New York 17th District
The Bronx, settled mostly in the early 20th century, was originally a collection of middle-class neighborhoods clustered around subway stops, places where the children of immigrants left behind Manhattan’s gloomy tenements and walk-ups and basked in the sunlight, wide avenues and hilly vistas. Different ethnic groups collected here: Irish in Kingsbridge, in the valley between Riverdale and the Grand Concourse; well-to-do WASPs and Jews in Riverdale, on the palisades above the Hudson River; middle-class blacks in Williamsbridge, in the north-central part of the borough. When neighboring areas in the South Bronx began to deteriorate, many of their residents fled to the southern cities of Westchester County, on the Bronx border. Others drove over the Tappan Zee Bridge to the pleasant suburbs of Rockland County, just north of Bergen County, N.J. In 2008, serious discussions began over the possible replacement—not repair—of the 52-year-old Tappan Zee; the cost likely would exceed $6 billion.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 17th Congressional District of New York includes the bulk of these Bronx neighborhoods, plus Baychester, Eastchester and Spuyten Duyvil. It has the century-old Van Cortlandt Park, at 1,146 acres New York City’s third-largest park. It also includes leafy Woodlawn, still a magnet for Irish immigrants and more like neighboring Westchester County than the Bronx. The district skips around Marble Hill, an African-American and Latino enclave on the Bronx mainland that was kept as part of Manhattan after engineers diverted the Harlem River around it in 1895, hoping to improve water flow for shipping. The 17th extends deep into the suburbs, taking in black-majority Mount Vernon, financially troubled Yonkers and a narrow strip of land running north from Yonkers along the Hudson River. Across the Tappan Zee, the district encompasses the southern half of Rockland County, including Nyack, Orangetown, Suffern, Ramapo and part of Clarkstown. In 2007, the minority population of the district was 31% African-American and 24% Hispanic. The Bronx casts 38% of the vote, Rockland casts 37% and Westchester 25%. In 2008, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama carried the district, 72% to 28%