Resources

To get a sense of the Grand Concourse, and the Bronx itself, we have put together a wide range of resources – everything from historic walking tours to park profiles to literature, music, movies and artists. This is not meant to be a comprehensive representation, but a well-rounded snapshot of the Bronx. Feel free to explore as much or as little as you wish. (Note: ♥ means highly recommended)

  1. Built Environment
  2. Natural Environment
  3. Images
  4. Articles
  5. Literature
  6. Music
  7. Movies
  8. Artists
  9. Local Media
  10. Community Input

I. Built Environment

“A Walk Through the Bronx” interactive website hosted by Channel 13

♥ American Institute of Architects (AIA) Guide to the Grand Concourse

A case study from the Sustainable Communities Network on Melrose Commons, an example of a highly successful collaborative urban renewal initiative.

CrashStat from Transportation Alternatives showing pedestrian and bicycle accidents along the Grand Concourse.

Department of City Planning Lower Grand Concourse Rezoning Proposal

New York City Economic Development Corporation’s “South Bronx Initiative”

Press Release about recent Department of Transportation Grand Concourse street improvements(released 12.22.2008)

♥ “Taking the Bronx by ‘Course,” a virtual walking tour of the Grand Concourse

II. Natural Environment

♥ A comprehensive and detailed map of all park areas in the Bronx, including parks under construction or in design.

Bronx River Alliance

New Yorkers for Parks Bronx Council District Park Profiles (The Grand Concourse runs through Council Districts 11, 14, 15, 16 and 17)

III. Images

Bronx Sights: Great pictures of historic and cultural sites

“Crumbling South Bronx as a Muse,” The New York Times, November 30, 2008. By Randy Kennedy. An article exploring photographer Ray Mortenson’s images of the South Bronx, taken during the 1980s, on display at the Museum of the City of New York through March 8, 2009.

Flickr photos of the Grand Concourse

Historic photos of the Grand Concourse from the New York Public Library’s digital archive

IV. Articles

♥ ”A Resurgence in the Bronx is Finally Putting the Grand Back in the Concourse,” The New York Times. May 09, 2006.

“The Coolhunt” Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, March 17, 1997. ”Who decides what’s cool? Certain kids in certain places…”

♥ “Learning from the Bronx,” William Menking, The Architect’s Newspaper, April 1, 2009.

“Looking Back at the Grand Concourse’s First Century,” Sewell Chan, The New York Times, City Blog, March 18, 2009

“Looking at Landmarks,” The New York Times, November 2008. A slideshow of landmarked buildings on the Grand Concourse

“Streetscapes: The Grand Concourse in the Bronx; Will It Be City’s Thinnest, Longest Historic District?” The New York Times. April 4, 1999.

“What the Future Looked Like Yesterday,” The New York Times, July 15, 2007.

V. Literature

Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) by Tom Wolfe
Starts with an account of a similar upper-middle class white protagonist, Sherman McCoy, getting lost off the Major Deegan Expressway in the South Bronx and having a vicious altercation with a local gang. A substantial piece of the last part of the book is set in the resulting riotous trial at the Bronx County Court House.

Bronx Primitive: Portraits of a Childhood (1982) by Kate Simon
Directly autobiographical, a warm account of a Polish-Jewish girl in an immigrant family growing up before World War II, and living near Arthur Avenue and Tremont Avenue.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City (2005) by Jonathan Mahler
Takes on race, baseball and the famous battle between Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo to become New York City’s Mayor.

The Old Neighborhood (1980) by Avery Corman
An upper-middle class white protagonist returns to his birth neighborhood (Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse), and learns that even though the folks are poor, Hispanic and African-American, they are good people.

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (1974) by Robert Caro
Of particular relevance is the chapter, “One Mile,” about the building of the Cross Bronx Expressway.

Underworld (1997) by Don DeLillo
Extensively set in the Bronx and offers a perspective on the decline of the area from the 1950s onwards.

VI. Music

Bronx Music Vol.1 by BRONXNET and BronxTalk
A CD featuring the sounds and artists of the borough, from doo-wop to hip-hop to salsa, jazz and rock.

Bronx Rhymes
Important and/or iconic Hip Hop landmarks throughout the South Bronx.

From Mambo to Hip Hop, a South Bronx Tale

“From Mambo to Hip-Hop” dances through the history of a borough that nurtured two musical movements: the mambo that evolved into salsa, and the hip-hop that arose from the most desperate days of the South Bronx.” - The New York Times

Part 1 on YouTube (10 minutes)
Part 2 on YouTube (10 minutes)

Grandmaster Flash, hip-hop artist and Bronx resident

Interview with DJ Kool Herc on Fresh Air.

The Origins of Graffiti, Breakdance, and Hip-Hop: Martha Cooper’s Early 80’s Photo-Journalism Video (6 minutes)
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, something amazing was happening to New York City’s urban youth; they began to deviate from the cultural norms and embrace new, ‘strange’ practices like graffiti, breakdance, and hip-hop. Martha Cooper, a photo-journalist from New York City, captured on film (and later in book form) the entire movement in its infancy.

Scratch (2001). Director, Doug Pray.
A feature-length documentary film that explores the world of hip-hop DJing from its beginnings in the South Bronx.

♥ Soundwalk: The Bronx, New York
“Guided by a local personality, packed full of interviews, insights, recollections, and cinematic sound effects, Soundwalk: The Bronx, New York is a living documentary about the neighborhood from an insider’s view; but instead of experiencing it through the remoteness of your TV, put on your headphones and savor the neighborhood in its reality.”

The Bronx Hip-Hop Walk
The Bronx Graffiti Walk
The Bronx Yankee Stadium Walk

VII. Movies

(Film descriptions adapted from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), www.IMDb.com)

Awakenings (1990). Director, Penny Marshall. Based on neurologist Oliver Sacks’ 1973 account of his psychiatric patients at Beth Abraham Hospital in the Bronx who were paralyzed by a form of encephalitis.

Bronx Burning (2008). Director, Edwin Pagan. Chronicles what led up to the arson-for-insurance fraud fires of the 1970s and the subsequent rebirth of the community.

The Bronx is Burning (2007). Director, Jeremiah S. Chechik. An eight-part ESPN TV mini-series.

A Bronx Tale (1993). Director, Robert De Niro/Chazz Palminteri. Set in the Bronx during the turbulent 60s.

Doughboys (2008). Director, Louis Lombardi. Two Bronx brothers run the family bakery while dealing with a neighborhood gangster.

Finding Forrester (2000). Director, Gus Van Sant. ”Good Will Hunting in the ‘hood”

Fort Apache the Bronx (1981). Director, Daniel Petrie. From the perspective of a police officer this movie depicts the life in New York’s infamous South Bronx. In the center is “Fort Apache”, as the officers call their police station, which really seems like an outpost in enemy’s country.

Fuga dal Bronx (1983). Director, Enzo Castellari. The plot revolves around a sinister construction corporation’s plans to depopulate, destroy and redevelop the Bronx, and a band of rebels who are out to expose the corporation’s murderous ways and save their homes.

I Like It Like That (1994). Director, Darnell Martin. Set in the Bronx, a young Latino woman tries to escape the stereotypical role of wife and mother by taking a job at a record company after her wayward husband is arrested for looting during a blackout.

Knights of the South Bronx (2005). Director, Allen Hughes. A true story of a teacher who worked with disadvantaged children, set in the Bronx.

Marty (1955). Director, Paddy Chayefsky. Nominated for eight Academy Awards and awarded four, about a Bronx butcher.

Migration, a Puerto Rican Experience. Bronxnet TV. Director, Walter Garaicoa. A documentary look into the origins and success stories of the Puerto Rican community in the Bronx.

Summer of Sam (1999). Director, Spike Lee. Spike Lee’s take on the “Son of Sam” murders in New York City during the summer of 1977 centering on the residents of an Italian-American South Bronx neighborhood.

True Love (1989). Director, Nancy Savoca. This film won Grand Jury at the Sundance Film Festival, and is about two Italian-American Bronx sweethearts in the days before their wedding.

The Wanderers (1979). Director, Philip Kaufman. New York City street gangs in the 1950s.

The Warriors (1979) Director, Walter Hill. A gang called The Warriors are framed for killing a gang leader trying to unite all the gangs in the area. With other gangs gunning for them they must get back to their home turf of Coney Island. The movie chronicles their travel from the Bronx to Brooklyn’s Coney Island.

VIII. Artists

Notable artists who did significant work in or were inspired by the Bronx include:

Diane Arbus
Photographer, 1923-1971

Adolph Gottleib
Abstract expressionist painter and sculptor, 1903-1974

Jenny Holzer
Conceptual artist, 1950-

Andre Kertesz
Photographer, 1894-1985

Ernest Lawson
Painter, 1873-1939

Gordon Matta-Clark
Site-specific artist, 1943-1978

Current Bronx born and/or resident artists include:

Vito Acconci
Installation artist, 1940-

Alvin Baltrop
Photographer / filmographer, 1948-

Whitfield Lovell
Painter / installation artist, 1959-

Pepon Osorio
Sculptor, 1954-

Tim Rollins + K.O.S.
Multi-Media, 1955-

Mierle Laderman Ukeles
Performance artist, 1939-

Lawrence Weiner
Conceptual artist, 1942-

Fred Wilson
Conceptual artist, 1954-

IX. Local Media

Bronx Press

The Inner City Press

Norwood News

The Riverdale Review

X. Community Input

At Community Input, you can read public comments about the Bronx Grand Concourse and let us know your own perspective.

tats cru mural

Tats Cru mural of Bronx rapper Mad Mark, 2008. Courtesy Todd Heisler/The New York Times.