The Bronx has quite the image in many people’s minds, whether locally or across the world, but there are many actual real things, people, facts, and history about the northernmost borough of New York City that many people don’t know.
Since Welcome2TheBronx was founded almost 14 years ago, we have been exploring such things about the borough and sharing it with our readers, much to their delight (and ours, if we’re being honest).
So today, we’re going to revisit a few as well as update the list with some more.
Now while you may already know some of these, others will come as a surprise to even the most die-hard lover of all things Bronx.
In no particular order, here we go!
In New York City, there are just over one hundred step streets that are pedestrian-only streets at points where it’s too steep for vehicular traffic, and it just so happens that The Bronx has the most step streets in New York City where more than half are located. Sixty-four step streets, to be exact!
The longest of these streets is W 230th in Riverdale between Netherland and Johnson Avenues!
Art Deco Architecture
Did you know that The Bronx has the world’s most extensive collection of Art Deco architecture? That’s right! According to Bronx historian Lloyd Ultan, it’s The Bronx and not Miami Beach, as many people think, and the bulk of the collection is located on and around the Grand Concourse.
The People of The Bronx
The Bronx has always been home to many immigrant groups that have left their mark on our borough. Woodlawn is considered the Irish capital of New York City, and Arthur Avenue in Belmont is the most authentic Little Italy in New York. Over the past decades, we’ve been home to more African diaspora than any other place in the city. At one point, we were also the most Jewish borough, with over 50% of the population in that demographic. Seventy years ago, you were more likely to hear Yiddish than Spanish on the streets of the Bronx.
We’re home to most of the state’s 250,000 Albanians and most Garinagu (the plural for Garifuna) are believed to live in the Bronx.
Okay, so #3 on our list had a bit more than just one fact, but overall it pretty much paints a picture of The Bronx that most outsiders don’t know. It shows the ever-changing face of the borough, and that’s one of the things that makes us such a vibrant place: our people.
A Borough of Bridges
Another fun and exciting fact that sets The Bronx apart from the rest of the boroughs of New York City is that it’s the borough with the most connections by way of bridges to Manhattan.
There are a total of 13 spans connecting the two boroughs, of which two are exclusively for rail (Metro North and Amtrak) and one pedestrian-only bridge, aka The High Bridge, which also happens to be the oldest bridge in New York City.
No other borough comes even close, and the second runner-up is Brooklyn, with only three bridges.
City of The Bronx
As of the 2020 census, The Bronx’s population has finally surpassed its original high of 1,471,701, which was set in 1970 just before the great decline where over a quarter million Bronxites fled the borough, and the population dropped by over 20% in just a decade.
By 1980, the population was just 1,168,972, leaving neighborhoods and blocks across the South Bronx just shells of their former selves.
Now, the population is 1,472,654, and if The Bronx were a city, it would be the 7th largest city in the United States based on population. Not too shabby for 42 square miles, huh?
The Greenest Borough of New York City
While many may already know that The Bronx is the greenest borough of New York City, with just over 25% of the land in the borough dedicated to parks, did you know that we also have the largest park in New York City?
It’s not just visitors to New York who assume that Central Park is the city’s largest park, but many who live within our own city don’t know that that honor actually goes to Pelham Bay Park, tucked away in the northeast corner of The Bronx.
At 2,765 acres, it’s more than three times the size of Central Park!
Also, besides Pelham Bay Park, three of the top ten largest parks in New York City are right here in The Bronx, with Van Cortlandt Park coming in the 3rd spot and Bronx Park, which includes The Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden, coming in at 7th place on the list.
We All Scream for Ice Cream!
One of the best ice creams out there, at least according to us, started right here in The Bronx. Back in the 1920s, Häagen-Dazs® made its debut here in our borough and was sold out of horse-drawn wagons!
So as you can see, this is just a small list of the many things that make The Bronx a special place. There are many more, but we’ll save that for another day!