Inwood, Manhattan

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File:Inwood hill park nov2007.jpg
Inwood, viewed from Inwood Hill Park

Inwood is the northernmost neighborhood on Manhattan Island in the New York City borough of Manhattan.



File:Inwood, Manhattan, NYC.JPG
A residential street in Inwood

Inwood is physically bounded by the Harlem River to the north and east, and the Hudson River to the west. It extends southward to Fort Tryon Park and alternatively Dyckman Street or Fairview Avenue further south, depending on the source.[1][2] Inwood is mostly covered by the 10034 postal ZIP code.

File:Broadway in Inwood.jpg
Broadway and Dyckman Street intersection in Inwood.

Notably, while Inwood is the northernmost neighborhood on the island of Manhattan, it is not the northernmost neighborhood of the entire borough of Manhattan. That distinction is held by Marble Hill, a Manhattan neighborhood situated just north of Inwood, on what is properly the North American mainland. (Marble Hill was isolated from Inwood and the rest of Manhattan only in the 20th century when the route of the Harlem River was altered by the construction of the Harlem River Ship Canal.)

Because of its water boundary on three sides, the hilly geography, and the limited local street connections (only Broadway and Fort George Hill connect to the rest of the Manhattan street grid), the neighborhood can feel somewhat physically detached from the rest of the borough.

Inwood's main local thoroughfare is Broadway, which is also designated US 9 at this point. Highway access to the area is via the Henry Hudson Parkway to the west, the Harlem River Drive/FDR Drive to the southeast and the Major Deegan Expressway over the Harlem River to the east. Inwood's main commercial shopping streets are Broadway, Dyckman Street and West 207th St.

Inwood marble, a soft, white, metamorphic rock found in northern Manhattan, takes its name after the neighborhood. From the mid-1600s to the late 1700s, commercial quarries dotted the area as the material was used for building construction. However, due to its susceptibility to erosion, builders eventually used alternate construction materials.[3] Inwood marble was quarried for government buildings in lower Manhattan and Washington D.C.. Small pieces of marble can still be seen in the stone retaining walls around Isham Park.


On May 24, 1626, Peter Minuit, the director general of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, bought the island from the Lenape Indians for 60 Dutch guilders and, the story goes, some trinkets.[4] On the southern tip of the island Minuit founded New Amsterdam. A plaque marking what is believed to be the spot of the sale is in Inwood Hill Park, the only natural forest left in Manhattan.

207th Street IRT station under construction in 1906.

Inwood was a very rural section of Manhattan well into the early 20th century. Once the IRT subway reached Inwood in 1906, speculative developers constructed numerous apartment buildings on the east side of Broadway. Construction continued into the 1930s, when the IND subway reached Dyckman and 207th Street along Broadway and the large estates west of Broadway (Seaman, Dyckman, Isham, etc.) were sold off and developed. Many of Inwood's impressive Art Deco apartment buildings were constructed during this period.

Land use

Industrial uses, including subway, bus and sanitation depots, exist primarily along Sherman Creek, bordered by the Harlem River, Dyckman Street to the south, Tenth Avenue to the west, and 207th Street to the north. There has been an initiative among politicians over the last few years to re-zone this area for residential and commercial use, and to create public access to the waterfront.[5] Currently, Con Ed and the City of New York own some of the property in this area.

Adjacent to Sherman Creek is Inwood's primary public housing development known as the Dyckman Houses (not to be confused with the Dyckman House museum). This complex was constructed in 1951 and consists of seven 14 story residential buildings on 14 acres. The development also contains a basketball court which is very popular among New York City streetball enthusiasts. Basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar grew up in the complex. Before the construction of this complex, the site contained a stadium called the Dyckman Oval, with a capacity of 4500 spectators, which hosted football games, boxing matches, and Negro League baseball games.

Inwood also contains one of Manhattan's few remaining C-8 zoning districts, which concentrates automotive uses on Broadway north of 215th Street. The resulting lowrise collection of autobody shops and used-car lots constitutes an unexpected gateway to urban Manhattan Island for southbound traffic.

The remainder of Inwood is a mostly residential neighborhood of primarily five-to-eight story prewar buildings, along with most of the few remaining detached and semi-detached houses on Manhattan Island. Most of Inwood's co-op buildings are located west of Broadway, while rentals dominate on the east side of Broadway. Parks include the very large and old-growth Inwood Hill Park, Fort Tryon Park, and Isham Park along with numerous other green spaces. Institutions include the Allen Pavilion (an annex of New York-Presbyterian Hospital) and several churches and schools. Inwood also includes Dyckman House, the last remaining Dutch colonial-era farmhouse in Manhattan.


The residents of Inwood were substantially of Irish and Jewish descent for much of the 20th century. The neighborhood exhibited a strong Irish identity with many Irish shops, pubs, and even a Gaelic football field in Inwood Hill Park, while Jewish life was centered east of Broadway. However, in the 1960s-1980s, many Irish and Jewish residents moved out of Inwood to the other boroughs and the suburbs in a pattern consistent with overall trends in the city at that time. During the same period that the Irish and Jewish were leaving Inwood, there was a dramatic, massive rise in the number of immigrants from the Dominican Republic to the area.

Today, Inwood has a very predominantly Dominican population, particularly in the vast majority of the neighborhood which lies east of Broadway. A few elderly Irish remain in the blocks near the Church of the Good Shepherd at Isham Street, though even its Mass services are now offered in Spanish nearly as often as in English. The Jewish population is greatly diminished and nearly non-existant in its original seat east of Broadway, where the synagogues and hospital that once served it have been repurposed or torn down. (The YMHA remains active, albeit now serving a much broader constituency). Other than the aforementioned historically dominant groups, the population of Inwood is diverse, similar to the rest of New York City.

Real Estate

Inwood is very large in area for a Manhattan neighborhood, and its real estate is highly bifurcated between east and west. According to the US Census, the majority of the district east of Broadway is of lower-income and Spanish-speaking.

Inwood's real estate appeals to many who seek lower housing costs and, on certain blocks, a more serene setting, without actually leaving Manhattan and its subway connections. As evidence of the growing marketing value of the Inwood brand, listings in Fort George and even Marble Hill will sometimes describe themselves as being in "Inwood". Real estate values have risen in recent years as the western sections of the neighborhood have drawn artists, students, musicians and young families priced out of other parts of Manhattan (especially the adjacent and subway-connected Washington Heights, Morningside Heights, and Upper West Side). Whether this leads to any future gentrification of Inwood remains to be seen, as the prices remain modest and the western portion of the neighborhood is so small in area and population that its influence on the rest of Inwood is relatively small.


File:Inwood Park lagoon 2007.JPG
Inwood Hill Park in 2007

Inwood Hill Park, on the Hudson River, is a largely-wooded flagship city park. It is known for its caves that were used by the Lenape before Europeans arrived, and the last salt marsh in Manhattan. Birdwatchers come to the Park to see waterbirds, raptors, and a wide variety of migratory birds. The wooded section, mostly comprised of abandoned former summer estates, features the last natural forest standing on Manhattan Island. A ballfield complex, tennis courts, three playgrounds, a waterfront promenade and extensive hiking trails are also prominent components of the Park. Due to the overwhelming large crowds that use the baseball and picnic facilities, the park has a completely different character in the summer and on weekends compared to other, quieter times.

Other green spaces in Inwood are Isham Park and Columbia University's 23 acre athletic fields along West 218th Street known at the Baker Field Athletics Complex. The football stadium within the complex, known as Lawrence A. Wien Stadium, can accommodate 17,000 fans and was noted by Sports Illustrated as "one of the most beautiful places in the country to watch a football game" due to the scenic views of the Henry Hudson Bridge and the New Jersey Palisades from the home stands.[6]

Parts of Fort Tryon Park and Highbridge Park lie along Inwood's southern border. The Lt. William Tighe Triangle, aka the Riverside-Inwood Neighborhood Garden (RING) is the northernmost piece of Ft. Tryon Park, at the confluence of Riverside Drive, Dyckman St., Broadway and Seaman Avenue. RING Garden This is Inwood's oldest community garden, having been founded in 1984. It has numerous artistic, musical and environmental events, has solar energy and composting installations, and is an all-volunteer botanical garden.


Area schools include:

  • The Muscota New School, PS 314, is a New York City public "school of choice" that serves the Washington Heights, Inwood, and Harlem neighborhoods. Muscota uses a progressive educational approach, rather than follow the standard New York City public elementary curriculum. Admission is based on lottery.
  • Other public schools serving Inwood include P.S. 98 and I.S. 52, P.S. 5, P.S. 152, P.S. 311, I.S. 218, as well as George Washington High School.
  • Private schools include Good Shepherd, which is affiliated with an adjacent Catholic church on Isham Street, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, a Catholic School on Arden Street, Manhattan Christian Academy on 205th Street, Northeastern Academy on 215th Street, and Saint Judes School on 204th Street

Institutions and landmarks

Most visitors get their first glimpse of the neighborhood when visiting the area's best known cultural attraction, The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park. This branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is devoted to Medieval art and culture, and is located in a medieval-style building, portions of which were purchased in Europe, brought to the United States, and reassembled. Whether the museum itself is actually located in Inwood depends on one's definition of the neighborhood boundaries but its tower dominates the skyline of the area and the museum can be easily accessed via steep pathways leading up from Dyckman Street.

From Inwood Hill Park, one can view a 100-foot-tall Columbia "C" painted on the face of a rock outcropping across the Harlem River on the Bronx shore. This collegiate logo has been in place for approximately a half-century, though it is not clear who exactly maintains the painted letter in the present day.

Looking west from Inwood Hill Park across the Hudson River, one can view the New Jersey Palisades. Looking east from Inwood, the former NYU campus in University Heights, Bronx, now Bronx Community College, towers above the east end of the University Heights Bridge.

The local hospital in Inwood is the Allen Hospital, a satellite facility of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

The oldest building in Inwood is the Dyckman House, the oldest farmhouse in Manhattan, on Broadway at 204th Street.

A farmers' market takes place on Isham St on Saturdays, year-round.

Bridges spanning Spuyten Duyvil Creek include the Henry Hudson Bridge, the longest fixed arch bridge in the world when built in 1936, and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, a railroad swing bridge reconstructed numerous times since originally opening in 1849. Road bridges are the Broadway Bridge and the University Heights Bridge, both important local structures.

The Seaman-Drake Arch, located on Broadway near 216th Street, is one of only two free-standing arches in New York City. It was built in 1855 of local Inwood marble.

Notable residents

File:Henry Hudson Bridge from Inwood Park.JPG
Henry Hudson Bridge seen from Inwood Hill Park

Notable current and former residents of Inwood include:


  1. Jackson, Nancy Beth. "If You're Thinking of Living In/Inwood; Away From Manhattan Without Leaving", The New York Times, December 15, 2002. Accessed October 23, 2008. "The neighborhood's southern boundary with Washington Heights depends on who's defining. Residents line up in two camps: Fairview Avenue as described in the Encyclopedia of New York City and Dyckman Street, about a half-dozen blocks to the north, on Department of City Planning maps. Real estate agents seem to agree with the encyclopedia."
  2. Russo, Francine. "Close Up On: Inwood", The Village Voice, October 15, 2002. Accessed October 23, 2008. "Boundaries: Fairview Avenue to the south, Dyckman Street to the west, and the Harlem River to the north and east (Inwood is bisected by Broadway)."
  3. [1] "Secrets of New York" Podcast, "Facelift: Inwood Hill, Harlem River Ship Canal, Secret of Marble Hill Episode"
  4. "Peter Minuit," Britannica Online
  5. "Sherman Creek initiative at"
  6. "Columbia Athletics."
  7. Entertainment Weekly. [2]. "Jim Carroll Cool Poet." Accessed March 24, 2008.
  8. Ryzik, Melena. "Nearly 60 Years and Counting, Working on the Art of Theater", The New York Times, May 20, 2007. "He grew up in Inwood, on a dirt road, fishing for crabs off a dock on Dyckman Street. "I had a country boyhood in Upper Manhattan," he said."
  9. "Reports Message of Houdini Decoded." The New York Times, January 9, 1929.
  10. Lionel S. Mapleson, Opera's Librarian; Served Metropolitan Nearly Half Century-Victim of Heart Attack. New York Times. Dec. 23, 1937.
  11. Pg 347, The Legislative Manual New York, 1986-87 and Section 13, Military Law, State of New York "The Adjutant General of The State" 1987.
  12. [3] Melena Ryzik. "Heights before Broadway." The New York Times. Accessed March 24, 2008.
  13. Bumiller, Elisabeth. "Guarding the Turf, Stepping on Toes; Henry Stern, Passionate and Blunt, Champions the City Parks", The New York Times, July 23, 1995. Accessed October 28, 2007. "There are a few other key things that define Mr. Stern. He grew up in Inwood, a mixture of Jewish, Irish and Greek immigrants several generations ago but now a largely Dominican neighborhood."
  14. NYC Parks Department. [4]. Accessed March 24, 2008.

External links

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