The South Bronx
The Bronx is the northernmost borough of the City of New York and the only section of the city that is not on an island. The first European settler in the area by Jonas Bronck built a farm on the Hudson River in 1639 (in what is now Mott Haven). When the original New York State counties were formed, this area and it's numerous towns were included in Westchester County. In 1874, the western portion of what is now The Bronx was transferred to New York City and in 1895 and 1896, the eastern portion was transferred to the City. The 1898 plan creating the amalgamated New York City included the Bronx as one of the five boroughs.
With the extension of the subway system into The Bronx, in the early years of the 20th century, the area underwent dramatic growth as many residents of Manhattan fled densely-populated areas for more-spacious new apartment buildings in The Bronx. Many of the new residents were new or recent Irish, Italian or Jewish immigrants. As the country suburbanized in the mid-20th century, the European immigrants were replaced by Hispanic immigrants and African-Americans. A number of economic and developmental factors contributed to a sharp decline in the neighborhood in the late 1960s and 1970s, culminating in a wave of fires (possibly inspired by landlords trying to cash out insurance policies) that left much of the area desolate well into the 1990s. Following that nadir, the area began a rebound, driven both by the efforts of city and community groups and by a dramatic increase in property values across the region.
I spent an afternoon in 2005 walking through the South Bronx while considering enrolling in the New York City Teaching Fellows, an alternative certification program that worked to encourage professionals from other fields to teach in NYC public schools. While my NYCTF career was traumatic, brief and unfortunate, I still have some fascinating memories and interesting photos.
Next: Stable Row