There's a lot more to Fordham than just the university: the charming neighborhood boasts cultural institutions like the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Garden and Edgar Allan Poe Cottage. Located north of Manhattan and bordering bustling Belmont, the district also offers ample shopping and dining opportunities—in fact, the Fordham Road shopping district gets more foot traffic on average than Manhattan streets in SoHo, Greenwich Village and the Flatiron District. Read on for details on all there is to see and do in the neighborhood.
The largest metropolitan zoo in the US, this attraction is a must-see for anyone who loves wildlife. The 265-acre site is home to more than 6,000 animals, which are housed in re-creations of their natural habitats. Visitors can marvel at the gorillas of the Congo, the snow leopards of the Himalayas and the lemurs of Madagascar.
New York Botanical Garden
This lush garden, neighbor to the Bronx Zoo, is a wonderland for everything that grows out of the ground. Featuring more than a million plants on 250 acres, the Botanical Garden is a place for study and research as well as enchantment and exploration. Take a seasonal walk to see what's in bloom or visit the Home Gardening Center to get tips for your own patch of earth.
Edgar Allan Poe Cottage
Edgar Allan Poe spent the last years of his life—from 1846 to 1849—in what was then the Bronx countryside, in a small cottage overlooking the shores of Long Island. It was there that he penned some of his most lasting verse, including "Annabel Lee" and "The Bells," as well as the metaphysical prose poem "Eureka." The cottage has been restored to its original appearance and is open for weekend public tours.
Built in 1929, this magnificent Bronx theater has played host to events as varied as boxing matches, Shakespearean plays and indie rock shows. The venue's 2012 conversion from a concert hall to the home of World Changers Church New York was perhaps its most striking transformation to date. Those who want to see the building's ornate interior will now have to do so during Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday services.
Fordham has food options to satisfy everyone (except maybe calorie counters). Start by sampling carb-heavy dishes at Tra Di Noi, an Italian eatery that sits on the border of the Belmont and Fordham neighborhoods. Offerings include veal scaloppine al limone (with lemon and white wine) and lasagna alla Bolognese, a classic red-sauce dish. At Gyro King, the house specialty gets high marks for its simplicity, with generous portions of succulent lamb and beef taking center stage. Finally, those looking for variety will find it at Primavera Café, whose menu approaches 200 items: muffins, breakfast sandwiches, T-bone steak and skirt steak churrasco are just a few of the choices, and most dishes (save for steaks and seafood) cost less than $10.
It's easy to see why Fordham Road is home to one of New York City's busiest shopping districts: the thoroughfare's stores can keep you busy for hours. Sneakerheads will delight in the footwear options at Jimmy Jazz, which specializes in sneakers and streetwear from such brands as Nike, Reebok and Jordan. Dr. Jay's, a pioneer in urban fashions, has been around the Bronx since 1975 (the original store is on Westchester Avenue). The neighborhood staple, opened here around a decade later, sells men's and women's styles from brands like Timberland and New Era. Another spot that's been in the neighborhood for some 30 years is Fordham Comics. Tucked away inconspicuously on the third floor of a nondescript building (beyond the tattoo parlor and the nail salon), the store sells comics, collectibles and cards. The latter is Fordham Comics' main stock in trade these days, which helps explain the popularity of the shop's Friday Night Magic—a weekly event in which players do virtual battle in the game Magic: The Gathering.