Bronx, New York City
When telling people I wanted to visit The Bronx, they almost already started to arrange my funeral. This is indeed the image we have in Europe: you won't come out of the Bronx without at least being robbed.
Of course I didn't listen!: :-)
At the youth hostel, there was a guy who lived in the Bronx before, organizing a tour. It looked safer to go with him. He showed us the Yankee Stadium and walked around with us in the "poorer areas". We didn't want to visit The Bronx Zoo or Botanical Garden, we wanted to see " the real Bronx". And so we did. It was quite interesting and I'm glad I discovered this part of NY with my own eyes.
There were lots of (damaged) police cars, some strange individuals, ... but I didn't feel that unsafe. Needless to say that I wouldn't have visited it on my own and during nighttime.
A small story: I cut myself on a piece of paper there. When I got home, I proudly presented it as "my scarf from the Bronx" :-)))))
( Just a note: this last sentence is called "humor", since some people were apparently offended by it)
...is really dangerous, but always be aware that a lot of people there in the South Bronx are realy poor, and some of them even have nothing to loose... But how the hell could we explore this city without going "everywhere" and try to get in touch with the people peacefully?... How else could we learn more about the spirit of the places we travel?...
Toured the 28 acre original Wave Hill House, gardens & mansion. Wave Hill House was built as a country home in 1843 by jurist William Lewis Morris. From 1866-1903 it was owned by William Henry Appleton, who enlarged the house in 1866-69 and again in 1890. A publishing scion, Appleton brought to Wave Hill such pioneering natural scientists as Thomas Henry Huxley. Huxley was astounded by the site, declaring the Palisades across the river one of the world's greatest natural wonders.
Theodore Roosevelt's family rented Wave Hill during the summers of 1870 and ‘71, when the future president was a youth of 12 and 13. Teddy's time here significantly deepened his love of nature and love of the outdoors that would later prompt him to secure the preservation of millions of acres of American parkland.
Mark Twain leased the estate from 1901-1903, setting up a treehouse parlor in the branches of a chestnut tree on the lawn. Of winter at Wave Hill he wrote, I believe we have the noblest roaring blasts here I have ever known on land; they sing their hoarse song through the big tree-tops with a splendid energy that thrills me and stirs me and uplifts me and makes me want to live always.
In 1903, George W. Perkins, a partner of J.P. Morgan, purchased Wave Hill House. Since 1895 he had been accumulating properties to create a great estate along the river including Oliver Harriman's adjacent villa on the site of what is now Glyndor House. Perkins devoted much of his extraordinary energy to planning the grounds so as to enhance the property's magnificent vistas. To the garden and greenhouses built by Appleton, Perkins added greenhouses, a swimming pool, terraces and the recreational facility that we now call the Ecology Building. The land was graded and contoured, rare trees and shrubs were planted on the broad lawns, and gardens were created to blend harmoniously with the natural beauty of the Hudson River highlands. Across the river, Perkin's involvement at the inception of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission was pivotal in preserving the Palisades.
The Perkins family resided in Glyndor House and leased Wave Hill House to an eminent zoologist, Bashford Dean. Dean's hobby was collecting medieval European armor, and he built Armor Hall to house his remarkable collection. A selection of 197 choice pieces was subsequently donated to or acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Other famous residents of Wave Hill House have included the conductor Arturo Toscanini (1942-1945) and chief members of the British Delegation to the United Nations (1950-1956).
In 1960, the Perkins-Freeman family deeded Wave Hill to the City of New York; Wave Hill, Inc., was formed in 1965 as a non-profit corporation. Today, as one of 34 New York City-owned cultural institutions, Wave Hill's mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts.
City Island is in the NE section of the Bronx and should not be missed. 20 blocks long by 4 blocks wide, just a tiny island with lots of charm and the best seafood. Orchard Beach is nearby and should be visited only off-season, otherwise it's packed! Be sure to stop at Sammy's and the Black Whale.
I lived there in a bungalow on the water before moving to California and have been back to visit.
Some good places for lunch:
Alouette, 2588 Bd'way (88)
Cafe des artistes , 1W67
Native, 161 Lenox (118th)
Saigon , 620 Amsterdam (90)
Sylvia's , 328 Lenox (126) *** reservation
Tavern on the green, CPW & 67th
Fleur de sel, 5E20
Les Halles, 411 Park Ave S. (29)
Brasserie , 100 E53
Le Colonial, 149E57
Rodeo Bar, 375 3Av (27) *** Texas Music
Word has it that little Italy in the Bronx is far better than the lame version in Manhattan. Therefore, I venture into the Bronx for a nice Italian lunch. Instead, I found myself in the middle of nowhere in this strange Latino neighborhood. I actually ate at this nice Caribbean style cafe where a Dominican Republic chef made this killer meal in front of my eyes. It was delicious. So much for plan A :). Needless to say, the Bronx is not the gang infested place people describe, however, it's not the safest either so do go with an open mind and an open eye. In the Bronx you can find several attractions including the Bronx Zoo, the Yankee Stadium, and the Museum of Modern Art at the Brox.
Visit the House That Ruth Built. Sorry Cooperstown, but this is the Mecca of the Baseball world. The History held in this relatively young, by history standards, 83 year old building is amazing. Its so strong you can feel it the first time you walk in and see that field. Mystique and Aura running wild in the Bronx nightly.
If you come from someplace rat free it's always fun to kill time while you wait for your train by watching for rats on the subway tracks . I've only ever seen live rats in the Bronx, but many dead ones in Manhattan.
After more than a century The Hall of Fame for Great Americans still sits on the Bronx heights overlooking the Harlem River. Every three years a board meets to elect new members to this Hall. Politicians, authors, business people, they are all here. If you are visiting from overseas this is a must see opportunity to better understand America's contribution to the world.