Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Bronx

The vibrant Bronx is a special place with great people, places and attractions. It has much to offer.

Congressman Serrano represents New York’s 15th Congressional District, loosely bounded by the Harlem, Bronx, and East Rivers on the west, south, and east, extending north up past Fordham Road. The District includes the neighborhoods of Mott Haven, Hunts Point, Melrose, High Bridge, Morrisania, East Tremont, Tremont, Morris Heights, University Heights, Belmont, Fordham, Bedford Park, West Farms, the Longwood Avenue Historic District, and parts of Soundview. Famous sites include Yankee Stadium , the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage , the magnificent Sanford White-designed Bronx Community College and its Hall of Fame of Great Americans Fordham University , Hunts Point’s vibrant The Point and its developing South Bronx Visitors Center, Bronx Borough Hall, the Grand Concourse Little Italy Arthur Avenue , the Bronx Museum of the Arts , and Roberto Clemente State Park . The district also abuts the world famous Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden .

Bronx old-timers remember the days when Presidents Roosevelt and Truman rode down 138th Street, when Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio knocked home runs out of Yankee Stadium, when Art Deco apartment buildings were built along the Grand Concourse, when shoppers thronged Tremont Avenue stores, and when Bronx County Democratic Chairman Ed Flynn was Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. As early as the 1880’s, the Bronx (then known as the North side and only recently annexed from Westchester County) was linked to the level eastern half of Manhattan by elevated steam locomotives. But the borough really took off in 1906 with the arrival of the first subway, which allowed the children of immigrants to move from grim Lower East Side tenements to spacious walkup apartments flooded with light. The Bronx's population grew from 200,000 in 1900 to 430,000 in 1910—enough, had the bourough been independent, to rank as America’s sixth largest city—and 1.2 million in 1930. The Bronx's population peaked at nearly 1.5 million in 1950. But after a quarter-century of deterioration, the population shrunk to 1.2 million by 1990. Now it's up again, to 1.4 million in 2010, as new immigrants revive neighborhoods that had been given up for dead.

The borough began to struggle more in the 1960s. Rent control, insisted upon by tenants, meant that many owners of low-rent property wouldn't maintain it; once empty, many buildings were torched for the insurance money, sometimes as many as four blocks a week. At the same time, a drop in low-income, low-skill jobs in Manhattan and the Bronx led to a rise in welfare dependency and crime, with empty building shells becoming the perfect venue for drug dealing. And the 13-year, $250 million effort to build the Cross-Bronx Expressway --a brainchild of Robert Moses that crossed 113 streets and avenues, hundreds of utility mains and ten mass-transit lines--made things worse. As workers plowed through acres of tough bedrock, the project shredded entire neighborhoods, forcing 40,000 people to move from their homes and forever changing the landscape. In the upheaval, longtime residents left and an unfortunate cycle emerged: crime drove away jobs, which drove away fathers, which produced more crime.

Presidents and presidential candidates came in--Jimmy Carter in 1977, Ronald Reagan in 1980--promising help. Ironically, the South Bronx was never the worst slum in New York; it just looked the worst. The borough's saviors were churches and creative community groups which, without much centralized planning, built single-family pastel bungalows and small-scale apartment projects for the elderly, single-parent families and former homeless. With their help, the South Bronx has turned a corner. The building spree of the 1990s created the Bronx's first new wave of housing starts since the 1950s, and the first new cluster of private residences since the 1930s. While Bronx County still has the third-highest percentage of single mothers in America, and while rates of childhood asthma are among the nation's highest, low-income families in the Bronx are now finding it possible to work their way up. Local institutions such asBronx-Lebanon Hospital have helped, employing area residents and providing neighborhood stability. As immigrants from Ecuador, Ghana and Bangladesh settled in, the population once again rose; a few corners of the 15th District have even seen yuppies and artists colonizing old industrial space. Charlotte Street, which Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan once visited as the worst of the slums, is now Charlotte Gardens , with owner-occupied houses worth $180,000. As with other parts of New York City, one of the main challenges now for the 15th District is improving its commercial sector.

The 15th Congressional District includes all of the South Bronx. It is bounded by the  Harlem River on the west, the East River on the south, the Westchester Creek on the east, and goes up to Fordham University on the north. It includes the Parisian-style Grand Concourse, where single-family homes for the wealthy were replaced in the 1930’s by stylish Art Deco apartment buildings; this was one of America's biggest Jewish neighborhoods up through the 1960’s. It also includes , the Bronx "Little Italy" and site of an old-fashioned food market on Arthur Avenue; Belmont now has a growing number of Albanians. The 15th also includes the lower-rent commercial sections of Westchester Avenue, Boston Road and the Hub, and the flatlands of Bruckner Boulevard, Mott Haven and Hunts Point (including the meat and produce markets). The 15th is 35% black, 66% Hispanic--the highest percentage in any New York district. This has long been New York's largest concentration of Puerto Ricans, but an increasing proportion of Latinos here now are from other parts of Latin America, specifically from Dominican Republic. Politically, this was the most Democratic district in the country in 2012—96.7% for Barack Obama.

More on The Bronx

Dec 7, 2017 The Serrano Report

Dear Friend,

Did you know the open enrollment period for health care coverage in 2018 is open until January 31, 2018 in New York?

Don’t forget to sign up for 2018 health care coverage. You can purchase a plan or renew your coverage through nystateofhealth.ny.gov until January 31st.  

Dec 7, 2017 The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC


Congressman Serrano Questions Small Business Administration and General Services Administration Executives on Puerto Rico

Dec 1, 2017 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressmen José E. Serrano (D-The Bronx) introduced legislation to address how social media and other forms of electronic communication have helped fuel the rise in hate crimes against certain minority groups around the country.

Nov 16, 2017 Press Release

Washington, D.C – Today, Congressman José E. Serrano condemned House Republicans for passing their devastating tax legislation, which causes serious harm to residents of the Bronx.   

Nov 13, 2017 The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC


Congressman Serrano Questions Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico Executives

Nov 7, 2017 The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC


Congressman Serrano Meets with Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Roselló

Last week, Congressman Serrano welcomed Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Roselló to his D.C. office this week to discuss disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico as well as the ongoing relief efforts in the island.

Nov 7, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Serrano today released the following statement on the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Temporary Protected Status program that temporarily gives asylum to and protect immigrants from Nicaragua, and to leave TPS holders from Honduras in limbo.  Both countries that have been affected by natural disasters in recent years and economic difficulties.

Nov 3, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman José E. Serrano and Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón today introduced the Rebuilding Resilient Energy Systems Act of 2017 that would allow Stafford Act disaster funding to be used to rebuild more resilient and efficient energy systems for major disaster or emergency-designated areas during 2017. This legislation would help states and territories affected by this year’s hurricane season such as Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to rebuild in a way that would save taxpayer money for years to come.

Nov 1, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Serrano released the following statement encouraging Bronxites and New Yorkers in general to sign up for health care coverage for 2018 during the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period, which will run from November 1 through December 15 in most states (November 1 through January 31 in New York):

Oct 30, 2017 The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC


Congressman Serrano Continues Efforts to Provide Puerto Rico Adequate Relief Support

Congressman Serrano continues advocating for the island of Puerto Rico on Capitol Hill as it faces a humanitarian crisis post Hurricane Maria. Congressman Serrano released the following statement on the disaster relief efforts aid packet approved in Congress last week and vowed to fight for more funding to help Puerto Rico: