Congregation Bene Yerushalayim (Sephardic,
441 E. 155 Street #5A
Bronx, NY 10455
Rabbi Eliezer Brooks
Last updated on: November 16, 2006
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Sephardic Shaare Rahamin Congregation
100 Co-op City Blvd
Bronx, NY 10475
Pres. Morris Halfon
Last updated on: November 16, 2006
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JEWISH AND KOSHER BRONX, NEW YORK:
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 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. Bronx County, with the same boundaries as the borough, was separated from New York County (afterwards coextensive with the Borough of Manhattan) as of January 1, 1914. Although the Bronx is the third-most-densely-populated county in the U.S., about a quarter of its area is open space, including Woodlawn Cemetery, Van Cortlandt Park, Pelham Bay Park, the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo in the borough's north and center, on land deliberately reserved in the late 19th century as urban development progressed northwards and eastwards from Manhattan with the building of roads, bridges and railways.
The Bronx River was named for Jonas Bronck, an early settler from Småland in Sweden whose land bordered the river on the east. The borough of the Bronx was named for the river that was "Bronck's River". The indigenous Lenape (Delaware) American Indians were progressively 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 from the Caribbean basin — especially Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, but also from Jamaica. In recent years, this cultural mix has made the Bronx a wellspring of both Latin music and hip hop.
The Bronx contains one of the five poorest Congressional Districts in the U.S., (the 16th), but its wide variety of neighborhoods also includes the affluent Riverdale and Country Club. The Bronx, particularly the South Bronx, saw a sharp decline in population, livable housing, and the quality of life in the late 1960s and the 1970s, culminating in a wave of arson, but has shown some signs of revival in recent years.
For generations a rural area of small farms supplying the city markets, the Bronx grew into a railroad suburb in the late 19th century. Faster transportation allowed for rapid population growth in the late 19th century, involving the move from horse-drawn street cars to elevated railways to the subway system, which linked to Manhattan in 1904. The great majority lived in rented apartments. The demographic history of the Bronx in the 20th century may be divided into four periods: a boom during 1900–29, with a population growth by a factor of six from 200,000 in 1900 to 1.3 million in 1930. The Great Depression and war years saw a slowing of growth. The 1950s were hard times, as the Bronx decayed 1950–79 from a predominantly middle-class to a predominantly lower-class area with high rates of crime and poverty. Finally the Bronx has enjoyed economic and demographic stabilization since 1980.
The South Bronx was for many years a manufacturing center, and in the early part of the 20th Century was noted as a center of piano manufacturing. In 1919, the Bronx was the site of 63 piano factories employing more than 5,000 workers.
At the end of World War I, the Bronx hosted the rather small 1918 World's Fair at 177th Street and DeVoe Avenue.
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. 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 only 45,000 Jews lived in the borough in 2002. Many synagogues still stand in the Bronx, but most have been converted to other uses.
After the 1930s, Irish Americans started moving further north, and German Americans followed suit in the 1940s, as did many Italian Americans in the 1950s and Jews in the 1960s. As the older generation retired, many moved to Florida. The migration has left an African American and Hispanic (mostly Puerto Rican and Dominican) population, along with some Caucasian communities in the far southeastern and northwestern parts of the county.
In the 1970s, the South Bronx became iconic of America's urban crisis of unemployment and poverty, as arson in the city's public housing was a persistent symbol of the problem. However, led by aggressive community leaders, many burned-out tenements were replaced by single- and multifamily housing during the late 1970s to the present. Thus, Co-op City began in 1968 as a subsidized, high-rise, middle-class housing project, whose tenants bought shares in the corporation that operated it. It succeeded because it delivered on its promise of economic affordability and controlled racial integration.
By 2000, the Bronx had a population of about 1.2 million, and its bridges, highways, and railroads were more heavily traveled than those of any other part of the United States.
Starting in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, the Bronx went into an era of sharp decline 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 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 and in West Farms. The most common explanation of what occurred was that landlords decided to burn their low property-value buildings and take the insurance money as profit. After the fiery destruction of many buildings in the borough, the arsons slowed by the turn of the decade, but the after-effects were still felt into the 1990s.
Since the mid-1980s, some residential development has occurred in the Bronx, 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 churches in the South Bronx erected the Nehemiah Homes with about 1,000 units. The grass roots organization Nos Quedamos' endeavor known as Melrose Commons began to rebuild areas in the South Bronx. The ripple effects have been felt borough-wide. The IRT White Plains Road Line began to show 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 other boroughs.
Although not actually a city, 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.
Location and Physical Features
- (There is also a short southern land boundary with Marble Hill in the Borough of Manhattan, over the filled-in former course of the Spuyten Duyvil Creek. Marble Hill's postal ZIP code, telephonic Area Code and fire service, however, are shared with the Bronx and not Manhattan.)
The Bronx River flows south from Westchester County through the borough, emptying into the East River; it is the only entirely 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 it is 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 280 feet (85 m), 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%,15.4 square miles (40 km2) of the Bronx's total area is water, and the irregular shoreline extends for 75 square miles (194 km2).
Parks and open space
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 (28 km2).
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 the largest park in New York City - Pelham Bay Park, which includes Orchard Beach - and the fourth largest, Van Cortlandt Park, which is west of Woodlawn Cemetery and borders Yonkers.
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 that 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 inexpensive, 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 (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 2 miles (3 km) of stone walls and bordering several small parks in the Bedford Park neighborhood. The reservoir was built in the 1890s on the site of the former Jerome Park Racetrack.
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.
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.
Neighborhoods and commercial districts
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."
(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 and Hart Island
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.
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 and Fieldston. 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)
Like other neighborhoods in New York City, the South Bronx has no official boundaries. The name has been used to represent poverty in the Bronx and applied to progressively more northern places so that by the 2000s Fordham Road was often used as a northern limit. The Bronx River more consistently forms an eastern boundary. The South Bronx has many high-density apartment buildings, low income public housing complexes, and multi-unit homes. The South Bronx is home to the Bronx County Courthouse, 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. The Gateway Center at Bronx Terminal Market contains several big-box stores, which opened in 2009 south of Yankee Stadium.
The Bronx Hub
The Hub–Third Avenue Business Improvement District (B.I.D.) is the retail heart of the South Bronx, located where four roads converge: East 149th Street, Willis, Melrose and Third Avenues. It is primarily located inside the neighborhood of Melrose but also lines the northern border of Mott Haven. The Hub has been called "the Broadway of the Bronx." It is the site of both maximum traffic and architectural density. In configuration, it resembles a miniature Times Square, a spatial "bow-tie" created by the geometry of the street. The area is part of Bronx Community Board 1.
Roads and streets
The Bronx street grid is irregular. Like the northernmost part of upper Manhattan, the West Bronx's hilly terrain leaves a relatively free-style street grid. Much of the West Bronx's street numbering carries over from upper Manhattan, but does not match it exactly; East 132nd Street is the lowest numbered street in the Bronx. This dates from the mid-19th century when the southwestern area of Westchester County west of the Bronx River, was incorporated into New York City and known as the Northside.
The East Bronx is considerably flatter, and the street layout tends to be more regular. Only the Wakefield neighborhood picks up the street numbering, albeit at a disalignment due to Tremont Avenue's layout. At the same diagonal latitude, West 262nd Street in Riverdale matches East 237th Street in Wakefield.
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, Sedgwick Avenue, Webster Avenue, and White Plains Road. Major east-west thoroughfares include Mosholu Parkway, Gun Hill Road, Fordham Road, Pelham Parkway, 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 (3). 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 Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (which opened as the Triborough Bridge).
- IND Concourse Line (B D trains)
- IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line (1 train)
- IRT Dyre Avenue Line (5 train)
- IRT Jerome Avenue Line (4 train)
- IRT Pelham Line (6 <6> trains)
- IRT White Plains Road Line (2 5 trains)
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.
The United States Postal Service operates post offices in the Bronx. The Bronx General Post Office is located at 558 Grand Concourse.
Race, ethnicity, language, and immigration
The Bronx is the only New York City borough with a Hispanic majority, many of whom are Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. In 2000, The Bronx had some of the nation's highest percentages of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans with 24.0% and 10.0%, respectively.
According to the 2009 American Community Survey, White Americans of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic origin represented over one-fifth (22.9%) of The Bronx's population. However, non-Hispanic whites formed under one-eighth (12.1%) of the population. Out of all five boroughs, The Bronx has the lowest number and percentage of white residents. 320,640 whites called the Bronx home, of which 168,570 were non-Hispanic whites. The majority of the non-Hispanic European American population is of Italian and Irish descent. People of Italian descent numbered over 55,000 individuals and made up 3.9% of the population. People of Irish descent numbered over 43,500 individuals and made up 3.1% of the population. German Americans and Polish Americans made up 1.4% and 0.8% of the population respectively.
At the 2009 American Community Survey, Black Americans made the second largest group in the Bronx after Hispanics and Latinos. Blacks of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic origin represented over one-third (35.4%) of the Bronx's population. Blacks of non-Hispanic origin made up 30.8% of the population. Over 495,200 blacks resided in the borough, of which 430,600 were non-Hispanic blacks. Over 61,000 people identified themselves as "Sub-Saharan African" in the survey, making up 4.4% of the population.
Native Americans are a very small minority in the borough. Only some 5,560 individuals (out of the borough's 1.4 million people) are Native American, which is equal to just 0.4% of the population. In addition, roughly 2,500 people are Native Americans of non-Hispanic origin.
Asian Americans are a small but sizable minority in the borough. Roughly 49,600 Asians make up 3.6% of the population. Roughly 13,600 Indians call The Bronx home, along with 9,800 Chinese, 6,540 Filipinos, 2,260 Vietnamese, 2,010 Koreans, and 1,100 Japanese.
Multiracial Americans are also a sizable minority in the Bronx. People of multiracial heritage number over 41,800 individuals and represent 3.0% of the population. People of mixed Caucasian and African American heritage number over 6,850 members and form 0.5% of the population. People of mixed Caucasian and Native American heritage number over 2,450 members and form 0.2% of the population. People of mixed Caucasian and Asian heritage number over 880 members and form 0.1% of the population. People of mixed African American and Native American heritage number over 1,220 members and form 0.1% of the population.
In 2009, Hispanic and Latino Americans represented 52.0% of the Bronx's population. Puerto Ricans represented 23.2% of the borough's population. Over 72,500 Mexicans lived in the Bronx, and they formed 5.2% of the population. Cubans numbered over 9,640 members and formed 0.7% of the population. In addition, over 319,000 people were of various Hispanic and Latino groups, such as Dominican, Salvadoran, and so on. These groups collectively represented 22.9% of the population. At the 2010 Census, 53.5% of Bronx's population was of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin (they may be of any race).
According to the 2005–2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the borough's population was 23.0% White (13.0% non-Hispanic White alone), 34.5% Black or African American (30.6% non-Hispanic Black or African American alone), 0.7% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.8% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 40.4% from some other race and 2.4% from two or more races. 50.7% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino of any race (23.3% of Bronx's population were Puerto Ricans). 31.7% of the population were foreign born and another 8.9% were born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parents. 55.6% spoke a language other than English at home and 16.4% had a Bachelor's degree or higher.
The Census of 1930 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, Igbo, or Yoruba [West Africa] (0.72%) and French (0.54%).
Population and Housing
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.
Individual and household income
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.
Since New York City's consolidation in 1898, the Bronx has been governed by the New York City Charter that provides for a mayor-council system. The centralized New York City government is responsible for all municipal functions.
The office of Borough President was created in the consolidation of 1898 with powers mostly derived from having a vote on the New York City Board of Estimate. The 1989 Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris case declared the Board unconstitutional, and 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.
On April 21, 2009, a special election was held to choose Carrión's successor. Democratic New York State Assembly member Rubén Díaz, Jr., running on the "Bronx Unity" ticket, won this election with 29,420 votes (86%) against 4,646 votes (14%) for the Republican Anthony Ribustello ("People First") and 11 votes for write-in candidates. On May 1, 2009, Assemblyman Diaz was sworn in as the 13th Borough President of the Bronx (For his predecessors, see the List of Bronx Borough Presidents.)
Every currently-elected public official in the Bronx has first won the Democratic nomination (whether or not also nominated by other parties). 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 the alienation 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 directly-elected District Attorney, the county's chief public prosecutor. 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 12 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).
Legislative and Congressional representatives
In 2008, three Democrats represented almost all of the Bronx in the United States House of Representatives.
- José M. Serrano (first elected in March 1990) represents New York's 16th congressional district, which covers much of the South Bronx. It was, in 2000, the poorest of the nation's 435 districts (42.8% below the poverty line); it was also the most Hispanic of New York state's 29 congressional districts (62.8%) and the youngest (34.5% under 18 years old; 6.7% over 65).
- Eliot Engel (first elected in 1988) represents the 17th District which includes parts of the northwest Bronx as well as parts of Westchester and Rockland counties.
- Joseph Crowley (first elected in 1998) represents the 7th District which spans the East Bronx and includes Co-op City, City Island, Pelham Bay, Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Parkchester, Castle Hill and Throgs Neck, as well as parts of northwest Queens.
- (Riker's Island, the city's main jail complex, is included in the 15th District, which covers Upper Manhattan and utilities facilities in Astoria, Queens. It is represented by Charles B. Rangel, first elected in 1970. In 2006, the Congressional election returns in this district included no votes from the Bronx or Queens.)
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.
11 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.
Votes for other offices
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/Independence) who carried every other borough in his winning campaign for re-election. In 2009, the Bronx voted slightly more strongly against the successful re-election of Mayor Bloomberg, who received 37% of the Bronx vote (as an independent supported by the Republican and Independence Parties) against 61.2% for New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson (Democratic and Working Families).
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.
In the Presidential general election of November 4, 2008, Sen. Obama won 87.8% of the Bronx's vote (338,261) on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines of the ballot, Sen. McCain won 10.8% (41,683) on the Republican, Independence and Conservative Party lines, and other candidates won 1.3% (1,342) between them. The Democratic candidate's percentage of the Presidential vote increased by 6% from 2004, while the Republican presidential candidate's percentage declined by 5.5%.
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 outpolled Hillquit city-wide by 23.2% to 21.7%.
Education in the Bronx is provided by a large number of public and private institutions, many of which draw students who live beyond the Bronx. The New York City Department of Education manages public noncharter schools in the borough. In 2000, public schools enrolled nearly 280,000 of the Bronx's residents over 3 years old (out of 333,100 enrolled in all pre-college schools). There are also several public charter schools. Private schools range from élite independent schools to religiously-affiliated schools run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and Jewish organizations.
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%.)
Cultural life and institutions
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.
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 a starting point, where DJ Kool Herc presided over parties in the community room.
On August 11, 1973, DJ Kool Herc was a Dee Jay and Emcee at a party in the recreation room of 1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Bronx adjacent to the Cross-Bronx Expressway. While it was not the actual "Birthplace of Hip Hop" – the genre developed slowly in several places in the 1970s – it was verified to be the place where one of the pivotal and formative events occurred. Specifically, DJ Kool Herc:
extended an instrumental beat (breaking or scratching) to let people dance longer (break dancing) and began MC’ing (rapping) during the extended breakdancing. ... [This] helped lay the foundation for a cultural revolution.
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 Lord Toriq and Peter Gunz, Camp Lo, Swizz Beatz, Drag-On, Fat Joe, Terror Squad and Corey Gunz.
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 the home of the New York Yankees, one of the leading baseball franchises in sports history. The original Yankee Stadium opened in 1923 on 161st Street and River Avenue, a year which saw the Yankeees bring home their first of 27 World Series Championships. With the famous facade, the short right field porch and Monument Park, Yankee Stadium has played host to many of the greatest players ever to take the field including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez. The Stadium, as referred to by locals, has witnessed of the most memorable moments in sports history such as Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech in 1939, Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak in 1941, Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Roger Maris' record breaking 61st home run in 1961, Reggie Jackson's 3 home runs to clinch Game 6 of the 1977 World Series and more recently the dynasty of the 1996-2000 Yankee club that captured 4 out of 5 World Series victories during that span. The original Yankee Stadium closed in 2008 to make way for a brand new stadium in which the Yankees started play in 2009 and capped off a memorable first year in their new home with a 27th World Series title, by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 2 in the Fall Classic.
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 11,000 square feet (1,000 m2) 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."
One 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, has been replaced with a similar-looking ballpark just across 161st Street.
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 Bronx River Restoration Project , a joint public-private endeavor of the city's parks department. Canoeing and kayaking on the borough's namesake river have been promoted by the Bronx River Alliance. The river is also straddled by the New York Botanical Gardens, its neighbor, the Bronx Zoo, and a little further south, on the west shore, Bronx River Art Center.
The press and broadcasting
Newspapers 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, Mott Haven Herald 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 and 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 Public-access television station BronxNet provides Government-access television (GATV) public affairs programming in addition to programming produced by Bronx residents.