Survey No. 11: WHEN, WHERE AND WHY,
2003 Edition

The response to this survey was perhaps the most enthusiastic and certainly the most voluminous for any feature of The Bronx Board since its beginning in 1996. A frequent topic on our nostalgia Message Board, discussions of where and when we lived in the Bronx, and when and why we left are obviously one of the primary reasons people visit this site. For the first few days after this survey was announced, we received almost 300 responses per day, after which the surge slowed to a steady forty or so additions daily. In fifteen days, we received 4,159 valid responses, a 50% increase over our 2001 survey, and almost 65 times as many as we saw in our very first survey in 1997!.

The total number of unique, usable responses was 4,159.

The average of the span of years of people living in the Bronx was 1947 through 1972. The first two versions of this survey resulted in an average span of 1949-1971. The prior survey had a span of 1946 through 1971. It looks like the span is moving up the timeline along with the current calendar. We're probably seeing the result of an audience that is the same relative age as those who answered the previous survey, but who lived in the Bronx a year or so later that their predecessors.

The earliest year anyone reported living in the Bronx was 1922, and the latest was 2003. The average number of years we lived in the Bronx was exactly the same as our previous showed at 25.

The longest duration reported was 58 years (again), from 1940 through 1998, and the shortest duration was 4 years, from 1966 through 1970.

In the neighborhood census, Kingsbridge took over the lead from Castle Hill/Parkchester and Fordham as the most represented slices. Those three neighborhoods combined accounted for almost a third of all the responses received.

The neighborhood breakdown was as follows:
(Percentages are of all responses)
Baychester/Coop City 71 1.71%
Bronx Park East 81 1.95%
Bronxwood/Gun Hill 188 4.52%
Castle Hill/Parkchester 387 9.31%
City Island 11 0.26%
Crotona 140 3.36%
Fordham 357 8.58%
Highbridge 240 5.71%
The Hub 78 1.87%
Hunt's Point 58 1.39%
Kingsbridge 399 9.59%
Marble Hill
(actually Manhattan)
105 2.52%
Morrisania 279 6.71%
Mosholu/Bedford Hill 233 5.6%
Pelham Parkway 93 2.24%
Reservoir Oval 111 2.67%
Riverdale/Fieldston 62 1.49%
St. Ann's 115 2.77%
Soundview 186 4.48%
Throgs Neck 155 3.73%
Tremont 198 4.76%
University Heights 202 4.85%
Wakefield 79 1.9%
Williamsbridge 78 1.87%
Woodlawn 62 1.49%
Not sure 191 4.59%

How old were you when you left the Bronx?

Younger than 12 65 1.56%
12 - 20 1,117 26.86%
21 - 30 2,173 52.24%
31 - 40 528 12.69%
41 - 50 186 4.48%
51 - 60 62 1.42%
Older than 60 31 0.75%

What were the reasons you left the Bronx?
(Multiple responses were allowed, so the sum of the percentages exceeds 100.)
A Better Life 1,195 29%
Career Opportunities 605 15%
College/Graduate School 264 6%
Crime/Lack of Safety 652 16%
Educational Opportunities (i.e. better schools) 264 6%
Family Obligations (parents/marriage/divorce/etc.) 1,055 25%
General Deterioration of the Neighborhood 760 18%
Hated City Life 78 2%
Housing Opportunities 854 21%
Just Needed A Change 326 8%
Military Service 93 2%
Other* 683 16%

*Most of the reasons cited for a choice of "Other" could have been applied to one or more of the available choices. The dozens of "Parents moved" or "Family moved" should have been posted to "Family Obligations". Similarly, "Bought a House" should have been "Housing Opportunities", and many write-ins related to jobs (or a lack of them) should have been "Employment Opportunities". It seems that ex-Bronxites have an aversion to being pigeon-holed.

One respondent wrote that his reason for moving from the Bronx was "parents moved to Co-Op City." Is there another Co-Op City somewhere besides the Bronx? Another mentioned "taxes" as a reason for leaving, the first time we've heard of this in all the iterations of this survey. Finally, over a dozen people wrote in responses revealing that they never left the Bronx ("still in the Bronx", "I will never leave", "never left", etc...). This resulted in their entire response set to be discarded, since this survey was intended only for ex-Bronxites.

When you left the Bronx, were you sure that you'd never live there again?

Yes 2,623 63%
No 1,536 37%

When you left the Bronx, did you leave behind any family?

Yes 3,455 82%
No 714 17%

Which, if any, of the following expressions would be closest to describing the feeling you had on the day you finally left the Bronx for good?

Good riddance! 171 4.1%
It's been a long time coming! 466 11.19%
So long, I hate to have to leave ya! 1,273 30.6%
I'll be back... 310 7.46%
I'll never love anyplace more than this... 776 18.66%
None of the above 1,164 27.99%

Do you think that those who currently live in the Bronx will feel the same as you did if and when they move away?

Yes 838 20.15%
No 993 23.88%
Maybe 2,328 55.97%

This was the first time we posed this question. Judging by the low percentage of "Yes" responses, most ex-Bronxites harbor very proprietary feelings about "their" Bronx. Apparently, they question whether the current residents could love the place as much as they did. This issue could probably fill many books. Does every generation beget its own share of nostalgia? Or is it limited only to those from a select slice of time?

Other than family and friends, what was the one (and only one) thing that was hardest to leave behind when you left the Bronx?

The neighborhood, the food, and the shopping. Who would've expected otherwise? These were the overwhelming facets of life in the Bronx that so many of us took for granted and missed so much upon leaving. Almost two-thirds of all the responses fell into these three categories.

When it came to responses that mentioned a specific venue, Yankee Stadium was the most ubiquitous, while The Bronx Zoo was strangely low in number. Alexander's Department Store was fairly well represented.

Among the types of stores mentioned, bakeries were far and away the most popular.

For types of food, the most frequently spoken of was pizza.

Many people also mentioned transportation, whether via the subways, elevated trains, buses, or by foot. "All of our needs within walking distance" and similar statements was almost as commonly cited as "The world available via one token."

"Friends" showed up in many responses, another example of ex-Bronxites' refusal to read or abide by the instructions.

Many mentioned schools and schoolyards. One person actually mentioned the Police Department as the aspect of the Bronx hardest to leave. Another listed "the Super."

Unusual for their absence from the responses were movie theaters! Not a single person mentioned The Paradise, The Valentine, the Earl, the Kent, the Luxor, or any of the dozens of theaters that were a staple of Bronx life. This was a surprise.

Also strangely low in number were mentions of houses of worship. Fewer than a dozen mentioned their church, synagogue, or parish.

Some unique (and in some cases, bizarre) responses:

  • "the tunnels under the GC"
  • "coal chutes"
  • "cobblestone streets"
  • "Mrs. Levy"
  • "nothing"
  • "my real self"
  • "parades on the concourse"
  • "Cascades"
  • "Palisades Amusement Park"
And to think I always had the impression that Palisades was in New Jersey...

Thanks again to those who participated. Once again, true to their Bronx heritage, more than a quarter of all the respondents refused to let us put words in their mouths, based on the response to the question about how they felt upon leaving. We wonder what these folks really wanted to say...

While enormously larger in the number of responses, this survey - for the most part - only substantiated the results of its previous versions. Some categories showed slight shifts in percentages, but most remained within the trends already established by prior audiences of The Bronx Board. What do 99.5% of all the respondents have in common? We lived in the Bronx, we left the Bronx, and we miss the Bronx.

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