Most of the neighborhood is land that was purchased by Thomas Pell in 1654, part of an original grant to the Dutch West India Company.
Despite the name, the area that is now the Pelham Bay neighborhood was not part of the historical Town of Pelham, which consisted of the modern-day town of Pelham in Westchester County as well as Pelham Bay Park and City Island in the Bronx. The latter two areas were annexed by the City of New York in 1895.
Pelham Bay is part of Bronx Community Board 10, which also covers Throgs Neck and Co-op City. Pelham Bay, along with other areas of the East Bronx, is home to a large Italian-American population; at the same time, it is also quite diverse with people of many ethnicities calling the neighborhood home. The neighborhood contains a mix of apartment buildings, smaller retail stores, and one- and two-family homes.
A variety of stores and eateries line the streets of this neighborhood, including Westchester Avenue (which runs under the 6 train), Buhre Avenue, Middletown Road and Crosby Avenue (these two cross to form one the main intersections of the neighborhood). Pelham Bay Park is the last stop on the IRT Pelham Line (6 <6>), which in Manhattan comprises the Lexington Avenue Local of the New York City Subway system. The neighborhood has two other stops as well, the Buhre Avenue and Middletown Road stops on the Pelham Line. The IRT Pelham Line was immortalized in the movie, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, starring Walter Matthau, which involved the hijacking of a subway train leaving Pelham Bay Station at the scheduled time of 1:23.
The neighborhood is home to the elementary schools Public School 71 (named the Rose E. Scala School to honor a former principal) and Public School 14 (named the John D. Calandra School to honor a former State Senator), as well as to Herbert H. Lehman High School (right on the neighborhood’s border). Several private and parochial schools also serve the neighborhood, including the Roman Catholic elementary schools associated with the churches of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Theresa. The neighborhood is home to a number of active civic and community associations, including the Pelham Bay Little League.
Historically a residential neighborhood with a primarily Caucasian population. Though the neighborhood is home to longstanding Italian, Irish, Greek and Albanian populations.