Castle Hill, Bronx

Castle Hill is a mostly working to middle-class residential neighborhood geographically located in the New York City borough of the Bronx. The neighborhood has a high concentration of Latinos, a significant African American population and emerging pockets of West Indian immigrants. [1] The neighborhood is part of Bronx Community Board 9.

Geography

Castle Hill’s boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: Westchester-Waterbury Avenues to the north, the Hutchinson River to the east, the East River to the south, and White Plains Road to the west. The Bruckner Expressway bisects the neighborhood along the centre. Castle Hill Avenue is the primary thoroughfare through the Castle Hill neighborhood. The zip codes covered by this area include 10462, 10472, and 10473. Some of the adjacent neighborhoods are: Parkchester, Bronx River, Soundview, Harding Park, Clason Point and Unionport.

The neighborhood is easily accessible to Midtown and Downtown Manhattan and the other neighboring boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) via the Cross Bronx Expressway (I-95), the Bronx River Parkway, the Bruckner Expressway (95-278), the 6 line train and multiple bus lines. It’s proximity to two major highways makes this area easy to get to from just about anywhere in the tri-state area.

The Castle Hill area is low laying and flat. The neighborhood is largely composed of multi-unit homes, some tenement buildings and an NYCHA development called the Castle Hill Houses which is comprised of around a dozen buildings all ranging from 12 to 20-stories tall. There is also a small pocket of industry located along the Hutchinson River and Zerega Avenue. The area boasts some of the best restaurants in the Bronx such as Sabrosura located at 1200 Castle Hill Avenue.

The total land area is roughly 2 square miles and although it has not physically shifted there is a dispute regarding which region of the Bronx encompasses Castle Hill. Many include this neighborhood in the socioeconomic South Bronx, taking Westchester Creek as a traditional boundary. Some say that in order to eliminate negative stereotypes, Castle Hill is now included in the "Southeast Bronx" along with Soundview and Harding Park. However, many residents feel that although this area is relatively close to the South Bronx, it is distant enough to entitle it to its own geographical definition.

History

Like many neighborhoods in New York City, Castle Hill was once an integrated/majority white neighborhood. However through the 1960s and 1970s decay hit the area and much of the neighborhood was undeveloped and left to rot. After a wave of arson ravaged the community throughout the 1970s, some of the residential structures in Castle Hill were left seriously damaged or destroyed. The residents moved out and the area was left deserted for some time. Homes were left abandoned and this became an area where stripped cars left on curbs and in lots were a common sight. The area around the Castle Hill Houses was especially damaged by the worsening conditions in the projects. The Castle Hill area was known for its vast supply of drugs and violent crime during the crack epidemic of the early 80s. Crime and many other social issues associated with poverty continued to plague the community.

A real estate development boom benefited the area greatly and many of its vacant lots were snatched up for new development of single and multi-family homes. Particularly, five new blocks of attached multi-unit homes were constructed across from Castle Hill Park at the southernmost tip of Castle Hill Avenue.

These changes mark a new beginning for a community which has dealt with high rates of violent crime and many other social problems for decades. Much still needs to be done but the new residential developments aimed at local families are a step in a positive direction for the community.

Because many social problems associated with poverty from crime to drug addiction plagued the area for some time, there is a negative connotation that still lingers with the name of this neighborhood. Despite significant declines in crime relative to their peaks during the crack and heroin epidemics, crime continues to be a problem in the community. However, this is a problem whose magnitude has become much more psychological than real. [3]

Urban Renewal

What made Castle Hill a haven for drugs and violence in the 80s and early 90s has turned out to play in its favor when it came time to redevelop the area. Many homes have been rehabilitated and many multi-unit townhouses and newly constructed apartment buildings have been or are being built on vacant lots across the neighborhood. Recently, a New York City project to change the water pipes throughout the neighborhood has rejuvenated the area by rebuilding all sidewalks and renewing the asphalt in all of the streets - giving the area a much welcome refreshed look. Additionally, on the southern end of Castle Hill Avenue is Castle Hill Point Park. This end features the renovated Castle Hill YMCA, which features indoor and outdoor pools, a baseball field, basketball court, gym and an outdoor sitting area with a great view of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge. There is also the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club (Lucile Palmaro Clubhouse) located at 1930 Randall Avenue, which, among other things, features the Bronx’s only ice skating rink.

As Manhattan and its neighboring areas see property prices skyrocket people looking for good alternatives to living in Manhattan have started to look beyond Manhattan’s borders and areas like Castle Hill have become more attractive for working to middle-class families.

Education

Public Schools
*PS 138 Samuel Randall School (K-4)
**2060 Lafayette Avenue 10473
**718-822-5325
**Region 2, District 8
*PS 36 - Unionport School (K-5)
**1070 Castle Hill Avenue 10472
**718-822-5345
**Region 2, District 8

Private/Parochial Schools
*St. John Vianney Cure of Ars School
*Holy Family School (Pre K-8)
**2169 Blackrock Avenue 10472
**718-863-7280
*St. Raymond Academy for Girls, an all-girls', catholic high school

Special Education Programs
*New LIFE School (5-8)
**2125 Watson Avenue 10472
**718-239-0471

Transportation

* BxM7A: Express bus – From Midtown, Manhattan to Pelham Bay, Bronx
*Bx4: to Westchester Square or 3rd Av-149th St station (via Westchester Ave)
*Bx5: to Pelham Bay Park or Simpson St station (via Bruckner Blvd / Story Ave)
*Bx22: to Bronx High School of Science (via Fordham Rd / Castle Hill Ave)
*Q44: to Bronx Zoo or Jamaica (via Bronx-Whitestone Bridge)
*Castle Hill Av station (IRT 6)

Factoids

*There is a dispute regarding which region of the Bronx encompasses Castle Hill. Many include this neighbourhood in the socioeconomic South Bronx, taking Westchester Creek as a traditional boundary. In order to eliminate negative stereotypes, Castle Hill is now included in the "Southeast Bronx" along with Soundview and Harding Park.

Notable Natives

*Jennifer Lopez (1969-), musician and actress, raised on Blackrock Avenue.
*Remy Ma (1981-), female rapper, was raised in the Castle Hill Houses.
*Kenny Satterfield (1981-), former NBA player with the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Dallas Mavericks.

References


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