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Norwood
Neighborhood of the Bronx
Valentine–Varian House
Country  United States
State  New York
City Flag of New York City.svg New York City
Borough Flag of Bronx County, New York.svg Bronx
Community District Bronx 7
Area
 • Total 1.36 km2 (0.525 sq mi)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 40,494
 • Density 29,781/km2 (77,130/sq mi)
Economics
 • Median income $37,465
ZIP Codes
10467
Area code 718, 347, 929, and 917

Norwood, also known as Bainbridge, is a working-class residential neighborhood in the northwest Bronx, New York City. It is bound by Van Cortlandt Park and Woodlawn Cemetery to the north, the Bronx River to the east, and Mosholu Parkway to the southwest. The area is dominated topographically by what was once Valentine's Hill, the highest point being near the intersection of 210th Street and Bainbridge Avenue, where Gun Hill Road intersects, and around the Montefiore Medical Center, the largest landowner and employer of the neighborhood. Norwood's main commercial arteries are Gun Hill Road, Jerome Avenue, Webster Avenue, and Bainbridge Avenue.

The neighborhood is part of Bronx Community District 7 and is patrolled by the NYPD's 52nd Precinct. As of the 2000 United States Census, the seven census tracts that make up the neighborhood had a population of 40,748.

History

At the time of the Civil War, the area was Westchester County farmland on the border of West Farms and Yonkers. Chief property owners included the Valentine, Varian, and Bussing families. Woodlawn Cemetery was founded in 1863 to the north. Annexed to New York City in 1873 along with the rest of the West Bronx, the area's character shifted from rural to suburban by the turn of the 20th century. The neighborhood's streets in their present form were laid out in 1889 by Josiah Briggs between Middlebrook Parkway (renamed Mosholu Parkway) and Woodlawn Cemetery. Contemporary maps show that it was then considered part of Williamsbridge, with which it continues to share a post office. Williamsbridge Reservoir was opened in 1890, transforming the natural lake into an artery that served the New York City water supply system until no longer needed in 1934.

The area went through a series of names around the turn of the 20th century, including North Bedford Park, after the neighborhood to the south, and Brendan Hill, after St. Brendan the Navigator and the parish church, established in 1908, that bears his name. The name Brendan Hill was made official by the Board of Aldermen in 1910. Norwood, the name with greatest common currency, is first attributed in the form Norwood Heights—either in honor of Carlisle Norwood, a friend of Leonard Jerome, or simply a contraction of "North Woods", common to a number of places in the English-speaking world.

In the first half of the 20th century Norwood shared with the rest of the Bronx a population made up largely of European-origin Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish families affluent enough to leave Manhattan. These populations were joined by Puerto Ricans during the Great Depression and post World War II eras, and, post-1965, by other Latinos (especially Dominicans), Bangladeshis, Albanians, West Indians (especially Guyanese), West Africans (especially Ghanaians), and a new group of Irish immigrants.

Irish population

In the 1970s through the 1990s the neighborhood was well known for its Irish population, having attracted a number of immigrants from Catholic areas of Northern Ireland who fled the Troubles. During this time that the neighborhood became known by two more names: Bainbridge, after the Bainbridge Avenue - East 204th Street commercial strip - included Irish restaurants, groceries, and pubs, and Little Belfast, after the city from which many immigrants came.

The area contributed much in Irish and Irish-American culture and politics during this time. The musical group Black 47, made up of Irish expatriates, first made their name touring the bar scene here. Their lyrics would go on to reflect the experiences of the Irish in the area, in such songs as "Funky Ceílí," "Her Dear Donegal," and "Rockin' the Bronx." Irish pubs in the area attracted press attention as centers of strong support for Irish republicanism, which supports ending the remaining British rule in Ireland. A few pubs hosted benefits for Noraid, the Northern Irish Aid Committee, accused by Unionists of gun running for the Irish Republican Army (IRA). At least one area bar, The Phoenix, was raided by law enforcement in 1994, with Irish authorities simultaneously raiding its owner's holiday home in Donegal. Thomas Maguire, the owner, and five others, were charged with smuggling thousands of bomb detonators to Ireland from Tucson via New York. A jury found the defendants not guilty on all counts.

A number of factors have contributed to the decline of the Irish population in Bainbridge. The most critical was the downturn in the US economy which forced many Irish immigrants to return to Ireland or to seek work in Germany (whose reunification process coincided with the American recession). A substantial portion of the Irish population were illegally in the country, and thus subject to INS investigation and deportation. The end of the Troubles period, with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, encouraged some residents to return voluntarily to Ireland, particularly with the improvement of the northern economy. The growth of the economy of the Republic of Ireland - the so-called "Celtic Tiger" - persuaded some residents to move there. Others have continued to live in New York, moving to the Bronx neighborhoods of Riverdale and Woodlawn, or to nearby Yonkers. The same factors which encouraged return to Ireland have also discouraged further immigration to Bainbridge.

Demographics

Storefronts (Norwood, Bronx, New York)
Storefronts along East 204th Street

2010 Census

Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Norwood was 40,494, a decrease of 323 (0.8%) from the 40,817 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 360.93 acres (146.06 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 112.2 inhabitants per acre (71,800/sq mi; 27,700/km2).

The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 9.9% (3,998) White, 17.9% (7,262) African American, 0.3% (114) Native American, 11.0% (4,451) Asian, 0.0% (9) Pacific Islander, 0.7% (264) from other races, and 1.5% (611) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 58.7% (23,785) of the population.

The entirety of Community District 7, which comprises Norwood and Bedford Park, had 148,163 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 79.4 years. This is lower than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods. Most inhabitants are youth and middle-aged adults: 26% are between the ages of between 0–17, 31% between 25–44, and 23% between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 11% and 9% respectively.

As of 2017, the median household income in Community District 7 was $35,355. In 2018, an estimated 26% of Norwood and Bedford Park residents lived in poverty, compared to 25% in all of the Bronx and 20% in all of New York City. One in seven residents (14%) were unemployed, compared to 13% in the Bronx and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 61% in Norwood and Bedford Park, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 58% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018, Norwood and Bedford Park are considered low-income relative to the rest of the city and not gentrifying.

Landmarks

  • Montefiore Medical Center
  • Williamsbridge Oval, commonly referred as "the Oval" or "Oval Park", is a park that features children's playgrounds, dog runs, basketball and tennis courts, and a football field (doubling as a soccer pitch). From the late 19th century into the early part of the 20th century, the Oval was an active reservoir, distributing water to the North Bronx.
  • The Keeper's House at Williamsbridge Reservoir, built in 1889, which was recently bought and restored by the Mosholu Preservation Corporation for use as a community space. Both houses have been named landmarks by the New York City Landmarks Commission.
  • The Valentine–Varian House, a fieldstone farmhouse built in 1758, which now houses the Museum of Bronx History.
  • St. Brendan's Church and School, founded in 1908, including the St. Brendan's School of Music.
  • The Shrine Church of St. Ann, founded in 1927, including the School of St. Ann (merged in 2012 in a regional system).
  • The Aisling Irish Community Center. Located in a former movie theater which closed in the 1980s, the site became the home first of an Irish dance school, and is now a social and cultural center serving the needs of Irish immigrants in their transition to life in the United States, as well as the support of elderly Irish-born residents in the North Bronx and Yonkers. The theater served as a backdrop for a Hollywood movie during its time as a dance school.
  • Mosholu Library, a branch of the New York Public Library

Transportation

MTA NYC Bus Bx16 bus turning onto 206th St
Bx16 bus turning onto 206th Street from Bainbridge Avenue

The following New York City Subway stations serve Norwood:

  • Norwood–205th Street (D train)
  • Woodlawn (4 train)
  • Mosholu Parkway (4 train)

The following MTA Regional Bus Operations bus routes serve Norwood:

  • Bx10: to Riverdale (via Riverdale Avenue)
  • Bx16: to Eastchester (via Nereid Avenue-Mundy Lane)
  • Bx28: to Co-op City or Fordham (via Gun Hill Road, Section 5 in Coop City)
  • Bx30: to Co-op City (via Gun Hill and Boston Roads)
  • Bx34: to Woodlawn or Fordham (via Bainbridge Avenue)
  • Bx38: to Bay Plaza Shopping Center (via Gun Hill Road, Sections 1-2-3 in Coop City)
  • Bx41 (including Select Bus Service): to Gun Hill Road or Third Avenue–149th Street stations (via Webster Av)

Norwood is also served by the following Bee-Line Bus System routes to Westchester County, New York:

Adjoining areas

Nearby neighborhoods include Bedford Park, Williamsbridge, Olinville, Woodlawn, and Allerton. Norwood is sometimes referred to as a section of Williamsbridge, but given how different Norwood's adjoining area to the east is, it is difficult to understand how this notion ever came into being. Possible sources of such a misconception could be the shared zip code between Norwood and Williamsbridge (10467) or due to the "Williamsbridge Oval" in Norwood.

Education

NYPL Bronx Mosholu Library IMG 1957 HLG
New York Public Library, Mosholu branch

Norwood and Bedford Park generally have a lower rate of college-educated residents than the rest of the city as of 2018. While 23% of residents age 25 and older have a college education or higher, 32% have less than a high school education and 45% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 26% of Bronx residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher. The percentage of Norwood and Bedford Park students excelling in math rose from 21% in 2000 to 48% in 2011, and reading achievement increased from 28% to 33% during the same time period.

Norwood and Bedford Park's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is more than the rest of New York City. In Norwood and Bedford Park, 28% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, higher than the citywide average of 20%. Additionally, 70% of high school students in Norwood and Bedford Park graduate on time, lower than the citywide average of 75%.

Schools

New York City Department of Education operates public schools in the area. The zoned neighborhood schools are PS/MS 280 Mosholu Parkway (grades K-8) and PS 56 (grades K-5). Area students attend several high schools, including Evander Childs High School and DeWitt Clinton High School. St. Brendan's School is an area Catholic K–8 school. C. J. Hughes of The New York Times stated that according to residents of the Norwood area, the high schools in the community were "hit-or-miss".

Library

The New York Public Library (NYPL) operates the Mosholu branch at 285 East 205th Street. The branch opened in 1955 and contains two floors: a ground floor and a basement.

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