13 Facts & Tidbits About The Bronx That Makes Us Awesome

2014 saw the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the creation of The Bronx as a county (and the 375th anniversary of Jonas Bronck settling in our borough) and to commemorate that, Welcome2TheBronx began creating lists of fun facts about The Bronx which everyone loved.  

To that end, we have decided to continue wowing you with little (and popularly) known facts and tidbits about our beautiful borough!

1 – During our country’s first census in 1790, the population of The Bronx was a mere 1,781 folks.  It wasn’t until between 1850 and 1860 that our borough experienced the largest growth percentage-wise when the population grew by 193.7%.

In 1850 the population was a mere 8,032 but by 1860 it had ballooned to 23,593. This was largely due to the creation of the villages of Melrose, Melrose East, Melrose South, Woodstock in 1850 where German immigrants flocked to from the Lower East Side.  

Today our population continues to rise after the big decline between 1970-1980 when we lost 20.6% of our population (over 300,000 people had fled our borough).  

As of 2013, we’re estimated at 1,418,733 people making up our beautiful tapestry that is The Bronx.

An old article from "The Bronx Home News" daily newspaper on the Lindbergh baby.
An old article from “The Bronx Home News” daily newspaper on the Lindbergh baby.

2 – The Bronx Home News was once our borough’s paper.  It was in publication from 1907 until it was gobbled up by the New York Post in 1948.

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3 – Although our borough is the only one of New York City’s 5 counties that is on the mainland, we are a peninsula and surrounded by rivers and bays on 3 sides.

Ne cede malis: Do not yield to evil. Remember it well!
Ne cede malis: Do not yield to evil. Remember it well!

4 – The Bronx flag’s colors of orange, white and blue are in honor of our borough’s Dutch heritage.  It also carries the Jonas Bronck’s family’s coat of arms as well as our motto ‘Ne cede malis’ — Do not yield to evil.

5 – First Borough President of The Bronx was Louis F. Haffen of Melrose  (of the famous Haffen Brewery in Melrose) and served from 1898 until 1909 until he was removed from office due to scandals of favoritism in awarding contracts. 

During his lifetime, he saw The Bronx go from being a part of Westchester County, to being a part of New York County and finally being a county of its own.

Architectural rendering of what the Kiingsbridge Armory should look like once redevelopment is completed.
Architectural rendering of what the Kiingsbridge Armory should look like once redevelopment is completed.

6 – The Kingsbridge Armory is considered “possibly” the largest armory in the world.  Built in 1914, it is now being developed into 9 skating rinks.  A bit of overkill if you ask us because our borough really needs 9 skating rinks. Only time will tell if this venture is truly successful.

Night_of_the_Living_Dead_affiche

7 – “They’re coming for you Barbara.” That was one of the most classic lines in the horror film genre in ‘Night of the Living Dead’ by film director, writer and editor,George A Romero who was born in The Bronx.  

Romero, to this day, has inspired a cult following with movies like Creepshow, written by Stephen King, the zombie Dead Series like ‘Dawn of The Dead’, ‘Day of The Dead’, and ‘Land of The Dead’ and many others.

George A. Romero / Image Wikipedia
George A. Romero / Image Wikipedia
242nd Street Station on the #1 Line in Riverdale / Image © Matthew Bisanz
242nd Street Station on the #1 Line in Riverdale / Image © Matthew Bisanz

8 – The 242nd Street Station on the #1 IRT line in Riverdale is on the National Register of Historic Places as the ONLY remaining terminal elevated subway station in the Victorian Gothic architectural style in the entire subway system.

Mariachi Real de México and Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de New York at Lehman College Photo by Carlos Gálvez / Image Copyright The Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute
Mariachi Real de México and Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de New York at Lehman College
Photo by Carlos Gálvez / Image Copyright The Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute

9 – The Bronx is the home to the FIRST institute of Mexican Studies.  The Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute at Lehman Studies was founded in response to this fast growing segment of the population which from 2000-2010 grew by 57.7% — many of them settling in The Bronx transforming the neighborhoods of Mott Haven and Melrose into a Little Mexico of sorts.  

The Mexican community is just one of the many who make this a beautiful borough a wonderful tapestry and reflects the ever changing face of The Bronx.  

Our borough has never been static and is always changing!

Starlight Park in 1920 / Image Credit: Unknown, via ephemeral New York
Starlight Park in 1920 / Image Credit: Unknown, via ephemeral New York

10 – Many people remember Freedomland Amusement Park in The Bronx where Co-op City and Bay Plaza now stand but did you know that there were several others like Clason Point and Starlight Park?

Bartow-Pell Mansion
Bartow-Pell Mansion / Image Courtesy of Bartow-Pell Mansion

11 – One of the many hidden gems of our borough is the grand Bartow-Pell Mansion which has been sitting up in the Northeastern Bronx in Pelham Bay Park since 1842.

The history of this property goes back to 1654 when Thomas Pell purchased approximately 9,000 acres from the Siwonay Native Americans — land which would become Westchester County and The Bronx.  In 1888 The Bartow family sold the property to the City of New York

The Huntington Free Library and Reading Room
The Huntington Free Library and Reading Room / Image from Wikipedia

12 – The Huntington Free Library and Reading Room in Westchester Square is an amazing building which was constructed from 1882 – 1883 and is home of the wonderful East Bronx History Forum which has been hosting many free events and talks teaching the community about our borough’s wonderful history.

Beautiful City Island / Image Courtesy City Island Chamber of Commerce
Beautiful City Island / Image Courtesy City Island Chamber of Commerce

13 – City Island.  Who doesn’t love going to this beautiful island off the coast of our beautiful borough? City Island has something for everyone, including many seafood restaurants, sailing, yacht clubs, and art galleries.

Oh and it won Curbed’s neighborhood of the year for 2014.  Ok so it’s not a big deal but it is a big deal.

Beethoven Pianos in business since 1918 still sits at the foot of the 3rd Avenue Bridge.
Beethoven Pianos in business since 1918 still sits at the foot of the 3rd Avenue Bridge.

14 – The South Bronx was the center of the piano industry in New York City at the early 20th Century with as many as 63 piano factories with over 5,000 workers.

Melrose Commons section of Melrose.
Melrose Commons section of Melrose. / MAP

15 – Melrose Commons section of Melrose is the ONLY LEED Certified Neighborhood in the entire State of New York.  This honor recognizes the neighborhood’s multitude of energy efficient developments and sustainability as well as being a neighborhood well connected by transportation.

For more fun facts don’t forget to check out our other lists on our wonderful borough!

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