The Bronx is the northernmost of the Five Boroughs of New York City and the newest of the 62 counties of New York State. 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, except for Marble Hill, a small portion of Manhattan.). In 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the borough's population on July 1, 2008 was 1,391,903, living on 42 square miles (109 square kilometers) of land, making the Bronx fourth of the five boroughs in population, fourth in area, and third in density of population.
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. Bronx County (the County of Bronx), with the same boundaries as the borough, was separated from New York County (today coextensive with the Borough of Manhattan) in 1912 and began its own operations in January 1914. 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 Garden 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 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, 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.
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
Location and physical features
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.
* (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 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 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.
See also: List of smaller islands in New York City
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.
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."
Notable Bronx neighborhoods include the South Bronx, Little Italy on Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section, and Riverdale.
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. 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.
(Bronx Community Boards 7 [between the Bronx and Harlem Rivers] and 8 [facing the Hudson River] — plus part of Board 12)
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.)
South Bronx (or Southwest Bronx)
(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).
Roads, streets, bridges and tunnels
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-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.
The East Bronx is considerably flatter, and the street layout tends to be more regular. Only the Wakefield neighborhood picks up the street numbering.
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, Sedgewick 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).
The historic Boston Post Road, part of the long pre-revolutionary road connecting Boston with other northeastern cities, runs east-west in some places, and sometimes northeast-southwest.
Mosholu and Pelham Parkways, with Bronx Park between them, Van Cortlandt Park to the west and Pelham Bay Park to the east, are also linked by bridle paths.