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BronxLens's avatar

Why Brooklyn and not the Bronx?

Asked by BronxLens (1527 points ) September 15th, 2008

This post has many questions within it. Address one or more as you wish.

For a good while now Brooklyn has been as the go-to source for great art and night life, often not as a second choice to Manhattan’s, but as a first choice in its own right, all a short train ride away. Quirky cafes, great affordable restaurants, independent bookstores, art venues, etc., all established in bonafide art / shopping districts & neighborhoods. In the mean time, by comparison, the Bronx remains stagnant. Aside from its location (geography and geographic location), what do you see as significant reasons for the disparity? Suggestions for developing the Bronx beyond the Bronx Zoo and the other tourist attractions? Do we need first a Clinton-like figure to move his/her base here? Are we doomed until an uber-architect builds one of her / his signature projects? Any reason why the waterfront has not captured any developer’s attention as it has happened elsewhere?

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9 Answers

MarcIsMyHero's avatar

Bronx , like staten island, is pretty isolated from the other NY boroughs. Transportation is much more dificult. Brooklyn and queens are much easier and quicker to travel to and from if you live, work or play in manhattan. Most new yorkers dont want to bother with cars Also the size of the Bronx is probably intimidating.

MarcIsMyHero's avatar

if you want some buzz in the Bronx you need to get a gay community started there. Then the artists folow along with the new bars and restaurants. All of a sudden a “scene” has formed and the yuppies and big development deals will follow.

wundayatta's avatar

I think usually the artists are first.

srmorgan's avatar

I think Marciaismyhero has part of it but also misses out on something. Brooklyn is right across the river from the financial district and many neighborhoods are within walking distance, albeit kind of a long walk, of Lower Manhattan. Brooklyn Heights has always been fashionable and the Promenade is a great attraction.

Brooklyn was also an independent city until 1898 and had that kind of separate sensibilty that the Bronx never had. But it was not so long ago that some of the really nice neighborhoods in Brooklyn looked like crap. Park Slope in the 60’s had not “come back” and there was a big group of pioneering gentrifiers who moved into Park Slope and began the renovations of the Brownstones, especially below Seventh Avenue and away from the Park.

Frankly it surprises me that Brooklyn has become so popular in the last 15 years as Manhattan prices become even more and more stratospheric.

That being said, much of the Bronx, especially where I grew up, The Concourse, is only 20 minutes from mid-town and is a much easier schlep than the ride in from Brooklyn and the access factor should count for something.

The Brooklyn waterfront was always busy with international shipping and my father worked at the Navy Yard during World War II and the ships they built went right out into the harbor and into the Atlantic. The Bronx waterfront was just never developed in the same way and my recollections of the Harlem River and the East River was that it was almost completely industrial and frankly, just not very pretty.

There was some activity in the artist community moving into the areas right near the Willis Avenue bridge and renovations of the housing stock in the area seemed to be happening when I was still living in Westchester 15 years ago but I don’t know where that went.

Just about a year ago my sister and I drove around our old neighborhood, Mt Eden, Walton Avenue, Mount Hope Place, the Concourse, of course and I was pleased to see how much of the housing stock had been renovated or at least maintained and many of what I remembered as being vacant lots had housing erected on those sites.

I don’t know why the Bronx has lagged Brooklyn. I loved living in the Bronx, PS 70 ,
Wade Jr HighSchool
Bronx Science…. wonderful..

Don’t knock the Bronx!!!!

SRM

BronxLens's avatar

@MarcIsMyHero – 2007 census ranked the Bronx 4th of the five boroughs in population, 4th in area, and 3rd in density.

@ SRM – Wonderful insight. Thanks for sharing it with us all.

jballou's avatar

Bronx hasn’t lagged- it’s just the type of community and nightlife you’re referring to. There need to be some essentials in place for this type of development to happen. The area has to be cheap and accessible and have the type of land and real estate. Artists generally need big cheap spaces for studios and galleries. With not only subways and buses, but also bridges connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens, that helps to speed the growth of the artist community in these areas.

In short Brooklyn has (or had)-
Transportation
Space
Affordability

That’s what did it. The Bronx is great in its own right, it just doesn’t have the tools to duplicate what’s happened in many areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn, and even Queens to a certain extent.

Mr_M's avatar

I lived in the Bronx almost all my life. There are GREAT places there including the Bronx Zoo, Botanical Gardens, City Island (for the absolute best sea food) and even a grotto dedicated to a “miracle” that supposedly happened there. Arthur Avenue is the Bronx’s “Little Italy”.

Edgar Allen Poe’s house is there, Yankee Stadium is there. I went to Cardinal Spellman High and John Phillip Sousa Junior High.

But now Edgar Allen Poe’s house is ruined by the drug addicts that shoot up in that park, the neighborhood around Cardinal Spellman is high crime, as in many areas of the Bronx. The movie “Fort Apache, the Bronx” talks about one area of the Bronx. The geography of that area has since spread. A lot.

So they need to clean up the Bronx of the crime. Make the Bronx streets safe to walk the way they used to be. That’s THE problem.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Yeah, I’m scared of going to the Bronx. I’ve only ever driven through and otherwise been to the Zoo and Botanical Gardens once.

SeventhSense's avatar

The promenade, The beach, the pizza, the Dodgers, the bridge, The community, It always had a flavor and has stood the test. The Bronx was once the gentry and has gone through some crazy identity crises but actually has a lot of potential for the future… hard to say but the access to the beach has it. Da Bums.

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