Every year, the New York Times releases a list of 52 places that travelers should plan to visit in the coming year, and 2017’s list includes many of the destinations you’d expect—national parks, sunny beaches, exotic locales, you get the idea. But there are also a few curveballs on the list—including, most importantly to New Yorkers, the South Bronx.
Yep, you read that right—the South Bronx is apparently one of the hottest tourist destinations of 2017.
Here’s why the Times chose the neighborhood, in its own words:
Openings in 2016 included artisanal coffee shops, galleries and boutiques like To_Bridges and 9J, La Grata Neapolitan pizzoteca, and Milk Burger. This year’s arrivals will include the Bruckner Market food hall, with a rooftop beer garden and a distillery and brewery; the Bronx Post Place retail and dining complex; Latin-inspired restaurants from the chef Douglas Rodriguez; and a riverfront hotel by Somerset Partners.
Of course, the riverfront hotel isn’t the only venue on that list that’s being developed by Somerset Partners. Along with Chetrit Group, the firm (headed up by billionaire Keith Rubenstein, he of the $84.5 million Upper East Side townhouse) is behind a larger redevelopment of the South Bronx (once calling it “the Piano District”), and has funneled millions of dollars into creating housing and new businesses in the area.
The Times piece neglects to mention this, though—something of a glaring omission, considering that Somerset also helped, in one way or another, with the creation of Filtered, the coffee shop the Times mentions, along with the Bruckner Market (which will include Douglas Rodriguez’s restaurant), La Grata, and 9J. (Somerset and Chetrit were also behind the disastrous “Bronx Is Burning” party that took place last November—another fact the Times omits.)
Some see these changes as undisputed proof of the gentrification of the South Bronx—and indeed, four of its neighborhoods (Mott Haven, Hunts Point, Morrisania, and Belmont) were named to the Furman Center’s list of the top gentrifying neighborhoods last year. “We’ve seen what’s happened to Brooklyn and other places that are declared ‘the IT’ place by the New York Times,” says Ed Garcia Condé of Welcome2TheBronx. “We’re much more than an artificial community being set up for gentrifiers. We’re a real, living, breathing community rich with culture that intersects from every possible discipline representative of an extremely ethnically diverse people.”
But others, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., have been supportive of redevelopment along the waterfront, seeing it as a necessary step in the borough’s larger revitalization. And Rubenstein, in a statement to Curbed, called the area’s revival “thrilling,” and continues: “The future of the Bronx is brighter than ever and we’ll continue to work with community partners to make every new development a success for this incredible borough.” If the Times’s inclusion of the area is any indication, it looks like outsiders are beginning to notice, too.
And in case you do decide to visit the South Bronx on the Times’s recommendation, be sure to check out other longstanding spots in and around the neighborhood: the Bronx Museum of the Arts, which happens to be housed in a cool building; the Art Deco buildings of Grand Concourse, the galleries of the South Bronx Cultural Corridor; outdoor areas like Concrete Plant Park, the South Bronx Greenway, and Barretto Point Park (the home of the Floating Pool Lady in the summertime); the Bronx Documentary Center; and, of course, Yankee Stadium—and that’s just scratching the surface. (Garcia of Welcome2The Bronx provides a thorough list of local businesses here.)