The Bronx – notorious for violence and crime even today, it is overlooked by many visitors to New York City. The “Boogie Down Bronx” is quite special for some historic things of its own, such as being the birthplace of hip-hop and home to Yankees Stadium, so this fourth-largest borough of NYC deserves recognition outside of Manhattan’s popularity. Though it is second to last as far as population of New York City’s five boroughs, its 1.5 million residents are no small number, by any means. It is also the only one of the 5 boroughs that is connected to the mainland of New York state and the United States (the rest are islands, or parts of). The Bronx is quite a diverse borough, but with Hispanics making up over 53% (mostly Dominicans and Puerto Ricans); it also contains one of the 5 poorest Congressional districts in the entire United States, contrary to the wealth of money that New York City is regarded to have.
- 1520 Sedgwick Ave. – This is the exact location where hip-hop was born, a nondescript highrise that the NY Times called “an otherwise unremarkable high-rise just north of the Cross Bronx and hard along the Major Deegan.” The community room on the first floor of this building was where Clive Campbell , a.k.a. D.J. “Kool Herc,” originated the break-beat D.J. style, where the breaks of funk songs, the most danceable part, were isolated and repeated. Later, artists would sync words by timing them with these beats, producing rap music.
- Poe Cottage – This is the actual home where Edgar Allen Poe, who needs no introduction, spent the last few years of his life (1846-1849). The house is part of the Historic House Trust, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located at 2640 Grand Concourse, in the Fordham section of the Bronx.
- City Island – City Island is a tiny little island that is included in the Bronx’ domain. It resembles a small New England town, due to its small population (~5,000) and the seafood culture, primarily lobster. Boating is a popular sport in this Bronx neighborhood, and there are four yacht clubs that cater to enthusiasts. The recent movie City Island(2010), is set and was filmed here;it won the Audience Favorite Award at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. A diving service and bird watching club are also located on this island.
- Yankee Stadium – Home of one of the most famous sports teams in the world, The New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium is referred to as the “house that Ruth built,” referring to Yankee’s legendary player, Babe Ruth. However, this is not the actual stadium, as the city finally paid for a new stadium to be built right across the street from Babe’s former home. Yankee Stadium is the third-most expensive stadium ever built, at a cost of over 1.5 billion USD (2009). While you’re there, check out the Yankee Museum, located on the lower lever at Gate 6.
- Pelham Bay Park – Most people believe that Central Park in Manhattan is the largest public park in the city, but that is quite wrong; Pelham Bay Park, located in the northeast corner of the Bronx, is actually more than 3 times larger than its Manhattan counterpart. Be sure to check out Ocean Beach, a public beach area that is part of Pelham Bay Park.
- New York Botanical Garden – This garden is home to some of the world’s most important fauna laboratories, and it is a top attraction by locals and tourists alike. It has thousands of varieties of plants and trees and such, along with a variety of exhibitions each week. It is located at 2900 Southern Boulevard.
Bronx Zoo – One of the world’s most famous zoos, the Bronx Zoo is also the largest metropolitan zoo in the world, sitting on 265 acres of land. It is home to over 4,000 animals from over 650 species, and has many popular indoor and outdoor exhibits. The zoo is open every day of the year, and can be visited for free on Wednesdays, though donations are suggested.
- Wave Hill – An estate located in the Bronx’ Riverdale neighborhood, Wave Hill consists of gardens and a cultural center overlooking the New Jersey Palisades across the Hudson River.
- Woodlawn Cemetary – Sitting on over 400 acres of NYC’s land, this cemetery is known as the resting place of some of the most famous politicians and industrialists of the last few centuries; Miles Davis, William A. Clark, William Durant, Thomas Nast, Robert Moses, and Herman Melville are some of the over 300,000 people buried here. It is renowned for some of the most imaginative mausoleums and unique memorials.
- Van Cortlandt Park – Another park located in the Bronx that is actually larger than its famous Manhattan brother, Central Park, Van Cortlandt Park is named for Stephanus Van Cortlandt, who was the first native mayor of New York City. Located within the park is the Frederick Van Cortlandt House, which is the oldest building in the borough (1748). The park is loved for its ideal, central location in the borough, as well as the solitude that it provides to many residents.
- Bronx Equestrian Center – This equestrian facility is also located in Pelham Bay Park and offers Western- and English-style riding lessons, along with pony rides, trail rides and haywagon rides for the little ones.
- Bronx Museum of the Arts – This art museum shows some great examples of 20th century American art, though also holding exhibitions from time to time of art from other backgrounds.
- Hall of Fame for Great Americans – This is the original “hall of fame,” the one that started the phrase. Almost every famous American ranging back hundreds of years can be found honored here, on the campus of the Bronx Community College.
- Little Italy (Arthur Ave.) – Arthur Ave and E 187th St. used to be the center of what was “Little Italy” in the Bronx, not to be confused with the one in Lower Manhattan. Though it is past its heyday, you can still find remnants of the Italian influence here in the nearby shops, delis, and bakeries.
- Rebel Diaz Arts Collective – Rebel Diaz was a hip-hop group of two Chilean brothers that used to incorporate political themes into their verses. The RDAC is a space for younger crowds to learn and perform, with workshops and artistic space provided. Meet some of the sharpest minds in poetry and verse, straight from the neighborhoods where it was born.
Ogden Nash, another writer whose name needs no introductions, once famously wrote one of the shortest couplets in poetry:
-New Yorker, 1931
Though he wrote it due to his humorous style of poetry, this line came to be known to represent the Bronx’ ill reputation. Later, when pressed by Dean Tauber of the Bronx Community College, who was in love with his fine borough, Nash handsomely revised his stance:
Dear Dean Tauber,
I can’t seem to escape the
sins of my smart-alec youth;
Here are my amends.
I wrote those lines, “The Bronx?
I shudder to confess them.
Now I’m an older, wiser man
I cry, “The Bronx? God bless
– New York Times, May 25, 1964