I grew up in the rock-and-roll ’50s in an immigrant community in the Bronx where all of our friends’ parents had blue tattoos on their arms, some large, some small, some buried under bushy arm hair and silver wristwatches, but always a row of numbers. Our parents had gold teeth, heavy accents, and names we never heard on television. The memories of my childhood summer days — the contrast between the bucolic and the indescribably horrible — served as my Holocaust 101.
Many readers loved our list from last week, which highlighted 11 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Bronx, and we promised you we’d come back with more.
So here’s more!
This year the Bronx is celebrating two major anniversaries: The 375th anniversary of the first European settler — and our borough’s namesake Jonas Bronck, to call our great borough of the North home, and the 100th anniversary of the creation of Bronx County, New York State’s 62nd and last county created.
In the spirit of history, we’ve decided to compile a list of things you may not (or may) know about the Bronx.
Bronx born and raised, storyteller, writer and author, Martin Kleinman, returned back to his birthplace after a 36 year journey living abroad — in, Queens, Manhattan, and 25 years in Park Slope, Brooklyn. (Sorry, Staten Island, as he quipped in an article in the Huffington Post back in January on a de Blasio Mayoralty).
As legend has it, green beer was invented in Melrose on 163rd Street near 3rd Avenue 100 years ago today just as our borough of the Bronx was born according to an article The Daily Meal by Editor, Joanna Fantozzi.
If the legend is true, then it is quite fitting as the Bronx is the unofficial Irish Capital of New York City!
Here’s the article from The Daily Meal:
Here’s a little history lesson from the New York Times. Many of us assume that Marble Hill is part of the Bronx because it is physically connected to our borough but that wasn’t always the case — and it still is Manhattan. Legally, anyway. Read about when a former Bronx Borough President invaded Manhattan.
Did you know that Bronx Community College occupies one of the highest points in the whole Bronx? Do you know how this school came to occupy that location? 2014 is the 40th anniversary of Bronx Community College’s (BCC) first full year at the campus we know today. A distinguished African-American educator oversaw the move from scattered buildings around Jerome Avenue to the high and architecturally distinguished place it now occupies; his name was Dr. James A. Colston!
Back in 2010 during renovations at the Bronx County Courthouse, several historical murals depicting Jonas Bronck and local Lenape Native Americans were severely water damaged.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr complained to the city on numerous occasions but the years went by and the decay worsened.
Now the city finally has done right by the Bronx and the murals and work will begin to restore the historical works of art.
The Bronx County Historical Society has just published a new book, by Bronx historian Lloyd Ultan, on Blacks in the Bronx during colonial times —a first of its kind.
According to the Society’s website:
For the first time in over three and a half centuries, the story of people of African descent in the colonial Bronx, the northernmost borough of New York City, is being told. Discovered in over fifty scattered places, 210 separate accounts written by participants and witnesses from 1664 to 1783 in letters, government documents, court records, wills, memoirs and newspapers are brought together in one volume for the first time. The noted historian and author, Lloyd Ultan, puts these statements and accounts from the era into context, telling what they mean and tying them all together in a revealing narrative.
The Smithsonian Magazine has published a wonderful article on Edgar Allan Poe and the history of Poe Cottage in the Bronx. It’s wonderful when a globally recognized cultural institution and national treasure like the Smithsonian writes about our borough’s rich and diverse history.
About 3 years ago I posted a rant on the use of the name SoBro by realtors in their never-ending re-branding quest of forgotten neighborhoods.
It was written as a response to a New York Times piece on Congressman Hakeem Jeffries’— and then assemblyman —wish to pass a bill that would have required approval by community boards, City Council, and the mayor before new neighborhood names could be used.
This year marks the 375th Anniversary that our borough’s namesake, Jonas Bronck, from Sweden, became the Bronx’s first European settler.
It is believed that Jonas Bronck was born circa 1600 in the Swedish province of Småland and eventually made his way to The Netherlands before making his way to North America and settling in the Dutch colonial province of New Netherland.