South Bronx (Images of America)

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  1. South Bronx Rising
  2. In the South Bronx of America: Photographs by Mel Rosenthal
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  5. South Bronx

South Bronx Rising

Because of the compatible people she found in the neighborhood, artists, writers and others with a lot of energy and optimism, she has decided to stay. It was, she said, something she could never have anticipated. Also back is F. Maximo Soba, who works as a salesman in the furniture section at ABC while he studies historic preservation at Mechanics Institute in Manhattan.

He never intended to return to a place with such unhappy memories, he said, a place where his mother suffered from drug addiction, contracted AIDS and died. He fled as soon as he could, he said, moving to Manhattan, to Brooklyn, and eventually to Puerto Rico, where he ran a gallery and store selling antique Spanish furniture. When the roof literally caved in on the operation, he went back to his grandmother's home in the South Bronx three years ago, to regroup. Like Ms. Unlike some sections of Brooklyn, the South Bronx is not overflowing with elegant old brownstones awaiting upwardly mobile bargain hunters.

Much of the housing originally constructed in the South Bronx consisted of five-story walkups. A lot of the new housing has been built with subsidies and is restricted to tenants with relatively low family incomes. The vacancy rate in the South Bronx is very low. Apartments of any kind are hard to find and tend to be passed around by word of mouth, not advertising. But when they can be found, there are great bargains, such as floor-through apartments in charming old town houses, like Mr.

There are hundreds of town houses, for instance, in Mott Haven between th and th Street, as well as on Alexander Avenue between th Street and st Street, many of them architecturally charming and just one subway stop north of Manhattan. But they are not frequently available for sale. Sid Miller, director of the Haven Heights Group, a real estate brokerage on East th Street in Mott Haven, said that many town-house residents show no interest in moving even though their properties are rising in value.

In the South Bronx of America: Photographs by Mel Rosenthal

Miller began selling real estate in the South Bronx 10 years ago, he said, thinking it would be the next hot area. The influx he anticipated did not happen, in part because homeowners do not seem interested in leaving, despite the ''scent of money,'' he said.

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It is a comment often made about people who didn't flee the South Bronx in the 's: They have hung on, and they don't plan to go even if they have the means to do so. The Bronx is being restored primarily by the people who lived through the grim time when landlords were torching their own buildings for the insurance money.

That spirit alone is pulling up the South Bronx,'' The changes in the neighborhood are ''incredible,'' Mr. Cole said, but they are not yet reflected in public perception. For Mr. Cole, a lifelong South Bronx resident who received a bachelor's degree from New York University and a master's in urban planning from Harvard, it isn't just a place that nearly burned to the ground. I remember beautiful neighborhoods where people knew everybody.

It was an ethnically mixed and diverse neighborhood. But then the massive highway construction that broke established communities apart helped spark a process of urban decay, Mr. Cole said, followed by a middle-class exodus to places like Co-op City, in the north Bronx, and the suburbs beyond. It was like being in a ghost town,'' he said.


Now that housing has been built, and filled, he said, the place needs the services that attract and keep the middle class, such as good garbage collection, good schools, good parks and good air. A SMALL but appealing commercial strip lies around Bruckner and Alexander, in the southernmost part of the South Bronx, where antique dealers and artists have moved in. The first ones arrived about seven years ago, but more are coming all the time.

To speed it along, she said, she hopes to open an Italian restaurant in her building. Much of the development in the area has been pushed by Sobro, which plans to work next on the revitalization of the south side of Bruckner so it resembles the restored blocks on the north side. And I think we're going to have it.

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Although it doesn't have any of the amenities of the Village or SoHo, the antique district does have a key advantage: It is incredibly geographically convenient. Although the expressways that were cut through the Bronx may have destabilized neighborhoods, they now make it easy for people to shop there. Denise Cruz, co-owner of the Custom Design Studio, an upholsterer that has been at 47 Bruckner Boulevard for four years, said that customers come from Westchester and Connecticut as well as Manhattan because transportation is so easy.

Paul Chapman, the senior executive vice president of ABC Carpet and Home, said that customers come to his store from everywhere in the region and that the South Bronx's central location could make it a fertile area for development by big outlet stores.

Chapman, a native of the South Bronx, said that security is good in the area, and he is dismissive of those who fear crime there. As in other parts of the city, businesses benefit from a general drop in crime. Detective Robert Butler, a community affairs officer for the 41st Precinct, which includes Hunts Point and Longwood, said that both drugs and prostitution still exist, but less so.

The different feeling about crime shows up in all kinds of ways. Josephine Infante, executive director of the Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation, said that businesses in the area's industrial park never used to put signs out because they figured they would be stolen.

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Now, she said, ''everyone puts out signs. Just as the area around Bruckner and Alexander stands out as a retailing oasis, the enclave over at Hunt's Point is one of artistic ferment. It is drawing people who grew up in the neighborhood as well as people from outside. Marsha Trattner, who teaches metal sculpture at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and lives on the Lower East Side, was working on a sculpture at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens when she heard that the people at the Point were looking for artists to work on a sculpture garden at the Hunts Point Avenue subway stop on the No.

She built ''Pipe Dreams'' for them in a space at the Point, and after it was erected she decided to stay on, renting an outdoor studio space from the Point and offering blacksmithing workshops to children in the neighborhood. She finds the place supportive and invigorating.

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  • She has talked to her artist friends about her work, but when she says she is working in the Bronx, she said, ''they say, 'Oh, that's so far. And in one way, she said, it is very different -- a way that is beneficial. Things are more spread out.

    South Bronx NY Images of America

    You have a sense of the sky. And there's so much excitement up here. Plans were soon made to erect a larger church directly behind the original building. Designed by Henry Bruns, the brick Romanesque Revival structure measured feet long by 78 feet wide and could accomodate persons. Over the center door was a spire that rose feet. Archbishop Corrigan laid the cornerstone on September 25, , and the completed church was dedicated in December that same year.

    Over the next two decades additional buildings were added.

    South Bronx

    In , a large rectory was built on the corner of East th Street and Melrose Avenue. Next to be built, in , was the school hall, designed by Anthony F. Schmitt to provide classrooms for students. A new convent adjoining the church and occupied by the Sisters of Charity was dedicated on April 1, Over the years, the demographics of the Melrose neighborhood changed. The Germans moved out and were replaced by Spanish-speaking residents. Today, the parish is comprised of multiple ethnic groups. Sadly, the tall steeple, an area landmark for over years, was removed due to deterioration.

    Plans to replace it were never realized. Kimball Company Chicago, Ill.