Crotona Park East is a residential neighborhood in The Bronx. It is also known as Crotona or East Morrisania.
The neighborhood’s borders are:
- Cross-Bronx Expressway is the north border
- Bronx River is the east border
- East 167th St is the south border
- Crotona/Prospect Avenue is the west border
Crotona Ave/Prospect Ave runs right through Crotona Park.
Crotona Park East Festivals
September’s Central American Independence Parade and Festival is a Honduran Garifuna festival. It celebrates Garifuna traditions and commemorates the tragic Happy Land social club fire of 1990 in which almost a hundred people died while celebrating Carnival. The Parade marches from the Happy Land memorial to a street fair along Crotona Park.
Crotona Park is the big park in the South Bronx. It has twenty-eight species of trees and a beautiful pond with turtles, ducks and fish that will make you wonder if you are still in New York City.
The neighborhood is mostly Latin and Black. There is a strong Garifuna community, the last of the Indigenous Caribs (who successfully fought off the British colonizers until 1796).
WHEDco, the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation is doing great redevelopment work in the neighborhood and hosts the Bronx Music Heritage Center.
The first WHEDco redevelopment was turning the abandoned Morrisania Hospital into the Urban Horizons Economic Development Center. They also built Intervale Green, energy-efficient affordable housing with family services.
WHEDCo is now developing the Bronx Commons in Melrose. It will include the Bronx Music Hall, a permanent home for the Bronx Music Heritage Center.
The neighborhood is served by:
- Bronx Community Board 3
- Bronx Borough President
- NY City Council District 17
- US Congressional District NY 14
- US Congressional District NY 15
- US Senators
The Crotona Park East Story
The neighborhood was Indigenous Lenape land stolen by the Morris family of Westchester in 1670.
The Morris Family Human Slavers
The Morris folks once owned most of what are now The Bronx and New Jersey. The family was prominent in colonial New Jersey. One family member signed the Declaration of Independence.
This is terribly ironic. The Morris family were English diaspora, but in English their name refers to Moors. It basically means “Moorish” in old English. That’s English code for African.
American racism is based on the English model. The business model of plantation slavery was developed by the French in what is now Haiti, copied by the British in Barbados, and brought from Barbados to the United States as the model for American big business. Yes, slavery really was the model for big business in the United States.
Sure enough, the Morris family is from Barbados and in their day were the biggest slaveholders in The Bronx. The name “Morris” (Moorish) is a tell that these human slavers were actually themselves members of the African diaspora.
Upward Mobility in The Bronx
Immigrant families used to start their New York life in the Lower East Side. Families moved up and out as they found their footing and built their lives. Successful families used to move to The Bronx to get out of crowded Manhattan. The Bronx represented upward mobility.
Building the Cross-Bronx Expressway (I-95) destroyed once-thriving neighborhoods. Construction began in 1948, but didn’t finish until 1972. The construction cut communities in two and created a no-man’s land that spread and spread. So the Bronx went through hard times in the 1970s, but that was fifty years ago now. Things are redeveloping and gentrification is the problem now.
The initial redevelopment of Crotona Park East in the 1980s produced single family homes on Charlotte Street. They are the only single family homes in the entire South Bronx, and are now quite valuable. The neighborhood name Charlotte Gardens is a reference to this development.
We are just guessing, but suspect that Papa Fuerte Cruz in Baz Luhrmann’s “The Get Down” (Netflix, 2016), the Bronx politician who dreamed of replacing tenements with single-family homes, was modeled on former Bronx Assemblyman Louis Niñé. Louis Niñé Boulevard is named for him.