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By Michael Musto
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By Capt. James Van Thach told to Jonathan Wei
By Kera Bolonik
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Portions of this article have been updated.
While some may believe there is little cachet in living in the Bronx (just ask some Riverdale residents), the denizens of Co-op City know exactly what borough they proudly represent. Several Web sites and Internet message boards are dedicated to this unique enclavequite an accomplishment considering its relative newness. Part of the residential Baychester neighborhood in the northeast Bronx, the land that became Co-op City, once marshland, was converted to a cucumber farm, a pickle factory, and even a historical amusement park. In 1968, construction began on the apartment complex, now comprising some 15,372 units in 35 buildings and seven townhouse clusters divided into five sections. Truly a city within a city, it boasts an educational park that includes three elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school, and a museum. The colossal Bay Plaza outdoor shopping mall, visible to drivers traveling north on the Cross-Bronx Expressway, includes a 14-theater multiplex, JC Penney, Old Navy, and Barnes & Noble. Despite the area's nascent popularity, it has already been immortalized in music and film: You can see the neighborhood in the opening scene of the Sean Connery film Finding Forrester, and it is mentioned in the song "New York City" by the Brooklyn-based band They Might Be Giants.
Boundaries: The area known as Section 5 is bounded to the north by Goose Island, Hunter Avenue to the south, North Haven/Hartford Railroad to the east, and the Hutchinson River Parkway to the west. The rest of Co-op City is bounded by Co-op City Boulevard and the Peartree Mall to the north, Bartow Avenue to the south, the Cross-Bronx Expressway and Baychester Avenue to the east, and Hutchinson River to the west.
Main Drags: Bartow Avenue, Baychester Avenue, Palmer Avenue, and the New England Thruway
Ethnic Makeup: Many of the original residents of Co-op City were Jewish, Italian, or Irish, but African American and Latino populations have surged recently.
Transportation: No. 6 train to Pelham Bay Park, followed by the QBX1 bus to Aldrich Street; No. 5 train to Gun Hill Road, followed by the BX28 bus to Aldrich Street; No. 4 train to Fordham Road, followed by BX12 bus to Bay Plaza; D or B train to Bedford Park Boulevard, followed by BX26 bus to Aldrich Street. If you have little patience and a bit more money, for $4, you can simply hop on any of the many express buses that run directly from midtown.
Average Price to Buy: One-bedroom, $5850 to $7800; two-bedroom, $8575 to $8750; three-bedroom, $11,700 to $12,675
Parks: Pelham Bay Park, the Bronx's largest park at 2764 acres, is in the vicinity. Don't be surprised to see geese preening along Pelham Parkway. Goose Island, officially part of Pelham Bay Park, is a marshy bird sanctuary where one can find egrets, herons, geese, and seagulls, all just 100 yards from the Co-op City environs. Speaking of seagulls, Orchard Beach is a five-minute drive up the Cross-Bronx Expressway.
Restaurants: You can check out chain restaurants like Red Lobster or Ponderosa at Bay Plaza, or you can sample a bit of local flavor at traditional American restaurants the Seven Seas, 2051 Bartow Avenue, or the Town House, 129 Dreiser Loop.
Community Organizations: Several are located at 177 Dreiser Loop: The Co-op Jewish Community Council, room 18, is a social service agency that provides information, referrals, and assistance with entitlement applications for food stamps and Medicaid. The group also provides outreach visits to the homebound, advice on housing issues, and referrals to Jewish summer camps. The Retirees of Dreiser Loop, Inc., room 28, provides social, educational, and recreational programs for those aged 50 and above, as well as workshops on issues pertinent to senior citizens. The Baychester Visual Arts Association, room 5, teaches classes ranging from sketching and watercolor to acrylics and oil. The nonprofit Youth Activities Committee, 950 Baychester Avenue, serves more than 6000 Co-op City children with early-childhood day care centers and after-school programs in sports as diverse as baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, and track.
Crime Stats: In addition to Co-op City and Baychester, the 45th Precinct covers the areas of Castle Hill, Westchester Square, and City Island. As of November 6, 2005 they reported 2 murders, 17 rapes, 174 robberies, 158 felony assaults, and 200 burglaries. (In addition to Co-op City and Baychester, the 45th Precinct covers the areas of Castle Hill, Westchester Square, and City Island. As of July 28, they reported two homicides, down from five last year; 12 rapes, down from 16; 79 assaults, down from 94; 108 robberies, up from 88 last year; and 310 incidents of grand larceny, up from 232.)
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