1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

The Bronx: Fires, Hip Hop and Gentrification

Anke Rasper | Antje Passenheim
May 24, 2023

It's a vibrant borough with a bad reputation: some 1.5 million people, many of them immigrants, live in New York city's Bronx. For decades, poverty and crime made headlines here, but it's also the birthplace of Hip Hop culture and home to the famous Yankees baseball team. The locals say that things have improved a lot since the notorious fires of the 1970s, yet there are still many issues.


Back in the 70s, hundreds of Bronx apartment blocks went up in flames: residents blamed real estate owners for burning down run-down buildings to make a profit. Politicians meanwhile blamed residents, mostly immigrants from Latin America and Africa, and city planners wanted to evict them. For decades, the Bronx became equated with crime, gangs and poverty. 

But people who grew up in this vibrant part of the city say the stereotype of a gang-infested neighborhood where people don’t go out without a knife doesn’t do it justice. The neighborhood has changed a lot in the past few years, with yoga studios, hip cafés, and chic apartment buildings aiming to attract wealthier clientele.

Half a century after the Bronx fires, the new threat is gentrification. And many creative people are trying to rekindle the unique spirit of this neighborhood.


Author: Antje Passenheim

Presenter: Natalie Muller


Bronx photo project on instagram: @everydaybronx

Documentary film on the Bronx Fires: decadeoffire.com

Bronx Hip Hop Museum: uhhm.com

Skip next section More from this show
Skip next section About the show

About the show

World in Progress Teaser Responsive

World in Progress

Stories that matter from around the world. For more info about the show, click here.

Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Tank firing at night
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage