Bronx River – Gowri

The beaver, the state mammal of New York, and whose image adorns the official seal of New York City, has not been seen in New York for 200 years, until this week.

Questions of Citizenship and Access

  • The Bronx River went from a flourishing and beautiful resource to a contaminated conduit for industrial and residential wastes two centuries ago.
  • Before World war I it was a completely industrial base for trade and production. The Bronx underwent rapid growth after World War I. Extensions of the New York City Subway contributed to the increase in population as thousands of immigrants flooded the Bronx, resulting in a major boom in residential construction. The population was at this time consisted of Irish-americans, Italian-americans, Jewish-americans, French, German, And later on Hispanic and African-american. As most of these ethnic groups began to move out of the bronx during the 1940s & 50s, it left a huge population of hispanics and African-americans behind.
  • During the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, the Bronx went into an era of sharp decline in the residents. One theory is of course the Cross Bronx Expressway. Many have blamed the Cross Bronx Expressway for worsening the decay of neighborhoods in the South Bronx. Many of the neighborhoods it runs through have been continually poor since before its construction, primarily due to the lowered property value caused by the Expressway.


  • There was also redlining
  • By the mid-1700s as many as 12 mills were manufacturing paper, flour, pottery, tapestries, barrels and snuff, powered by water from the stream. The construction of the New York Central Railroad in the 1840s turned the valley into an industrial corridor, and by the end of the 19th century the Bronx River had degenerated into what one official commission called an “open sewer.”
  • Not just a question of development but “ rights” and “citizenship” – poor neighborhood, racial discrimination and prison, unemployment rate at the time was 25%.

Majora Carter ““I believe that you shouldn’t have to leave your

neighborhood to live in a better one.”

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