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Bronx Week: Borough Has City's Largest Hispanic Population

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In the fourth part of NY1's Bronx Week series, borough reporter Erin Clarke takes a closer look at the groups that make up the Bronx's Hispanic population.

If you're looking for authentic Latin American cuisine in the city, your best bet is the Bronx.

The borough has the largest Hispanic population, largely Puerto Ricans, many who migrated after World War I and quickly gained a foothold in many Bronx neighborhoods.

"Mott Haven, anywhere in the South Bronx, along Westchester Avenue, along the Grand Concourse, Bedford Park, Puerto Ricans were concentrated all over the place," said Angel Hernandez, education coordinator with the Bronx County Historical Society.

Over the years, Puerto Ricans have begun to spread throughout the Bronx to traditionally non-Hispanic communities.

"They've already started climbing the social economic ladder," Hernandez said. "You're seeing Puerto Ricans more owning houses along Pelham Parkway, living in Riverdale.

"My last sale was to an assistant principal married to a retired chief in the fire department, I think it was a lieutenant. Both of them, I think, were Puerto Rican," said Gregory Tsougranis, associate broker with Keller-Williams Realty. "They found a beautiful house in Country Club."

Their presence is less obvious in areas now predominantly Dominican, like Highbridge, where Junior Mancebo and his family moved 15 years ago. Since then, he's seen the neighborhood become like home.

"It wasn't a lot of stores out here. We had to go far to actually get what we wanted," he said. "But now, you know, everything has changed. People have moved in, opened different stores, different shops."

While the Bronx's Hispanic population is predominantly Puerto Rican and Dominican, a fast-growing group from south of the border rounds out the top three: Mexicans, mixing harmoniously in neighborhoods with their Hispanic counterparts. Signs of Mexican influence dot the streets of Mott Haven and Soundview, to name a few.

"Mexican groups, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans as well," said one person in Mott Haven. "They all speak the same type of Spanish, but different dialect, so sometimes, it's hard to communicate on the same language, but they still try to make it work."

It's a sign of changing times and a borough welcoming to all.

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