University Heights, The Bronx (History)

universityheightsUniversity Heights is a low income residential neighborhood geographically located in the west Bronx, New York City. The neighborhood is part of Bronx Community Board 5 and Bronx Community Board 7. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: W 190th street to the north, Jerome Avenue to the east, West Burnside Avenue to the south, and the Harlem River to the west. University Avenue is the primary thoroughfare through University Heights. The local subway is the IRT Jerome Avenue Line, operating along the Jerome Avenue. Zip codes include 10453 and 10468. The area is patrolled by 46th Precinct located at 2120 Ryer Avenue in Fordham and the 52nd Precinct located at 3016 Webster Ave in the Norwood section of the Bronx. NYCHA property in the area is patrolled by P.S.A. 8 at 2794 Randall Avenue in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx.

University Heights has a population of over 40,000. For decades University 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 neighborhood is now predominantly Dominican with a significant longstanding Puerto Rican and African American population. The vast majority of households are renter occupied.

The neighborhood takes it name from the hill where New York University’s Bronx campus was built in 1894. The campus includes the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. In 1973, NYU sold the campus to the City University of New York, which renamed the campus Bronx Community College, but the neighborhood name has remained.

Through the 20th century, until the 1970s, the area was primarily Irish-American. After African-Americans and Puerto Ricans moved from the rapidly-decaying South Bronx, they remained there until the 2000s. Like neighboring Morris Heights, many Dominicans from Washington Heights and Inwood crossed the bridge and moved to University Heights. As a result, most of the neighborhood’s schools, including Bronx Community College, are heavily Dominican.

After a wave of arson ravaged the low income communities of New York City throughout the 1970s, many of the residential structures in University Heights were left seriously damaged or destroyed. The city began to rehabilitate many formally 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.