New Bronx Latino History Project Seeks to Document Borough’s Rich Latino History

The Bronx is the most Latino borough of NYC with over 50% of the population identifying as such.

Now the Bronx Latino History Project, through a partnership with Fordham University and the Bronx County Historical Society, seeks to document the rich history of that community in our borough not unlike the Bronx African American History Project and Bronx Italian American History Project.

The endeavor is the brainchild of Angel Hernandez of The Bronx County Historical Society.

Mayaguez Shoe Store, one of the earliest latino owned businesses in The Bronx.
Photo courtesy of The Bronx County Historical Society

Through oral histories that will be recorded and transcribed, the BLHP will be able to provide an unprecedented look into the Latino community in The Bronx that will be accessible by all.

The project will focus on four major themes: identity, politics, sports, and community organizing.

BLHP writes:

The Bronx Latino History Project highlights Latinos who lived or contributed to The Bronx throughout its history. Latinos are among the largest and fastest growing ethnic groups in the borough since the mid-20th century. According to the U.S. census survey from 2006-2008, of the entire nation’s counties with a population of 500,000, The Bronx comes in fourth as a county whose businesses are predominantly owned by Latinos. Although Puerto Ricans were the first major Latinos to settle in the borough, today The Bronx is home to Latinos from all over Central and South America and the Caribbean. The Society’s education department is in the process of increasing the BCHS’s collections to reflect The Bronx’s current population diversity. With the assistance of community organizations and certain devoted individuals, the BCHS will continue to fulfill its mission to preserve and share information that highlights major turning points in Bronx history.

The Bronx has been a home in the New World for many people of various backgrounds and ethnicities dating back to 1639 with the arrival of its first European settler, Jonas Bronck. Bronck’s ship anchored off the southern shores of what is now 132nd Street, just east of Lincoln Avenue. On his farm, there were indentured servants from Germany, Denmark, and Jonas himself was a Swede, sailing under the auspices of the Dutch West India Company. This early episode in Bronx History serves as a precursor to the borough’s significantly diverse population today.

At the beginning of the 20th century, The Bronx had become an urban epicenter with new affordable housing and a reliable public transit system. Various immigrant groups migrated from the overcrowded slums of lower Manhattan into The Bronx, seeking an opportunity to live and prosper in a rapidly evolving borough. Although The Society currently has an impressive archive collection of the people of The Bronx from the frontier era up until the first half of the 20th century, there is a wealth of new information to be collected on the Latino population in The Bronx today. The purpose of this project is to address and highlight the numerous achievements and contributions Latinos have given to The Bronx. A person of Latino descent may come from any of the various cultures found in Latin America and it is this explosion of culture that makes The Bronx an exceptional place.

If interested in being a part of this important project, just make sure to stay tuned as we will let you know exactly how you can become a part of this and history.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.