• 50 Years - A Million Thanks
A Walk Through the Bronx - With David Hartman and Historian Barry Lewis
A Walk Through the Bronx - With David Hartman and Historian Barry Lewis
History See the Sites Interactive Map About the Program Resources
A Walk Through the Bronx - With David Hartman and Historian Barry Lewis History Join Thirteen receive a gift
Early European Residents Birth of a Borough Growth and Urbanization
Photo the Grand Concourse and Fordham Road.
Photo fo the Bronx cityscape.
The view of Van Cortlandt Park from the top of Montefiore Medical Center.

TOP: The intersection of the Grand Concourse and Fordham Road.

MIDDLE: The Bronx cityscape.

BOTTOM: The view of Van Cortlandt Park from the top of Montefiore Medical Center.



The Post War Years    Construction and Progress


By the mid 1990s the population of the Bronx was increasing. It was about a third black, a third Latin American, and a third Asian and white.
The Post War Years

After the Second World War, new housing was built and the makeup of the population changed. Construction ranged from luxury apartment buildings in Riverdale to public housing in the southern Bronx. Long-time residents and former servicemen moved from older housing in the southern neighborhoods of Hunts Point, Morrisania, and Mott Haven into privately built housing in the northern Bronx, to the other boroughs, and to the suburbs. About 170,000 persons displaced by slum clearing in Manhattan, mostly black and Puerto Rican, moved to Hunts Point and Morrisania, as well as to Melrose, Tremont, and Highbridge. In 1950, social workers reported enduring poverty in a section of the southern Bronx. Systematic rent control was introduced during the Second World War to prevent rents from skyrocketing as empty apartments became scarce; it soon prevented conscientious landlords from paying for repairs to their aging buildings. Buildings were often set afire, at some times by unscrupulous landlords hoping to collect insurance, and at others by unscrupulous tenants taking advantage of the city's policy that burned-out tenants should be given priority for public housing and receive money for new furnishings. A period of rampant arson in the late 1960s and early 1970s ended only after this policy was changed and a limit was imposed on insurance payments for reconstructing burned-out apartment buildings. From that time one-family houses and row houses were built, hundreds of apartment buildings restored, and several apartments converted to cooperatives and condominium units, permitting more residents of the southern Bronx to own their homes.

Construction and Progress

After Flynn's death in 1953, Charles A. Buckley succeeded him as the Democratic leader of Bronx county and gained federal funds for the construction in the 1950s and 1960s of housing and a network of highways linking the Bronx with the rest of the city, among them the Major Deegan Expressway, the Cross Bronx Expressway, and the Bruckner Expressway. As commuting by automobile became more convenient, high-rise apartment building were erected in southern and eastern neighborhoods along the new roads, including Soundview, Castle Hill, Spuyten Duyvil, and Riverdale. Co-op city, a complex of 15,372 units built in the northeastern Bronx between 1968 and 1970, housed sixty thousand persons and was among the largest housing developments in the world. The distribution of products to the metropolitan area and the rest of the east coast became easier for industries occupying new industrial parks in the Bronx, such as those along Bathgate and Zerega avenues, and for fruit and vegetable dealers in the Hunts Point Food Market. Puerto Ricans accounted for a growing share of the population (20 percent in 1970) and became more active in politics: Herman Badillo was the first Puerto Rican to be elected to the borough presidency (1965) and later to the U.S. Congress; Robert Garcia was elected to congress in 1978; Fernando Ferrer was elected borough president in 1987; and Jose Serrano succeeded Garcia in 1990.

By the mid 1990s the population of the Bronx was increasing. It was about a third black, a third Latin American, and a third Asian and white. Some musicologists maintain that salsa music and break dancing originated in the Bronx. Puerto Ricans accounted for more than a quarter of the population by 1990, and there were also growing numbers of Koreans, Vietnamese, Indians, Pakistanis, Cubans, Dominicans, Jamaicans, Greeks, and Russians. Many Albanians settled in Belmont, many Cambodians in Fordham. Co-op City remained a successful development, luxury apartments built in Riverdale in the 1950s became cooperatives, and the housing stock continued to include the world's largest concentration of buildings in the art deco style. Entrepreneurs formed new businesses, and the borough's public schools were overcrowded with new immigrants. In the 1990s, The Bronx began experiencing a period of economic renewal and in 1997 was awarded the designation of "All-America City" by the National Civic Council.

Gary Hermalyn and Lloyd Ultan, "Bronx," THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NEW YORK CITY (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995) pp. 142-146. © Yale University Press. Reproduced by permission.