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Neighborhood Guide to the East Bronx

Rap and Hip Hop music were born here. And although it hosts a wide array of ethnic groups, it’s predominantly influenced by the Italian-American culture. As a matter of fact, some have argued that Manhattan’s “Little Italy” has nothing over it.

Yes, we’re talking about The Bronx- or if you like, The Boogie Down. Pretty much the only New York City borough that substantially lies on the US mainland. The rest are essentially islands.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Italian-American culture might be increasingly prevalent, but it’s certainly not the only vibrant community in all The Bronx neighborhoods.

For instance, you’re bound to notice heavy Puerto Rican influence in some of the Southern neighborhoods, while Woodlawn might feel like an overseas extension of Ireland. Dominicans, on the other hand, are principally based in Morris Heights plus University Heights.

As you continue exploring the neighborhoods, one thing you’ll notice is that The Bronx is not entirely flat. It has a range of hills that progressively create interesting landscapes. That’s why the bulk of the streets in the Western area have stepped sidewalks instead of flat pavements.

Taking a walk on such a terrain might be tiring- I know- but at least The Bronx makes up for that with great views. Standing on a street corner, for example, you might be able to stare way down over a cliff towards a train line that’s raised 30 feet above the ground level. Definitively not the type of stuff you get to see everywhere, right?

When it comes to housing, we previously established that the average rent for three bedroom apartments is about $2,500, while two bedrooms normally cost about $2,000, then $1,725 for one bedroom units. The cheapest option would typically be a studio apartment, which should cost about $1,595 per month.

Compare that with the New York average of $3,752 for two bedroom apartments and $2,939 for one bedroom units. Then get this- overall, New York residents are spending about $3,584 on rent every month.

So, evidently, living in The Bronx seems to be considerably cheaper than most of the New York boroughs.

Why, you ask?

Well, make no mistake. The Bronx is not a run-down area. It’s largely composed of attractive middle-class neighborhoods hosting all types of families and age-groups. Admittedly, it also has its fair share of struggling neighborhoods with considerably cheap rental rates.

Collectively, all its neighborhoods are home to 1.471 million people– making The Bronx the fourth most populous New York City borough ahead of Staten Island.

That said, let’s look into one of the primary sections that might interest you- the East Bronx area.

The East Bronx Area

This is the area that basically lies east of The Bronx River. Some of its neighborhoods include: Co-op City, Wakefield, Edenwald, Baychester, Eastchester, Williamsbridge, Pelham Bay, City Island, Country Club, Throggs Neck, Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Van Nest, Edgewater Park, Westchester Square, Parkchester, Castle Hill, Soundview, and Harding Park.

Although they share some prominent features, don’t be quick to possibly presume that the East mirrors West Bronx. While the West is significantly hilly, the East Bronx area is largely flat due to its coastal attributes. Come to think of it, the area the terrain almost resembles the neighboring Queens borough.

And that’s not all. They also vary in population densities. The western area would be ideal if you don’t mind settling in densely populated neighborhoods- where one square mile of residential blocks can virtually fill up a baseball stadium. East Bronx, on the other hand, has fewer settlements per unit area.

Then you know what? Believe it or not, the East Bronx area is about twenty years younger than its western counterpart. It turns out that New York City annexed West Bronx in 1874 then took a chunk off Westchester County in 1895 to make it the East Bronx.

Consequently, some of the East Bronx streets have obtained the prefix “East” through the years. But, here’s the thing- don’t mistake all “East” street designations as part of the larger East Bronx area. It just so happens that Jerome Avenue was adopted as the chief east-west reference point for street-naming instead of The Bronx River. As a result, you might discover that a street like “East 161st Street” actually lies on The Bronx River’s western side.

Not the first time we’ve come across such. Manhattan also uses an identical naming structure after adopting its Fifth Avenue as the main divider.

As you proceed beyond the street level, you’ll notice that the neighborhoods here are a mix of cultures and ethnicities.

Albanians, for example, are scattered pretty much everywhere, particularly in Pelham Parkway, Morris Park, and Van Nest. The same applies to Hispanic Americans- specifically Dominicans and Puerto Ricans- who are mostly concentrated in Van Nest, Westchester Square, Parkchester, Castle Hill, and Soundview. Parkchester also extensively hosts Asian Americans like Chinese, Pakistanis, and Bengalis.

Then moving towards the North, you’ll find substantial Afro-Caribbean populations in neighborhoods like Edenwald, Baychester, and Wakefield.

However, all things considered, the largest crowd here are Italian Americans, who’ve mostly settled in City Island, Country Club, Throggs Neck, Pelham Gardens, Pelham Bay, and Morris Park.

Now, let’s see what some of the most notable neighborhoods hold.

Morris Park

Morris Park, which is part of the larger NYC District 11, is not your regular sized neighborhood. It’s noticeably extensive, with a population of 128,000– composed of a mix of Hispanics, Bosnians, Albanians, Irish and Italian Americans.

The area is entirely residential, with an array of housing models to choose from. They range from high-rise apartment blocks to low-rise complexes, detached row houses, and other differently-sized multifamily buildings. The choice is yours.

But, here’s the kicker. Although there are more than 45,000 housing units in the whole District 11 area, only 4% are vacant. People seem to love it here, and rightfully so.

In fact, all dwellings host an active community- complete with a dynamic community board. And there’s no denying that they boast of numerous achievements.

One that’s particularly outstanding, we’ve got to say, is Morris Park’s consistent recognition as one of the cleanest neighborhoods in New York City. Garbage collection companies unquestionably take their work very seriously here.

Now, there’s one thing you can bet would go well with a clean neighborhood- a park. And Morris Park has several of them, including playgrounds.

In fact, consider this- The Bronx is renowned for its large parks, and Morris Park is positioned conveniently close to three of them. Pelham Bay Park itself is the biggest in New York City with over 2,700 acres. If nature walks and picnics don’t work for you, the park is flanked by a public beach that has proven to be exceptionally suitable for summer.

In addition to that, living in Morris Park grants you convenient access to leading hospitals and medical care clinics, plus multiple private and public educational institutions- which host all grades including college levels.

On the neighborhood’s eastern side alone, you’ll get centers like Jack D. Weiler Hospital division of Montefiore Medical Center, Jacobi Medical Center, and The Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The famous Calvary Hospital and the distinguished Bronx Psychiatric Center are also located in Morris Park.

The neighbors you’ll have here are mostly middle-class families with an average household income of $55,400 per year. The lowest earners are young renters below the age of 25 with an average of $35,452, while 45-64-year-olds rake in about $54,287.

Combined, all these figures add up to an average household net worth of $451,807. So, of course, you should fit in just right if your household makes such figures cumulatively.

Yes, I know what you’re probably wondering at this point. How much of that do they get to keep?

Sadly, New York City is not exactly the best place to spend your money. It will never go easy on your wallet. But thankfully, overall expenditure by Morris Park residents is less than the national average. And surprisingly, it spreads across the board- entertainment, rent, furnishings, food, clothes, transport, you name it. Just have a look at this:

And speaking of transport, people here are fortunate enough to have multiple public transportation options. The number 5 train, for instance, runs through two stations to serve the neighborhood’s eastern precincts.

But if you find buses more convenient, you could take the BxM10 straight to New York’s central business district. Then to commute to other points of the city, you could use something like the Bx12 Bus- which essentially connects Morris Park with Orchard Beach and Pelham Park.

Interestingly- despite all these travel options, District 11 residents take longer to get to work compared to other New Yorkers and the rest of the U.S. They take an average of 42.7 minutes, which is basically 150% and 25% more than the US and New York averages respectively.

So, you might need to sleep closer to your alarm clock when you move in.

If you prefer a mellow middle-class East Bronx suburb, Country Club would be a decent place worth checking out.

It’s much smaller than Morris Park, with slightly over 4,200 residents– most of whom are middle-aged.

Country Club runs from New England Thruway in the West to Eastchester Bay on the Eastern side. The southern border is at Layton Avenue while the Watt Avenue and Middletown road define its northernmost points.

All these sides considered, the Eastchester Bay boundary seems like the obvious favorite for many locals. Expect to see several beaches complete with active beach clubs here. Most importantly, however, it’s famous for its waterfront properties with private deep-water docks.

That alone makes it a perfect place to stay in East Bronx if you own a boat or two, or maybe a jet ski to show off during summer. But, if amphibious living is not the type of lifestyle you picture for yourself, there are numerous multifamily dwellings on the Western side towards Bruckner Boulevard.

The one thing that makes Country Club unique is its quiet, low key status. Quite a contrast compared to the typical bustling nature of the whole Bronx borough. It almost feels like one huge monastery.

In essence, this is the type of New York City neighborhood to settle in if you want to stroll around in the morning admiring your neighbors’ gardens, go for an evening picnic by the water, or possibly jog along with your workout partners on Saturdays.

As a matter of fact, the low vehicular traffic here makes Country club an ideal place for such fitness activities. But since not everyone can make a great runner, you could alternatively take up things like bike riding on the estate roads. And to make it more interesting, you can even have your dog tagging along once in a while.

Speaking of which, the nearby Pelham Bay Park provides just the right conditions for that. You could hang out with your family here on Weekends, before hitting one of the neighborhood pizzerias for a quick dinner in the evening.

Well, there are other small food joints in the area, plus convenience retail spots. Otherwise, nothing much when it comes to commercial spaces.

However, if you need to do extensive shopping, Co-op City’s Bay Plaza mall is just a short drive away. Or possibly make your way to the adjacent Pelham Bay to capitalize on its mom and pop shops on Westchester and Buhre avenues.

Admittedly, you don’t even have to drive since most of the primary amenities are located within walking or biking distances. Getting to the Pelham Bay’s Buhre Avenue train stations, for example, could take you a little over ten minutes at most. Or instead, take advantage of the Bx24 bus that serves the whole Country Club area.

That said, we’d advise you to stick to the safest mode possible. It turns out that the overall crime rate here is worryingly twice as high as the national average.

The type of residents you’ll find in Country Club are both white and blue-collar workers from judges, lawyers, and doctors to teachers, firemen, and police offers. White-collar workers are the majority, making up about 79% of the resident population.

Combined, all these households have a median annual income of close to $54,000. The $75,000-$100,000 annual income bracket is the most common, covering close to 200 families. That said, you should fit right in if your household makes about $50,000 to $100,000 per year.

You’d be forgiven to presume that you can find waterfront properties here. But, here’s the thing- it turns out Pelham Bay residences don’t actually have a beachfront. Quite a misleading name for such an area, don’t you think?

What exactly does Pelham Bay have? Instead of extensive waterfront blocks, Pelham Bay hosts various regular developments- including a series of double story brick houses with grillwork fences and awnings flanking NYC’s largest park, the

Pelham Bay Park. In total, there are about 93,902 residents in the area, most of whom are middle-aged.

Now, one thing you can bet on when it comes to New York City neighborhoods is that there’s always a water body right by the corner, even when an area doesn’t necessarily have waterfront properties. And Pelham Bay is quite a great example since it happens to have an extensive coastline by the park.

To be precise, Pelham Bay Park boasts of 13 miles of coastline that kisses Long Island Sound. Well, you might argue that it can host rows of attractive waterfront units. But then again, opting for an expansive public green space was arguably a much better approach when you assess it from an environmental and recreational perspective.

After all, the adjacent Country Club fulfills the role of a waterfront neighborhood quite well- although it happens to belong to a different district. Only Throgs Neck and Co-op City are part of Bronx Community District 10 along with Pelham Bay.

And speaking of communities, Pelham Bay predominantly hosted German, Greek, Irish and Italian immigrants in the early 20th Century- then it progressively welcomed new ethnic groups through the decades. As a result, Pelham Bay is currently home to an array of ethnicities, including Albanians, Asians, Bangladeshis, and Hispanics.

All in all, the area is a fascinating blend of both suburban and urban communities. The number 6 line subway northern terminus has substantially contributed to this by triggering the increased development of apartment complexes.

Quite a contrast compared to the bulk of the streets off Buhre, Westchester, and Crosby Avenues- which are largely characterized by standard houses with small yards adorned with lush trees.

Some of these homes were systematically built over the last century with timber frames and quaint bricks. They currently alternate with modern units, many of which are essentially three-bedroom duplex houses developed on 25 by 100 lots- complete with basements.

And you know what? This pattern of aged properties mixing up with their contemporary counterparts is not unique to residential zones. It also applies to commercial zones. Crosby Avenue, Middletown Road, and Buhre Avenue, for instance, have commercial houses that have remained open for over half a century now. Then modern business structures were developed to line up with them sequentially.

Combined, all these Pelham Bay units plus their corresponding amenities take up an area that’s bigger than three Central Parks. So, of course, expect to find something like a micro-city in a city.

If you fancy sports, for instance, Pelham South provides a recreation center plus baseball, bocce, and basketball courts- complete with a jogging track. You could also engage in lighter activities like golf- in one of Pelham Bay’s two golf courses.

Then horse-riding in an equestrian center would seem like a fun idea for a date, apart from biking or visiting the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum. A dinner date, on the other hand, would go well with seafood in one of the nearby City Island’s restaurants.

So far so good. But, recreation and entertainment spots are not the only amenities in Pelham Bay. You can also find several outstanding private and public schools.

If Herbert H. Lehman High School doesn’t cut it, you can always choose other public elementary schools like the John D. Calandra School or the Rose E. Scala School. Or alternatively consider private religious elementary schools like Greek Orthodox schools, the Greek American Institute, or one of the Roman Catholic schools in the area. Whatever your preference is, you’re bound to find an ideal institution for your kids.

Now, hang on a minute. Is Pelham Bay even ideal for kids in the first place?

Well, guess what? It turns out that Pelham Bay is the only The Bronx neighborhood which ranks among the top ten best NYC areas for family living. Kids, therefore, should enjoy increased convenience growing up in this area.

And the subsequent expenses shouldn’t worry you at all since they match up to the national average. The average Pelham Bay household expenditure, for example, is precisely equivalent to the overall national rate.

That said, Pelham Bay residents have an average household income of $71,934 per year, with a consequent household net worth of $573,785. So, of course, we can conclude that Pelham is certainly a middle-class New York City neighborhood.

These three might not exactly mirror each East Bronx neighborhood, but they represent pretty much what you should expect to find here.

For starters, East Bronx is a mixed ethnicity area with not only North American cultures, but also South American, European, and Asian. They have settled in a wide range of multifamily dwellings, including regular apartments, single houses, duplexes, etc. Sadly, the number of rental properties here is quite limited, and it should take you some time to find a perfect fit.

That said, it’s evident that the East Bronx area is not ideal for everyone. You need a household income of about $50,000 to $100,000 per year to live comfortably in any of its middle-class neighborhoods. Fortunately, the cost of living is not higher than the national average. Expect to spend what you’d normally incur in most of the other US cities.

Then finally, East Bronx neighborhoods provide all the critical health, recreational, educational and transport amenities. In other words, an all-inclusive micro-city within a city.

Be Heard at Go Home NY

Be heard! Leave your apartment, condo, and coop building reviews at Go Home NY! Know a building's managers are awful? Have the inside line on a perfect building? Anything in between? Express your voice and be heard. Leave a review at Go Home NY.

Be Heard at Go Home NY

Be heard! Leave your apartment, condo, and coop building reviews at Go Home NY! Know a building's managers are awful? Have the inside line on a perfect building? Anything in between? Express your voice and be heard. Leave a review at Go Home NY.

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