Fordham, a vibrant Bronx neighborhood, is one of the best-kept secrets for those in the know. The former farming community is now a university district and one of New York City’s most affordable neighborhoods (in an already affordable Borough).

According to the StreetEasy Data Dashboard, the median asking price for a home was just $245,000 as of December 2021. That’s substantially more affordable than $410,000 for the Bronx and $1.5 million for Manhattan. The median asking rent for the same period is just as affordable at $1,738. That’s nearly 20% below the Bronx median of $2,100 and nearly half the median price for a rental in Manhattan. 

“Buyers from around the city are discovering what locals have always known,” says Magdalena Ferenc, a licensed broker with The Corcoran Group. “Fordham and the Bronx at large afford you much larger apartments for less.” And it’s not just the prices that make Fordham so appealing: “Great access to subways and neighborhood shopping make it a very desirable neighborhood,” says Sadia Madera, a licensed salesperson for Bruma Realty.

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Where Is Fordham?

Fordham is located in the Bronx, just west of the borough’s famous Little Italy at Arthur Avenue. It stretches from Burnside Avenue north to East 196th Street and Jerome Avenue east to Webster Avenue. Including Fordham University, it extends even further east to Southern Boulevard and the New York Botanical Garden. The neighborhood has two districts straddling East Fordham Road: Fordham Manor to the north, and Fordham Heights to the south.

A Brief History of Fordham

Fordham started in the 1600s as a collection of farms near a shallow crossing (or “ford,” hence the name Fordham) over the Bronx River. Along the main route between New York and Boston, the cluster of farm estates eventually became a small village. During the American Revolution, George Washington and the Continental Army crossed through Old Fordham Village in a hasty retreat after losing the Battle of New York, but better times were ahead: The railroad arrived in the 1840s, connecting the remote hamlet to a rapidly growing New York City. During this time, Edgar Allen Poe and his wife Virginia Clemm lived here in a rural cottage, and when St. John’s College (the precursor to Fordham University) opened amongst the fields. But when the subway lines extended into the Bronx in the early 1900s, Fordham’s days as a farm town were gone for good. The city grew around it, and today it’s a vital neighborhood of the Bronx.

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What Are the Housing Options in Fordham?

“Fordham offers a blend of spacious co-op apartments in beautiful pre-war buildings, single- and multi-family homes, and new development,” says Ferenc, who heads sales for Origin North, a collection of nine restored co-ops with two in Fordham. Matthew Bizzarro, of Bizzarro Agency, highlights an interesting mix of old and new homes on the market, both for sale and rental. “Buyers can find many 1940-1960s era co-ops, some even in gated communities with lush grounds,” he adds. “Most apartments are in five- or six-story buildings,” says Madera, specializing in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan markets. “You’ll find the typical 700-square-foot one-bedrooms and 1,000-square-foot two-bedrooms in these — the rental market is bustling.”

“Many buyers are coming from within the neighborhood they already love,” continues Ferenc. “Others are considering the Bronx for the first time, charmed by the original architecture, sense of community, and attractions. It’s a lifestyle opportunity and price that just doesn’t exist elsewhere in New York.” Learn more about purchasing a home in the Bronx.

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What Are Commutes from Fordham Like? 

Residents have multiple convenient options for getting into Manhattan. They can get to Columbus Circle in about 25 minutes on the D train, and to Grand Central in about 30 minutes on the 4 train. Metro-North is even faster, whisking passengers from its Fordham station to Grand Central in as little as 21 minutes, stopping only once along the way at 125th Street. 

Meanwhile, the Bx12 and Select Bus Service Bx12 connects the neighborhood to Upper Manhattan in under 15 minutes, stopping at the A Train’s 207th Street terminus in Inwood, another very affordable area. “Fordham has great transportation options,” says Ferenc, who notes it attracts Westchester transplants looking for an easier commute (White Plains is just 35 minutes on the Metro-North). “There are also those who work in Westchester but find the prices here more appealing and the lifestyle more fun.”

Feeling Green: Parks in Fordham

While Fordham no longer resembles a farming village, it isn’t a concrete jungle. Residents here have access to several swathes of parkland. Locals love the 12-acre St. James Park, with its grass lawn, tree-shaded paths, soccer field, and tennis and basketball courts. Two minutes’ walk away, Poe Park is home to the American writer’s 1840s farmhouse, plus a playground and bandstand. 

Fordham University’s campus is a park in itself, home to one of the country’s largest collections of the endangered American Elm. Some of the trees date to before the American Revolution. Adjacent to the leafy campus, the New York Botanical Garden beckons. Its 250 acres of manicured gardens and woodlands make it, for Bizzarro, “one of the most underrated places in all of New York City, and one of the few places you can submerge yourself and totally forget you live in the biggest city in the country.” Another nearby favorite: Aqueduct Walk. New York’s original High Line, this green ribbon of trees and trails spans more than a mile on top of a former aqueduct route. 

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What To See in Fordham

Compared to nearby Arthur Avenue, which draws New Yorkers from across boroughs to its Italian restaurants, Fordham is an under-the-radar neighborhood. Besides Poe’s charming cottage and Fordham University, there aren’t many significant sites that bring outsiders. But for residents, Fordham Road is a must. “It’s where you’ll find hundreds of stores — including chain stores, boutiques and specialty shops, and it’s a favorite among locals,” says Ferenc. For Madera, the bustling street is one of the top reasons people consider moving to Fordham. “It’s a little bit of everything,” she says. “People from all over the Bronx shop here at clothing stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, and grocery stores.”

And according to Bizzarro, it’s a great neighborhood for exploring what’s up and coming in the New York food world. “The food scene here…continues to grow and improve with constant new restaurants and pubs and large eateries,” she says. “Commercial rents are cheaper here, so many small businesses can afford this area as their startup location.” Book lovers will also want to register as members of the Bronx Public Library, which has its largest location in the borough on East Kingsbridge Road. Fittingly, it’s just a few steps away from Poe Park so that you can read The Raven on a bench in the writer’s backyard.