The Bronx
January 4, 2006 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Should I move to the Bronx?

There are 7 Askme articles tagged with "Brooklyn" and none (now one) tagged with "Bronx". My wife may be getting a job in the Bronx soon. Assuming we have to live in the Bronx for at least the first year, what should I expect?

Our demographics: We currently live in Cleveland and before that lived in Boston for >5yrs. I'm looking forward to heading back to the the east coast. My wife's family is from suburban NYC. We're both white and early-30s. My wife speaks spanish fluently, I don't (but am willing to learn). I've lived in majority-Spanish-speaking neighborhoods before (JP in Boston, for example, before gentrification) -- but does that describe the Bronx?

I've visited the NYC area plenty but never lived there, and never set foot in the Bronx. What's good about the Bronx? Is there anything I need to be overly worried about? I work in information security, if I need to commute to midtown or downtown will it be easy?

I hope this isn't too general a question.
posted by sohcahtoa to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Bronx is home to the greatest Italian food in New York City (In New York, that's saying something).
posted by jeb at 7:14 AM on January 4, 2006

There are some parts of the Bronx that are unsafe at any hour, but overall, the borough gets a bad rap. There are some nice neighborhoods in and around Riverdale. Also, there are some semi-urban small towns just beyond the Bronx where you and your wife might feel at home. Parts of Yonkers, Bronxville, etc. It is possible to commute from most of these places into Manhattan via subway or via Metro North Rail.

In general, stay near the Hudson or to the north if you want a nice neighborhood.

The Bronx has its own zoo, a decent golf course, some great museums, and of course, some great Italian food around Arthur Avenue and great seafood on City Island.
posted by mds35 at 7:43 AM on January 4, 2006

Lifelong New Yorker chiming in.

The Bronx is a big place with lots of neighborhoods of all economic stripes (including, yes, some posh neighborhoods with McMansions, SUVs-a-go-go and everything else that comes with it)

Riverdale's a mostly middle class and upper-middle class neighborhood with a significant Orthodox Jews population and suburban-style houses.

Woodlawn, near the Yonkers border, has a massive Irish (from Ireland, not Irish-American) population and some great pubs.

The area around Arthur Avenue near the Bronx Zoo has, as an above poster mentioned, the best Italian food in the city. Now there are some Albanians, Serbians and Romanians in the 'hood too, but it's still mostly Italian.

Around Fordham University it's a mixed middle-class Irish/Italian/Jewish area, City Island is still basically a fishing village and even the South Bronx is a ton safer than it used to be - and has some great lofts too.

Where in the Bronx will she be working? Depending on the neighborhood, it might be worthwhile looking into Inwood and Washington Heights in Manhattan, Westchester Country, Begen County, NJ (just over the GWB) or Astoria or Jackson Heights in Queens as well (just over the Triboro).
posted by huskerdont at 7:56 AM on January 4, 2006

There are parts of the Bronx that are quite nice actually. Morris Heights, Riverdale, Woodlawn, Marble Hill. Others, like Kingsbridge and Hunts Point are best avoided. I've hung out in the Fordham area a few times and never had any trouble. City Island is supposed to be really great too, although I've never visited.
posted by jonmc at 8:05 AM on January 4, 2006

She'd be a first year resident at Montefiore, which is why I stipulated we must live in the Bronx: the program has subsidized housing (although the prices are only about 25% below market ... Cornell's subsidized housing is under half market rate). We'd probably do that housing but aren't committed to it, but it's key that she be able to get to/from the hospital at any hour with minimal hassle.

After the first year her schedule should lighten and we can look elsewhere (not Westchester, though, she grew up in Greenwich and wants nothing to do with either).

Where we live next year isn't actually a choice we make ... residents are assigned by a process known as "the match" where an algorithm sticks you somewhere ... but we'll rank our choices, and can put this program high or low. She has more interviews to come and may find a progam she prefers, but I'm just looking for some preliminary information with which to weigh in.
posted by sohcahtoa at 8:07 AM on January 4, 2006

Yonkers isn't exactly "Westchester," except in name. Believe me, I live there and I grew up in Darien, CT. Anyhoo, to piggyback on Huskerdon'ts comments, we looked at Woodlawn and Riverdale before moving to Yonkers. Woodlawn seemed extremely cramped to me. You might live in a detached house, but your neighbor's detached house is 4 feet away from your bathroom window. Narrow streets, hard to park a car. Riverdale, while it does have some very expensive (read "nice") suburban-style houses with land, trees, etc. also has many high rises and typical city congestion. City Island has a quirky charm but strikes me as sort of down at the heels. And the traffic over the tiny two-lane bridge to the island is atrocious in summer.
posted by scratch at 8:43 AM on January 4, 2006

I lived two years in City Island. It's true, from memorial day through labor day, on any weekend or holiday evening it's hell trying to get into the island because of traffic. Otherwise, it was a nice, safe and mostly quiet place to live. Only one bus 29 in and out of it (to the 6 train), plus the Manhattan express that leaves 7 am, comes back after 5 pm.

Others have mentioned Westchester Cty, there Pellham Manor, or maybe New Rochelle / Mt. Vernon are close to the Bronx (NE side) so commuting shouldn't take too long, depending on where in the Bronx you'll be working of course. Riverdale is the West end, closer to Manhattan. Further North is Bronxville, Scarsdale and even White Plains, which still isn't far from the Bronx via Metro North.

The Bronx is nicer that what Hollywood makes it out to be. The Botanical Garden and The Bronx Zoo are great. Orchard Beach is Ok, part of Pellham Park which is the largest NYC park. Sure there are rough spots but I liked it better than Queens.
posted by tremendo at 9:42 AM on January 4, 2006

Getting downtown or to midtown shouldn't be a problem if you live by an express stop. I know someone who lives in the southern-most area of the Bronx, by the 3rd Ave/138th 6 train stop. It's 20 minutes to Union Square. Apparently it's now being referred to as the cutesy phrase "SoBro."
posted by kathryn at 12:36 PM on January 4, 2006

The Pelham Bay/Throggs Neck section is very nice (very suburban). But the area around Montefiore (near 204th St, by the last stop on the B/D line) is very nice as well, not suburban, but nice (more like JP, but fewer houses and more apartments). I used to work for Montefiore.
posted by chelseagirl at 12:43 PM on January 4, 2006

Spuyten Duyvil is very nice. Not as upscale/expensive as Riverdale to the north and it has great Hudson River Views. The area around Marble Hill is up and coming and it has the added bonus of really being in Manhattan even though it is physically part of the Bronx. Think of the bar bets you'll win.

Stay the heck away from Co-op City and environs unless you have a nostalgia for urban housing of the old Soviet Union.

All in all, while mostly, but not entirely poor and having some very dodgy areas, the Bronx is not nearly as bad as it used to be or how perceptions of it are.

You should note that part of reasons for the decline of the Bronx is how unlike any other NYC borough, expressways were built that crisscross the borough, especially the notorious Cross-bronx Expressway. That means get used to pollution.
posted by xetere at 3:23 PM on January 4, 2006

Stay the heck away from Co-op City

A good friend of mine grew up in Co-Op City. He has fond memories of the place. My NYC native father knew people from there. He describes it as "a nice place as projects go." For whatever that's worth.
posted by jonmc at 7:18 PM on January 4, 2006

The Bronx is nicer that what Hollywood makes it out to be.

Seriously. Even the S. Bronx isn't so bad (I've been here a couple days and despite being the only caucasian on the sidewalk haven't gotten any "Are you lost?" looks (which I've gotten many times in metro Detroit)).
posted by Tlogmer at 4:47 PM on January 5, 2006

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