Sightseeing: The Bronx
Check out Art Deco architecture, sprawling green spaces and the home of the Yankees.
Thu Sep 30 2010
In the 1960s and '70s, the South Bronx was so ravaged by postwar "white flight" and community displacement from the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway that the neighborhood became virtually synonymous with urban blight. Crime was rife and arson became widespread. These days, the South Bronx is rising from the ashes. In 2006, Mayor Bloomberg announced the South Bronx Initiative, aiming to revitalize the area. Yet despite developers' hopes for "SoBro," the area has not quite turned into the Next Big Thing. Yet.
Most visitors are just stopping long enough to take in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium (River Ave at 161st St, 718-293-6000, yankees.com). A few blocks east runs the four-and-a-half-mile Grand Concourse. Once the most prestigious drag in the Bronx, it's a must for lovers of Art Deco—head north from 161st Street to admire the country's largest array of housing in that style (though some isn't well kept). The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage was moved to the Grand Concourse from its original spot on Fordham Road in 1913.
Originally settled in the late 19th century by Italian immigrants hired to landscape nearby Bronx Zoo, Belmont is centered on Arthur Avenue, lined with delis, bakeries, restaurants and stores selling T-shirts proclaiming the locale to be New York's "real Little Italy." Food is the area's main draw. In the covered 1940s Arthur Avenue Retail Market (2344 Arthur Ave between Crescent Ave and E 186th St, closed Sun), try the trademark Yankee Stadium Big Boy hero, stuffed with Italian cold cuts and cheese, at Mike's Deli. For a full meal, head to old-school, red-sauce joint Mario's (2342 Arthur Ave between Crescent Ave and E 186th St, 718-584-1188, closed Mon), which appeared in several Sopranos episodes. Belmont is in easy walking distance of Bronx Park, home to the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden.
In Riverdale, along the northwest coast of the Bronx, huge homes perch on narrow, winding streets that meander toward the Hudson River. Among them is the 1843 mansion Wave Hill House. In the nearby, 1,146-acre Van Cortlandt Park (entrance on Broadway at 242nd St), you can hike through a 100-year-old forest and visit Van Cortlandt House Museum, a pre-Revolutionary house built in 1748 and commandeered by both sides during the Revolutionary War.
Wave Hill House