Longwood, The Bronx is a mixed-use neighborhood that is mostly Hispanic and especially Puerto Rican.
The neighborhood’s boundaries are:
East 167th St
Prospect Ave | LONGWOOD | Bruckner Expressway
East 149th St
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell grew up here.
As part of the NY PopsUp festival, the Multi-Grammy nominated Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band salutes Puerto Rican composers and plays the complete Grammy nominated and Jazz Journalists Association Record of the Year “West Side Story Reimagined” at the Playground 52 Amphitheater on Sunday, June 6, 2021 from 2:30-5:45 pm. FREE 🇵🇷
The Bruckner Expressway (278) is the big highway on the neighborhood’s eastern edge. Southern Blvd is the main street, especially above East 163rd St to Westchester Ave.
(2)(5) to Prospect Ave, Intervale Ave or Simpson St.
(6) to E 149th St, Longwood Ave, Hunts Point or Whitlock Ave
Casita Maria Center for the Arts & Education is a charitable elementary and high school that teaches immigrant families how to thrive in New York City. They don’t just teach kids, they teach families. Their college participation rate is incredible.
Famous alumni include Tito Puente, Tina Ramirez the founder of Ballet Hispánico, judges, lawyers, rappers. They all say that Casita Maria kept them out of trouble and helped make them who they are.
Casa Amadeo, NYC’s First Latin Music Store
Casa Amadeo, at 786 Prospect Ave, is a music store whose origins reach back to the first Latin music store in New York City and the United States.
That first store was Almacenes Hernández founded in El Barrio East Harlem in 1927. Co-owner Victoria Hernández (1897-1998) was from Aguadilla. She built her own label and became a studio musician booker. In Puerto Rican family style, Victoria ran the business to support her brother’s musical careers.
Victoria’s co-owner and brother Rafael Hernández (1892-1965) was a songwriter who played in the Harlem Hellfighters band which introduced jazz to Europe during World War I. His famous compositions include “Lamento Borincano” and “Silencio.”
In her day, Victoria was one of the few Puerto Rican women to own a business in the United States. She started Casa Hernández at 786 Prospect Ave in 1941, and sold it to the current owner “Mike” Amadeo, from Bayamón, in 1969. Victoria is buried in the Old San Juan Cemetery.
We haven’t been to the store, but walking into some of New York’s old Latin music stores is like walking into the past. And these stores didn’t just sell musical instruments, they were centers of the community.
Longwood Historic District
The Longwood Historic District of rowhouses is roughly:
Prospect Ave | Longwood Historic District | Beck St
Bill Rainey Park is the neighborhood’s big park. Concrete Plant Park along the Bronx River is pretty cool. There is an amphitheater at Playground 52.
The neighborhood is served by the Bronx Community District 2 and the Bronx Borough President. It is served by New York City Council District 8 and District 17.
It is served by New York’s 15th Congressional District.
The South Bronx
Yes, Longwood is part of the South Bronx. It is still very urban, but the hard times of the 1970s were fifty years ago. It’s much better. Gentrification is a big problem now.
When The Bronx developed along subway lines, it was a place New Yorkers aspired to. Longwood was always diverse. The early German and Irish communities became Jewish neighborhoods.
Things began to change in the 1950s when the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway and the call of the suburbs emptied once vibrant communities. In the 1970s the old 41st Precinct at 1086 Simpson St was famously nicknamed “Fort Apache.” Those days are gone.
Today the South Bronx is known as the home of Latin jazz, salsa and hip-hop. Reggaeton passed through, and now the sound of Fandango is rising from the neighborhood. The South Bronx has always been a creative forge and probably always will be.