The True Parkchester

Parkchester's Famous Oval Fountain on a summer day. (Photo by Michael Balbuena)

Parkchester’s Famous Oval Fountain on a summer day. (Photo by Michael Balbuena)

By Michael Balbuena

What began as a small area of land intended to house a limited number of families, Parkchester, which is located in the borough of the Bronx in community board 9, has become a metropolis for a multitude of businesses and up and coming residence seeking a prosperous living.

The Bronx rich in history but lacking in representations holds much more than the unreal portrayals of ghettos and unlivable conditions described by those who have no real idea of what life is like due to their personal disconnect with the area. Beginning construction in the year 1939 until its completion in 1942 Parkchester was a piece of land which fifty one groups of buildings were set intended on housing twelve thousand peoples for middle class families, and now holds countless events which represent the area.

What are now co-ops style apartments in a booming community, Parkchester holds a multitude of experiences, sights, and sounds, which have the ability to change a persons entire perspective on how those in the Bronx are brought up. Starting with the famed oval of Parkchester, which holds in the center a fountain is a representation of the struggles of those, which first settled into the newly formed area.

In the oval of Parkchester there is an annual event, which is held, that attracts those from the community and those which catch on by the sight of the multiple people gathering in celebration of what they feel is most suited. There is no focused event in which the gathering takes place, but many say that it is for the pride of making it through another year safely with those that they hold near their heart. At this gathering there are open houses, sales, and different types of food that show the diversity in the area.

This celebration gives those who live separately from one another to come together and be whole in the journey of living.

Typically in the Bronx, not many retail chains open due to the fears of safety, and concerns of not being allowed to remain open for long due to lack of funding. But In Parkchester you are exposed to stores such as Macy’s, New York and Company, Hallmark, GameStop, and few others which one would not associate with the Bronx. In these establishments, the workers are willing to assist in whatever they can, and one worker named Maria Cruz when asked on whether they like the area she said “It’s a place where I feel comfortable.”

One of many terra cotta styled sculptures placed at the center of an entryway to a building in Parkchester. (Photo by Michael Balbuena)

One of many terra cotta styled sculptures placed at the center of an entryway to a building in Parkchester. (Photo by Michael Balbuena)

Besides retail locations, there are a group of areas which one can take a moment to relax, and process the thoughts, which go through the minds of many. An example would be the New York Public Library, which is located on 1985 Westchester Avenue. Here, families take their children to check out books and is a place where students can come to have a heaven of silence in which they can work on certain assignments which must be completed. When questioning a local library goer named Jordan Cains, who is an 18 year-old and has lived in the area for many years, he stated “I come here to check out a good story and find anything new to escape.” This expresses the interest in knowledge that those who live in the Bronx hold, but is not shown.

Watching current films at a theatre is a hobby, which a vast number of people hold who live in and outside of the Bronx have in common, and in Parkchester there is a smaller yet more intimate theatre known currently as Bow Tie Cinemas. Originally named Loews American and established in 1939, this theatre is a seven-screen multiplex which is a great place to watch a current release. This theatre separates itself from the countless others by originally deciding to keep the classic and vintage movie theatre interior design and structure. One fellow moviegoer and community member stated, “It’s like nothing has changed when asked on their feelings on keeping the original design. In a way it’s a sort of time machine which can allow us to see what things were like when we were nonexistent which is rare due to the rapidly changing technological era.“

The American Movie theater. (Photo by Michael Balbuena)

The American Movie theater located in Parkchester. (Photo by Michael Balbuena)

Transportation is also a key contributor in the overall layout of certain areas in the Bronx more specifically Parkchester. In the area there are a multitude of methods of public transportation, which make it accessible to all. Beginning with the number six train followed by the buses numbers forty-four and four all who want to visit the area are in fact able to. Besides public transportation there are multiple car ways to navigate through the area.

Visually Parkchester is a clean environment with promise. All the buildings in site are made of red brick and hold at the top of them laid multiple unique terra cotta statues. When asked the meaning of the statues to those which currently reside there; there were a mix of answers in which some referred to biblical events and others to Greek mythology. No concrete answer was found, but in a way all answers may be correct. To those, which have an eye for detail, Parkchester is a place, which must be visited.

Parkchester is also home to many places which one who is hungry can stop and enjoy a meal of their wanting. From Uno’s to Burger King to small restaurants there is always something for everyone. One of the more popularly known places is a bakery known as Zaro’s founded in 1927 by Joseph Zarubchik which is located on 29 Hugh J Grant Circle on the corner in which the forty four and four bus passes through. Here one may pass by to try some delicious goods after a meal, or if one is just interested in something sweet to brighten up their day. Although great in taste this specific Zaro’s has gone through a bit of a tough spot after being shut down by the health department, but it is currently up and running.

One of Parkchester's most visited shops Starbucks Coffee. (Photo by Michael Balbuena)

One of Parkchester’s most visited shops Starbucks Coffee. (Photo by Michael Balbuena)

The Bronx although seemingly dark and dangerous in in fact full of communities and people who are living their lives to the fullest and enjoying their environment according to those who live here. Parkchester is one of the places where people can come and see what true life is like in the Bronx.


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