Mott Haven

The side tourists avoid, and not many native New Yorkers see

Mott Haven is a part of the South Bronx, an area in which many people call home but others see as one of the most ‘ghetto’ parts of the Bronx. This specific area is between 135th Street and Cypress Avenue, walking along the 6 train line going Uptown. For a more specific view, refer to the image below:

The audience targeted in these pictures are current residents and Hispanic people in the area. The majority of residents (68%) are Latino, with the rest of the general population being made up of 27% African Americans and 3% White people.

As you can see from the images above, some of the signs I collected were presented in Spanish, further proving the point of how mainly Spanish speakers call this area home. I am a Spanish speaker as well, having parents from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. This area also has a heavy amount of graffiti, with more pieces showing up as the area becomes more gentrified. I tried to capture the more original essence of the area, like the signs of the project buildings and the “buscando trabajo” (looking for work) signs since they’ve been here longer than the other buildings have. Mott Haven is unfortunately known as a bad area, and although there is the occasional crime, it’s not the worst area of the Bronx. It’s not a tourist destination either, it’s more of an area that’s frequented by residents. Others see it as bad, but at the end of the day, it’s home to many. This area is also one, of many areas of the Bronx, that have NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) or as locals call it, “the projects”. The image below is an example of that:

NYCHA is to the left

Graffiti is to the right

As I previously mentioned, the area is being gentrified slowly. Newer residence buildings are popping up and replacing old businesses or apartments that weren’t doing so well. The area is also filled with new places to eat, like Hudson Smokehouse and Charlie’s Bar and Kitchen which have good food for an expensive price. Being that the area in which 29% of the people live in poverty, it isn’t necessarily all-inclusive for residents who have been in the area. But regardless of that, there are still the mom-and-pop shops (cheap and nostalgic) that locals love to enjoy. The gentrification hasn’t necessarily reached the Brooke Ave and Cypress Ave areas, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get there eventually.

If you’re a local in the Bronx, you know that several areas become really busy in the warmer months. Block parties, kids playing on the sidewalk, and music being blasted are all regular activities that occur to somewhat enjoy the weather without leaving the comfort of your block. But there are always those crabby residents who don’t approve of these events, which has caused people to put up signs to prohibit these activities. It’s quite unfortunate, but there is also a precinct close by, so it’s hard to really complain about not being able to exercise these well-loved ‘traditions’. Signs like the one below are one of a couple posted up around the area: