Norwood, The Bronx : NYC Tourist Guide

Norwood, The Bronx, in NYC, New York, USA

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Norwood, The Bronx, New York City

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Norwood is a neighborhood in the Bronx in New York City, one of the few in the city (or any city, for that matter) whose boundaries are extremely obvious


Norwood was laid out in 1889 by Josiah Briggs between Mosholu Parkway and Woodlawn Cemetery. Its name is 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. It went through a series of names around the turn of the century, including North Bedford Park after the neighborhood to the south, Norwood Heights, 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.

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.

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, Woodlawn, or to nearby Yonkers. The same factors which encouraged return to Ireland have also discouraged further immigration to Bainbridge.

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