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Saturday, March 8, 2008

South South Bronx

While on about 140th street a car passed us blasting Boogie Down Production "South Bronx." My companion does not recognize the song, making me feel old. I met KRS-One once - quite honestly he was a little freaky. He had this HUGE smile and kind of reminded me of an evil clown.

The walk itself was nice. A friend lives in the very-mildly gentrifying corner of the Bronx right over the Third Avenue Bridge. We headed along Bruckner and 132nd to Randall's island. It's a little-known fact, but there is one place where you cross between Bronx and New York counties without using a bridge or swimming (not counting Marble Hill). It's not quite a direct land connection, but there's a sort of makeshift pedestrian bridge made out of concrete between the two - I'll let you find it yourselves. A crew is there doing drilling. Something might have gotten lost in the translation, but I think one of the crew members indicated they were taking soil samples and planned on making a (real) pedestrian bridge. As an added bonus, there's a REVS sculpture there. It's always fun finding the interesting stuff other people (very often REVS) have left behind in out-of-the-way, and sometimes very out-of-the-way, places around town.

They're currently doing a number on Randall's Island. The new Queens bike ramp seems to be done, which is cool, and they're currently demolishing some part of the Triboro Bridge Plaza. A lot of stuff is fenced off due to construction and renovation going on - a new stadium, new ballfields, all sorts of stuff hopefully will be ready for this summer.

We head back to the Bronx a more orthodox way and wander up to St. Mary's Park. I consider doing the walk through the old freight rail tunnel underneath the park, but it's at least six inches deep in muck. We head through the park instead (one of the first places outdoor hip-hop concerts took place back in the 1970s), and up to where there's no more muck in the tunnel. We plan to head back later with more folks, admire PK and Kid's handiwork on the old Bronx Night Court I once almost killed myself in (I never did figure a way onto the roof like those two did - I'm kind of jealous). This has always been one of my favorite parts of the Bronx, and one of the last to be redeveloped. It's only been in the last 5 years or so that the small rowhouses and condos have popped up where the vacant lots have been (and there's still a few there). One cool thing is that the New York Botanical Garden has preserved a lot of the casitas in the area, which are still around. There's also still a few other less interesting abandoned courthouses and government buildings in the district - one's been demolished to make way for a new Boriqua College building.

After some more wandering around the general area we head over to the Concourse, and then check out the new Yankee Stadium being built - I've been out of town a while, I had no idea it was even underway yet. From there it's over to one of my favorite parts of the city, the Harlem River Waterfront (on both sides of the Bronx River). But those stories I'll save for another time.

Neighborhoods: Randall's Island, Ward's Island, Grand Concourse, Yankee Stadium, Mott Haven, Morrisania, Melrose, South Bronx. Tracts Walked: BX 81, BX15, BX 17, BX 33, BX37, BX71, BX 137, BX173, BX 187, M240

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