Riverdale vs. The Bronx: Why Both Locations Matter for MC

Manhattan College celebrates 100 years in the Bronx. MANHATTAN.EDU/ COURTESY

By Mary Haley, Staff Writer

Manhattan College is celebrating its hundredth year of being in the Bronx, and many banners have been seen around campus expressing the college’s Bronx location as opposed to Riverdale, the neighborhood of the Bronx the college’s campus is located in and has been advertised in since the 1970s. 

According to manhattan.edu, the college’s address is 4513 Manhattan College Parkway, Riverdale, NY. Riverdale is considered to be a neighborhood within the borough of The Bronx. So how does using “The Bronx” to describe the college’s location differ from using “Riverdale”?

To understand the difference between these two “locations,” The Quadrangle spoke to three Bronx natives in the MC community about their thoughts on this slow change and where they stand. 

Rocco Marinaccio, Ph.D., is a Bronx native from the neighborhood of Pelham Bay, and he expressed how he thinks the signage celebrating 100 Years in the Bronx affects people in the college’s community. 

“I think there are a lot of people who wish we would sort of celebrate a little more specifically, our identity as a Bronx institution … and not to sort of hedge our location by referring to Riverdale,” Marinaccio said. “Maybe this is an indication of a little more profound embrace of the Bronx identity moving forward.”

Marinaccio now lives in Riverdale and he spoke on the difference between Riverdale and the rest of the Bronx. He believes it is important to recognize Riverdale as part of this borough.

“When people ask me where I live, I say ‘I live in The Bronx,’ and they say ‘Oh, where in The Bronx?’ and I say ‘Riverdale,’ and they say ‘That’s not really The Bronx. The Bronx doesn’t have neighborhoods like Riverdale,’ and I say ‘The Bronx does and one of them is Riverdale’,” Marinaccio said. “It’s a little disingenuous to sort of say Riverdale is not really The Bronx, because it is … It is diverse in the way that The Bronx is diverse. The Bronx is noisy. I’m a Bronx native and I feel like I live in The Bronx.”

Lois Harr, adjunct instructor of religious studies, told The Quadrangle why she thinks the college’s Bronx location is so important and the reasoning behind using Riverdale in advertisements over the broader Bronx representation. She said that in the 1970s, there was low housing stock in the South Bronx because of housefires. 

“They might [have wanted] to dissociate themselves from [the fires] in order to attract students from other areas,” Harr said. 

As another Bronx native, Harr spoke on why social justice in the Bronx is so important and why this advertisement of the college being in the Bronx is so important to the community. Harr, as an advocate for social justice in The Bronx, presented this issue to the Manhattan College Cabinet in early 2021. 

According to Harr’s powerpoint, the goal for the College’s community engagement is “intentional engagement with our local … communities with emphasis on our shared commitment to human dignity and our Lasallian Catholic social justice values.”

“I’ve had students [help at] Concourse House, which is a shelter for women and children, and we also [became partners] with a community center. Bedford Housing Corporation … they’ve also been a partner,” Harr said. “We’ve done a bunch of different things.”

Not only does the campus and identity of the school in The Bronx affect residential students, but the change from Riverdale to represent The Bronx also affects students who commute from other areas in the Bronx. 

Mahnoor Sultan, a freshman civil engineering major, is from Morris Park. She says the signs were an important representation of The Bronx to her. 

“I think a lot more people from The Bronx will be aware of the opportunity to go here, and to know there is such a good college just close to home,” Sultan said. “It’s important to know that you have such a good college in your backyard, that makes it a lot easier.”