the bronx

population - 1,385,108

Turnaround for Borough with Blighted Past

The Bronx has spent decades trying to shed its reputation for blight and crime, and things finally seem to be turning around. The crime rate has declined by 71 percent from 1993 to 2010, including reductions of 75 percent for murders, 68 percent for shootings, 86 percent for car thefts and 82 percent for burglaries. And only one neighborhood, Hunts Point, is in the 10 least safest for per capita crime of the 69 neighborhoods covered in's Crime & Safety Report.

That's a remarkable turnaround for a borough that was nearly given up for dead in the 1970s. Credit largely goes to police crackdowns, government subsidies and the return of developers to residential blocks once decimated by arson.

The south Bronx was once synonymous with urban blight, yet many of the area's neighborhoods, such as High Bridge (No. 39), Melrose & Morrisania (No. 45) and Mott Haven (No. 59), rank higher than gentrifying neighborhoods in Brooklyn with much better reputations.


Drop in total major crimes, 1993 to 2008


Rise in robbery, 2009 to 2010

But the Bronx still contains some of America's poorest neighborhoods, and, in some parts, the crime rate remains relatively high. Only one neighborhood in the Bronx, Riverdale (No. 13), is in the top 25 rankings, and only one more, Morris Heights & Mount Hope (No. 27) is in the top half of the list. One of the borough's disappointments is Belmont & Bathgate, home to the markets and restaurants of Arthur Avenue, and historically considered one of the Bronx's safest neighborhoods, yet it ranks 56th of 69 neighborhoods, and is among the worst five neighborhoods in the city for violent crime. In 2010, the borough recorded increases in four categories of major violent crime — murder, rape, robbery and felony assault. In response, the NYPD increased from five to seven the number of the borough's 12 precincts designated as impact zones, where teams of rookie officers were deployed to trouble spots to deter crime.

The police also are reportedly targeting juveniles, who are committing a disproportionate number of the robberies. On the bright side, the three categories of the most serious nonviolent crimes — burglary, grand larceny and car theft — decreased. So did the number of shooting victims. In the end, the Bronx ended 2010 with a negligible one-half percent reduction in overall crime.

Lately, the Bronx has been trying to recast its tattered image with promotional campaigns focusing on its most famous natives, from Regis Philbin to Mary Higgins Clark. Whether it succeeds largely will depend on the direction in which the crime rate moves.


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Memorable Crimes in the Bronx's History