While Staten Island is the forgotten borough, the Bronx is New York City’s misjudged borough. Yes, it does often rank last in terms of crime, poverty, and inequality in the city. But it’s still a worthwhile place to live and explore. But before you start your northern borough adventures, read these facts about the Bronx.
1. Yes, you have to say the “the” in the Bronx.
The Bronx is named after the Bronx River, which in turn is named after Jonas Bronck who owned a lot of land in the area in the seventeenth century.
2. The Bronx is the only NYC borough connected to the continental United States.
Geographically, the Bronx is a peninsula, while the other boroughs are either islands or parts of an island.
3. Even though it was included in the consolidation of land in 1898 that formed New York City as we know it, the Bronx wasn’t a borough until 1914.
Before then, it was a part of Westchester County.
4. Move over Central Park!
Not only does the Bronx take the title of having two of NYC’s biggest parks; it also is the borough with the most land devoted to public parks.
5. The Bronx is the birthplace of hip hop, breakdancing, and salsa.
It’s no wonder the borough is nicknamed “the boogie down Bronx.”
6. Looking for Little Italy? You won’t find it in Manhattan.
The real Little Italy is in the Belmont part of the Bronx along Arthur Avenue.
7. The Bronx Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the United States, but there are even more notable things to see in the borough.
Check out the New York Botanical Garden, Yankee Stadium, the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, Wave Hill, and basically every site listed in The Bronx: The Ultimate Guide to New York City’s Beautiful Borough. Contrary to popular belief, there is a lot for a NYC explorer to see in the Bronx.
8. If you’re into beautiful architecture, this is a must-see.
Grand Concourse has the largest collection of Art Deco buildings in the whole country. Feast your eyes on the Bronx County Building, the Loew’s Paradise Theater, and the Andrew Freedman Home for starters.
9. You probably already know that J.Lo is from the Bronx.
But did you know that other celebs such as Fat Joe, Kerry Washington, Billy Joel, Tracey Morgan, and even Regis Philbin rep the northern borough?
10. Not only does the Bronx have celebrity roots; it also has presidential ties.
George Washington spent some time in the Van Cortlandt House during the American Revolution. John Adams spent a few weeks at his daughter’s Bronx farmhouse during a 1797 yellow fever outbreak. And JFK attended Riverdale County School from 5th to 7th grades.
11. Despite its Danish-sounding name, Haagen Dazs actually hails from the Bronx.
Polish Jewish immigrants Reuben and Rose Mattus wanted to give their ice cream company a Danish-sounding name because as Reuben later told Tablet Magazine, Denmark was “the only country which saved the Jews during World War II.” Despite this origin story, Haagen Dazs doesn’t mean anything in Danish.
12. Forget about the Joker Stairs.
(No really. Forget it. Local residents are annoyed with all the tourist attention.) The staircase you should be paying attention to is on West 230th Street between Riverdale Avenue and Netherland Avenue. It’s NYC’s longest staircase, running the length of three blocks.
Hopefully these facts about the Bronx have you seeing the borough in a new light. If you want to hear more about things to do in the Bronx and the rest of the boroughs, sign up for my email list and follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, where I post NYC tips almost daily.
Thanks for reading!