson-for-insurance fraud fires of the 1970s and the subsequent rebirth of the community.
These themes have been especially pervasive in representations of the Bronx in cinema. There are good depictions of Bronx gangs in the 1974 novel The Wanderers by Bronx native Richard Price and the 1979 movie of the same name. They are set in the heart of the Bronx, showing apartment life and the then-landmark Krums ice cream parlor. In the 1979 film The Warriors, the eponymous gang go to a meeting in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, and have to fight their way back to Coney Island in Brooklyn. The 2005 video game adaptation features levels called Pelham, Tremont, and "Gunhill" (an apparent corruption of the name Gun Hill Road).
This theme lends itself to the title of The Bronx is Burning, an eight-part ESPN TV mini-series (2007) about the New York Yankees' drive to winning baseball's 1977 World Series. The TV series emphasizes the boisterous nature of the team, led by manager Billy Martin, catcher Thurman Munson and outfielder Reggie Jackson, as well as the malaise of the Bronx and New York City in general during that time, such as the blackout, the financial problems, the arson issues, and the election of Ed Koch as mayor.
The 1981 film Fort Apache, The Bronx also portrayed the Bronx as gang- and crime-ridden. The film's title is from the nickname for the 41st Police Precinct in the South Bronx. This movie was condemned by community leaders for condoning police brutality, and for its unflattering depiction of the borough; former Young Lords member and Puerto Rican activist Richie Perez formed a protest group, The Committee Against Fort Apache. By contrast, Knights of the South Bronx, a true story of a teacher who worked with disadvantaged children, is also set in the Bronx. A more neutral portrayal is Portfolio, a "B" movie starring model Carol Alt (the daughter of a New York fireman) the opening scenes of which are set in and around Ladder 58, Engine 45 at 925 East Tremont Avenue.
The Bronx was the setting for the 1983 film Fuga dal Bronx, also known as Bronx Warriors 2 and Escape 2000, an Italian B-movie best known for its appearance on the television series Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The plot revolves around a sinister construction corporation's plans to depopulate, destroy and redevelop the Bronx, and a band of rebels who are out to expose the corporation's murderous ways and save their homes. The film is memorable for its almost incessant use of the phrase, "Leave the Bronx!" Amusingly, many of the exterior scenes were filmed in Queens, not the Bronx.
Bronx born and reared Nancy Savoca's 1989 comedy True Love, explores two Italian-American Bronx sweethearts in the days before their wedding. The film, which debuted Annabella Sciorra and Ron Eldard as the betrothed couple, won the Grand Jury Prize at that year's Sundance Film Festival.
Penny Marshall's 1990 film Awakenings, which was nominated for several Oscars, is based on neurologist Oliver Sacks' 1973 account of his psychiatric patients at Beth Abraham Hospital in the Bronx who were paralyzed by a form of encephalitis but briefly responded to the drug L-dopa. Robin Williams played the physician; Robert De Niro was one of the patients who emerged from a catatonic (frozen) state. The home of Williams' character was shot not far from Sacks' actual City Island residence. A 1973 Yorkshire Television documentary and "A Kind of Alaska", a 1985 play by Harold Pinter , were also based on Sacks' book.
Gus Van Sant's 2000 Finding Forrester was quickly billed "Good Will Hunting in the Hood." Sean Connery is in the title role of a Manhattan prep school teacher who 50 years earlier wrote a single novel that garnered the Pulitzer Prize. One of his students is 16 year old Jamal - actor Rob Brown - a gifted, Bronx reared basketball player and aspiring writer. The movie includes stock footage of Bronx housing projects from 1990, as well as other scenes shot in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The Bronx has been featured in much fiction. Kate Simon's Bronx Primitive: Portraits of a Childhood is directly autobiographical, a warm account of a Polish-Jewish girl in an immigrant family growing up before World War II, and living near Arthur Avenue and Tremont Avenue. In Jacob M. Appel's short story, "The Grand Concourse" (2007), a woman who grew up the in the iconic Lewis Morris Building returns to the Morrisania neighborhood with her adult daughter. Similarly, in Avery Corman's book The Old Neighborhood (1980), an upper-middle class white protagonist returns to his birth neighborhood (Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse), and learns that even though the folks are poor, Hispanic and African-American, they are good people.
By contrast, Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) starts with an account of a similar upper-middle class white protagonist, Sherman McCoy, getting lost off the Major Deegan Expressway in the South Bronx and having a vicious altercation with a local gang. A substantial piece of the last part of the book is set in the resulting riotous trial at the Bronx County Court House. However, times change, and in 2007, the New York Times reported that "the Bronx neighborhoods near the site of Sherman's accident are now dotted with townhouses and apartments." In the same article, the Reverend Al Sharpton (whose fictional analogue in the novel is "Reverend Bacon") asserts that "twenty years later, the cynicism of The Bonfire of the Vanities is as out of style as Tom Wolfe's wardrobe.
In poetry, the Bronx has been immortalized by one of the world's shortest couplets:
Nash repented 33 years after his calumny, penning in 1964 the following prose poem to the Dean of Bronx Community College:
Passing through: The theme song to the 1960s U.S. television comedy series Car 54, Where Are You? begins "There's a holdup in the Bronx. And the song "New York, New York" (by Betty Comden and Adolph Green from the 1940s film and musical comedy "On the Town") explains that "The Bronx is up and the Battery's down." Another song, "Manhattan" (by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart for the 1925 musical "Garrick Gaieties"), declares "We'll have Manhattan,/The Bronx and Staten/Island too./It's lovely going through/the zoo."
Bronx Local: While hundreds of songs about New York City, Manhattan and Brooklyn can be found in Wikipedia's List of songs about New York City and also in Marc Ferris's 5-page, 15-column list of "Songs and Compositions Inspired by New York City" in The Encyclopedia of New York City (1995), only a handful refer to the Bronx.
Ferris's extensive but selective 1995 list mentions only four songs referring specifically to the Bronx:
But Wikipedia's own list also mentions (as of June 2008):