The New Bronx A Quick History of the Iconic Borough

The Bronx has quite a reputation. Grim and featureless slums as far away as Catena, Sicily have been dubbed "The Bronx" by their local residents. For decades, the name of the once-promising borough of New York City has been synonymous with urban blight and drug-related street crime—but it wasn't always so. This iconic borough, made up of many smaller, unique neighborhoods, has been host to both the American Dream and a decaying housing nightmare. The factors are complex and span centuries, but like a phoenix, the Bronx has begun its ascent from its literal ashes.

Pre-European

The original human inhabitants of the area now known as the Bronx had no written language. They left no written record of their time there, but evidence of the first human presence seems to date from about 5000 B.C. According to Professor and Bronx historian Lloyd Ultan, in The Bronx in the Frontier Era: From the Beginning to 1696 (Bronx, NY: The Bronx County Historical Society, 1993), these hunter-gatherers eventually learned the secrets of agriculture, sometime between 1100 B.C. and 900 B.C.

About 700 to 800 A.D. these roving bands began to develop into communities, tribes, which probably included the Siwanoys, the Weckquasgeeks, and the Manhattans, who also occupied the island later named for them.

Trade between villages was performed primarily by canoe, via the waterways that connected them, and footpaths were primarily for hunting parties.

For Namesake

In 1639, Jonas Bronck, born in Sweden, became the first European settler to live on the mainland, across from Manhattan to the north and east. He built his farm on the mainland with his wife and a few indentured servants, at a point just south of today's 150th Street. The Bronx River was named for him, and in 1898, so was the borough. The changing of the spelling is likely due to travelers orienting themselves by local landmarks. Traveling here would entail a journey to the Bronck's farm.

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7 Comments

  • "The practice spread like wildfire"...Gack!
  • i found the excerps from your book facinating, however the last few segments, were abit weird.i mean to quote some of the rents and prices that the lords of the land will be asking ; 750.000 800.000 dollars. well shit what happens to the people " nosotros, and the blacks who are helping the renewal process ever since it began " you think they and thier friends can afford to pay prices like ththat. god i hope they can and do i would like to see the face o f the governer then ........
  • who ever comments on this (exept me) is really a boring person....
  • BRONX IS AND WILL BE OVER PRICED . RENT RATES ARE TOO HIGH..
  • when does the RENTERS WAR begins? apartment rental rates are out of control and there is a long ression dec 24 2010 today. matters must be settled those landloads are ganged togeather with there networks and organizations and lobies getting fat all the time.. more needs to be shouted out loud every day till every one says so and admits land loard are gready pig feeding off other peoples problems..
  • I love the Bronx!! I've seen it all. Born, raised, schooled, worked, retired here, still here. The Bronx gets bad press worldwide unfortunately. Don't believe the hype lol
  • ALL THESE DIRTY LAND OWNER ALWAYS COMPLAININT THEY ARE LOOSING MONEY BUT SELDOM GO BELLY UP . THESE STINKEN RENTS ARE EXORBEDENT , THAT MEANS TOOO HIGH.. RENTERS MUST BE LAZY TO LET THIS HAPPEN WITH OUT DAILY STREET DEMONSTRTIONS ABOUT THIS SITUATION..