“Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.” The infamous phrase, uttered in a 1977 broadcast of a Bronx fire, has stuck in the mind of many New Yorkers even today. Indeed, the Bronx saw a sharp decline in population and quality of life in the late 1960s and 1970s, which culminated in a wave of arson. By the early 1980s, the South Bronx was considered one of the most blighted neighborhoods in the country, with a 60 percent decline in population and 40 percent decline of housing units.
Although revitalization picked up by the ’90s, the Bronx never quite took off like its outer-borough counterparts Brooklyn and Queens. While media hype, quickly rising prices and a rush of development has come to characterize those two boroughs, the Bronx has flourished more quietly. The borough, nevertheless, has become home to growth and development distinct from the rest of New York City. Innovative affordable housing, adaptive reuse projects, green development and strong community involvement are redefining the area. As Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said during this Municipal Arts Society discussion in 2014, this is “The New Bronx.”