The Bronx

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The Bronx, highlighted in yellow, is the only borough of New York City on the mainland of the United States.

Image:Map of New York highlighting Bronx County.png

The Bronx is one of the five boroughs of New York City. The city's northernmost borough, it is the only one that is part of the mainland United States and not situated on an island.

The borough of the Bronx is coterminous with Bronx County, with a population of 1.35 million. While the official borough name is The Bronx, the official county name is simply Bronx County without the definite article.

Named for Jonas Bronck, a Swedish sea captain and 1641 resident whose 500-acre (2 km²) farm between the Harlem River and the Aquahung<ref name=NYPL>Bronx History: What's in a Name?, accessed November 6, 2006</ref> comprises part of the modern borough, the Bronx is the fourth most populous of New York City's five boroughs. Bronx county is the fifth most populous county in the New York Metropolitan Area.

Contents

[edit] History

The Bronx was called Rananchqua<ref name=NYPL/> by the native Siwanoy<ref>New York City Department of Parks and Recreation: Harding Park, accessed December 1, 2006</ref> band of Lenape, and was divided by the "Aquahung" river, now known as the Bronx River. The land was first settled by Europeans in 1639, when Jonas Bronck, for whom the area was later named, established a farm along the Harlem River in the area now known as the Mott Haven section. The Dutch and English settlers referred to the area as "Bronck's Land".<ref>From North of Manhattan by Harry Hansen (Hastings House, 1950), excerpted at http://www.bronxmall.com/cult/series/2.html</ref>

The territory now contained within Bronx County was originally part of Westchester County, an original county of New York state. The present Bronx County was contained in four towns: Westchester, Yonkers, Eastchester, and Pelham.

In 1846, a new town, West Farms, was created by secession from Westchester; in turn, in 1855, the town of Morrisania seceded from West Farms. In 1873, the town of Kingsbridge (roughly corresponding to the modern Bronx neighborhoods of Kingsbridge, Riverdale, and Woodlawn) seceded from Yonkers.

In 1874 the western portion of the present Bronx County, consisting of the towns of Kingsbridge, West Farms, and Morrisania, was transferred to New York County, and in 1895 the Town of Westchester and portions of Eastchester and Pelham, were transferred to New York County. City Island, known as New York City's only nautical community, voted to secede from Westchester County and join New York County in 1896. In 1898, New York City was amalgamated with the Bronx as one of five boroughs (though still within New York County). In 1914, those parts of the then New York County which had been annexed from Westchester County were constituted as the new Bronx County (while also keeping its status as one of the five boroughs of the 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 settled here. Author Willa Cather, Pierre Lorillard who made a fortune on tobacco sales, and inventor Jordan Mott were famous for settling the land. In addition, French, German, and Polish immigrants moved into the borough. The Jewish population also increased notably during this time and many synagogues still exist throughout the borough, although many of these have been converted to other uses.

In prohibition days, bootleggers and gangs ran rampant in the Bronx. Mostly Polish and Italian immigrants smuggled in the illegal whiskey. By 1926, the Bronx was noted for its high crime rate and its many speakeasies. Mayor Jimmy Walker stated:

The Manhattan Polak is very different from the Bronx Polak. The Manhattan Polak would smuggle in the illegal whiskey secretly so as the cops aren't on 'em or don't see 'em a mile away. In the Bronx, the Polaks don't give a lick if they spotted with it. They'd pull out their guns as quick as lightning and the cops would be dead men in less than a second.[citation needed]

After the 1930s, the Polish immigrant population in the Bronx decreased as a result of better living conditions in other states. The German population followed suit in the 1940s and so did many Italians in the 1950s, leaving a thriving Hispanic (mostly Puerto Rican and Dominican) and African-American population which would continue to live in the Bronx to this day.

During the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, the Bronx went into an era of sharp decline in quality of life. Many factors have been put forward by historians and other social scientists. They include the theory that urban renewal projects in the borough (such as Robert Moses' Cross-Bronx Expressway) destroyed existing low-density neighborhoods in favor of roads that produced urban sprawl as well as high-density housing projects. Another factor may have been the shift by insurance companies and banks to stop offering financial services to the Bronx and other working-class industrial areas (the "Rustbelt") in favor of the booming suburbs in "the Sunbelt"—a process known as redlining.

For a period, a wave of arson overtook the southern portion of the borough's apartment buildings, with competing theories as to why. Some point to the heavy traffic and use of illicit drugs among the area's poor as causing them to be inclined to scam the city's benefits for burn-out victims as well as the Section 8 housing program. Others believe landlords decided to burn their buildings before their insurance policies expired and were not renewed. After the destruction of nearly half of the buildings in the South Bronx, the arsons all but ended during the tenure of Mayor Ed Koch with aftereffects still felt into the early 1990s.

[edit] Geography

The Bronx is mostly situated on the North American mainland, and also includes several small islands in the East River and Long Island Sound. GR6. The Hudson River separates the Bronx from New Jersey to its west, the Harlem River separates it from the island of Manhattan to the southwest, the East River separates it from Queens to the southeast, and Long Island Sound separates it from Nassau County to the east. Westchester County is directly north of the Bronx.

The western parts of the Bronx are hilly and are dominated by a series of parallel ridges, running south to north. East of the Bronx River the borough is flatter, and includes 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 Throgs Neck. In the northeast corner of the Bronx, Rodman's Neck lies in Long Island Sound.

The Bronx is the only New York City borough with a freshwater river (the Bronx River) running through it. A smaller river, the Hutchinson River, passes through the northeast Bronx and empties into Eastchester Bay.

The Bronx includes two of the largest parks in New York City, Pelham Bay Park and Van Cortlandt Park. Pelham Bay Park includes a large man-made public beach called Orchard Beach, created by Robert Moses. Woodlawn Cemetery, one of the largest cemeteries in New York City, is located near the border with Westchester County. It opened in 1863, at a time when the Bronx was still considered a rural area.

As a part of New York City, Bronx County contains no other political subdivisions. It is located at 40°42′15″N, 73°55′5″W (40.704234, -73.917927)GR1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 148.7 km² (57.4 mi²). 108.9 km² (42.0 mi²) of it is land and 39.9 km² (15.4 mi²) of it (26.82%) is water.

Famous Bronx neighborhoods include the South Bronx, "Little Italy" on Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section, Morris Park, and Riverdale.

See also: List of Bronx neighborhoods

[edit] Government

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.<ref>Cornell Law School Supreme Court Collection: Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris, accessed June 12, 2006</ref>

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.

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 the new Yankee Stadium.

Each of the city's five counties (coterminous with each borough) has 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 is the first African-American District Attorney in New York State. The Bronx has 9 City Council members, the fourth largest number among the five boroughs. It also has 12 administrative districts, each served by a local Community Board. Community Boards are representative bodies that field complaints and serve as advocates for local residents.

In the 2004 presidential election Democrat John Kerry received 82.8% of the vote in the Bronx and Republican George W. Bush received 16.5%.

[edit] Demographics

Bronx
Population by year

1900 - 201,000
1910 - 431,000
1920 - 732,016
1930 - 1,265,258
1940 - 1,394,711
1950 - 1,451,277
1960 - 1,424,815
1970 - 1,471,701
1980 - 1,168,972
1990 - 1,203,789
2000 - 1,332,650

As of the censusGR2 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/mi²). There were 490,659 housing units at an average density of 4,507.4/km² (11,674.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the borough was 35.64% Black or African American, 29.87% White, 0.85% Native American, 3.01% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 24.74% from other races, and 5.78% from two or more races. 48.38% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 14.5% of the population were Whites, not of Hispanic origins. The Bronx has a higher number of Puerto Ricans than any other county in the United States. It also has one of the highest percentages of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in the U.S. with 24.0% and 10.0%, respectively. Immigration and Naturalization Service data shows that in 1996, about two-thirds of those Ghanaians visiting the United States (6,269), and nearly three-fourths of those naturalized (3,084), arrived in New York City. Many have clustered in communities in Morris Heights, Highbridge, & Tremont, making Ghana the third most frequent place of origin for immigrants to the Bronx, according to the report.<ref>"Chilly Coexistence." The Columbia Spectator, Spring 2000.[1]</ref>

Based on sample data from the same census, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 47.29% of the population five and older speak only English at home. 43.67% speak 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 (1.07%), French (0.72%), and Albanian (0.54%). Major European ancestries of Bronx residents include Italian (5.67%), Irish (3.69%), German (1.50%), English (0.53%) (2000).

According to an estimate by the Census Bureau, the population increased to 1,357,589 in 2005.

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.

In the borough the population was spread out with 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% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 87.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.7 males.

The 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.

Despite the stereotype that the Bronx (Specially South Bronx) is a typical poor urban area of New York City, it is not true of the entire borough. The Bronx has much affordable housing (as compared to most of the rest of the New York metropolitan area, as well as upscale neighborhoods like Riverdale, City Island, Pelham Bay, Woodlawn, and Country Club).

[edit] Culture: from Poe to hip-hop

Author Edgar Allan Poe spent the last years of his life (1846 to 1849) in the Bronx at Poe Cottage, now located at Kingsbridge Road and the Grand Concourse. A small wooden farmhouse built about 1812, the cottage once commanded unobstructed vistas over the rolling Bronx hills to the shores of Long Island.<ref>Edgar Allan Poe Cottage, accessed October 9, 2006</ref>

Image:GrandmasterFlash.jpg
Grandmaster Flash was one of the pioneers of hip-hop in the Boogie-Down Bronx.

In recent years, the Bronx has become an important center of African-American culture. Hip hop first emerged in the South Bronx in the early 1970s. Beginning with the advent of beat match DJing, in which Bronx DJs including DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash 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. Newer hip hop artists from the Bronx include Fat Joe, Big Pun, Terror Squad and others. 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 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".

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. Artists from elsewhere in New York City have begun to converge in the area, and housing prices have nearly quadrupled in the area since 2002.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts, founded in 1971, exhibits 20th-century and contemporary art through its central Museum space and 11,000 square feet 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 is temporarily closed in 2006 while it undergoes a major expansion designed by the architectural firm Arquitectonica.

Image:Bronx88.jpg
Monument Park in Yankee Stadium.

Other major cultural sites in the Bronx include The New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo, and the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, a national landmark overlooking the Harlem River and designed by the renowned architect Stanford White. Yankee Stadium in the Bronx is the home of the New York Yankees, and houses "Monument Park", a tribute to great Yankees of the past.

(See main articles New York Yankees and Yankee Stadium for more.)

In 1997, the Bronx was designated an "All America City" by the National Civic League, signifying its comeback from the destruction of the 1970s.

[edit] The Bronx in the movies

In popular culture the Bronx has often symbolized violence, decay, and urban ruin. In casual French "c'est le Bronx" stands for "what a mess", while in Spanish "bronca" is slang for fighting. 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. However, 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 descent into anarchy during times of widespread vice<ref>Mahler, Jonathan (2005). Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.</ref>. A new feature-length documentary film by Edwin Pagan called "Bronx Burning" is in production<ref>See for the call for source material.</ref> 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. 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).

Also in 1979, a movie was made of Bronx-native Richard Price's book The Wanderers, about Bronx teenage street gangs. 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 unflattering depiction of the borough; former Young Lords member and Puerto Rican activist Richie Perez formed a protest group, "The Committee Against Fort Apache".

More recent cultural references to the Bronx include the 1993 Robert DeNiro/Chazz Palminteri film, A Bronx Tale, the 1995 Jackie Chan film Rumble in the Bronx (Hong faan kui in Cantonese), and "Bronx," the character on the Disney animated series Gargoyles. Spike Lee's 1999 movie Summer of Sam was centered in an Italian-American Bronx community.


See also: Culture of New York City, Music of New York City, and List of people from The Bronx

[edit] Transportation

[edit] Roads

The Bronx street grid is irregular. Much of the west Bronx follows the Manhattan street grid, and some of the streets are numbered. The west Bronx's hilly terrain, however, leaves a relatively free street grid that closely resembles that of extreme upper Manhattan, which has similar terrain. Because the street numbering carries over from upper Manhattan, the lowest numbered street in the Bronx is East 132nd Street. The east Bronx is considerably flatter, and the street layout tends to be more regular. However, only the Wakefield neighborhood picks up the numbered street grid.

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 streets include Gun Hill Road, Fordham Road, Pelham Parkway, and Tremont Avenue. Many 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 expressways and highways traverse the Bronx. These include:

[edit] 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

To Queens: the Bronx Whitestone Bridge and the Throgs Neck Bridge

[edit] Mass transit

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) run through the Bronx, serving 12 stations. In addition, trains serving the New Haven Line cross the Bronx on Harlem Line trackage.

See also: Transportation in New York City

[edit] Education

Education in the Bronx is provided by a vast number of public and private institutions. Public schools in the borough are managed by the New York City Department of Education. Private schools range from elite independent schools to parochial schools run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and Jewish organizations.

Starting in the 1990s New York City began closing large public high schools in The Bronx and replacing them with "mini-schools." Cited reasons for the changes include poor graduation rates and concerns about safety. Schools that have been closed or reduced in size include James Monroe, Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, Christopher Columbus, Morris, and South Bronx High Schools. More recently the City has started phasing out large middle schools as well, also replacing them with smaller schools.

Many prestigious and well-known high schools are also located in the borough including the Bronx Science, Walton, Clinton, and the High School of American Studies. Well known parochial high schools include St. Raymond High School for Boys, All Hallows High School, Cardinal Hayes, Cardinal Spellman High School, Fordham Prep, Aquinas High School, Preston, and Mount Saint Michael. The Bronx is home to three of New York City's most elite private schools: Fieldston, Horace Mann, and Riverdale Country School.

Several colleges and universities are located in The Bronx. Fordham University is a coeducational research university. Founded in 1841, it is officially an independent institution but strongly embraces its Jesuit heritage. The main campus of the prestigious Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Yeshiva University, is in Morris Park. Three campuses of the City University of New York are in The Bronx, including Bronx Community College (occupying the former University Heights Campus of New York University), Hostos Community College, and Lehman College (formerly the uptown campus of Hunter College). The College of Mount Saint Vincent is a Catholic liberal arts college located Riverdale and is 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. Manhattan College is a Catholic college in Riverdale. Manhattan College offers undergraduate programs in the arts, business, education, engineering, and science. Graduate programs are offered for education and engineering. Monroe College is a private college with a campus in the Bronx. It offers both two-year and four-year programs. The State University of New York Maritime College has attracted broad recognition as a national leader in maritime education.

See also: Education in New York City

[edit] References

<references />

[edit] External links

[edit] See also

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