Mott Haven, The Bronx is the old South Bronx, but don’t get caught up in what it used to be. The Bronx is beautiful! Legends are made here. The neighborhood is one of the forges of Latin jazz, salsa, hip-hop. New York fandango is the latest trend to come out of the South Bronx.
Today it is gentrifying like everywhere else in New York City. The location is excellent. It’s just across the Harlem River from Manhattan. Now they call it “SoBro.” 😁
Latin Culture in Mott Haven
Mott Haven is one of the foundries of Latin culture in New York City. Latin jazz, salsa, and hip-hop are from here. Reggaeton passed through from Panama on its way to Puerto Rico and Colombia.
St. Mary’s Park is the big park. SummerStage hosts free concerts there in summer.
ID Studio Theater is a collective of many of the best Colombian actors, dancers and musicians.
Jarana Beat produces New York Fandangos that mix African, European and Indigenous traditions into a community celebration.
The Bronx is Beautiful
This is the Bertine Block Historic District. It’s just across the end of First Ave at the Willis Avenue Bridge, the first bridge directly between Manhattan and The Bronx.
The old Irish neighborhood became a Puerto Rican neighborhood by the 1940s. It received much of the “Great Migration” of the 1950s from Puerto Rico’s mountain farms.
Back in the day, the drum never stopped. Latin jazz legend Eddie Palmieri grew up in the neighborhood. His father’s bodega, El Mambo, was on the corner of Longwood Ave and Kelly St. Eddie ran the jukebox. The older kids hung out with Eddie’s older brother Charlie Palmieri. Eddie learned his craft from them.
Eddie and Charlie’s classic album “Harlem River Drive” (1971) is named after the FDR highway across the river which hurt local businesses by bypassing Harlem. The Palmieri’s saw this as an example of the injustice that Latins and Blacks had to put up with every day and in every way. So they made an album that combined R&B and Latin. This funky record is now an underground classic.
The legendary Teatro Puerto Rico was in Mott Haven. The lines used to stretch around the block. José Feliciano (“Feliz Navidad”) debuted there when he was nine. Its contemporary successor, Pregones/PRTT community theater, is just one block north of the neighborhood.
Mott Haven Government
NYC Council District 8 governs El Barrio/East Harlem in Manhattan and in The Bronx: Highbridge, Concourse, Mott Haven, Port Morris, Randall’s Island…