Love for the Neighborhood that Surrounds Fordham


Recently, one of my roommates found a giant map of the Bronx on the sidewalk on Arthur Ave. The map, which is well over five feet tall, now sits in our living room, and everytime I look at it I can’t help but marvel at the sheer number of people who live in this borough (1,427,056 to be exact). Belmont, the neighborhood I’ve had the privilege of spending the last four years in, only takes up a few inches on this map, yet it is so full of life — it doesn’t seem right to see it so small. While I’ve explored other parts of the Bronx, other boroughs and even ventured into New Jersey a few times, I’ve spent the vast majority of my time in college in that little two-inch square, yet I’ve never run out of things to do. So I’ve decided to dedicate my commencement reflection (and my final article in the Ram) to Belmont, the neighborhood that made me fall in love with New York.

Four years ago when I first started telling my friends and family I was moving from Denver to the Bronx, practically everyone I spoke to said I would hate it, or at least that they were certain I would move back after college. Well, after living here for four years, I can confidently say that the neighborhood of Belmont proved them wrong. Actually, I think I could have told you that after I visited Fordham for the first time, when a lovely woman near the D Train on Fordham Road pointed a lost-looking family in the right direction.

On any given day in Belmont, you can hear the sound of cars driving by with their radios blasting, children playing, people congregating on their stoops and students gathering at their favorite bars, restaurants and coffee shops after class. These sounds are a testament to the vibrance of this neighborhood, and I want to acknowledge how lucky I am to have spent the past four years living in a place that is home to so many people with unique stories, dreams and experiences. In Belmont, you can encounter someone from Mexico City, someone else from rural West Virginia and someone whose family has lived right here in Belmont for the past three generations all in one day. While it’s cliché, it really is true that New York is a mosaic, and Belmont is a beautiful piece of that.

It would be impossible to write an article about Belmont without mentioning the food. My freshman year on Labor Day weekend I discovered that the university closes all of its on-campus restaurants for long weekends. Realizing I would need to head off campus for dinner, I walked out of the Metro North gate and stumbled upon the Bronx Night Market, an event that has now become a staple of my time in college. Fordham Plaza was packed with people, music was playing and the most delicious aromas emanated from the various tents lined up around the perimeter.

At the Night Market, you can get practically every cuisine imaginable from Jamaican to Brazilian, although my personal favorite dish to buy is the arepas from MozzArepas. (I know my friends are sick of hearing my talk about how much I’m craving them.)

Additionally, living in the Little Italy of the Bronx has allowed me to visit some of the most amazing Italian restaurants and bakeries, and going to local shops for things like bread and coffee quickly became an essential part of my grocery shopping in college. I will miss the midnight trips to Rams and Pugsley’s, and packing into Estrellita’s with friends, stuffing myself with the tacos and chips and salsa.

After graduation I will certainly miss the easy access to the food itself, but it is really the community, experiences and stories created around these places that make them so special.

There are a million more things I could write about Belmont (the Botans, the cats, the flower shops, etc.), but I don’t think my editors would be very happy with me if I kept going.

So, I will leave it at this: It’s pretty cool to live in a place where you never run out of things to do, and it isn’t that crazy to find a five-foot-tall map on the side of the road.