Neighborhood Secrets

An insider's guide to Bedford Park, in the Bronx

By Marjorie Cohen | February 20, 2019 - 9:00AM 

Houses along Perry Avenue, a historic district. The house with the white garage, #2983, is on the market for $899,000.

Marjorie Cohen

If you showed a listing for an apartment in Bedford Park in the Bronx to someone who lives there, they probably wouldn’t appreciate the description.

For example: “Live among the cognoscenti on a picturesque, tree-lined boulevard in Bedford Park—The Bronx's next hip, trendy nabe.” 

That’s because, as David Cruz, editor of the local newspaper, the Norwood News, explains, Bedford Park is a neighborhood “trying to fight against the tide of overdevelopment and attempting to preserve its history.” 

While it is true that several of the blocks in the neighborhood, including Mosholu Parkway, are tree-lined. But, “hip and trendy?” Those aren’t words that any of the residents Brick Underground talked to would use to describe this area that sits between Norwood to the north and Fordham to the south in the northwest corner of the borough.

A London connection

Bedford Park, like so many other New York City neighborhoods, got its name from a well-known London suburb that it was meant to emulate. The land it was built on belonged to Leonard Jerome, a colorful and well-known 19th century New Yorker who just happens to have been Winston Churchill’s grandfather. Jerome and his associates leased some of their Bronx land in 1866 to be used as a race track. The track is where the first Belmont Stakes was run. 

Eventually, Jerome sold his Bronx properties, which included what would eventually become Bedford Park. During the 1870s, streets were laid out, maple and elm trees planted, and water lines installed, all in preparation for the building of single-family homes. By 1884 The New York Times described the area as being for “New Yorkers of moderate means” who would be given “the chance to become owners of comfortable homes on easy terms.”  

Nine of the Queen Anne style houses that were built in the neighborhood from 1910-1912 are still standing on Perry Avenue, between Bedford Park Boulevard and 201st Street. About 10 years ago they were designated as an official city landmark district, one of the city’s smallest.  

 The entrance to New York Botanical Garden.

The entrance to New York Botanical Garden.

Marjorie Cohen

Where Manhattanites came to escape

By the early 1900s, with a growing population wanting more space and an escape from the crowded streets of Manhattan, developers began building multi-story apartment here, sometimes sandwiching single-family houses between six- or seven-story buildings. 

Today’s Bedford Park has an active community group, Bedford Mosholu Community Association that is working to preserve the neighborhood’s character and protect it from overdevelopment. 

The president of the group, Barbara Stronczer, has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years and says that, when the group got started, most of the members were “senior citizens from a European background.” Now, she says, younger people and people with different ethnicities are coming to the monthly meetings. 

Stronczer explains that her neighborhood includes the Botanical Garden, nearby Fordham University and Lehman College and the “gorgeous Mosholu Parkway,” which is cared for by another community group called Friends of Mosholu Parkland. 

Jose Giralt, who has lived here for 11 years, appreciates Bedford Park’s “neighborly, tight-knit, friendly feel.

“It is a solid working-class community with a fair variety of multi-family houses—originally built as single-family—and apartment buildings that contribute to its cultural and ethnic diversity,” he says.

Insider’s tip: Want to sound like a longtime Bedford Park resident? Then you need to refer to 203rd Street as Two Third Street, 205th Street as Two Fifth Street. Drop the hundred entirely. 

Boundaries: West 198th Street in the south, Mosholu Parkway in the north, Botanical Square in the east and Jerome Avenue in the west

Real Estate Prices: According to StreetEasy, the median purchase price in Bedford Park as $210,000. 

Trulia lists rents ranging from $1,200-$3,000 and prices from $25,000-$1,500,000. 

One of the nine homes in the Perry Avenue historic district is currently for sale and features a few notable alterations since the early 1900s—most notably a garage and a backyard swimming pool. The house at 2983 Perry Avenue has four bedrooms, three baths, and is asking $899,000.

Plenty of public transit but parking spaces are hard to find 

“We’ve got excellent access to public transportation: The D train underneath the Grand Concourse makes the trip to Midtown in 35 minutes during morning rush hour on trains that run express; the 4 train station is on Jerome Avenue and an Express Bus into Manhattan that runs along the Grand Concourse (BxM4) costs $6.50 one-way. We also have buses to Yonkers and Westchester County if you need to head north.

“I have a car that I primarily use on evenings and weekends for chores and the occasional weekend getaway and for some work-related activities. For me, it’s probably a 50/50 split between subway and car use. My car is parked in my building’s inside garage—$200 plus tax per month.” —Jose Giralt, 58, rents

“Parking is impossible at night. People park in front of driveways, hydrants. Most people here have cars. I’m a block from Metro North station and can be at Grand Central in 17 minutes.” —Barbara Stonczer, rents

“I walk down the hill to the Metro North station to go to have my hair done every week.” —Margaret Collins, 83, owns

“Public transportation? It’s horrible. I don’t touch the D and the buses are horrendous. I take a lot of cabs and often my daughter picks me up in her car. The hills make it hard to walk around, especially in cold weather.” —Yolanda, 65, moved to senior housing in December

Diverse? “Richly so,” according to one resident

“My neighbors are white, African American, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Albanian, Pakistani, African and some are from South America and Eastern Europe.” —Rafaela Santos, mid 50s, owns her own home with her husband

“Ten or twelve years ago store owners were mostly Hispanic—now I’m noticing many more who are from Yemen and Bangladesh.” —Barbara

“I live on the sixth floor with five other units on my floor. My wife and I are Hispanic. Our neighbors are an Indian-born couple by way of Guyana; a 75-year-old single Afro-Cuban man; a Brazilian couple in their 40s; a 30-something Chinese man with a white roommate; and a 30-something Anglo couple. Of course, [all of] Bedford Park isn’t as perfect a mix as my floor or building—I consider it primarily a Latino neighborhood without the intensity of other Latino enclaves in Queens and Brooklyn—but, I have found over the years that regardless of ancestry or cultural heritage, all people feel welcome here.” —Jose

 The Church of St. Philip Niri, built in 1899.

The Church of St. Philip Niri, built in 1899.

Jose Giralt

A friendly place to live

“A friend of mine moved to Riverdale. She says she misses our building. Much friendlier than her new one.” —Margaret

“Sadly, two weeks ago, we lost a favorite tenant to cancer who kept all the tenants informed of the goings-on in the building, from frivolous gossip to more serious maintenance issues that needed attention in the building. Her wake was well-attended at the church across the street.” —Jose

 The display at a new bakery on Webster Avenue, Confectionaires.

The display at a new bakery on Webster Avenue, Confectionaires.

Marjorie Cohen

 The shelves at Royal African and Caribbean Food grocery.

The shelves at Royal African and Caribbean Food grocery.

Marjorie Cohen

Plenty of restaurant, but residents want more

“I like Bedford Pizza Pasta because they treat us [students from nearby Mount St. Ursula Academy] really nice. And they give us a student discount.” —Trina, 17, student at St. Ursula who lives in the neighborhood

“I like the Webster Diner’s awesome breakfasts. I like the bacon, eggs, cheese and home fries.” —Jennifer, 28, rents

“I like Rocco’s Pizza but whenever I go, I feel bad about not going to the pizza place across the street from it. It’s just that I like this one better.” —Jasmine, 26, rents

“We have two supermarkets within three blocks—Fine Fare and C Town—but because we have a car, we go to Yonkers for our groceries. We stay local for quick milk/bread/egg trips. I recommend Mi Casa Bakery/Coffee Shop, for Spanish coffee and cakes. 

"For a general diner-type I like National Restaurant/Coffee Shop. If you can’t decide on anything specific, they offer a good variety of dishes with excellent breakfast choices any time of day or night (well-seasoned home fries with breakfast platters). Jerome’s Pizza, IMO best pizza in BP; and El Rinconcitodel Sabor Dominicano when you’re in the mood for Latin American dishes (try the roasted chicken with rice and beans, nothing fancy but dependably good). My favorite takeout spot is Kawah for typical Chinese; they do takeout only. By the time you’re placing your third order with Kawah, their friendly demeanor on the phone or in-person makes you feel like they’ve known you a long time.” —Jose

“There’s a nice little Albanian bakery on Bainbridge Avenue that I like. Confectionaires, a new place across from the Botanical Garden garage on Webster, is doing well and their stuff is wonderful.” —Margaret

“When I want to go to a restaurant, my daughter picks me up and takes me to Soho.” —Yolanda

“There are a lot of mom-and-pop shops owned by people from India, Pakistan, Mexico that carry specialty items like jack fruit, which I love! I love the local Chinese restaurant on Bedford Park, Hung Hing; the Webster Cafe; and for pizza, TraditaBrick Oven Pizza.”  —Rafaela

“People come from all over the Bronx and Westchester to buy their African and Caribbean food here. We have things you can’t get anywhere else. We have Ghanaians, Senegalese, people from the Caribbean, as customers. I am from Nigeria and often speak Ibo to my customers.” —Angie, works at Royal African and Caribbean Food 

“There’s a great new bakery on Webster Avenue, Confectionaires, but we don’t have any nice restaurant where you can sit down and have a glass of wine —at least not yet. There’s an upscale restaurant in the Botanical Gardens but that’s too expensive for most of us. In the warm weather, there’s a farmer’s market on Wednesday mornings at the Botanical Garden but it’s mostly cheese and baked goods, not all that many vegetables. Too upscale for me so I don’t go.” —Barbara

“We’re missing a fresh meat market and it’s harder to find fresh vegetables and fruits here than it was in Washington Heights where I used to live. The produce in the supermarkets is chopped up and packaged—that’s not what I like.” —Geraldine, 27, rents 

A few nightlife choices, if that’s your thing

The nightclub Rulay is awesome! Dancing, food, happy hour, I like it all. Lots of young people from the neighborhood come. And, I like the bar on the corner Jolly Tinker—it’s been around a really long time. You can smell the drafts when you walk in.” —Jennifer, 28 rents

“The club next door (Rulay) is too loud. I don’t care about nightlife.” —Geraldine, 27

 The Academy of Mount Saint Ursula.

The Academy of Mount Saint Ursula.

Marjorie Cohen

A nice place for families but public schools aren’t the greatest

“My twins go to school here. They’re in third grade. I think there’s too much emphasis on testing.” —Jennifer

“This is a good place to raise a family but the public school scores aren’t great and the classrooms are crowded. We have charter schools and parochial schools, which offer other choices. People I know who are raising families here shop around for good schools. Many get up early in the morning to take their kids to school in other areas. Our co-ops make good starter homes for young families.” —Barbara

“It’s a good place to raise my kids. It’s friendly and quiet. My family has lived here for a long time. Lots of people stay. There’s a library a few blocks away. I’m on my way there now, and there’s a playground we like next to PS 8.” —Jasmine, 26, rents

“Yeah, it’s a good place to grow up. I went to public school. There’s a close community in the public schools but, for high school, I switched to the Academy of Mount Saint Ursula. —Trina

Need some quiet? The Botanical Garden isn’t the only place to find it

“For green space, the Botanical Gardens and Mosholu Parkway are great for morning walks, jogging or just simply sitting on a bench.” —Rafaela

“The campus of Lehman College is an interesting combination of green space with old-style and new architecture. A lot less quiet is Mosholu Parkway with the car traffic, but it has plenty of benches and is beautifully landscaped.” —Jose

“In this ‘hood the green spaces I like are Mosholu Parkway and Williamsbridge Oval. [The Oval is in Norwood, one neighborhood over from Bedford Park.] —Anthony Rivieccio, 58, rents

“For baseball, we have the terrific Frank Frisch Field named after Bronx native and baseball hall of famer, Frankie ‘The Fordham Flash’ Frisch.” —Barbara

What are residents worried about?

Developers are buying properties. Even if it’s a house on a sliver of land, they want it. If more housing comes, we already have a lack of enough seats in the schools. We were promised infrastructure improvements when the rezoning was proposed, we haven’t seen any yet. And the new buildings don’t include any parking facilities. They say we’re transit rich and don’t need to provide parking. Parking was once great here. Now it’s a real problem.

“And we worry that the increase in development throughout the area has caused the loss of private homes, many that are close to or over 100 years old. After studying the history of our neighborhood, we’re going to look into obtaining historic district designation for the neighborhood, certain blocks and/or buildings.” —Barbara

“We’re not bringing in younger people in our parish and...some of the new housing that is being built is shoddy construction. A building that offers supportive housing just opened but it’s already falling apart.” —Margaret

“Currently there are two common complaints. First is the lack of street parking. But, honestly, that complaint has been going on for decades. I moved to Bedford Park for the first time in 1984, moved to Norwood for 20 years and then back to Bedford Park in 2007. They were complaining about street parking then and they still are.  

“The second complaint, which has been growing more and more intense over the last two to three years, is that there are too many new, market-rate apartment buildings going up. Some of these buildings don’t have indoor parking garages, exacerbating the problem of limited street parking spaces. Recent Community Board 7 meetings have included vigorous calls for permit parking for residents, discouraging outsiders from parking on our streets.” —Jose

If you’re thinking of moving to Bedford Park…

“Are rents affordable here? You’re joking, right? As a long-time renter of course I pay a lower rent. But for a new person, these prices are ripoffs.” —Anthony

“We are lacking good shopping. Lots of 99 cent stores, nail salons and barber shops. What we really need is a bank. I have to walk about seven blocks to get to mine.” —Barbara

“Apartments on the Grand Concourse have a reputation for being bigger than those on adjoining streets. But the Grand Concourse is the main thoroughfare of the Bronx which means lots of emergency vehicles and sirens. So, with more space comes more noise. Webster Avenue, on the eastern edge of Bedford Park, is often used by emergency vehicles and is also noisy.” —Jose

“Rents are still affordable compared to other neighborhoods in the city, but home prices are quickly rising. I get flyers offering me ‘cash for your home.’ If you are thinking of living here, take a walk around the neighborhood, get a feel for the different blocks and if one speaks to you, start looking right away because people are discovering that this is an awesome place to live!” —Rafaela

“This is a nice neighborhood for anyone who is single and wants good transportation. People need to find out more about the neighborhood. The Bronx has gotten a bad rap over the years, but I think it’s the last bastion of reasonable rents.” —Margaret

“It’s nice and quiet here. I moved from Bed Stuy, which is a lot noisier.” —Zachary


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