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City Living: Come to Williamsbridge for the culture
Historically known as an old Italian and Jewish neighborhood in the northern Bronx, these days Williamsbridge is bursting with Caribbean and African-American flavors.
In the past few decades, the area transformed into a vibrant community that is now considered one of the best places in the city to find truly authentic Island cuisine and culture.
The neighborhood received its name from the bridge at East Gun Hill and White Plains roads that spans the Bronx River, built by farmer John Williams who owned the land in the 18th century. This bridge -- or Williamsbridge -- is widely believed to be the very first to span the river, although that hasn’t been proven.
The neighborhood has changed quite a bit since those days; bustling White Plains Road runs underneath the elevated 2 train and plays hosts to a majority of the businesses and local’s favorite spots in the neighborhood.
With barber shops, Jamaican bakeries, and clothing stores on almost every block, this section of the neighborhood is buzzing with activity at all hours of the day. But Williamsbridge wasn’t always the way it is now.
The neighborhood’s rich history and massive change is still remembered by many of its lifelong residents.
“The flavor started changing in the ’70s and ’80s,” said Andy King, city Councilmember for District 12, which includes Williamsbridge.
As the Caribbean and African families started to move in to the neighborhood, things began changing into how they are today.
According to King, by the time the ’90s rolled around it was “a completely different world” than when he had moved to the neighborhood as a kid in 1969.
However as much as things change, they stay the same.
“I grew up here, so it’s home,” said King. “While I’ve watched it change, I’ve seen a lot of things stay the same too," he said, referencing many of the churches and schools he attended as a child that have withstood the test of time.
King maintains that Agnes Haywood Playground, in the center of the neighborhood on Barnes Avenue, has remained a focal point for the community to gather and enjoy each other’s company throughout all his years in Williamsbridge.
Regardless of the make-up of the neighborhood, King says as a community Williamsbridge remains family-driven and has always seen a high level of participation from the community, whether it is in local schools or places to worship.
Community members want to turn an old MTA power state at 211th Street and White Plains Road into a new cultural center. More »
Williamsbridge is bounded to the north by East 233rd Street, to the east by Laconia Avenue, to the south by East Gun Hill Road, and to the west by the Bronx River. More »
Trains: 2 and 5 to Gun Hill Road and 219th, 225th and 233rd streets; Buses: Bx8, Bx28, Bx38, Bx39, Bx31, Bx41, BxM11, B-L 42 More »
NYPL, 1385 E Gun Hill Rd. in Eastchester More »
USPS Williamsbridge, 711 E. Gun Hill Road. More »
Williamsbridge is covered by the 47th Precinct at 4111 Laconia Ave. Felony assault is the highest reported crime in the precinct so far this year. There were 206 cases of it reported by the precinct as of June 8, and 561 total in 2013. In the week of June 2-8, there were eight burglaries and nine robberies reported by the precinct. There were 17 petit larcenies, or small thefts, reported that week, and seven grand larcenies, or major thefts. More »
1137 E. 219 St. One bedroom, one bathroom: $1,000/month; 3680 Willett Ave. #3. Three bedrooms, one bathroom: $1,650/month; 1134 E. 225 St. #1. Three bedrooms, one bathroom: $2,000/month. More »
814 Tilden St. #3C. One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op. 750 square feet: $57,500; 1048 E. 214th St. Three bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms in a private house; 1,710 square feet: $295,000; 3753 Bronxwood Ave. #1. Five bedrooms, three bathrooms; 2,500 square feet: $400,000; Looking for a home in Williamsbridge: Wayco Realty, 718-655-6700 or Extreme Realty Advance, 718-515-3400 More »
Kingston Tropical Bakery
This small Jamaican beef patty spot was the first to open up shop back in 1970, when Williamsbridge was still an Italian neighborhood. Their methods haven’t wavered and the proof is in the patty – faithful customers have been returning to this family run spot from all over the country for the last 40 years.
ROC A TONE
Locals love ROC A TONE for its seafood-heavy, authentic Caribbean menu. Daily soups reflect some of the more adventurous choices available, such as Chicken Foot (Thursday) or Goat Head (Friday).
Royal Coach Diner
This popular diner in the southeast corner of the neighborhood is known throughout the Bronx for its excellent service and massive menu. Locals will recommend starting off the meal with its spinach and artichoke dip.
This nightlife spot on bustling White Plains Rd often features performances from local hip-hop and rap artists.
This popular bar draws crowds from Williamsbridge, as well as neighboring Baychester.
This is a small but popular clothing store for both men and women.
New Plaza Beauty Supply
A beauty supply store that, surrounded by the many stylists and barbers on White Plains Road, fits right into its neighborhood. Whatever you’re hair-care needs may be, you’ll find it here.
Locals from the surrounding neighborhoods frequent V.I.M. for its massive selection of new and stylish shoes and jeans.
Gun Hill Brewing Company
The first production brewery to open in Bronx since prohibition, Gun Hill started brewing their craft beers on Laconia Avenue just this year. Beer enthusiasts are welcome to sample their many different brews in beer flights of varying size price. Whether it’s a full bodied stout or a hoppy pale ale you’re looking to try, Gun Hill has you covered.
A stroll along the river and quiet tree-lined blocks serve as a nice escape from the loud city streets, and provides a place for children to play. More »
This playground with multiple basketball courts is a focal point for the community in Williamsbridge. Council Member Andy King allocated $1.3 million for it. Is slated to be renovated with new state-of-the-art equipment by 2016. More »
Forty-four years after opening, everything is still made by hand -- never frozen or pre-processed. More »