City Living: Fordham
For many, the neighborhood of Fordham sums up the energy of its entire borough.
Post-grad blogger Andrew Marinaccio described the northwestern Bronx neighborhood as a one-of-a-kind gem, screaming with the diversity and activity that encapsulates his borough’s identity.
“The Bronx has always been a kind of migrant gateway and one of the more culturally volatile boroughs,” he said. “I think Fordham really reflects that – especially with its intersection between Arthur Avenue and the commercial strip of Fordham Road.”
That area, known as the unofficial heart of Fordham, is a hub of diversity where cultures from around the world break bread and do business every day, Marinaccio said. He called Arthur Avenue the “real” little Italy.
In 1671, Dutchman John Archer established the area as Fordham Manor, which then spanned from the Harlem River on the West to the Bronx River on the east and from High Bridge on the south to Spuyten Duyvil on the north. Throughout history, Fordham's Grand Concourse has been the center of the area’s activity.
It was once home to a thriving middle class of mostly white Irish, Italian and Jewish Americans. Now, roughly half of its more than 42,000 city dwellers are either Hispanic or African American.
Fordham is also in the center of a slew of transportation hubs, with various subway stations, Metro North railway lines and major highways all over the neighborhood.
Most of those who live in the area found their homes in Fordham’s five-to-six-story apartment buildings. But residents there said there were several other attractions in the neighborhood that kept outsiders coming back for more.
Michael Andronico grew up in the Bronx -- but about a 10-minute drive away in Pelham Bay. The full-time writer said the nabe was always a hotspot for shopping. The New York Botanical Garden or the Bronx Zoo, both in Bronx Park, are also major attractions.
“When I think of Fordham, I think of its stores, the zoo and its college,” Andronico said, plugging its popular Fordham University, which has a long storied history of its own.
Looking ahead, some of Fordham’s business owners said there is a lot in store for its commercial district, thanks to their local elected officials and business improvement district. Residents are looking forward to some pending projects, including a Streetscape Master Plan, park renovations and roadway upgrades.
Cynthia Thompkins is president of the 46th Precinct Community Council, serving as one of the neighborhood’s top resident watchdogs.
One of Fordham’s hottest topics of late, Thompkins said, rested in the area’s return to a safety-first mentality.
“When I first moved here, we didn’t have much violence going on in the community – but then there was a surge of homicides,” Thompkins said.
“That’s what made me so active with the precinct council. Now, we’re bringing that sense of community back and bringing down the crime rate.”
The Fordham chapter of last summer’s National Night Out Against Crime drew crowds from all over the borough and city. Thompkins said the 46th Precinct has been under the microscope of late because of its work in building bridges between the community and city while curbing crime numbers.
“We’ve been very progressive in this area to move forward and look at what we can do instead of always looking at what’s wrong,” she said.
“The residents are really active and everyone does their part working on the issues. Small things can make an impact in a big way.”
And as officers continue to crackdown on crime, Fordham’s top business owners said they were also working on plans to make the neighborhood’s shopping district even more of a destination. A string of streetscape projects have already been in the works there aimed at revitalizing street furniture and signage along Fordham Road.
Q&A with Daniel Bernstein: deputy director of the Fordham Road Business Improvement District
The Fordham Road BID formed in 2005 and Deputy Director Daniel Bernstein has been there through it all. His initial goal when joining the group nearly 10 years ago was to overhaul Fordham’s sanitation situation and clean up the neighborhood. With that under his belt, Bernstein said he and his group helped propel Fordham into a more attractive enclave of the northwest Bronx with one of the lowest vacancy rates of any BIDs in the city.
How would you compare Fordham today 10 years ago?
It’s a lot cleaner and a lot safer. The streetscape also looks a lot better after the BID helped usher in a lot of different projects like installing new street lights along Fordham Road. We have also seen a ton of public space improvements over the years, including a new spot on 188th Street near Fordham Road.
What is the character of Fordham like?
[This] is definitely an urban, trend-setting business district. The trends start in Fordham and then branch out. The people are also very community-oriented and only want to improve their neighborhood by working with the city. There is always some sort of public meeting you can go to and have your voice heard.
What do you see in its future?
The area is going to maintain its ranking as one of the top shopping districts in the Bronx. Nothing is going to change there. What will change, however, is Fordham will become a lot more attractive. It is going to be a place where people want to go and hang out at different cultural events, music events and more. I see a lot of things growing and a lot more “bringing it to the streets.”
Looking to buy or rent?
Fordham’s market is mostly rentals, but demand outweighs supply. City data showed median rent to be about $100 less than that of the city average, making Fordham an affordable option.
2420 Morris Ave. #4C One-bed, one-bath with parking; 800 square feet: $72,500.
2590 Briggs Ave. Renovated studio; 2,700 square feet: $510,012.
2830 Briggs Ave. #1F Two-bed, one-bath; 900 square feet: $1,390 a month.
2640 Marion Ave. One-bed, one-bath with hardwood floors; 800 square feet: $1,100 a month.
Looking for a home in Fordham?
C K Brokerage, 718-365-2227
Role Realty Management, 718-364-1800
It’s bordered to the east and partially to the north by Southern Boulevard, the northern boundary goes up Webster Avenue and across Bedford Park Boulevard. It is bordered to west by Jerome Avenue and then to the south by East Fordham Road. More »
Trains: 4 to Kingsbridge Road, and Bedford Park Boulevard/Lehman College; B and D to Bedford Park Boulevard, Kingsbridge Road, and Fordham Road; Metro North to the Fordham and Botanical Garden stations More »
Bronx Library Center, 310 East Kingsbridge Rd., 718-579-4244 More »
The Fordham branch of the United States Postal Service is at 465 East 188th St. and can be reached by phone at 718-584-3577. More »
Fordham is served by the 46th Precinct at 2120 Ryer Ave. Its Commanding Officer, Deputy Inspector John Hart, said the neighborhood’s crime statistics have been steadily declining overall over recent years. Murders have gone down the most, down more than 65 percent since 2000. More »
188 Bakery Cuchifrito's
Love Latin American food? Whether you are eating in or on the go, their menu has a little bit of anything – and even includes some bakery options.
Casa Della Mozzarella
This eatery was voted No. 1 for quality in the city’s Food Lover’s survey because of its top-notch Italian and European cuisine. They specialize in various deli and cold cut sandwich options – and of course, cheese.
Its name could not be more appropriate. This hidden gem might not be the easiest to find, but its small-town feel and classic diner menu helps make it one of Fordham’s “must-tries” when it comes to dining.
Kasike Mofongo House
Nightlife in Fordham just got more interesting. This Caribbean pub packs a punch as it can be a sports bar, music venue and hometown watering hole – all in the same night.
Remy Billiards & Cafe
Fordham’s own pool hall is the icing on the cake for a neighborhood that seems to fit just about everything into a pretty small neighborhood. Remy is a laid-back place for any pool lover to spend their nights.
This place puts Fordham’s name in trend setting to justice with a wide selection of clothing, sneakers, jeans and T-shirts. Anyone looking for the latest in hip-hop shoe fashion has likely already heard of this Bronx attraction, which also has other stores throughout the other four boroughs.
Established in the early ’80s, this Bronx mainstay has become an unofficial mecca for comic nuts. It also hosts various themed events on a weekly or monthly basis, making it a no-brainer for any fanatic to keep coming back.
It might be New York City, but this shop keeps that small-town feel thriving with its fabric and crafts that keep shoppers busy for days.
There are likely very few people throughout New York City who have not heard of the Bronx Zoom. They have a wide array of animal exhibits, including birds, reptiles, fish, a butterfly garden and more.
New York Botanical Garden
On the northern border of town lies another huge Bronx attraction. The Gardens are home to more than 250 acres of flowers and other plants within an array of 50 different exhibits.