Castle Hill, The Bronx (History)

(Neighborhoods In The Bronx)

castlehillCastle 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. The neighborhood is part of Bronx Community Board 9.

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.

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.