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Norwood is a working class residential neighborhood in the northwest Bronx, New York City. As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, the seven census tracts that make up the neighborhood have a population of 40,748. The area is dominated topographically by what was once known as Valentine's Hill, the highest point being near the intersection of 210th Street and Bainbridge Ave., where Gun Hill Road intersects, and around the Montefiore Medical Center, the largest landowner and employer of the neighborhood. It borders Van Cortlandt Park and Woodlawn Cemetery to the north, the Bronx River to the east, and Mosholu Parkway to the south and west. Norwood's main commercial arteries are Gun Hill Road, Jerome Avenue, Webster Avenue, and Bainbridge Avenue.

Due to its use in city publications, subway maps, and local media, Norwood is the neighborhood's more common name, but the entirety is also known as Bainbridge, most consistently within the neighborhood's Irish American community—centered around the commercial zone of Bainbridge Avenue and East 204th Street. However, as this Irish community largely fled the neighborhood during the 1990s, the name Bainbridge has accordingly lost a great deal of currency. Even the name Norwood does not carry a great deal of currency as do nearby neighborhoods such as Riverdale and Woodlawn.[1]

Local subway services are the D, operating along the IND Concourse Line, and the 4, operating along the IRT Jerome Avenue Line. It is part of Bronx Community Board 7 and is patrolled by the NYPD's 52nd Precinct, located at 3016 Webster Ave.



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 twentieth 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 and continued to serve 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 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.[2] 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 twentieth 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." More controversially, Irish pubs in the area attracted press attention as centers of strong support for Irish republicanism, which proposes the severance of Northern Ireland's political ties to the United Kingdom and incorporation into the Republic of 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.[3]

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 undocumented, 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 Northern Ireland on their own, particularly with the improvement of the Northern Irish 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.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, the seven census tracts that make up the neighborhood have a population of 40,748. The racial makeup of the neighborhood is 32.66% White, 22.27% African American, 0.90% Native American, 9.01% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 28.23% from other races, and 1.59% from two or more races. 52.78% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. 21.17% are Puerto Rican and 8.84% Dominican.

The median income for a household in the neighborhood is $28,724, and the median income for a family is $29,679. Males have a median income of $24,876 versus $20,814 for females. The per capita income for the neighborhood is $13,550.

35.15% of the population, (14,324 individuals), are foreign born. Another 8.55% were born in Puerto Rico, and are thus considered native born. Of the foreign born, 32.46% were born in the Caribbean, 13.95% in South America, 11.64% in South Central Asia, 11.44% in Central America, 11.35 in Eastern Europe, 5.35% in Southeast Asia, 3.60% in East Asia, 3.00% in West Africa, 0.84% in Southern Europe, 0.72% in Western Asia, and 0.71% in Western Europe. The countries which are represented by at least 2.5% (358 individuals) of the neighborhood's foreign born population are the Dominican Republic (21.17%), Mexico (7.81%), Jamaica (6.49%), Ecuador (5.65%), Bangladesh (5.42%), Guyana (4.64%), the Philippines (4.52%), Albania (4.07%), Ireland (3.00%), and Pakistan (2.81%).

Based on sample data from the same census, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 37.44% of the population 5 and older speak only English at home. 46.15% speak Spanish at home, either exclusively or along with English. Other languages spoken at home by more than 0.5% of the population of Norwood include Tagalog (1.89%), Urdu (0.93%), Korean (0.79%), French (0.68%), Serbo-Croatian (0.69%), Chinese (0.60%) and Gujarati (0.58%). In addition, 2.69% speak "Other Indic languages" (mainly Bengali), 2.47% speak "Other Indo-European languages" (mainly Albanian), 0.85% speak "African languages", and 0.56% speak "Other Slavic languages" (mainly Bulgarian).


Norwood is part of New York City Council District 11, represented by G. Oliver Koppell and the New York State Senate District 33, represented by Pedro Espada. It is split in the New York State Assembly between the 80th Assembly District, represented by Naomi Rivera, and the 81st Assembly District, represented by Jeffrey Dinowitz. It is part of New York's 17th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives, represented by Eliot L. Engel. All are Democrats.


  • Montefiore Medical Center
  • Williamsbridge Reservoir Oval - Commonly referred as "the Oval" or "Oval Park", the Williamsbridge Reservoir Oval is a park that features children's playgrounds, dog runs, basketball and tennis courts, and a football field (doubling as a soccer pitch). In the late 19th century, the Oval was an active reservoir, distributing water to the North Bronx. Two buildings from that era stand today: Valentine-Varian House, which houses the Museum of Bronx History; and the old Williamsbridge Reservoir Keeper's House, 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.
  • St. Brendan's School and Church, including the St. Brendan's School of Music.


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.


  1. Kenneth T. Jackson, ed. The Encyclopedia of New York City: P.855; (New York:The New-York Historical Society)
  2. John McNamara, A History in Asphalt' (Bronx, NY: The Bronx County Historical Society, 1984). ISBN 0-941980-16-2.
  3. Andrew J. Wilson, Irish America and the Ulster conflict' (1995: Catholic University of America Press, 1995). ix. ISBN 0-8132-0828-9.

See also

External links

Coordinates: 40°52′46″N 73°52′47″W / 40.87953°N 73.87959°W / 40.87953; -73.87959


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