I recently read Think of a Number by John Verdon. In the book Mr. Verdon describes the Bronx using extremely negative terms which I found disheartening. I thought this is not the Bronx that I inhabit every day. It made me realize that the Bronx still receives bad press even though a lot of great things have/are happening here. There are numerous programs and places in the Bronx that help educate those who live in and outside the borough about the fantastic things going on.
The Bronx Zoo (bronxzoo.com) can be considered the jewel of the Bronx. It is the biggest wildlife conservation park in all the boroughs. The Bronx Zoo sponsors many great programs, classes, and workshops for children, adults, teachers, and students. They have great classes for groups of homeschoolers too.
The Bronx has miles and miles of greenways where people go to ride bikes, skate, walk, or jog while taking in a bit of nature. On some greenways you can see rabbits, snakes, wild birds, and possum. Others span the shorelines of the Bronx River, Long Island Sound, and the East River where you can sit and watch boats and ships pass by or simply sit and enjoy a breeze.
The Bronx River Alliance, a non-profit environmental organization created in 2001, has helped to open public access to the Bronx River while helping to protect and rescue it. They offer various programs like the Bronx River Ramble, The Community Paddle, and the Flotilla. The Ramble, which occurs on the first Saturday of every month, is a guided nature walk that explores both ecological and historic elements of Bronx communities along the river. The Community Paddle, unlike the Flotilla, is open to everyone. It’s also a guided tour that takes participants along the river and you don’t have to be an experienced paddler. Both events are free, fun, and educational (bronxriver.org).
The Urban Park Rangers, a group sponsored by the New York City Department of Parks( nycgovparks.org), offer many free educational and fun programs throughout the year. You can hike with the Rangers, study wildlife, learn about Native American tribes who used to live in the Bronx, study plants, follow animal tracks, and even camp out!
Take a trip to the Bronx Museum (bronxhistoricalsociety.org) to learn about the borough’s beginnings. Find out how communities, parks, bridges, and even streets got their names. Read some of the books in the museum library to familiarize yourself with some famous Bronxites. Or take a trip to the Edgar Allen Poe cottage and see how he spent the last years of his life in the Bronx.
The Bartow Pell Mansion Museum (bartowpellmansionmuseum.org) is a New York City/National landmark. You can take a guided tour of the mansion and visit the grounds surrounding it. There are educational programs, summer camp classes, and artistic events available as well as hikes. And you can hop on the Bronx Seaside Trolley for a free ride there every first Friday. Call this number to find out more – 718 885 1461.
Take the time to learn about the great things the Bronx has to offer. The more you become involved the better it will be!