The Cross Bronx Expressway is a huge highway that runs directly through the Bronx. It is six lanes wide, twelve feet per lane, and more than six miles long. It starts at the George Washington Bridge and connects to the rest of Interstate 95. The Cross Bronx Expressway was developed by city planner Robert Moses in 1945. This freeway was to be one of the most complicated urban projects during that time as it would have to cross 113 streets, seven expressways, one subway line, five elevated lines, three rail lines, and hundreds of water and sewer lines (1).
Some people attribute the deterioration in the South Bronx to the creation of the Cross Bronx Expressway. As arson, crime, and housing abandonment prevailed in the Bronx during the 1960s and 1970s, the borough became the image of urban collapse. Jane Jacobs wrote, “Ever since work started on the Cross Bronx Expressway across the street some two years ago, a grocer said, trouble has plagued the area.” Architect Ronald Shiffman said that the Cross Bronx Expressway “ripped through the heart of the Bronx, creating what was a wall between what eventually was known as the Northern and Southern part of the Bronx.” It split up the Bronx creating a better side and a worse. The areas around the highway, those not destroyed during construction, became much less desirable to live in. Entire buildings were knocked down along with thousands of homes, displacing thousands of families. Whole communities were destroyed, like East Tremont. The people of the neighborhood came together for an unsuccessful protest to change the plan for the highway and save their community (2). East Tremont and other communities still suffer from the destruction the highway presented as well as from the hydrocarbon fumes produced by the traffic. People in these communities suffer from health problems due to the pollution (3).
(1) Cross Bronx Expressway, Wikipedia, last update July 22, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_Bronx_Expressway.
(2) Patrick Ploschnitzki, “Robert Moses, the construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway and its impact on the Bronx” (University of Arizona).
(3) Alan Feuer, “Hell on Wheels, and Nerves; If Ever There Was a Mean Street, It’s the Cross Bronx,” New York Times, September 20, 2002.