City Living: Castle Hill
Known mostly as a densely populated neighborhood with the hustle and bustle of trains, traffic and people crisscrossing paths, Castle Hill has quietly undergone a transformation that has left it more suburban.
Its a resurging blue-collar to middle-class neighborhood in the Bronx, easily accessible by the 6 train and the Cross Bronx and Bruckner expressways. For the past 10 to 15 years, the nabe has blossomed with new construction of one-, two- and three-family homes, especially at its southern tip.
That was encouraged by a tax break created by the city in 1971, according to nyc.gov, under which new homeowners are excluded from paying property taxes for roughly the first 20 years of ownership. That made the area attractive to new homebuyers who wanted a suburban neighborhood without facing the high property taxes on Long Island.
There are still houses around from World War II that add character to the area. They complement the numerous buildings housing rental apartments, including the Castle Hill Housing development.
According to nycgov parks.org, Castle Hill Neck, the neighborhoods original designation, came from Adriaen Block, a 17th century New Netherland Company explorer, who thought that the fortified Siwanoy Native American village resembled a castle.
In the early 1920s, Castle Hill was home to European immigrants looking to escape the packed conditions of Manhattans Lower East Side. Twenty years ago, residents were mostly black and Hispanic, and the nabe has been getting more diverse since.
I love the fact that we have many diverse groups here. We get to experience the different cultural lifestyles of different people, said Francisco Gonzalez, who has served as district manager of Community Board 9 for the past 20 years.
While Castle Hill had a rough patch with drugs and crime in the 1980s, like most of NYC, locals say its a great place to live. --BY SYLVESTER ARENAS
Train: The 6 train stops nearby on Westchester Avenue at Castle Hill Avenue; Buses: Bx 5, Bx 22, Bx 36, Bx 39 More »
NYPL, 947 Castle Hill Ave.; 660 Soundview Ave. More »
USPS, 1950 Lafayette Ave., 718-892-7054 More »
Castle Hill is covered by the 43rd Precinct. Crime statistics compared with September 2012 show a 53% decline in murders and a 20% decline in rapes. As reported in the NYPD’s CompStat Report, notwithstanding that 18 people were murdered in 2012, there was a 74% drop compared with 1993. Also compared with 1993, burglaries were down 82%. More »