New York is a great city to visit. It seems to have enjoyed a renaissance since the late 1980s onwards and, to be honest, a walk around New York now feels safer than a stroll in many parts of London. The Big Apple has always been a crowd-puller, of course, even in its darker days. People have always enjoyed THE great sites: Radio City, Times Square, Central Park, Broadway, the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty.
But for a while, especially between the late 1960s and about 1980, the city had a rather seamy air. Movies picked up on this too. Take Midnight Cowboy, for example, the story of a naive Texas hustler who comes to New York and ends up in a freezing tenement. Or Death Wish, which seemed to depict the city as a den of sadistic, violent gangs. Both films seemed to indicate how quickly “the American dream” can turn into a nightmare.
When things were a little rougher…
As for the Bronx, just the mention of the name conjured up images of poverty, drug-filled alleyways, rocketing crime, spiraling unemployment and a powerless police department. Perhaps the area’s reputation reached its nadir around 1980. Around that time I remember seeing a Paul Newman movie called Fort Apache – the Bronx, which really played up the image of a neighborhood under siege. Inner city groups complained about the film. But it was simply reflecting the times, in particular the depressed mood after a spate of arson attacks committed by slum landlords eager to pick up insurance rather than attempt to refurbish or sell.
Inner city resurgence
Thankfully, it’s all in the past and the area has been transformed. Rejuvenation in the form of significant construction started in the 1980s and crime rates started to fall. The area also got a boost from the “Ten-Year Housing Plan” whereby community members worked to rebuild the social, economic and environmental infrastructure by creating affordable housing.
The reputation of New York as a whole also improved dramatically. Perhaps Mayor Giuliani played a part too with his policy of zero tolerance and better local policing. 911, although a horrific event, showed New Yorkers coming together in a show of unity that few other cities can match.
And the Bronx has experienced substantial new building construction in the new millennium. Between 2002 and June 2007, 33,687 new units of housing were built or were under way, and $4.8 billion has been invested in new housing.
The area also has a great many sites which a Bronx car rental will enable you to enjoy. The neighborhood is home to the New York Yankees, one of the leading baseball franchises. The original Yankee Stadium opened in 1923 on 161st Street and River Avenue, a year that saw the Yankees bring home their first of 27 World Series Championships. The stadium has seen some of baseball’s greatest players, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.
Other places well worth a visit include the Bronx Zoo, the largest in New York, and numerous off-Broadway theaters. There are also many great parks and open spaces, like Pelham Bay Park and Crotona Park. And, unlike Manhattan, for example, it’s easy to get a parking space and it’s also less congested.
The area also has an action-packed cultural program to entertain you in the fall. You could watch the Bronx River Upper River Run on Saturday September 14, between 9.30am and 1pm. If you have a child with special needs – and you are thinking of relocating to the city – you could try Finding Your Inner Sherlock – a reference to the famous London detective. This workshop will help you identify your child’s specific educational and emotional needs, and find the support you deserve. This event – on September 16 between 5.30pm and 7pm at 7 West Burnside Avenue, Bronx – will help you to find and access NYC services and programs to help your child reach their full potential.
All in all, the Bronx is now a great place to be. You just need to use a reliable car rental firm to get you there.