Where New York City Begins

One of my favorite ways to drive into New York is via Jerome Avenue in the Bronx.

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As you head south from Yonkers, both sides of the road are overgrown with beautiful green foliage. To the west is Van Cordlant Park…

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…to the east, Woodlawn Cemetery.

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It’s so pretty, you might almost start to wonder if you’ve taken a wrong turn. I mean, The Bronx isn’t supposed to look like this…right?

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And yet, the road continues on, with lush trees completely surrounding you.

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One of my favorite bits along the drive is this one tree, whose branches create a canopy extending more than halfway over the street:

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Just as you think it’s not going to end, something appears in the distance…

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And then, as abruptly as could be possible…

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…New York City begins.

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I’ve never come across as defined an entrance to a city as Jerome Avenue (besides shorelines, of course). Most of the time, traveling from a city into the next town over is more like a gradual dissolve. The buildings get shorter, the roads thinner. Here, it’s like a doorway into New York.

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As you pass underneath the station, all the hallmarks of New York immediately start to appear…

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Delis, pizza places, run down shops, and of course, the elevated tracks…

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Before long, auto repair shops and brick office buildings begin springing up…

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…and within seconds, you’re in as archetypal a block as could be found in any of the five boroughs.

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As I head south, I always find myself glancing over my shoulder at the lush, green world I’m leaving behind.

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Then, I continue on into the city.

-SCOUT

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16 comments

  1. That’s awesome. It’s like the gates to the Emerald City. Hopefully it’ll stay like that forever.. Well, maybe if they added some turrets to the station. But that would make it too much Disney, so lets not. ;p

  2. Pic #12 under the el is classic NYC, I love it!!

  3. The northern part of the Bronx is much different than the sounthern, more infamous, part. Perhaps you should scout out all the different movies filmed in the Riverdale section.

  4. I grew up around a remember fondly heading down Jerome Ave to where the city began. A few years later, I brought a friend who grew up upstate down Jerome Ave. and he was dumbfounded by the emergence of the elevated train in front us, exclaiming “What is that structure in front of us!?” He was even more agitated when we began to drive under the el tracks!

  5. Love it. It’s like when all the old cities used to have walls and different gates into the the actual city. On a similar note I always love contemplating the different roads that run into a city and always imagine scenes from ancient Athens and Rome etc. when there were actual distinguished roads that ran into a city, a la the aforementioned walls and gates and what must have gone on outside the walls along the way.

  6. I grew up in the Bronx and went to Lehman College – but never saw this view from the Yonkers side – I passed Woodlawn Cemetary enough times too. I loved this and shared on Facebook-thank you!

  7. Underneath the terminal of the el, there used to be a trolley terminus. The trolley just reversed direction at that point. The backs of the trolley seats swung on hinges to face the other direction. As kids we always like to help the conductor turn the seat backs. In the summers of the early 1950s we took the trolley north to Tibbets Brook Park in Yonkers to go swimming in the outdoor pool.,

  8. Whenever I enter the city after being away, I always think of that quote from The Great Gatsby;

    ” The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.”

  9. Enjoyed this post. West of Jerome once you pass Moshulu Parkway, is Amalgamated Housing, a cooperative living community dating back to 1927. I live in the last of the original buildings. You probably know of it already. It’s a lovely tree-lined neighborhood with lots of history.

  10. Driving into the Bronx on Route 1 (Boston Road) is an almost-but-not-quite case of an abrupt suburban/urban transition. The roadside scenery is leafy and suburban through most of Pelham Manor, and then completely urban when in the Bronx. It’s not a perfect case because there’s a stretch of couple thousand feet between the Hutchinson River Parkway and the city line that’s urban-looking but still in Pelham Manor.

  11. Scout, Agree, Jerome Avenue is the most abrupt city entrance I’ve seen, but the Southern entrance to Pittsburgh via the Fort Pitt Tunnel and Bridge is the most dramatic I know, hands down. I grew up there, and it never failed to stun, no matter how many times I went downtown, as we say in the ‘burgh. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0ScB9EpnBA

  12. Jerome avenue was named for financier Leonard Jerome, maternal grandfather of Winston Churchill. Jerome’s daughter (Churchill’s mother) was the famed Jenny Jerome.

  13. @George Gauthier some of the commuter trains in this area still use reversible seats. i know at least some models the LIRR uses do (or did five years ago when i lived there, anyway), and i think there may be some on NJT as well. (not sure about MetroNorth.)

  14. @ Aaron:
    New Jersey Transit has some cars with reversible seats. The LIRR hasn’t had any for years.

  15. just to be clear, i actually live in Woodlawn and take the leafy green jerome avenue (which extends all the way to 233rd street, by the way) and the entire road *is* the bronx. also, “the bronx isn’t supposed to look like this?” hrumph. the bronx is is about 24% parkland, which includes virgin forest, wetlands and beach front. additionally, there was an actual revolutionary battle fought in woodlawn in Indian Fields and woodlawn cemetery contains a redoubt from the encampment of washington’s troops dragging artillary across what is now the gun hill road. just saying.

  16. If you’re looking to visit another site that offers a discrete transition from one city to another (with wildly different demographics, median incomes etc), drive southbound on Clinton Ave from Garden City into Hempstead and watch as the street transforms. it’s incredible

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