The Gentrification of the Bronx.

There was a time in its history when the Bronx was considered a “good area.” I say this because when I was growing up there, the Bronx had a not so great reputation. Recently I saw a news story covering the cost of living in NYC, and they said that the Bronx was still the cheapest place to rent. This has to be due to the infamous reputation.

From what I have read, back in those so called “good days,” mostly Irish, Russian, Polish, German and Italian immigrants lived in the Bronx. With the passage of time, “we” started moving in and “taking over” the neighborhoods. Little by little the white folk started to move away due to escalating violence and crime.

Fast forward and the once prestigious Bronx is now considered “the hood”. A place that cab drivers seek to avoid, a place that simply by name frightens some people. It became so bad during the 70’s, landlords themselves started to burn down their own buildings to collect on insurance! It was only landlords, there were many other cases of arson happening back then too!

When I was growing up, you’d never see any white people in my area. That’s just a fact of my neighborhood, and I mean no offense to anyone. I will say that if you did see a white person in any of these neighborhoods, and he/she was “accepted”, by the non-whites, you’d be well served not to cross that person. You see, in order to be accepted in the hood, as a white person, these guys had to be crazier than any of the Spanish or black guys in the area. Being white is an automatic strike or two in the hood, and to make up for that these guys had to significantly outdo their peers in toughness. I was often a victim of violence, because I looked too white! I often heard these words before a gang beating “Get that white boy!”

Don’t get me wrong, there were areas in the Bronx that had hard core Albanians, and other white folks. However, these were only “pockets,” where they had “The Albanian Building.” The same could be said with the West Indians, in my old block we had “The Indian Building.” Nearly everyone in that building was West Indian! It’s bizarre how any one group can take over an entire building! In any case, whites were the minority in our neighborhood of minorities.

Lately I have noticed a new trend, I’m starting to see more white people in the Bronx. Granted, I’ve noticed this mostly in the Yankee stadium, or the Bronx Museum of Art vicinity. All the same, you now see white people in the mix. Not the crazy tough white person I mentioned from before, but just a regular white, white person. Again, I don’t mean to sound ignorant, but this has been my perception over the years. I know that my eyes have not seen it all, but I can only write about what I perceive.

I see the government has invested a significant amount of money in rebuilding Yankee Stadium. However, not just the stadium itself, but neighboring areas as well. Joyce Kilmer park, right there on the Grand Concourse looks amazing compared to what I remember. The Grand Concourse streets are tree lined, and the space overall looks much nicer than I remember it being!

I get the vibe that they are trying to get a Williamsburg thing going. Bedford, once Biggie Smalls hood is now occupied by hipsters and those of their ilk. Marcy, once Jay-Z’s hood now hosts some of my well to do coworkers. The neighborhoods are changing. The Bronx Museum of Art has been there forever, and I don’t recall seeing any white people when hanging out across the street at my man Sal’s crib! Yet, I was there recently, and it was packed with artist, and yes, quite a few of the attendees were white people. I SEE WHITE PEOPLE! I see white people! In the Bronx!

I wonder if this comes off as ignorant or offensive? It’s not meant to be at all. I’m simply being real and trying to mix in some humor. I hope the humorous aspect of “I SEE WHITE PEOPLE” is not lost on you guys. If you grew up in the Bronx when I did, the only white people you ever saw, if any, where cops, teachers, Mormons, and if you ever went to the Bally’s gym in Riverdale. Riverdale, yes you saw white people in that area. That’s real talk, and anyone that denies it, well they didn’t grown up in the Bronx neighborhoods that I’m talking about. They must come from Riverdale, Country Club or what we called “house area,” Pelham Parkway.

Look, I know my view is limited to my perspective. This article is written by a guy who grew up in the South Bronx, based on my own personal experiences, and what I saw. I understand that your experience may be different, and I’d love to hear about it, if that is the case! I know that I didn’t see everything, I know this.

I find it interesting to see this gentrification of the area. Although, I had a conversation with my buddy Ed Garcia Conde, the owner of Welcome2theBronx.com who provided me some good insight on this post. He reminded me that gentrification is more of an economic thing, as opposed to a “color” thing. That makes perfect sense, and though I refer to white folks in this post often, I have to agree that it’s not solely a skin color thing. Based on my limited perception as a kid, this was the way I perceived it. As an adult, I recognize that there is much more to it. I thank Conde for that additional perspective. For those of you not familiar with him, he is my go to guy for all things Bronx. Whenever I am unsure about something I wrote about the Bronx, that’s my guy!

A few years ago, one of my closest childhood friends bought a place in the area, he said it was a long term investment. It is a nice place, I like it. He purchased the spot in a luxury building we always admired as kids. It is right across the street from the Bronx Museum of Art. When he bought it he said “We are in there!” Now imagine that the area blows up over the coming years, my homeboy could make a killing on his investment. If not, he still has a nice place, for a reasonable cost, and close to his parents. It is a win/win situation. Recently he said that he may have to sell it due to some life changes, I’m thinking this is a mistake!

What do you think? Do you see the Bronx becoming a hipster’s paradise? Ed Garcia Conde doesn’t believe that it would, he feels they are priced out already. What are your thoughts on the gentrification of the Bronx? What do you think would happen to the current, low income residents? People like my mom, my friend’s parents, and all those old school folks who have lived their for decades? There is nowhere left for them to go in NYC, where would they be displaced to? What would happen to them? This concerns me, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


**DISCLAIMER**
Please note the date on a post, it may be an old view. Growth and change.

Angel Rodriguez

Angel covers fitness, social issues, reviews, news & more! He's a veteran, tech and fitness pro which has been featured on Huffpo, NatGeo, NPR, NY1, HLN, Men's Fitness, MTV, & other major platforms. Angel is also Brazilian Jiujitsu White belt.
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scull dugaryAlex BaezWhat is Happening in the Bronx? | BIC Bronx LoveTony PThe gentrification of the Bronx - City-Data Forum Recent comment authors
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Eric Uresk
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My family is from the Bronx , polish decent

Richard Rolandi
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Well, not quite. The history of NYC is that as families became more wealthy, they moved further and further uptown. Henry James in 1880 describes this in his book ‘Washington Square’. The Bronx’s troubles started with the building of Coop City, which had the unintended effect of destabilizing the surrounding neighborhoods, as people flocked to Coop City, which was offering incentives to move in. Landlords started renting to people who normally would not have been able to afford the comparatively bigger, luxury apartments in the Bronx. A lot of apartments, especially on Grand Concourse and by NYU Heights (now Bx… Read more »

Richard Rolandi
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Anyway, by the late 70’s the Bronx became the ‘dumping ground’ for Section 8 recipients, Halfway House patients, etc. A neighborhood needs a strong economic base to hold up and that eroded away. The 70’s also brought with it drugs and that destroyed a lot of neighborhoods. My wife, the Cubana, was a Bronx resident in the day. As you know, I started out on Myrtle & Hart in Brooklyn and I am amazed by how a neighborhood can go through an entire lifecycle in 55 years.

Angel Rodriguez
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Richard, people ask me at times why I would like to be immortal. Yesterday at Bronx Stories, a woman read a piece about growing up in West Farms, in a house. Returning decades later to see that the space where her house lived was now a playground for children. I found that very touching. And as a fan of Anne Rice’s vampires, having read her books and seen her characters survive over thousands of years, I can’t help but wish I too could see these transitions of the world. Imagine what you saw over 55 years, becoming 1000. That’s why… Read more »

Richard Rolandi
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My dad’s store was burnt to the ground during the riots in the late 50’s. Prettiest block nowadays.

Mykel Cross
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Mykel Cross

I’m White and thinking about hitting up some clubs in the Bronx. While I’m there I would approach and hit on black girls. Generally speaking, black girls tend to like me a lot. This could be intimidating if I were the only white guy in the club scooping up hot women. Do you think I would be discriminated against? Violently?

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[…] The gentrification of the Bronx I was reading a post on another blog about this topic and I know there have been lots of posts on this subject here as well; however, I would like to hear the reactions of the posters here to the points made in this article: The Gentrification of the Bronx. – NYC Talking […]

Tony P
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Tony P

I grew up in the Bronx and have recently moved back. My parents still live there and I wanted to be close to them and have easy access to downtown. The neigborhood is great and I love my deco apartment with its sunken living room and art deco features.

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[…] Last year an NYC blogger was talking about the potential for gentrification in the Bronx http://nyctalking.com/the-gentrification-of-the-bronx/#comments […]

Alex Baez
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Good does not = white, like you mentioned. White ppl started moving from the Bronx (white flight) because that generation wanted to be a part of suburbia and many took advantage and burned their buildings, as they exited the bronx for the surrounding suburbs. Your article is kind of disturbing to me, it’s as if you were begging for white ppl to come rescue the Bronx. There are some high incidences of poverty in the borough, which just have not been addressed socially and are the repercussions of a week system that has failed ppl for generations, not to mention,… Read more »

scull dugary
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scull dugary

living in bronx requires a survival group to succeed .

you need two armed people on serious patrol 24/7 with intent to do serious harm to intruders !!

anything less is doomed to failure.