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The Bronx, New York (Bronx County)

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Profiles

  • Tyyne Zuleima Stolt (1898 - 1984)
    Tynne Z. Rikama first married David Heino and they had 1 daughter Heidi Dolores. When her first husband David passed away in 1941, she remarried to Julius Stolt in Manhattan, NY. Kuhmoinen syntyneet 18...
  • Heidi Dolores Mattik (1931 - 1997)
    Vihitty Mart Mattikin kanssa 1961. - New York, New York City Marriage Licenses Index, 1950-1995: ä ei ollut lapsia. Hautapaikka: of David HEINO and Tyyne Z. Rikama. Her parents were both born in Finlan...
  • Sylvia Eleonora Mikkola (1917 - 1998)

Please add profiles of those who were born, lived or died in The Bronx, Bronx County, New York.

History & Etymology

Early Names

The Bronx was called Rananchqua by the native Siwanoy band of Lenape (also known historically as the Delawares), while other Native Americans knew the Bronx as Keskeskeck. It was divided by the Aquahung River.

The origin of Jonas Bronck (c. 1600–43) has been contested. Documents indicate he was a Swedish-born immigrant from Komstad, Norra Ljunga parish, in Småland, Sweden, who arrived in New Netherland during the spring of 1639. Bronck became the first recorded European settler in the present-day Bronx and built a farm named "Emmaus" close to what today is the corner of Willis Avenue and 132nd Street in Mott Haven.[26] He leased land from the Dutch West India Company on the neck of the mainland immediately north of the Dutch settlement of New Haarlem (on Manhattan Island) and bought additional tracts from the local tribes. He eventually accumulated 500 acres between the Harlem River and the Aquahung, which became known as Bronck's River or the Bronx [River]. Dutch and English settlers referred to the area as Bronck's Land. The American poet William Bronk was a descendant of Pieter Bronck, either Jonas Bronck's son or his younger brother, but most probably a nephew or cousin, as there was an age difference of 16 years. Much work on the Swedish claim has been undertaken by Brian G. Andersson, former Commissioner of NYC's Dept. of Records, who helped organize a 375th Anniversary celebration in Bronck's hometown in 2014.

Use of Definite Article

The Bronx is referred to with the definite article as "The Bronx", both legally and colloquially. The County of Bronx does not place "The" immediately before "Bronx" in formal references, unlike the coextensive Borough of the Bronx, nor does the United States Postal Service in its database of Bronx addresses (the city and state mailing-address format is simply "Bronx, NY"). The region was apparently named after the Bronx River and first appeared in the "Annexed District of The Bronx" created in 1874 out of part of Westchester County. It was continued in the "Borough of The Bronx", which included a larger annexation from Westchester County in 1898. The use of the definite article is attributed to the style of referring to rivers. A time-worn story explanation for the use of the definite article in the borough's name stems from the phrase "visiting the Broncks", referring to the settler's family.

The capitalization of the borough's name is sometimes disputed. Generally, the definite article is lowercase in place names ("the Bronx") except in official references. The definite article is capitalized ("The Bronx") at the beginning of a sentence or in any other situation when a normally lowercase word would be capitalized. However, some people and groups refer to the borough with a capital letter at all times, such as Bronx Borough Historian Lloyd Ultan, The Bronx County Historical Society, and the Bronx-based organization Great and Glorious Grand Army of The Bronx, arguing the definite article is part of the proper name. In particular, the Great and Glorious Grand Army of The Bronx is leading efforts to make the city refer to the borough with an uppercase definite article in all uses, comparing the lowercase article in the Bronx's name to "not capitalizing the 's' in 'Staten Island.'"

Early History

European colonization of the Bronx began in 1639. The Bronx was originally part of Westchester County, but it was ceded to New York County in two major parts (West Bronx, 1874 and East Bronx, 1895) before it became Bronx County. Originally, the area was part of the Lenape's Lenapehoking territory inhabited by Siwanoy of the Wappinger Confederacy. Over time, European colonists converted the borough into farmlands.

Before 1914

The Bronx's development is directly connected to its strategic location between New England and New York (Manhattan). Control over the bridges across the Harlem River plagued the period of British colonial rule. The King's Bridge, built in 1693 where Broadway reached the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, was a possession of Frederick Philipse, lord of Philipse Manor. Local farmers on both sides of the creek resented the tolls, and in 1759, Jacobus Dyckman and Benjamin Palmer led them in building a free bridge across the Harlem River. After the American Revolutionary War, the King's Bridge toll was abolished.

The territory now contained within Bronx County was originally part of Westchester County, one of the 12 original counties of the English Province of New York. The present Bronx County was contained in the town of Westchester and parts of the towns in Yonkers, Eastchester, and Pelham. In 1846, a new town was created by division of Westchester, called West Farms. The town of Morrisania was created, in turn, from West Farms in 1855. In 1873, the town of Kingsbridge was established within the former borders of the town of Yonkers, roughly corresponding to the modern Bronx neighborhoods of Kingsbridge, Riverdale, and Woodlawn Heights, and included Woodlawn Cemetery.

Among famous settlers in the Bronx during the 19th and early 20th centuries were author Willa Cather, tobacco merchant Pierre Lorillard, and inventor Jordan L. Mott, who established Mott Haven to house the workers at his iron works.

The consolidation of the Bronx into New York City proceeded in two stages. In 1873, the state legislature annexed Kingsbridge, West Farms, and Morrisania to New York, effective in 1874; the three towns were soon abolished in the process.

The whole territory east of the Bronx River was annexed to the city in 1895, three years before New York's consolidation with Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. This included the Town of Westchester (which had voted against consolidation in 1894) and parts of Eastchester and Pelham. The nautical community of City Island voted to join the city in 1896.

On January 1, 1898, the consolidated City of New York was born, including the Bronx as one of the five distinct boroughs (at the same time, the Bronx's territory moved from Westchester County into New York County, which already included Manhattan and the rest of pre-1874 New York City).

On April 19, 1912, those parts of New York County which had been annexed from Westchester County in previous decades were newly constituted as Bronx County, the 62nd and last county to be created by the state, effective in 1914. Bronx County's courts opened for business on January 2, 1914 (the same day that John P. Mitchel started work as Mayor of New York City). Marble Hill, Manhattan was now connected to the Bronx by filling in the former waterway, but it did not become part of the borough or county.

After 1914

The history of the Bronx during the 20th century may be divided into four periods: a boom period 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 post-World War II years saw a slowing of growth leading into an eventual decline. The mid to late century were hard times, as the Bronx changed during 1950–85 from a predominantly moderate-income to a predominantly lower-income area with high rates of violent crime and poverty in some areas. The Bronx has experienced an economic and developmental resurgence starting in the late 1980s that continues into today.

New York City Expands

The Simpson Street elevated station was built in 1904 and opened on November 26, 1904. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on September 17, 2004. The Bronx was a mostly rural area for many generations, with small farms supplying the city markets. In the late 19th century, however, it grew into a railroad suburb. Faster transportation enabled rapid population growth in the late 19th century, involving the move from horse-drawn street cars to elevated railways and the subway system, which linked to Manhattan in 1904.

The South Bronx was a manufacturing center for many years and was noted as a center of piano manufacturing in the early part of the 20th century. 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 urban growth after World War I. Extensions of the New York City Subway contributed to the increase in population as thousands of immigrants came to 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, Polish, and other immigrants moved into the borough. As evidence of the change in population, by 1937, 592,185 Jews lived in the Bronx (43.9% of the borough's population), while only 54,000 Jews lived in the borough in 2011. Many synagogues still stand in the Bronx, but most have been converted to other uses.

Change

Bootleggers and gangs were active in the Bronx during Prohibition (1920–33). Irish, Italian, Jewish, and Polish gangs smuggled in most of the illegal whiskey, and the oldest sections of the borough became poverty-stricken. Enright declared that speakeasies were home to “the vicious elements, bootleggers, gamblers and their friends in all walks of life” cooperating to “evade the law, escape punishment for their crimes, or to deter the police from doing their duty.”

From the early 1960s to the early 1980s, the quality of life changed for some Bronx residents. Historians and social scientists have suggested many factors, including the theory that Robert Moses' Cross Bronx Expressway destroyed existing residential neighborhoods and created instant slums, as put forward in Robert Caro's biography The Power Broker. Another factor in the Bronx's decline may have been the development of high-rise housing projects, particularly in the South Bronx. Yet another factor may have been a reduction in the real estate listings and property-related financial services offered in some areas of the Bronx, such as mortgage loans or insurance policies—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, parts of the Bronx were plagued by a wave of arson. The burning of buildings was predominantly in the poorest communities, such as the South Bronx. One explanation of this event was that landlords decided to burn their low property-value buildings and take the insurance money, as it was easier for them to get insurance money than to try to refurbish a dilapidated building or sell a building in a severely distressed area. The Bronx became identified with a high rate of poverty and unemployment, which was mainly a persistent problem in the South Bronx. There were cases where tenants set fire to the building they lived in so they may qualify for emergency relocations by city social service agencies to better residences, sometimes being relocated to other parts of the city.

Out of 289 census tracts in the Bronx borough, seven tracts lost more than 97% of their buildings to arson and abandonment between 1970 and 1980; another forty-four tracts had more than 50% of their buildings meet the same fate. By the early 1980s, the Bronx was considered the most blighted urban area in the country, particularly the South Bronx which experienced a loss of 60% of the population and 40% of housing units. However, starting in the 1990s, many of the burned-out and run-down tenements were replaced by new housing units.

Revitalization

Since the late 1980s, significant development has occurred in the Bronx, first 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 IRT White Plains Road Line (2 and ​5 trains) began to show an increase in riders. Chains such as Marshalls, Staples, and Target opened stores in the Bronx. More bank branches 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.

In 1997, the Bronx was designated an All America City by the National Civic League, acknowledging its comeback from the decline of the mid-century. 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.

In addition came a revitalization of the existing housing market in areas such as Hunts Point, the Lower Concourse, and the neighborhoods surrounding the Third Avenue Bridge as people buy apartments and renovate them. Several boutique and chain hotels opened in the 2010s in the South Bronx.

New developments are underway. The Bronx General Post Office on the corner of the Grand Concourse and East 149th Street is being converted into a market place, boutiques, restaurants and office space with a USPS concession. The Kingsbridge Armory, often cited as the largest armory in the world, is scheduled for redevelopment as the Kingsbridge National Ice Center.

Under consideration for future development is the construction of a platform over the New York City Subway's Concourse Yard adjacent to Lehman College. The construction would permit approximately 2,000,000 square feet of development and would cost US$350–500 million.

Despite significant investment compared to the post war period, many exacerbated social problems remain including high rates of violent crime, substance abuse, overcrowding, and substandard housing conditions. The Bronx has the highest rate of poverty in New York City, and the greater South Bronx is the poorest area.

Neighborhoods

Generally speaking, there are two major systems of dividing the Bronx into regions, which often conflict with one another. One is based on the Bronx River while the other strictly separate South Bronx from the rest of the borough. The older of the two systems is based on the Bronx River and is arguably a more accurate reflection of the area's history:

West Bronx: all parts of the Bronx west of the Bronx River (as opposed to Jerome Avenue – this street is simply the "east-west" divider for designating numbered streets as "east" or "west." As the Bronx's numbered streets continue from Manhattan to south, on which the street numbering system is based, Jerome Avenue actually represents a longitudinal halfway point for Manhattan, not the Bronx.)

East Bronx: all parts of the Bronx east of the Bronx River (as opposed to Jerome Avenue)

The Bronx River divides the borough nearly perfectly in half, putting the earlier-settled, more urban, and hillier sections in the western lobe and the newer, more suburbanesque coastal sections in the eastern lobe. It is an accurate reflection on the Bronx's history considering that the towns that existed in the area prior to annexation to the City of New York generally did not straddle the Bronx River. In addition, what is today the Bronx was annexed to New York City in two stages: areas west of the Bronx River were annexed in 1874 while areas to the east of the river were annexed in 1895.

Using this system, the Bronx can be further divided into the following regions:

  • Northwest Bronx: the northern half of the West Bronx; the area north of Fordham road and west of the Bronx River
  • Southwest Bronx: the southern half of the West Bronx; the area south of Fordham road and west of the Bronx River
  • Northeast Bronx: the northern half of the East Bronx; the area north of Pelham Parkway and east of the Bronx River
  • Southeast Bronx: the southern half of the East Bronx; the area south of Pelham Parkway and east of the Bronx River

A second system divides the borough first and foremost into the following sections:

North Bronx: all areas not in the South Bronx (Southwest Bronx) – i.e. the Northwest Bronx, Northeast Bronx, and Southeast Bronx

South Bronx: the Southwest Bronx – south of Fordham road and west of the Bronx River. This includes the areas traditionally considered part of the South Bronx.

  • West Bronx
  • Northwest Bronx
  • Bedford Park
  • Belmont (Arthur Avenue)
  • Fordham
  • Fordham Heights
  • Fordham Manor
  • Jerome Park (previously the grounds of the Jerome Park Racetrack)
  • Kingsbridge
  • Kingsbridge Heights
  • Van Cortlandt Village
  • Marble Hill (part of Manhattan, but often associated with the Bronx due to its mainland location)
  • Norwood
  • Riverdale
  • Central Riverdale
  • Fieldston
  • Hudson Hill
  • North Riverdale
  • Spuyten Duyvil (South Riverdale)
  • University Heights
  • Woodlawn Heights (North of Woodlawn Cemetery)
  • Southwest Bronx ("South Bronx")
  • Bathgate
  • Claremont
  • Concourse
  • East Tremont
  • Highbridge
  • Hunts Point
  • Longwood
  • Foxhurst
  • Woodstock
  • Melrose
  • Morris Heights
  • Morrisania
  • Crotona Park East
  • Mott Haven
  • Port Morris
  • The Hub
  • Tremont
  • Fairmount
  • Mount Eden
  • Mount Hope
  • West Farms
  • East Bronx
  • Northeast Bronx
  • Allerton
  • Bronxwood
  • Laconia
  • Baychester
  • Bronxdale
  • City Island
  • Co-op City
  • Eastchester
  • Edenwald
  • Pelham Gardens
  • Pelham Parkway
  • Wakefield
  • Washingtonville

(Williamsbridge (Olinville

  • Southeast Bronx
  • Bronx River (on the border of East and West)
  • Bruckner
  • Clason Point
  • Country Club
  • Harding Park
  • Morris Park
  • Indian Village (Indian Village is very small, with only a few streets, including Seminole, Tenbroeck, Hering, Narragansett, Chocktaw, Pelham Parkway South, Pawnee, Yates, and Van Housen; Rhinelander and Neill near Seminole are also considered part of “Indian Village.”)
  • Parkchester
  • Park Versailles
  • Pelham Bay
  • Soundview
  • Schuylerville
  • Throggs Neck (also spelled Throgs Neck)
  • Edgewater Park
  • Unionport
  • Castle Hill
  • Van Nest
  • Westchester Heights
  • Westchester Square

Islands

  • The Pelham Islands – The historical name for a group of uninhabited islands.
  • The Blauzes
  • Chimney Sweeps Islands
  • City Island – The only inhabited island.
  • Hart Island
  • High Island
  • Hunter Island
  • Rat Island
  • Twin Island
  • North Brother Island
  • South Brother Island
  • Rikers Island – The location of New York City's jail.

Wikipedia

Bronx Historical Society

List of People from the Bronx

Nat'l Reg. of Hist. Places