Bronx Resources & Readings

In a Community-Based Learning (CBL) course, as part of orienting your class to the community they will be working with, you may want some readings about the local community or the issues you will be addressing. The following list (which we will, with your help, update over time) is a list of readings and other resources that may help you orient your class. And be sure to ask what experience your students already have in the local community, or with the issues you are addressing.  

Getting data on the community

University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP), one of our community partners, has a Community Resource Guide, which shows you how to find data and maps of the neighborhoods that make up New York City. Depending on your interest, you can find out about income levels in a particular neighborhood, or how many elderly people live in the Bronx. The site includes maps of school districts, City Council districts, parks, and more.  

Jill Jonnes’ excellent 20th century history of the Bronx, South Bronx Rising, narrates the fall and rise of the Bronx, and an excerpt can give students an idea of where its reputation came from.  Same with the documentary, “Rubble Kings.”

Other institutions that are useful sources of information about our local community:

Bronx Documentary Center

Bronx Historical Society

Bronx Council on the Arts

Bronx Music Heritage Center

Local News Media


Riverdale Press

Norwood News

Mott Haven Herald


What is/Who is the Bronx?

Inside Guide: The South Bronx’s Grand Concourse” NYC and Company (2015) [video, 2:58 mins. (the "new Bronx")

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “What is the Bronx Anyway?New York Magazine, April 16, 2015.

Short personal perspective on the identity of the Bronx.

Bronx Writers Project, Bronx Memoir Project, Vol. 1. Bronx: Bronx Council on the Arts, 2014.

This book offers stories of the experiences of native Bronxites, and people who have immigrated to the Bronx from other parts of the world.

Harold Meyerson, "Bronx Cheer" American Prospect, October 12, 2015. 
A good analysis of how the Bronx, although it has bounced back from the difficult times of the 1970s, still struggles with poverty, and now with increasingly unaffordable housing. 

About Gentrification

Sandra E. Garcia, “Strong Reactions in the South Bronx After It’s Called a ‘Place to Go’” New York Times, February 8, 2017.  

Patrick Sisson, “New South Bronx waterfront development has residents asking who it's for” Curbed NY, March 14, 2017.

Bronxnet “Bronx Gentrification” August 10, 2016.

Discussion between activist and news blogger Ed Garcia Conde and JC Polanco, Republican candidate for Public Advocate.


John Mahler, “The Fragile Success of School Reform in the Bronx,” New York Times Magazine, April 10, 2011.

A profile of a principal struggling to improve the educational outcomes at a Bronx middle school. School reform empowered principals, but leaves them therefore responsible for confronting the many challenges poverty presents to their students, without necessarily increasing the resources they have to meet these challenges.

Sarah Ryley, et al, “Parents in South Bronx school district, NYC's worst, struggle to find promising optionsNew York Daily News, March 15, 2015.


NYC serves 850,000 meals a day to students, 700,000 of them for free.

Eliza Shapiro, “Undocumented students in New York City test boundaries of 'sanctuary schools'” Politico, March 28, 2017.

Elizabeth A. Harris and Ford Fessenden, “For $582 Million Spent on Troubled Schools, Some Gains, More DisappointmentsNew York Times, Aug. 24, 2017

Alexandra Levine, “The Gift of a BackpackNew York Times, August 24, 2017.

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Katherine O'Regan, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel, Derek Neal and Thomas Nechyba, “Immigrant Children and New York City Schools: Segregation and Its Consequences [with Comments]Brookings-Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs, (2002), pp. 183-214


Daniel Kay Hertz, “How Segregated is New York CityCity Notes, April 14, 2014.  

Ingrid Gould Ellen, “NYC’s Separate but Unequal Neighborhoods,” City Limits, August 22, 2016

April de Simone, Braden Crooks, Charles Chawalko and Gregory Jost, Building Justice: How to Undesign the Decades of Racial Redlining that Scar US Cities,” City Limits, October 31, 2016. 

Brian Purnell and Jeanne Theoharis, “How New York City Became the Capital of the Jim Crow North,” Washington Post, August 23, 2017.

Tad Hargrave, “Conversations on Racism with White People Healing from Whiteness [blog], 2017. 

Although this blogger is not local, he raises interesting perspectives on race and whiteness that are useful to our local context.

Mireya Navarro, "As New York Rents Soar, Public Housing Becomes Lifelong Refuge." New York Times, August 3, 2015. 

1986 snapshot:


The Bronx has historically been a place where striving immigrants -- Germans, Irish, Italians, Puerto Ricans (US Citizens, of course), Albanians, Dominicans, Ghanaians, Bangladeshis, Koreans and more -- make their first or second stop in the country. So understanding the Bronx requires an understanding of immigration. Here are some readings on that:

Molly Ball, “How Immigration Hardliners are Forcing Trump’s Hand on DACA,” The Atlantic, August 31, 2017.  

Aviva Chomsky, 'They Take Our Jobs!' and 20 Other Myths about Immigration. Beacon Press, 2007.

The introduction to the book specifically provides some useful context regarding the waves of immigration in the 1920's, 1960's and the decline in immigration post 1990's. It also goes through some census material and discusses changes in designations over the years. For instance, until the 1930's Mexicans were designated as White in the census. This book may be useful for your purposes. (this note from Melinda Wilson)

Bharati Mukherjee, "Two Ways to Belong in America." New York Times, September 22, 1996.

Thanks to Kerri Mulqueen, Adam Arenson, Melinda Wilson and Margaret Groarke for the suggestions above. Send additional suggestions to Margaret Groarke.