New York 7th District
Over the past two decades, hundreds of thousands of immigrants moved into many of New York City’s modest neighborhoods—neighborhoods that had been emptying out as the children of the immigrants who came to New York between 1890 and 1924 died or moved to the suburbs. These are places that affluent New Yorkers and traveling journalists seldom see as they whiz by on freeways to destinations in Manhattan. Rather, these are the neighborhoods that pop star Jennifer Lopez sings about. Most of the housing was built in the decades after 1910, when the subways first started connecting these neighborhoods with job sites in Manhattan. In the East Bronx, off the Bruckner Expressway and near the cluster of highways north of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, are such places as Bruckner, Morris Park, Schuylerville, and Throgs Neck. (Work began in 2008 on a $200 million reconstruction and widening of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, which opened in 1939.) The Hunts Point meat and produce markets are where some of the city’s toniest restaurants handpick their daily provisions and where plans are under way for a $100 million modernization.
2008 Presidential Vote
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Increasingly, the neighborhoods are filling with Latinos, many from Puerto Rico, but many also from the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean and Latin American countries. Lopez hails from Castle Hill; her On the 6 album is a reference to the Number 6 subway train that whisked her to Manhattan auditions. Home for many immigrants is one of two massive apartment projects: the Parkchester, built just before World War II by Metropolitan Life Insurance in the center of the Bronx, and the sprawling Co-op City, consisting of 35 buildings that house more than 50,000 residents in 15,000 apartments that were built by a consortium of labor unions in the late 1960s on marshy land near Eastchester Bay. Out past the bay is City Island, a Cape Cod-like resort area with boat makers and plenty of seafood restaurants.
Across the bridges in Queens are Jackson Heights, home to Little India and a sizable Latino community; Elmhurst, a place so diverse that one local hospital counted more than 100 different languages and dialects; and Woodside, a long-settled enclave with residents from 49 nations who speak 34 languages. One can find Pakistanis and Peruvians, Koreans and Dominicans, Indians and Filipinos, Mexicans and Bangladeshis.
These Bronx and Queens neighborhoods are all in the 7th Congressional District of New York. The district is a polyglot: In 2007, it was 16% black, 42% Hispanic, and 15% Asian. Sixty percent speak a language other than English at home, and 40% are foreign-born. Since 2000, the share of workers and high school graduates has increased and the poverty level has dropped slightly. But a major difference in satisfaction levels separates the residents of the Bronx and Queens. A January 2009 report by the Citizens Committee for New York found that the happiest New Yorkers, 51%, are from Queens, and the least happy, 24%, are from the Bronx. Politically, the 7th District votes heavily Democratic.