Cover image for The Bronx
The Bronx
Gonzalez, Evelyn Diaz.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xii, 263 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F128.68.B8 G66 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The home of the Yankees, the Bronx Zoo; and the Grand Concourse, the Bronx was once a haven for upwardly mobile second-generation immigrants eager to leave crowded Manhattan tenements. It was hailed as a wonder borough of homes, parks, and universities. But during the 1960s and 1970s, neighborhoods that had held generations of Bronx families disappeared under waves of arson, crime, and housing abandonment, with solid blocks of brick apartment buildings turning into rubble-filled empty acres. This is the inspirational history of the New York City borough that has made a complete revolution - from the home of the American dream to the last place on earth and back again (the Bronx was named an All-America City in 1997 by the National Civic League). status as a densely populated home for New York's growing and increasingly more heterogeneous Hispanic and African American population, this book shows how the borough developed within New York City's orbit and interacted with the city as it grew from the tip of Manhattan to a five-borough metropolis. Along the way, Evelyn Gonzalez reveals how the decline and rapid racial change that affected the Bronx during the urban crisis of the 1960s and 1970s were connected to the economic transactious, political decisions, and human choices that created the borough in the first place.

Author Notes

Evelyn Gonzalez is associate professor of history at William Paterson University in New Jersey.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The title is misleading: Gonzalez is really focused on the South Bronx--its history, decline and fall, and rise. (She doesn't examine the North Bronx neighborhoods at all.) She recounts in clear if pedestrian prose, based on her own Ph.D. dissertation, the beginnings of the city borough in the mid-nineteenth century when Jordan Mott founded Mott Haven and Lewis Morris the Morrisania villages. Street plans, public transportation (the subway arrived in 1905), and services were created in a city framework, not a suburban one. Waves of immigrant apartment dwellers moved into the Bronx, and into newer and better housing, as the borough grew. But by 1934, with half its housing stock built before the 1901 Tenement House Law, the pattern was set. The South Bronx's wretched housing sheltered wave after wave of poorer and yet poorer immigrants, until it imploded in the 1960s and 1970s. Gonzalez traces its rise again, too, through a workable mixture of public and private, church-related and city-funded initiatives. Suitable for urban-planning and city history collections. --GraceAnne DeCandido Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

In her comprehensive history of the Bronx from its bucolic origins in the 1840s to its 1960s decline and recent resurgence, Gonzalez (history, William Paterson Univ.) refers to New York City's northernmost borough as "a collection of neighborhoods." Its southern tip, only seven miles from Manhattan's City Hall, was the first section to develop housing, business, and public transportation; it was also the first area to deteriorate. The Bronx had the most multifamily homes of any city or county in the United States by the 1940s, claims Gonzalez, but a great deal of the crowded, older housing no longer met middle-class expectations. Low-rent projects replaced many poor but viable neighborhoods during the 1960s, which resulted in decline. In her final chapters, Gonzalez describes how effective grassroots networks helped to stabilize and rehabilitate many neighborhoods and lay the groundwork for the borough's comeback. Gonzalez's reporting and research are excellent, and scholars will appreciate the extensive bibliography. One drawback: the dense text could have benefited from better organization. Nonetheless, this is recommended for public and academic libraries.-Elaine Machleder, Bronx, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In the 1970s, television coverage of burning buildings and newspaper reports of rising crime and unemployment led Americans to equate the Bronx with urban decay. Gonzalez (William Paterson Univ., New Jersey) argues that such images and popular perceptions do not adequately portray the Bronx's history. Beginning with an examination of the borough in the 19th century, Gonzalez demonstrates that for most of its history, the Bronx was a desirable location for home ownership for middle- and working-class families. In the 1940s, city, state, and federal programs, which encouraged and provided the means for suburban home ownership, had a negative impact on the borough. By 1960, families' opting for life in the suburbs led to a clear shift in the borough's ethnic and racial composition. Gonzalez explores the social, cultural, and economic forces that helped make the 1970s and 1980s troubled decades for the borough, but she also demonstrates how the Bronx has experienced a renaissance since the early 1990s. Construction of new single-family homes and the renovation of older housing stock and apartment buildings indicate that the Bronx has a promising future. This is must reading for any historian interested in exploring the process of suburbanization's impact on New York City. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. T. D. Beal SUNY College at Oneonta

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. ix
List of Tablesp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
1. The Bronx and Its Neighborhoodsp. 1
2. Early Beginningsp. 19
3. The Changing Landscapep. 41
4. Emerging Neighborhoodsp. 59
5. Boosting a Boroughp. 80
6. Urban Neighborhoodsp. 94
7. The South Bronxp. 109
8. The Road Backp. 130
Notesp. 153
Bibliographyp. 217
Indexp. 249