The Fordham section of the Bronx first began its expansion in the 1930s when many middle and working-class Jewish families moved to the area, attracted by the modern housing and convenient subway access to business districts in Manhattan where they could work and shop. During the 1970s a wave of arsons ravaged several low-income communities in New York City, including and most notably, many of the residential structures in Fordham that were left seriously damaged or destroyed. Most of the working-class families that had once called Fordham home now moved to the suburbs or retired to Florida.
Fordham Road is not only the longest shopping strip in the borough but has also become the site of major economic improvement and development with a constant influx of new businesses and developments.
Fordham is also home of the Bronx Library Center, which initially opened its doors in 1923 to expand services and meet the needs of an increasing population, the branch went through several renovations. The original building located on Bainbridge Avenue was renovated and reopened in 1956 but in November of 2005 it closed its doors to make way to a new and improved library center.
Among the area's historical sites, Edgar Allan Poe spent the last years of his life – from 1846 to 1849 – in what was then the Bronx countryside. The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage has been restored to its original appearance and is open for weekend public tours. The New York Botanical Garden and the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo are within the neighborhood. Fordham University maintains its historic original campus on much of the former Rose Hill Manor in the center of the neighborhood. The Fordham Road Business improvement district operates on the northern border of the neighborhood.
The 265-acre Bronx Zoo is the largest metropolitan zoo in the US, a must-see for anyone who loves wildlife. It is the home to more than 6,000 animals, which are housed in re-creations of their natural habitats. The lush New York Botanical Garden, across the road from the Bronx Zoo's main entrance, features more than a million plants on 250 acres.