Two years ago, I moved from West Sixth Street and Avenue T in Gravesend --a neighborhood in south-central Brooklyn that's near Coney Island--to Eastchester Road (near Morris Park Avenue) in Morris Park, a neighborhood in the East Bronx about 10 minutes by car from the Bronx Zoo. I made the move from Brooklyn to the Bronx for medical school.
In Gravesend, I shared a three-bedroom apartment in a two-family home with my father. Rents in the area for a three-bedroom space average around $2,500 per month.
I liked the ethnic diversity of Gravesend. It still has a lot of old school Italian charm, but has also become more multicultural, with Asian and Russian influences. There are more things to do there than in Morris Park--from restaurants to its proximity to Coney Island’s theme parks and beach--and Gravesend could be called more "cutesy" or charming.
There were a lot of good places to eat in Gravesend including L&B Spumoni Garden, a well-known Italian restaurant and pizza place on 86th Street between West 10th and 11th streets.
There's also a lot of subway access--the N, F and D trains were all walking distance from my old apartment--which is a big plus. I got around more by car when I lived in Brooklyn, but in general, it was very easy to get to Manhattan (about an hour to Midtown by subway) and other parts of Brooklyn. So even though it's not the trendy part of the borough, it is easy to get around.
A downside of Gravesend is it tends to get boring. You're just about paying the high Brooklyn prices to live there, but you're not getting the same perks (e.g. coffee shops, bars, as many restaurants) that you are in trendier parts.
I moved to Morris Park out of necessity, not only for medical school, but also for hospitals in the area that I work in, rotating through Jacobi Medical Center and other clinics and hospitals around the city.
I live in housing that's provided by my school, but rent prices in my area tend to be cheap. I pay $500 per month to live in a two-bedroom apartment, which was converted from a one-bedroom space, and is partly subsidized by the hospital.
The direct area I live in is defined by two big hospitals, and other than that there really isn't much going on. The area is much more industrial than Gravesend. If you walk up Morris Park Avenue, it gets cuter, and in a way, reminds me of Marine Park, another neighborhood in Brooklyn, because it is very residential and quiet.
The area is a mix of families, students and hospital employees. There are large Hispanic and Caribbean populations in Morris Park--and a big Italian population. The Bronx Columbus Day Parade is held in Morris Park, and Arthur Avenue, a street known for its Italian restaurants and markets, is very close and that's definitely a draw.
You can’t go wrong with any restaurant along Arthur Avenue, but if you’re looking for something closer to Morris Park, Patricia’s, an Italian restaurant on Morris Park and Lurting avenues, is really good.
Loreto Park, on Morris Park Avenue between Haight and Tomlinson avenues, has a nice playground for children, basketball, handball and bocce courts, and is a nice area to just relax.
There are a few options for grocery shopping, including D & D Quick Shop and Big Deal Supermarket on Morris Park Avenue, Vila European Market on Williamsbridge Road and Apple Grocery and Produce on Eastchester Road.
I find that taking public transportation to Manhattan is harder from the Bronx than from other boroughs. It takes longer and trains are more sporadic. It could take almost twice as much time to get to downtown Manhattan from Morris Park than it would take from Gravesend--about an hour and a half during a slow commute.
There is an express bus that stops in front of my building, but how often it comes depends on the time of day. The East 180th train station is the closest station to my apartment; it’s served by the 2 and 5 trains. I feel that it’s easier to have a car over here, but my opinion may be skewed by the fact that I park in a garage. On-street parking seems ok in the area, though.
After a year and a half, if I end up doing my research somewhere in Manhattan or Brooklyn, I would entertain the idea of moving back in with my family in Brooklyn to cut costs and commute time. I've noticed that many of the residents that I interact with actually live in Manhattan. While I would love to continue working here, I don't think I would necessarily stay beyond four or five years just because of the lack of good nightlife and the tough commute to Manhattan.
The way that I feel about the neighborhood in general is that this is a great place for me to learn and grow at this stage in my life and career. The history and cultural diversity in small neighborhoods like this one is one of the many reasons that I love New York. The cheap rent doesn't hurt either.
*Note: The author's opinions are not of the institution he works or worked for and he's not a paid employee.
Transitions highlights New Yorkers’ first impressions as they transition from one neighborhood to another. Want to tell us your transition story? Drop us an email.
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