Crossing Broadway: a new history of Washington Heights, NYC’s Dominican enclave


From a review article by Sam Roberts for The New York Times.

Robert Snyder took Washington Heights’s problems personally and professionally. He was born there in 1955, grew up on stories of the old neighborhood and returned in 1989 on a fellowship to study crime reporting. In “Crossing Broadway: Washington Heights and the Promise of New York City” (Cornell University Press), he eloquently traces the demographic metamorphosis of Upper Manhattan and invokes what the sociologist Robert J. Sampson calls “collective efficacy” to explain the community’s uplifting but bittersweet comeback. Addressing the mixed blessing of gentrification, Professor Snyder, who teaches journalism and American studies at Rutgers, writes, “The people who saved Washington Heights in the days of crime and crack deserve more for their pains than a stiff rent increase.”

“I learned that the neighborhood my parents recalled so fondly had more problems than they remembered,” he writes. “I also learned that the people in Washington Heights have long had greater strengths than I ever imagined.”

In a fitting coda, in 2012 a section of upper Broadway was renamed in honor or Juan Rodriguez, reminding the heroes of Washington Heights, Professor Snyder writes, that “the first immigrant in New York was black, a free man from the Caribbean and a Dominican.”

For the original report go to

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