Exploring the Bronx, New York Through Documentaries: A Comprehensive Guide

Discover how documentaries have explored The Bronx's history and people over the years. Learn about Ken Burns' iconic New York series and 70 Community Elementary School. Plus find out how writers have captured New York's growth during this period.

Exploring the Bronx, New York Through Documentaries: A Comprehensive Guide

The Bronx, New York has been the subject of many documentaries over the years, from the iconic New York series to the more recent 70 Community Elementary School. These films have provided a unique insight into the borough's history, its people, and its struggles, giving viewers a glimpse into the city's past and present. The New York series, directed by Ken Burns, was one of the first documentaries to explore the Bronx. It featured interviews with prominent figures such as Rudolph Giuliani (then mayor of New York City during episodes 1-), former mayor Ed Koch, former governor of New York Mario Cuomo, former US senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, poet Allen Ginsberg, novelists Alfred Kazin and Brendan Gill, director Martin Scorsese, journalist Pete Hamill, former congresswoman Bella Abzug, historian Niall Ferguson, philosopher Marshall Berman, writer Fran Lebowitz, tight-rope artist Philippe Petit, real estate developer (and future president) Donald Trump and author David McCullough.

The film was shot on 16 mm film and edited in a traditional way for the first half of the series. However, Burns reluctantly agreed to edit the second half digitally on Avid workstations. After the events of September 11th, Burns and his team produced an eighth episode of the film focusing on the World Trade Center and its role in New York City's history. The documentary was well-received by critics. Caryn James of The New York Times praised it for its visual richness and coherent theme.

Frank Rich of The New York Times referred to episode 8 as “a beautifully made documentary in which we observe in minute detail the construction of the World Trade Center from its inception to be able to experience again the violence of its sudden destruction”. The documentary 70 Community Elementary School tells a different story about the Bronx. It follows Professor David MacEnulty (played by Ted Danson) who taught underprivileged children from the center of the city at 70 Community Elementary School in the South Bronx to play chess at a competitive level. The program ends when New York City dramatically expands its limits by annexing Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island into a single massive metropolis: Greater New York. A new exhibition hopes to change how people view the Bronx through a series of photographs that portray everyday life in the county.

These photographs show how New York City has locally addressed critical issues such as immigration, diversity, growth, economic change, climate change, social justice and governance. Finally, explore how New York has inspired and nourished some writers. From F. Scott Fitzgerald to Allen Ginsberg and David McCullough, these writers have used their work to capture the growth, glamor and pain of New York during the dizzying post-war American Gilded Age. The Bronx is an area with a rich history that has been explored through documentaries for decades. From Ken Burns' iconic New York series to 70 Community Elementary School, these films have provided viewers with an intimate look at this borough's past and present.

Additionally, a new exhibition hopes to change how people view this area through photographs that depict everyday life in this county. Finally, discover how some writers have used their work to capture the growth and glamor of New York during this period.