We already told that President Obama was nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and that her being the first Latina to ever do so was unprecedented. But her upbringing is to be heralded as well.
President Obama just formally announced her nomination this morning:
President Obama on Tuesday nominated federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Another child of the Bronx could be destined to make history. With that comes another opportunity for the national media to look at the Bronx in the same old way, as a place of merely two parts: the South Bronx and Yankee Stadium. Federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, from the Bronxdale Houses, is on President Obama’s short list of nominees to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court.
Much is being made of her roots, her Horatio Alger tale from a kid of the projects to possibly the highest court in the land. It’s great whenever the Bronx gets national attention as a breeding ground for the best and the brightest in this nation.
But as Sotomayor is profiled in publications and on television, how come they can’t get her neighborhood right? She was raised “in the shadow of Yankee Stadium,” a reporter told Chris Matthews on his NBC show. She grew up “within walking distance of Yankee Stadium,” said the Los Angeles Times. She was raised “near the old Yankee Stadium,” said The Washington Post (maybe not realizing the new one is across the street). She grew up “just a few blocks from Yankee Stadium,” said the South Chicagoan blog.
Maybe it adds more drama than to say she grew up hard by the Bruckner Expressway, along Rosedale Ave., in a complex of seven-story buildings with plots of grass in the southeast Bronx. After all, to say she grew up near the Stadium – in the west Bronx – conjures images of the Bronx burning down. But the reality is, even if either of the old or new stadiums that straddle 161st St. were as tall as the Empire State Building, Sotomayor could not have dwelled in their shadows. She probably played in the shade of the trees in Sound View Park. Within walking distance? “I wouldn’t walk to Yankee Stadium from here,” said William Hernandez, lifelong borough resident, who was working in the Bronxdale Houses the other day, as he has for 15 years. “That’s a 20- to 25-minute car ride on the expressway,” he said.
The Yankee Stadium angle may have begun in 1997, when Sotomayor was appointed to the Court of Appeals and an article said she lived about three miles from the Stadium, or when she wrote a decision in 1995 that ended the baseball strike, and there was much mention of her growing up in the Bronx.
“Welcome to Bronxdale, A Class of Excellence,” reads a sign at the project. The Bronxdale Houses were built in 1952, the largest of six housing developments in the area. The projects that went up back then were for working people raising families. They were pleasant places where everyone knew each other. They didn’t have the connotation they gained in the 1980s, when they were overrun with crime and drugs, and some city developments were under the control of dealers.
Big-Up’s to the Brooklyn Projects, son…What??!!??
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