Lacey Kudrow was 7 years old when her parents and younger brother moved from Murrieta, Calif., to Hunts Point in 1983. Her father, Peter, received a job opportunity to work for a high-end technology company in Manhattan and it was an offer he couldn’t refuse. The family had moved into a two-bedroom apartment on Dupont Street and started adjusting to their new life on the East Coast when, six days after their arrival, they heard gunshots from down the block.
“At first we thought it was just fireworks,” said Kudrow, now 41, “because we moved here the first week of July. It was loud and eruptive.”
To keep his family safe, Kudrow’s father vowed that night to save up and move out of the neighborhood as soon as possible. But the family never did. Kudrow lived in the Bronx up until she was 25 years old. She later moved to Brooklyn but still visits her brother, Lincoln, who lives in Longwood.
“My father never followed up with moving us out,” said Kudrow, “it was all he could afford at the time.” She said they eventually learned the ropes on how to stay safe in the neighborhood such as which areas to avoid and setting strict curfews.
But the crime in Hunts Point and Longwood has decreased tremendously in the past decades since the Kudrows moved here. In 1990, the 41st Precinct logged in as number 7 in the city’s list of highest homicide rates, right behind Mott Haven, Harlem and Brownsville, according to a 2012 report by John Jay College of Criminal Justice. By 1999, the neighborhood had fallen off the list entirely. In 1990, 44 people were murdered in the precinct; by 2015, the number was three. In 1990, nearly 18,000 people were robbed in the Bronx overall; in 2016, the number was 3,500.
“This neighborhood used to look like a war zone with the amount of robbery and burglary that went on,” said Jimmy Holtz, 35, a Mott Haven native. “It was horrible.” But now, he said he’s seen major improvement in recent years.
Cassandra Planda, 18, said her parents have told her stories about Hunts Point from the 1970s and she can hardly imagine it.
“It’s hard to believe the place I call home was so unsafe once upon a time ago,” said Planda. “I’ve seen some grand theft auto once or twice but nothing that has traumatized me. I mean no area is perfect, right?”
Sammy Adler, 56, reflecting on his adolescence spent in the neighborhood, said growing up when things were rough was not easy. He said he was involved in the wrong crowd and crime-based activities were a way of life.
“I was a bad kid growing up,” he said. “I lived with my grandmother and three older sisters. Times were hard and yet I still gave them a hard time by acting out. Stealing, skipping class –you know, all the things you shouldn’t do.”
Adler said he was involved in gang violence but the death of a close friend made him realize it was time to change.
“It’s funny, my teenager tells me that a lot of her friends would never step foot in the Bronx because of how dangerous it is,” said Adler, “but this community as a whole has really come together and shaped its way into something beautiful.”
Adler said he never thought the day would come when crime rates would plummet to where they are now.
Jorge Rode, 24, said he has only ever known the Bronx as his home and said he couldn’t feel safer.
“I’ve been going to the same bodega since I was a kid,” said Rode, “I’ve had the same neighbors for a decade now and they’re like family. My fiancé and I are actually looking for a place nearby, that way I can stay close to home, where I know its safe.”