|City||New York City|
|Community District||The Bronx 9|
|• Total||1.25 km2 (0.482 sq mi)|
|• Density||27,000/km2 (70,000/sq mi)|
|• Median income||$41,075|
10462, 10460, 10461
|Area code||718, 347, 929, and 917|
Parkchester is a planned community and neighborhood originally developed by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and located in the central Bronx, New York City. The immediate surrounding area also takes its name from the complex. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise, are East Tremont Avenue to the north, Castle Hill Avenue to the east, Westchester Avenue to the south, East 177th Street/Cross Bronx Expressway to the southwest, and the Bronx River Parkway to the west. Metropolitan Avenue, Unionport Road, and White Plains Road are the primary thoroughfares through Parkchester.
The neighborhood is part of Bronx Community District 9 and is mostly located within ZIP Code 10462, with small sections in 10460 and 10461. The 6 and <6> trains of the New York City Subway operate along Westchester Avenue. The neighborhood is patrolled by the New York City Police Department's 43rd Precinct. The privately owned housing complex is patrolled by the Parkchester Department of Public Safety.
The housing development has the same origins as Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village, and Riverton Houses in Manhattan, which were also originally developed and owned by MetLife. The name was later unofficially applied to the entire neighborhood surrounding the apartment complex. The name "Parkchester" itself was derived from the two neighborhoods on each side of the site of the housing development — Park Versailles and Westchester Heights.
MetLife displayed an intricate scale model of the proposed development at the 1939 New York World's Fair. The model showed all of the buildings and facilities, and was accurate down to inclusion of each of the 66,000 windows in the complex. The 51 groups of buildings were planned to house 12,000 families.
The Parkchester residential development was originally designed and operated as a self-contained rental community for middle-class white families new to home ownership. MetLife chairman Frederick H. Ecker said that black renters were excluded because "Negroes and whites don't mix."
It was built from 1939 to 1942 (despite emergency building restrictions during World War II) on the farmland of the New York Catholic Protectory, a home for orphaned and troubled boys conducted by the Brothers of the Christian Schools, which relocated to Lincolndale (and still exists in) Westchester County. Macy's opened their first branch store after their 34th Street flagship store in Parkchester in 1941. In 1974, approximately one-third of the complex was converted to condominiums, with the remaining portion, now Parkchester South Condominium converted later, in 1986. The complex is best known for its broad, tree-lined walkways between the distinctive red-brown buildings, and for its Works Progress Administration-style terracotta decorations on the buildings, that represent animal and human figures of many types. Many of these are the work of sculptor Joseph Kiselewski.
In 2015 Parkchester celebrated its 75th anniversary with a family event on the Parkchester North Ball Field.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Parkchester was 29,821, an increase of 468 (1.6%) from the 29,353 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 210.76 acres (85.29 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 141.5 inhabitants per acre (90,600/sq mi; 35,000/km2).
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 42.8% (12,765) African American, 12.4% (3,721) Asian, 3.7% (1,105) Non-Hispanic White, 0.2% (73) Native American, 0.0% (11) Pacific Islander, 0.6% (171) from other races, and 2.0% (611) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 38.1% (11,364) of the population.
The Parkchester apartment complex has a total residential population over 25,000 and a population density over 115,000 people per sq mi. It includes a significant South Asian population: Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, including Catholics, Muslims, and Hindus. There are also a number of Italian, Polish, Irish, Eritrean and Albanian residents. The Asian residents include Thais, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Burmese, and Cambodians. Parkchester also is home to a large and longstanding population of Puerto Ricans, like Luis R. Sepulveda who represents the area in the New York State Assembly and has his office on Westchester Avenue. Parkchester has one of the highest concentration of Puerto Ricans in New York City, as is it situated between Soundview and Castle Hill, which are also notable for having a significantly denser Puerto Rican population in comparison to other parts of the Bronx or the city as a whole. While the population is approximately over 40% African American and 38% Latino, the complex once had a whites-only policy. The resident population of the Parkchester apartment complex reflects a broad age distribution and the changing ethnic makeup of the Bronx.
The entirety of Community District 9, which comprises Parkchester and Clason Point, had 184,105 inhabitants with an average life expectancy of 79.7 years.: 2, 20 This is about the same as the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.: 53 (PDF p. 84)  Most inhabitants are youth and middle-aged adults: 25% are between the ages of between 0–17, 29% between 25–44, and 24% between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 10% and 12% respectively.: 2
As of 2017, the median household income in Community District 9 was $40,005. In 2018, an estimated 26% of Parkchester and Clason Point residents lived in poverty, compared to 25% in all of the Bronx and 20% in all of New York City. One in eight residents (13%) were unemployed, compared to 13% in the Bronx and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 55% in Parkchester and Clason Point, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 58% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018[update], Parkchester and Clason Point are considered low-income relative to the rest of the city and not gentrifying.: 7
The Parkchester complex is composed of 171 four-sided brick buildings, either eight or 13 stories in height and numbered M (for Main) through 7 and M through 12, respectively. The 13 story buildings have dual elevators positioned side-by-side, while they eight-story buildings only have one. Some buildings even have a Terrace level - apartments that are located on the ground floor and noted by the T in front of the apartment letter, i.e., TA, TB, etc. These apartments differ from all others in the community in that they have an additional screened door in the living room section of the apartment that leads out onto a concrete patio where tenants usually put patio/lawn furniture.
The surrounding area, commonly referred to as "Parkchester," is dominated by multi-unit buildings unrelated to Parkchester complex. 78.4% of housing units are renter occupied. Retail locations are interspersed throughout the neighborhood as well as along Starling Avenue, McGraw Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, Tremont Avenue, Unionport Road, and White Plains Road; the latter four streets are considered the backbones of the area.
Points of interest include:
- American Theater, formerly Loews American, established in 1939, operated by Bow Tie Cinemas as a seven-screen multiplex until it closed in 2013. Converted to a Marshall's store.
- Macy's Department Store, with 175,000 square feet (16,300 m2) of selling space, opened in October 1941 as the company's first branch store.
- Zaro's Bakery, established in 1959, temporarily closed in 2015, reopened in 2017 close to its original location.
A prominent feature of Parkchester is the Bangla Bazaar located throughout Olmstead Ave., Odell St., Purdy St., and Castle Hill Ave. The long stretch of blocks are occupied by businesses owned by Bangladeshis and is the heart of their community.
There are two subsections of the neighborhood. Parkchester Apartment Complex is a subsection of Parkchester. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise, are East Tremont Avenue to the north, Castle Hill Avenue to the east, McGraw Avenue to the south, and White Plains Road to the west. The apartment complex has recently undergone substantial renovations of many of their apartments. Additionally, Stratton Park is on the west part of Parkchester. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise, are the Amtrak Northeast Corridor to the west and north, White Plains Road to the east, and East 177th Street (the Cross-Bronx Expressway service road) to the south. Its zip code is 10460, and its residents consider themselves as part of Parkchester.
At the heart of Parkchester is the 2 acres (0.81 ha) Aileen B. Ryan Oval, formerly Metropolitan Oval.
Parkchester was designed with aesthetics in mind as evidenced by intricate patterns of brickwork and architectural ornaments. The development contains 500 terra cotta statuettes and 600 plaques, and depict a wide array of figures, including bullfighters, soldiers, mermaids, and Native American chiefs, and animals, including gazelles, puffins, kangaroos, and bears. Sculptures were largely provided by the Federal Seaboard Terra Cotta Corporation. Among the nine sculptors on the project were Raymond Granville Barger, Joseph Kiselewski, Carl Schmitz and Theodore Barbarossa. They adorn the entrances and can also be seen high on the corners of the taller buildings. Some are polychromatic, painted in bright colors, and some figures appear within rondels. In the Aileen B. Ryan Oval, a fountain named Fantasia, created by Barger, was installed in 1941 and is often the backdrop of photographs. The former Loew’s American Theater is ornamented with figures of two harlequins in the front and a matador, hula girl, flamenco dancer, and other figures in the rear.
Approximately 45 of the sculptures were removed from 2018 to 2021; a campaign by history preservationists and architectural historians has launched to preserve the Parkchester sculptures.
Police and crime
Parkchester and Clason Point are patrolled by the 43rd Precinct of the NYPD, located at 900 Fteley Avenue. The 43rd Precinct ranked 36th safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. As of 2018[update], with a non-fatal assault rate of 100 per 100,000 people, Parkchester and Clason Point's rate of violent crimes per capita is more than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 603 per 100,000 people is higher than that of the city as a whole.: 8
The 43rd Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 76.1% between 1990 and 2020. The precinct reported 9 murders, 36 rapes, 399 robberies, 671 felony assaults, 244 burglaries, 680 grand larcenies, and 233 grand larcenies auto in 2020.
Parkchester Department of Public Safety
The Parkchester Department of Public Safety protects the residents, visitors, and property of the Parkchester Housing condominiums.
As of 2018[update], preterm births and births to teenage mothers are more common in Parkchester and Clason Point than in other places citywide. In Parkchester and Clason Point, there were 106 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 26.4 births to teenage mothers per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide).: 11 Parkchester and Clason Point has a relatively average population of residents who are uninsured. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 16%, higher than the citywide rate of 14%.: 14
The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in Parkchester and Clason Point is 0.0076 milligrams per cubic metre (7.6×10−9 oz/cu ft), more than the city average.: 9 Eighteen percent of Parkchester and Clason Point residents are smokers, which is higher than the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.: 13 In Parkchester and Clason Point, 32% of residents are obese, 16% are diabetic, and 34% have high blood pressure—compared to the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively.: 16 In addition, 25% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%.: 12
83% of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is less than the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 72% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," lower than the city's average of 78%.: 13 For every supermarket in Parkchester and Clason Point, there are 13 bodegas.: 10
The nearest hospital campuses are Montefiore Medical Center's Westchester Square and West Farms campuses, as well as Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center's Longwood campus. The nearest large hospital is NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi in Morris Park.
Post office and ZIP Codes
Parkchester is located within multiple ZIP Codes. The housing development proper is part of 10462, but the areas to the immediate west are located in 10460, and the immediate east, in 10461. The United States Postal Service's Parkchester Station is located at 1449 West Avenue.
Parkchester and Clason Point generally have a similar rate of college-educated residents to the rest of the city as of 2018[update]. While 23% of residents age 25 and older have a college education or higher, 30% have less than a high school education and 47% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 26% of Bronx residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher.: 6 The percentage of Parkchester and Clason Point students excelling in math rose from 23% in 2000 to 44% in 2011, and reading achievement increased from 27% to 30% during the same time period.
Parkchester and Clason Point's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is higher than the rest of New York City. In Parkchester and Clason Point, 28% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, more than the citywide average of 20%.: 24 (PDF p. 55) : 6 Additionally, 69% of high school students in Parkchester and Clason Point graduate on time, lower than the citywide average of 75%.: 6
- PS/MS 194, a public elementary and middle school situated on Zerega Avenue and Waterbury Avenue that educates students from kindergarten to 8th grade. It is also near the 6 train subway line and near the Zerega subway station
- Castle Hill Middle School, a public middle school situated on St Raymond Avenue and Purdy Street, that educates students in grades 6–8. Formerly a troubled school known as JHS 127, it is now split into 7 different learning communities in order for students to get higher grades.
- St. Raymond Academy for Girls, a private high school situated on Castle Hill Avenue, that educates students in grades 9–12
- St. Raymond Elementary School, a private elementary school and middle school situated on Purdy Street; it educates students in pre-kindergarten to grade 8
- PS 106, a public elementary school located at 2120 St. Raymond Avenue for grades 1–5.
- St. Helena Elementary, a private pre-school, elementary school, and middle school situated on Benedict Avenue that educates students from pre-k to 8th grade.
- Bronx Charter School for Excellence, a charter school located on Benedict Avenue that educates students from kindergarten to 8th grade.
The New York Public Library (NYPL)'s Parkchester branch is located at 1985 Westchester Avenue. The branch opened in 1942 within the Parkchester development and moved to its current two-story structure in 1985.
- Bx4/Bx4A: to Westchester Square station or Third Avenue – 149th Street (via Westchester Avenue)
- Bx22: to Bedford Park (Bronx High School of Science) or Castle Hill (via Castle Hill Avenue and Unionport Road)
- Bx36: to Castle Hill or George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal (via 180th Street)
- Bx39: to Wakefield – 241st Street subway station or Clason's Point (via White Plains Road)
- Q44 SBS: to Jamaica or West Farms (via East 177th Street, the Cross Bronx Expressway service roads) and Main Street)
- BxM6: express to Midtown Manhattan (via Metropolitan Avenue)
In popular culture
- Parkchester was the filming location for part of the Sporty Thievz 1998 video "No Pigeons." Extras were featured circling a red car parked in front of the Loews American (later known as just the American) theater on East Avenue.
- Parkchester was featured in the film Doubt (2008), during the scene when Sr. Aloysius is walking with Mrs. Miller behind the building located at 2051 St. Raymond Avenue.
- Claudette Colvin (born 1939), civil rights icon
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (born 1989), U.S. Representative
- George A. Romero (1940–2017), filmmaker
- Cooperative Village
- Towers in the park
- Co-op City
- LeFrak City
- Marcus Garvey Village
- Mitchell Lama
- Parkfairfax, Virginia
- Parkmerced, San Francisco
- Park La Brea, Los Angeles
- Penn South
- Riverton Houses
- Rochdale Village, Queens
- Starrett City, Brooklyn
- Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village
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- Lungariello, Mark. "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweaks bio after residency questions", The Journal News, July 6, 2018. Accessed October 24, 2020. "Ocasio-Cortez was 2 years old when her father, Sergio Ocasio-Roman, bought a modest home in Yorktown for $150,000. The family lived in the Parkchester section of the Bronx at the time and moved to the house in Yorktown a few years later."
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- "Remembering George Romero, A Filmmaker Who Brought The Dead To Life", NPR, July 17, 2017. Accessed October 24, 2020. "I grew up in New York City. And I lived in the Bronx in a place called Parkchester. And I was shooting with my uncle's 8 mm camera, and I was making a movie called The Man From the Meteor. And the man from the meteor was ultimately shot with his own ray gun and fell flaming off the roof where I lived, in Parkchester."
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