Robert W. Snyder

Crossing Broadway: Washington Heights and the Promise of New York City


Cornell University Press, 2014

This latest book by Robert Snyder, associate professor of journalism and American Studies, is  based on years of historical research, reporting, and oral histories, as well as a week patrolling with the New York Police Department in Washington Heights when murder and the crack epidemic were at their greatest heights and race relations in New York City were angry and raw.

The Heights had long been a neighborhood where generations of newcomers—Irish, Jewish, Greek, African American, Cuban, and Puerto Rican—carved out better lives in their adopted city. But as New York City shifted from an industrial base to a service economy, new immigrants from the Dominican Republic struggled to gain a foothold. Then the crack epidemic of the 1980s and the drug wars sent Washington Heights to the brink of an urban nightmare. But it did not go over the edge.

According to the publisher, Crossing Broadway tells “how disparate groups overcame their mutual suspicions to rehabilitate housing, build new schools, restore parks, and work with the police to bring safety to streets racked by crime and fear. It shows how a neighborhood once nicknamed ‘Frankfurt on the Hudson’, for its large population of German Jews, became ‘Quisqueya Heights’—the home of the nation’s largest Dominican community.”

Listen to an interview with the author