Synopses & Reviews
35 years after this landmark of urban history captured the rise, fall, rebirth, and continuing struggles of some of New York's most storied neighborhoods--and some of its poorest--Jill Jonnes returns to a South Bronx that has arrived. The borough once world-famous for burning is globally renowned as the birthplace of hip-hop. A generation of volunteers has transformed parks and waterfronts once choked with a century's worth of refuse into oases welcoming back local wildlife. For better or worse, investors have noticed, building an emerging skyline of luxury residential towers. And after decades of neglect or worse by governments, institutions, and traditional media, the Bronx's own activists, artists, and opinion-makers have grabbed the mic to fight the crises of urban poverty that went unspoken-of for so long: gentrification, environmental justice, the carceral state, and income inequality.
Bringing the story up to date with the voices of Bronxites both familiar and new, Jonnes chronicles the generations of immigrants who have made their homes in the Bronx, from early urbanization through the devastation of the 1970s, the rebuilding and recovery of the 1990s, the developers' hunt for the next Williamsburg, and the COVID-19 pandemic. What's next for the Bronx in an era when developers vie with longtime residents for the soul of the neighborhood, when people-powered activists fight to upend politics as usual, and when the devastation of a pandemic gives way to unprecedented but fragile investment by state and federal authorities? There's no question: The Bronx on the rise. But who gets to rise with it?
Thirty-five years after this landmark of urban history first captured the rise, fall, and rebirth of a once-thriving New York City borough--ravaged in the 1970s and '80s by disinvestment and fires, then heroically revived and rebuilt in the 1990s by community activists--Jill Jonnes returns to chronicle the ongoing revival of the South Bronx. Though now globally renowned as the birthplace of hip-hop, the South Bronx remains America's poorest urban congressional district. In this new edition, we meet the present generation of activists who are transforming their communities with the arts and greening, notably the restoration of the Bronx River. For better or worse, real estate investors have noticed, setting off new gentrification struggles.