What is Bronxplorations and what does the name mean?

Bronxplorations is the name I use for my Instagram account and this blog.  I chose the name because of my love for the Bronx and desire to explore its social history, urban landscapes, folk art and collective memory.

Are the pictures the same as your Instagram account?

The majority of the pictures are from my Bronxplorations Instagram account but some are not.  This blog was created to reach friends, family and potential readers who don’t use Instagram.  It also is a place where I can write at greater length and post pictures that I might not share on Bronxplorations.

Are all pictures on Bronxplorations of the Bronx?

The majority are of the Bronx particularly the South and West Bronx, but I also have some pictures from other boroughs of New York and from travels to other parts of the United States and abroad.

Who are you, David Druce?

I’m a history teacher who works at a public high school in the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx. I’m not technically a Bronxite.  I’m a fourth-generation New Yorker on my mom’s side but I spent most of my childhood and adolescence in suburbs of St. Louis and Newark, New Jersey.   Currently, I live in Queens. That said, I did go college at Yeshiva University in Washington Heights, which culturally is very similar to parts of the Bronx.  One year, my dorm window faced the River Park Towers and it was remarkable that the neighborhood was visible but not one that many people in YU would ever visit.  On Halloween, I just walked across the Washington Bridge and went into the Bronx.  I’ll never forget walking down University Avenue, past Loring Place where my grandfather lived and outside a bodega at the corner of Fordham Road, seeing a dude dressed in an Osama Bin Laden mask. It was a surreal moment, encapsulating a lot of the fears suburbanites have of the inner city but also making light of them.

Later I lived in Bedford Park, right on the Grand Concourse and 204th Street.  I’ve had relatives in the Bronx living and working since the twenties in many Bronx neighborhoods.  Walking the streets of the Bronx, I know where my grandparents lived, where my great-grandparents lived, where my second cousins lived and where many of my students live now.

I look at myself as hopefully being an ally to the people of the Bronx and a stakeholder in their success but aware of the complexity of what it means to be from or represent a place, especially with current discussions over intersectionality and New York’s gentrification.

What is your favorite part of Bronxplorations?

Few things make me happier than hearing someone from the Bronx tell me I have properly represented a place they are a part of.  I love that photograph enables a dialogue with others. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have gotten that with a blog. I am really thankful for the community I’ve found on Instagram.

What influences your style?

As a child, before the internet…my stamp collection, National Geographic, the work of others…

What’s the story behind the logo?

It’s a whimsical picture-Moses and other sculptures watching a Yankees game from afar. To quote my second post: The Bronx Supreme Court is a temple of solitude, a place where I contemplate dualities. It is intensely public and private, secular and religious. By religious I mean Jewish.  There is a delicatessen here called the Court Deli, formerly known as the Hebrew National, which was once kosher. It still maintains something of the ambiance of the Bronx of old.  My uncle works near here, my relatives lived near here and maintained the synagogue across the street but the Jewish community here is nearly dormant.  I guess the duality is that taking pictures and studying art is a Western culture.  While there is a tradition of Jewish folk art, a focus on text is what I was educated in at Yeshiva University.  Another duality is that most people my age whose family passed through the Bronx aren’t aware or that interested, but I’ve made it a part of my identity by choice.

Is this site still under construction? 

Yes. I intend to add more of my pictures and also more writing and historical research. Many elements of this project have been developing since I was a college student fifteen years ago and it will be nice to finally share them.

What are your goals for Bronxplorations?

I want to be a more skilled photographer and branch out from trains and landscapes to taking pictures of people.  When that happens and time permits, I really want to do some documentary photography on the Jewish community in the Bronx and some pieces on ethnic succession and neighborhood changes.

How do I find pictures?

Unfortunately, the only way to navigate the site is to scroll down which is why this text is here and not in an ‘about me’ page. I will try to figure out a way to have search engine added to the blog.