Morris Heights, The Bronx (History)

(Neighborhoods In The Bronx)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMorris Heights is a low income residential neighborhood located in the west Bronx. The neighborhood is part of Bronx Community Board 5. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: West Burnside Avenue to the north, Jerome Avenue to the east, the Cross-Bronx Expressway to the south, and the Harlem River to the west. University Avenue is the primary thoroughfare through Morris Heights. The local subway is the IRT Jerome Avenue Line, operating along Jerome Avenue. Zip codes include 10453. The area is patrolled by the 46th Precinct located at 2120 Ryer Avenue in Fordham. NYCHA property in the area is patrolled by P.S.A. 7 at 737 Melrose Avenue in the Melrose section of the Bronx.

Morris Heights has a population over 45,000. For decades Morris Heights has been one of the poorest communities in America. Over half the population lives below the poverty line and receives public assistance (AFDC, Home Relief, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicaid). The vast majority of residents in the area are of Puerto Rican, Dominican, or African American descent. The vast majority of households are renter occupied.

The Cross Bronx Expressway bisects Morris Heights. This is no coincidence, as developer Robert Moses rammed the infamous highway through the neighborhood, more or less destroying it. This in part is considered to be the cause of the fall of the South Bronx in the latter part of the 20th century, as discussed in the book The Power Broker. After the Cross Bronx Expressway was completed, the area was predominantly African-American and Puerto Rican. Beginning in the late 1970s, many Dominicans from Washington Heights crossed the bridge and moved to Morris Heights. Most Dominicans chose to move to Morris Heights due to the easy access to Washington Heights and additional schools for their children.

After a wave of arson ravaged the low income communities of New York City throughout the 1970s, many if not most residential structures in Morris Heights were left seriously damaged or destroyed. The city began to rehabilitate many formerly abandoned tenement style apartment buildings and designate them low income housing beginning in the late 1970s. Also many subsidized attached multi-unit townhouses and newly constructed apartment buildings have been or are being built on vacant lots across across the neighborhood.