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Lack of Green Space and the Bronx River Greenway project, USA

An historically depressed and polluted urban neighborhood in New York is finally developing alternatives to create green spaces and connect communities


The South Bronx is an area of the New York City. The area saw a sharp decline in population, livable housing and quality of life in the late 1960s and the 1970s [1] contributing to its negative image.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Lack of Green Space and the Bronx River Greenway project, USA
Country:translation missing: en.countries.united_states_of_america
State or province:New York
Location of conflict:South Bronx, New York
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Establishment of reserves/national parks
Urban development conflicts
Specific commodities:real estates and urban spaces
Domestic municipal waste
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:01/01/1974
Relevant government actors:NYEDC, Congressman Serrano
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Pratt Center, Bronx River Watershed Alliance, Sustainable South Bronx, the Point CDC, Mothers on the Move, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Soil contamination
Other Environmental impactsAir Quality related figures:
- Facilities in the South Bronx also handle 100% of the waste produced in the Bronx and 23% of all of the city’s commercial waste.
- Every weekday, 15,000 trucks pass through the neighborhood – and produce toxic air pollution – on their way to and from the Hunts Point Market, one of the world’s largest food distribution centers.
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsHigh rates of asthma and asthma-related deaths. High rates of obesity are also prevalent in this community.
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:Bronx River Greenway
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The Bronx River Greenway project has been ongoing for quite some time and has the continued support of numerous organizations and Congressman Serrano. Environmental goods are finally being brought to a community suffering many environmental burdens.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

The United States Department of Justice - Overview of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[4] ThinkProgress - ‘Environmental Racism’ And The Fight For Green Space In The South Bronx - Oct 9, 2014
[click to view]

[5] Congressman Jose Serrano - Environment
[click to view]

[1] The Bronx - Wikipedia
[click to view]

[2] Sustainable South Bronx - Our Mission
[click to view]

[3] Bronx River Alliance - Greenway
[click to view]

[6] Transforming the Southern Bronx River Watershed - Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development - May 2004
[click to view]

[7] Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice - Center for Community Development and Planning
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Bronx River Alliance - Strategies for Implementation
[click to view]

Pratt Center - Greening the South Bronx
[click to view]

Speech by Majora Carter - creator of Sustainable South Bronx
[click to view]

Blog post on importance of connecting the two parks
[click to view]

Blazing a green trail through the Bronx - CNN report - July 22, 2011
[click to view]

Stim Funds to Kickstart South Bronx Greenway - Before and After Image
[click to view]

Other documents

South Bronx Greenway Randalls Island Connector
[click to view]

Before/After photo of Lafayette Avenue in South Bronx Photo credit: Sustainable South Bronx
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Bernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, [email protected] and [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update19/06/2015
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