Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Bronxdale Houses: Residential Complex in the Bronx

There are 334 public housing complexes in New York that accommodate over 400,000 city residents. One of them is the Bronxdale Houses, a residential complex in the Bronx that has improved the lives of thousands of working families in the city. It was built in 1953 and intended for poor people. Local authorities, the federal government and residents altogether  constructed these houses. The complex has long been a home for generations of Americans. Therefore, we suggest you learn about the history of the Bronxdale Houses, its population, architecture, infrastructure and its importance to the Bronx community. You can find more information about the history and significance of the Bronxdale Houses to the local community at

About the residential complex

According to the publication, as it was mentioned above, the Bronxdale Houses is a housing complex in the Bronx. It is also called Sotomayor Houses in honor of the US Supreme Court justice, who lived here in the 1950s and 1970s. In 2009, she took up the post of judge of this court. In 2010, the complex was given a new name. This group of houses consists of 28 high-rise buildings (1,500 apartments), which have different numbers of rooms and layouts. Its area covers 30 acres, so there is plenty of space for recreation and living. 

In fact, this complex began to be planned back in the 1930s as part of the program to create affordable housing for workers and their families in the United States. This idea was initiated by F. Roosevelt. But the war broke out and the project was postponed. Therefore, construction started only in 1953 and was completed in January 1955.


Today, the Bronxdale Houses is a complex located between White Plains Road and the Bronx River Parkway. You can find it at 1090 Rosedale Ave. The building style of the complex can be described as modernism with elements of industrial design. All houses have the shape of large rectangles and are constructed of concrete and metal reinforcement. Although the buildings resemble factories, they are solid and safe and have their unique style. This complex is very recognizable.

Each building consists of 6-8 floors, has its own entrance and courtyard, where dwellers can spend time without being disturbed by others. The apartments are divided into two or three rooms and generally occupy about 60-70 square meters. The rooms have large and spacious windows, making the premises brightly lit. Also, the complex is full of greenery, so trees and bushes produce more fresh air and create spaces to rest. 

In recent years, doors and windows have been replaced here. Plumbing and kitchen furniture were also improved. Local authorities regularly carry out repair and maintenance work so the residents feel comfortable and safe.

As for the number of inhabitants, on average, each apartment accommodates from two to four people. In general, about 3,500-5000 residents live in the complex. Most are families with children or older people.

The apartments, their quality, and the number of residents prove that this complex meets housing standards for the United States. Therefore, it allows the residents to provide themselves with decent living conditions. These houses are evidence of how the state can help its citizens and build affordable and comfortable dwellings for people with low income.

Inhabitants of the complex 

Who lives in the Bronxdale Houses? It should be noted that a diverse population resides here. Usually, it is people who cannot afford expensive apartments. That is why there are mostly humble income residents. In terms of ethnicity, African Americans and Latin Americans became the predominant ethnic groups in the Bronx after Worl War II. Many natives of Puerto Rico (in particular, Sonia Sotomayor’s mother), South American countries and Central America live here as well. 

Speaking about the population of the complex and their life, it is worth noting that its residents face numerous problems, including poverty and criminal activity. According to the police, 4 murders, 8 rapes, 55 robberies and 43 attacks were committed in these houses. Although the authorities are trying to solve the problems, which are not as acute as they were in the 90s, they still create some tension in the life of New Yorkers. 


The complex was designed to be comfortable for a large number of people. So each entrance has its own yard and a lot of greenery. Well-developed infrastructure is located nearby, so the resident could get to work freely or receive certain services. There are several schools, kindergartens, shops and restaurants in the territory of the complex. Thus, people have all the necessary goods and services, so they don’t need to leave their houses. The complex also includes a hospital, police station, swimming pool, sports grounds, billiard halls and entertainment facilities. Public transport that runs to the closest subway stations is available nearby. 

Famous resident of the Bronxdale Houses

Sonia Sotomayor, a justice of the US Supreme Court, is one of the famous people who were born or lived here. She recalled that Robert Kennedy came to their house when she was a kid. This event led her to have plans and dreams regarding her own life, so she focused on public service. Besides, Sonia liked his red hair.

American producer and music performer Andre Harrell was another prominent tenant of these houses. He created the label Uptown Records. Andre was born in 1960 and lived in the complex all his childhood years. His father worked at a produce market in the Hunts Point neighborhood and his mother was a nurse. Looking back at his life in the Bronxdale Houses, he described his parents’ apartment this way: “It was a standard apartment, plastic covers on velvet couch”.

As a teenager, he and his friend created the rap duo Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde. Andre attended Charles Evans Hughes High School and later Baruch College, where he studied music. Then he transferred to Lehman College, where he majored in communications and business management. At the same time, he worked at the local radio station as a newscaster and presenter. During his life, he was involved in the music business and headed several record companies, including Motown Records, Harrell Records and others. Andre was the first to start working with the rapper Sean “Puffy” Combs. Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and record producer L.A. Reid attended his funeral, which took place after his death in May 2020. 

Opinions of the complex residents on its renaming 

In 2010, the Bronxdale Houses was renamed after Sonia Sotomayor, who lived here before. However, feedback from the dwellers was contradictory regarding this. 44-year-old Loraine Dones said she was proud to live in these houses. There is an opinion that people from this complex do not achieve anything, but Sonia managed to refute this belief. 

Otila Melvin, 53, who resides on the seventh floor of building 28, felt good about the name change of the complex. According to her, Sonia Sotomayor cannot be responsible for the crime that reigns here. It has nothing to do with her.

Other residents are not so positive about this. 69-year-old Sarah Galarza mentioned that it is not fair that the complex was named in honor of Sotomayor, as many other famous lawyers, doctors and journalists grew up here as well. So the name Bronxdale Houses must be preserved. 

Eventually, the Bronxdale Houses became Sotomayor Houses. So, what do you think about living in this complex?

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