Sunday, July 28, 2013

A pot melts in the Bronx

I'm currently making my way through Sonya Sotomayor's My Beloved World, and enjoying it. It is interesting to think about her path through the Bronx in the 60s and 70s, thinking back to Caro's The Power Broker  and his discussion of the role Robert Moses had in driving all that change. Sotomayor started out in the South Bronx, in a tenament neighborhood, where she was surrounded by family and a pretty tight community of Puerto Rican immigrants, then she moved to the Bronxdale projects, where at first she was isolated but then more of a community grew up as her kin moved closer -- even as gangs and junkies came to make the places nastier to live.  Then her mom moved her out to Co-Op City in its earlier days, and she also saw that transition from a bleak modernist enterprise to a better place to live (she alludes to the its later physical disintegration, but I'm only 100 or so pages into the book) and a pretty integrated place too. That's where she met her future husband, an Irish goofball and really started integrating with a broader swath of Americans.

So she wasn't forced to move from her original neighborhood by the construction of the Cross-Bronx or some other road or bridge going on around her, and she hasn't (yet) directly borne the brunt of any of the specific dislocations traceable to Moses's work, but I can see the fabric of the old New York neighborhoods crumbling even as Sotomayor benefits from some of melting of that very hot pot that was the Bronx and, indeed, the Borough, of the era.  I'll keep reading.

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