Pelham Bay

September 30, 2008 at 6:55 pm Leave a comment

Most New Yorkers are familiar with the unpredictable housing market and the neighborhood gentrification raging across the city. But as tumultuous as those changes have gotten, a small area in the Northeast Bronx has managed to weather the worst of it so far.

Pelham Bay, the veritable picture of residential stability, has a character and appearance that has remained relatively unchanged for the last 40 years. And while the recipe for such coveted equilibrium is rarely reproduced in surrounding neighborhoods, those who live here simply chalk it up to family.

“It’s all middle-class families here,” said Michelangelo Cipollone, 60, who was spending the afternoon in Pelham Bay Park with two of his neighbors. “And if a family moves out, their kids or their cousins or somebody they know moves right in.”

In fact, it’s such a family affair in Pelham Bay that residents looking to sell their homes usually ask around the neighborhood before putting the property on the open market, Cipollone said. The unwritten rule is that families get dibs.

With plenty of homegrown shops and restaurants along major commercial roads like Westchester Avenue and East Tremont Avenue, Pelham Bay acts as a sort of self-sustaining mini city with little reliance on big box stores and strip malls, though some of those exist.

“There’s a little bit of everything and it’s all right here,” Cipollone said. “I can’t complain and no one that lives here really does. If they don’t like it, they can go, in other words.”

This is not to say that the area is completely stagnant however. Change just happens more slowly and in particular places — making it predictable and traceable. With such stability at a premium, property values tend to stay high and any open space that does become available is eaten up as soon as it’s put on the market.

“Whenever there’s a big empty piece of land, a year later there’s a house there,” said resident Anthony Villani, 22. His case in point was a development called the Waterbury Estates at the corner of Jarvis Avenue and the Bruckner Expressway., a farm of two-family homes built on the site of the former Smithsonian Museum.

“It would have been nice to see something for kids go there,” he said. “There’s definitely a lack of afterschool activities for teenagers, so they end up out in the streets at night.”

To be sure, Villani, an Iona College student, said he enjoyed growing up in the neighborhood with access to the city and a close-knit community to fall back on, but he recognizes the slow shift in his hometown and he actually plans to leave once he finishes school.

And with a median age of 45, according to census data, and smaller families than these houses are used to seeing, maybe Pelham Bay’s not immune to the changing cityscape after all.

Find it:
Pelham Bay is bounded by Pelham Parkway to the north, the Bruckner Expressway to the east and south and the Hutchinson River Parkway to the west.

The basics:
Transportation – There are plenty of public transportation options in Pelham Bay, though it’s especially easy to get to by car since it’s bounded by several major thoroughfares. If highways are arteries, then Pelham Bay is the heart of the Bronx with the Bruckner Expressway, the Hutchinson River Parkway, the Throgs Neck Expressway and the Bronx and Pelham parkways providing access to the neighborhood. Nondrivers can also take the No. 6 train to one of the last three stops on the line or hop on a number of buses, including the Bx5, 8, 14, 40 and 42, plus the BxM7 and the QBx1.

Pelham Bay Park — Covering 2,700 acres of beautiful Bronx real estate, Pelham Bay Park is by far the city’s largest park. While it’s almost three times bigger (and ten times quieter) than Central Park, the majority of the land lies just northeast of Pelham Bay’s residential concentration. At almost any time of the day, big groups of people can be found biking the flat, winding paths, playing a fierce game of bocce ball or barbecuing with friends. It is also host to a variety of wildlife habitats, nature trails and both public and private beaches, which make the park both a recreational and environmental oasis.



Entry filed under: Bronx, Go Coastal. Tags: , , , .

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