For six weeks every year, on the first weekend of April, dozens of undergraduates from America’s universities converge on private east-side Bronx town, Fieldston. The majority of those enrolled are citizens of countries with low birthrates such as China, South Korea, Iran, Greece, and France; some have first-language Russian or Hebrew. Almost all speak the language of this elite international enclave, English, followed by French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Mandarin.
Fieldston also boasts the highest college ranking among our dozen New York City neighborhoods, as well as numerous global celebrities, some of whom live here. J.K. Rowling, the “Harry Potter” creator, and Steven Spielberg, director of “Jurassic Park,” reside on the shuttered Mapleton Hill estate. Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg became the most valuable individual in the world, reaching $122 billion, and Yahoo founder Jerry Yang is worth almost as much, at $36 billion.
If that isn’t all, Alexandra Kaback, the executive vice president of Twitter and a fluent Russian speaker, also lives in Fieldston. Olivia O’Hara, the actress and model who appeared in “Downton Abbey,” is a resident. And author Jonathan Franzen (who grew up in suburban Belmont, Mass.) boasts that he and his wife, artist Lucie Bannon, take weekend vacations in this exclusive enclave:
“It’s private, exclusive, high-quality social connections, and it’s built on 20 acres of land that is almost a national park. With Fieldston, you just need to feel that connection. And you feel it in such a small way. In New York City, you always kind of get the feeling that you are so big and over-stimulated. And there’s a lot of sadness about it, but this particular community here is full of joy and light.”