The Bronx is New York City's one and only mainland borough, with all four other boroughs situated on islands (people tend to forget that Queens and Brooklyn are both located on Long Island). Like the rest of the city, the beginnings of the Bronx are thanks to the original Dutch settlers of the area, who leased a large tract of land to Jonas Bronck, which came to be known, sensibly enough, as "Bronck's Land," and later, just simply the Bronx. Brooklyn's name had a similar genesis, having being derived from the original Dutch name "Breukelen."
The Bronx today is one of the most diverse areas of New York, which a rather democratically representative sampling of every demographic, from the rich to the poor and across all nationalities and creeds. The Bronx is also no slouch in terms of cultural history: Edgar Allen Poe spent the final years of his life there, and hip hop was essentially invented in the borough. The Bronx also figures prominently in classic movies like A Bronx Tale and The Warriors.
When most New Yorkers think of the Bronx, though, they think of one thing: the Yankees
. Now in their new stadium
, the New York Yankees have truly been one of baseball's great dynasties and a constant source of both pride and frustration for local sports fans. With the Brooklyn Dodgers moving to Los Angeles in 1958, the transplanted Baltimore Orioles—yes, Yankees fans, you are technically Orioles fans by default¬—are New York's longest-standing baseball franchise since moving to New York and becoming first the Highlanders and then, in 1913, the Yankees
The Bronx is also home to some very prestigious learning institutes. Fordham University
has top-tier programs in social service and law and also offers a well-regarded cooperative bachelor's degree in engineering in conjunction with Columbia University
, New York's only Ivy League institution. For those interested in healthcare, there's the Albert Einstein College Of Medicine
, one of New York's most celebrated medical institutions, as proven by its association with the Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan. It is a division of the much larger Yeshiva University
, which is located in the Washington Heights
neighborhood of Manhattan. Lastly, there's the Bronx campus of the City University Of New York
, one of the best public schools in the area, with some of the best tuition rates for in-state students.
The Bronx isn't lacking for cultural institutions, either. The Bronx Zoo
, perhaps New York's best and most beloved zoological enterprise, is nearly three hundred acres of park inhabited by around six thousand animals. The zoo is home to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs all of New York City's public zoos and aquariums as well as leading wildlife conservation initiatives around the world. The Butterfly Zone and the new Butterfly Garden house about a thousand species of butterflies and moths, and the zoo is also home to Congolese gorillas, lemurs, and other animals which never fail to delight the nearly two million visitors to the zoo each year. Best of all, it's a family affair: the Bronx Zoo was made possible by Fordham University, which owned the land the zoo now inhabits in Bronx Park, and sold it to the city for a reasonable—if a little low—price of one dollar.
You can also thank Fordham for the New York Botanical Garden
, which sits just north of the zoo and constitutes the remaining 250 acres of Bronx Park
. The 1891 historical landmark features fifty carefully cultivated gardens and over one million plants. They also offer educational programs for children and adults, the most extensive botanical and horticultural library in the world, and several unbelievably humongous and beautiful greenhouses, like the Victorian-style Haupt Conservatory.
It's not all animals and plants, though, since the borough is home to the Bronx Museum Of The Arts
, a predominantly contemporary art museum with a permanent collection of over seven hundred twentieth century works that range from paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media.
There's also a rich history of poetry in the Bronx. As we mentioned earlier, Poe resided in the borough during the final years of his life (although he died in Baltimore), and his former home still resides in Poe Park
, although the area is no longer the rural place it was in Poe's time.
Just around the corner from Yankee Stadium is Joyce Kilmer Park
, named for the Columbia graduate and poet who was killed in World War I and whose poem "Trees" is among the most recognizable pieces of rhyme in modern times. At the sound end of the park is a memorial to poet Heinrich Heine, known as the Lorelei Fountain after the white marble representation of one of Heine's lyrical characters, a siren of great beauty who bewitched sailors with her irresistible voice. The fountain was originally intended for a memorial in Germany, in Heine's birthplace of Dusseldorf, but was rejected for reasons that are dubious to this day. The monument was bought by a group of German-Americans in the late 1800's and given its current home in the Bronx, where it was dedicated in 1899.
Thanks to the Bronx Community College (the campus of CUNY we told you about earlier), New York is also home to the country's first hall of fame: the Hall Of Fame For Great Americans
, an open air colonnade featuring a collection of specially-commissioned busts of inducted members. Among the honorees are inventors Alexander Graham Bell and Eli Whitney, Presidents Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson, authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Paine, and general man-about-town Benjamin Franklin.