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The Turning Tide of White Flight in the South Bronx

Joseph Berger describes a demographic transformation underway on the Bronx's Grand Concourse.
March 28, 2012, 11am PDT | Ryan Lue
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2010 was the first census year in nearly half a century that New York's South Bronx saw an increase in its white population, "ever since an exodus that cost the Bronx over 300,000 residents and turned the Concourse [neighborhood] into an emblem of white flight and urban disenchantment," Berger writes.

The increase was small in number (less than 500 new residents in ten years) but dramatic in scale (up 17.5%), and represents a shift that is reflected in the changing landscape of the neighborhood. As Berger puts it, "The signs of gentrification include such clichés as a yoga studio, arugula and organic spinach at the local Foodtown supermarket, a weekly farmers' market in the warmer seasons and a new deli that sells croissants and banana-chip yogurt muffins."

However, some residents resent the attention the changing demographics have drawn, pointing out that black and Latino professionals have raised families in the neighborhood just fine for some time now. Moreover, crime has been falling steadily in South Bronx for 20 years, long before whites began moving back in. Said schoolteacher Amy Moran, "I'm cautious about a narrative that just because white people move in makes it a livable place. This has been a livable place for people who were already here."

Among the reasons Berger cites for the trend are affordable real estate, a newly designated historic district, improved roadways and parks, and "a reasonable commute to jobs in Manhattan."

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Published on Sunday, March 25, 2012 in New York Times
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