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The fourth-largest and the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City, The Bronx is home to 1.4 million residents. Spread out over about 42 square miles, it sits just above Manhattan and is situated mostly on the mainland. Divided by the Bronx River, the borough has two distinct sections – a hilly urban area in the west, and a much flatter, suburban-like portion in the coastal east.
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, The Bronx was largely a rural area, home to the farms that supplied produce to the markets in the nearby city. However, when the railroad came to the area in the latter part of the 1800s, it became more urbanized. The subway arrived in 1904, making it easy to get from Manhattan to The Bronx in no time at all. Hence, the population of the area grew in leaps and bounds.
The Bronx soon became a major manufacturing center and attracted thousands of immigrants, many who came to work in the borough’s many piano factories and other plants. Many of these immigrants stayed until after World War II, when their exodus had a major negative impact on The Bronx. Urban blight was a problem until the 1990s, when new residential and commercial development finally prompted more interest in the area.
Today, The Bronx has a very diverse population. This diversity is represented in the borough’s many ethnic restaurants and other attractions, like the Off-Off-Broadway theaters that produce plays by promising new playwrights.
There are more than 60 neighborhoods in the Bronx and they are generally classified as being either in the East Bronx or West Bronx.
Many individuals who live in the Bronx do so because of the interesting diversity of the area and the lower housing prices available compared to neighboring Manhattan. In addition, because The Bronx is served by six New York City subway lines (there are 70 stations in The Bronx), it’s easy to make one’s way into the city for work and leisure activities such as attending theatrical productions, visiting museums, and going out to dinner.
The Bronx, however, has its own perks as well. There are several sizeable shopping districts including The Hub in the South Bronx, which is known as the “Broadway of the Bronx.” There’s also the newer Bay Plaza Shopping Center, a sizeable mall.
Of course, the new Yankee Stadium is also located in The Bronx, making this borough a favorite destination for baseball lovers throughout New York and visitors from around the world. The stadium also occasionally hosts other sporting events and concerts as well.
Parks are available for those who enjoy a green place to walk or are seeking a place for the kids to play. For example, 718-acre Bronx Park is full of interesting monuments and sculptures and is a fun place to explore. There’s also Pelham Bay Park, which – at more than 2,700 acres – is the largest in the city.
Because of the borough’s large Black and Hispanic populations, it has become a center for both Latin Jazz and Hip Hop music and is considered one of the places that most influenced the Hip Hop culture in the U.S.
Those who prefer visual art can enjoy a visit to the Bronx Museum of the Arts, which houses an excellent collection of contemporary pieces by primarily Black, Hispanic, and Asian artists.
Similarly, the Pregones Theater showcases Latin and African talent as well, presenting new works by immigrant playwrights from those ethnic groups.
As in Manhattan, dining in The Bronx means a choice of some very diverse cuisines. From the pubs of the borough’s Irish neighborhoods to the trattorias of the Italian strongholds and the taquerias of the Latino areas, The Bronx has it all. Though there are a few chain restaurants here, the best bets are the small privately owned eateries that surprise guests with some of the best food in the area.
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