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JLo's Bronx

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Bronx is one of New York's five boroughs. It was named after the Bronck family, Dutch farmers who owned a huge tract of property there. They also gave their name to Bronck's River which led to the derivation used today.

The Bronx was once a metaphor for urban decay and today, while parts of it are full of abandoned buildings, the northern reaches has a privately owned community of Tudor-style mansions owned by some of New York's wealthiest residents. It is truly a place of great contrast. It has also been the location for countless films, television shows and commercials — hence its nickname ''Cinema Island''.

The Grand Concourse runs north-south from 138th Street to Mosholu Parkway for about seven kilometres and features the world's largest assemblage of Art Deco residential buildings.

The Bronx was the birthplace of the rap music industry, home to Yankee Stadium, a wonderful zoo, botanical garden with a magnificent iron and glass conservatory and New York's largest park, Pelham Bay, which covers more than 1000 hectares.

The borough was once a forest-like respite from the rest of the city but is now home to 1.2 million people. Some famous people were born there — south of 161 Street is the Bronx Walk of Fame with lamppost plaques bearing names of famous sons and daughters of the borough such as Anne Bancroft, Joey Bishop, Rita Moreno, Tony Curtis, Colin Powell and Stanley Kubrick.

Possibly the most successful and famous person who was born in The Bronx is Jennifer Lopez, popularly known as JLo. Born in 1970, the dancer, singer and actress was the first Latina to receive more than $1 million for a film, and the first artist to have a number one film and album in the same week. Getaway went on the JLo Bronx trail and found a few of her old haunts.

First stop was the original family house on Grand Avenue where many Puerto Rican families made their homes. When the family grew, they moved to 2210 Blackrock Avenue, a modest, two-storey weatherboard house, which is now canary yellow. It was affected by fire in 2003 but has been rebuilt, so fans are still able to walk by and see where Jennifer lived as a little girl.

The house is opposite the Holy Family High School which Jennifer attended — she excelled there in softball, tennis and gymnastics. After school she worked for a law firm while pursuing dancing, acting and singing at night classes. (One of her songs 'Jenny from the Block' is all about the time she lived in The Bronx before she made it big in Hollywood).

We went to have a look at the places Jennifer used to shop before she could afford the designer clothes she wears today. The largest shopping strip is Fordham Road, a great place for bargains and people watching. In her younger days JLo worked in a jeans store there but was fired because she danced too much while she was working.

JLo's favourite place to eat in her old neighbourhood is Brisas del Caribe which serves typical down-home Puerto Rican cuisine. Rice, beans and chicken are house specialties — it's cheap and really tasty.

Her favourite nightspot of all time is Lotus, a restaurant/club with dancing and great food. Sean ''Puffy'' Combs threw a surprise 30th birthday party there for her and it was attended by the famous as well as a lot of her old friends.

One of the New York hotels JLo likes to stay is The St Regis. It is conservative and low-key, has beautiful rooms and a butler on every floor.


The heart of New York City.

For further information

Bronx Tourism Council
Ph: 0011 1 718 590 3518

Brisas del Caribe Restaurant
1209 Castle Hill Avenue
The Bronx New York 10462-4804
Ph: + 1 718 794 9710

The St Regis Hotel New York
2 East 55th at Fifth Avenue
New York New York 10022
Ph: + 1 212 753 4500

Lotus Nightclub
409 West 14th
New York New York 10014-1003
Ph: + 1 212 243 4420

Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476

User comments
wow. what i always wanted, to find out exactly where americans live. amazing.

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