The Second Coming of the South Bronx

Don’t miss the article in today’s New York Times (Joseph Berger, No Longer Burning, the South Bronx Gentrifies, N.Y. Times, March 26, 2012, at p. A20 – click here) informing one and all that, yes indeed, the South Bronx, the venue that served as a backdrop of the movie “Fort Apache – The Bronx” with Paul, Newman (which you should see if you haven’t), is rising above its wasteland image and becoming a haven for newcomers who according to the Times are making up for the 300,000 person exodus of  the 1970s. We have no doubt, at least we hope, that there has been some improvement up there since, short of conducting live-fire urban military warfare, the place couldn’t go down any lower. So bully for those brave pioneering souls who are moving in and gentryfying the place. We wish them well.

However, we have noticed over the years that the Times has a habit of depicting the doings in decrepit urban areas more optimistically than circumstances warrant, particularly in its headlines, and this is no exception. How do we know? Catch this depiction of current reality of living there, coming from a 66-year-old lady who sold her one-bedroom Manhattan digs for $550,000 and replaced them with a two-bedroom place in the Bronx for $200,000, thereby stashing $350,000 tax free:

“If you walk around wearing gold chains and flaunting an iPhone,  four 15-year olds are going to take it from you.”

Welcome to the new, improved Bronx. And here we didn’t realize that owning and using an iPhone constitutes “flaunting” it. Do the folks at Apple know about this?

Afterthought. It occurs to us that younger readers of this blog, and there may be a few, do not fully realize what the South Bronx looked like when it acquired it’s reputation as an urban disaster area. In those days your faithful servant used to go to New York, fly in to JFK and take a taxi into town, which involved traversing the Bronx on the freeway. Wow! It looked like Hamburg in 1944. There were entire blocks of rubble, with facades of ruined builngs standing among it. So do you know what the city did? You may not believe this, but it was reported in the New York Times at the time, and we are sure a Nexis search will bring you that reportage. The city ordered (and spent taxpayers’ money on) a bunch of rectangular pieces of plywood, on which it painted window frames, curtains and flower pots, and had them inserted into the gaping window holes of ruined buildings, so that flatlanders zooming by on the freeway would think those buildings were populated. Yes indeed — it happened.

If you want to see what the South Bronx looked like at its nadir, go to google images and type in South Bronx Photos.