|The Bronx  is one of the five boroughs of New York.
The Bronx is the only New York borough on the mainland of the United States. It was originally part of Westchester County but was gradually annexed by New York City. The Bronx was completely incorporated into New York City in 1898.
The Bronx has a strong character all its own. It is the birthplace of hip hop music and home to one of the country's most storied professional baseball teams, the New York Yankees, also known as the "Bronx Bombers." Many ethnic groups have called the Bronx home over the years. Arthur Avenue is still a center of Italian American culture in New York, and many claim it has a more authentic feel than Manhattan's Little Italy. The South Bronx is a center of Puerto Rican culture and life, with a growing Mexican community as well. University Heights and Morris Heights are largely Dominican neighborhoods, while Woodlawn maintains a large population of Irish immigrants.
While the southern and central Bronx is mostly comprised of apartment buildings and densely built, the physical environment of the Bronx is much more varied than what is normally portrayed in the popular media. For instance, Riverdale is a residential neighborhood of mostly detached single family homes located on bluffs overlooking the Hudson River. It looks more like a quiet suburb than the "big bad" Bronx. Bronx Park and Van Cortlandt Park are two large and notably tranquil green spaces. City Island, located in Long Island Sound but officially part of the Bronx reminds people more of a small New England fishing village and is worth a visit. And there is a traditional downtown area called "The Hub" at 149 St. and Third Avenue. While not as large or extensive as the downtowns of major American cities, many larger stores are in that area and it is more than just a neighborhood shopping district.
Geographically, the Bronx has a large number of hills. It is possible to stand on a street corner and look way down over a cliff toward the elevated train line that is itself 30 feet above ground. Many streets, especially in the West Bronx north of Yankee Stadium, have sections with steps instead of sidewalks and pavement, similar to San Francisco.
One can get into the Bronx from Manhattan and other boroughs (except Staten Island) easily by taking any of several subway lines (The 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, B, and D). The Harlem and Hudson Lines of the Metro North commuter railway, which originate in Grand Central Terminal and stop in Harlem at 125 St and Park Av, also traverse the Bronx, with various stops including Botanic Garden, next to the New York Botanic Garden, and Fordham (a tranfer point). Local MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) bus connections with Upper Manhattan and parts of Queens also exist. It is possible to drive across one of the many bridges from Manhattan or the three bridges from Queens, and points north are accessible via several highways. Note that taxis from Midtown or Lower Manhattan can be very expensive. Express buses run from Midtown Manhattan (except for the BxM18 from lower Manhattan during rush hours) to various parts of the Bronx. Finally, pedestrians can cross any of the bridges that connect Manhattan with the Bronx.
The Bronx has good subway coverage but all lines are mainly north to south, with the subway lines designed more for access to Manhattan than crosstown travel in the Bronx, and many of its bus lines are slow and overcrowded at times. Many people who need flexibility in getting across the Bronx drive; however, the notorious overcrowding on the Cross-Bronx Expressway sometimes reduces such crosstown travel to a standstill. In general, with sufficient planning and time, you can enjoy the borough through a combination of subway and bus travel and walking.
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As the birth place of hip-hop culture, the Bronx has numerous record stores. Though vinyl has disappeared from the shelves of regular record stores, many stores still sell used and new vinyl.
The Bronx, especially the South Bronx, has a reputation as an area of rundown apartment buildings and high crime. In recent years, revitalization projects have dramatically reduced urban blight in the area south of the Cross-Bronx Expressway (the area hardest hit by arson and abandonment in the 70's and 80's), replacing empty lots and burnt-out tenements with low-density housing.
Some people like to focus on the crime of the South Bronx, but such characterizations are hyperbolic and don't reflect the experience of all of the travelers who have made many trips to the Bronx and walked through all of its neighborhoods. All forms of criminal activity have been reduced to a fraction of their early 90s rates. That said, crime is a fact of life in the South Bronx. But the most common victims by far are the people who live there, not visitors passing through.
To avoid problems, choose a destination or route beforehand so that you're not wandering around an area you're completely unfamiliar with looking lost and confused. The safest areas are the busiest ones, usually around main streets and avenues where residents congregate to shop, work and socialize. These are also the best places to experience the neighborhood and soak in the unique energy and ambiance that makes the Bronx special. To stay safe, avoid the inner courtyards of housing projects and desolate, deserted areas, and cross to the other side of the street or go into a shop if anyone makes you nervous. You may want to avoid large groups of young people congregating on the street if they make you feel uncomfortable, by crossing to the other side of the street. And of course, never get involved in drugs or any other criminal activity while you're in the Bronx.