Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Bronx Week: The Bronx Has a Long History of Diversity

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The Bronx has a long history of being home to many different cultures.
In the first part of our Bronx Week series, we take a look at how the demographics of the Bronx have changed over time. NY1 Borough Reporter Erin Clarke filed the following report.

Everyone's heard the city referred to as a melting pot, but the Bronx is truly representative of that.

"The Bronx has—speaks more than 43 languages. It is the borough where most languages are spoken. People kind of associate that with Queens, but fact of the matter is that the groups that are there are perhaps larger but here we have a bigger ethnic breakdown,"says Marlene Cintron, president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.

Just stand at 149th Street and Third Avenue, the hub, and you'll see.

It's the borough's and perhaps one of the city's busiest and most diverse intersections.

"You'll see a woman walking by of Muslim decent in full Burkha, you'll see an African woman walking in her full garb, you'll see a Mexican family walking by, African Americans, Caucasians—everybody. Just the whole spectrum of people,"says Ed Garcia Conde, blogger at Welcome2TheBronx.

Borough Historian Lloyd Ultan says that's not surprising—the Bronx has always welcomed everyone. It's a place immigrants called home.

After World War II, Eastern European Jews, Irish and Italian settled in the borough, followed by southern blacks and those from the Caribbean.

"In the 1940s, you had people from Jamaica coming in, but later on, you have people from Trinidad and Antigua and several other English speaking West Indian Islands. And of course you also have Dominicans coming in," Ultan says. "You have large numbers of Puerto Ricans coming into the Bronx because of poverty in Puerto Rico and the availability of jobs in New York City."

Immigrants from Albania, Greece, Asia and Africa began coming to the Bronx in the 80s, all assimilating in the borough without incident, Ultan says.

"In the entire history of the Bronx, there has never been a race riot," says Ultan.

Today, the Bronx is home to the largest population of Hispanics in the city.

Seven hundred and forty-one thousand people from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Central and South America now live in the borough.

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