Close-Up On: Norwood


Portions of this article have been updated.

This triangular stretch of land surrounded by greenery probably derived its name from the contraction of “north” and “wood.” Situated in the northwestern Bronx, it is defined by Van Cortlandt and Bronx parks, both of which were developed in 1898. Many of the bustling streets and avenues are named after Revolutionary War patriots, because numerous 18th-century battles were fought in these dense woods. Today, Norwood is home to the prestigious Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center. Built in 1912, it employs approximately 11,000 people, making it one of the Bronx’s largest employers. A central feature of this mostly residential neighborhood is the Williamsbridge Reservoir, which was built in 1888 but became too small for the city’s needs and was eventually turned into a park and recreation center. Norwood is occupied by a mix of Latino, African American, Jewish, and Irish residents.

Boundaries: Van Cortlandt Park to the north, Woodlawn Cemetery to the east, Bronx Park to the south, Mosholu Parkway to the west

Mass Transit: A 45-minute ride from midtown Manhattan on the 4 train to Mosholu Parkway or Woodlawn. Or ride the D to the end of the line—Norwood-205th Street. The Metro-North train also stops at Williams Bridge station.

Average Price to Rent: Studio, $650 to $800 ($600 to $750); one-bedroom, $800 to $900 ($700); two-bedroom, $1000 to $1200 ($1000)

Average Price to Buy: One-family house, $250,000 and up ($225,000); two-family house, $350,000 to $550,000 ($280,000 to $295,000); multi-family house, from $375,000 ($325,000)

Landmarks: One of the gems of Norwood is the Valentine-Varian house at Bainbridge Avenue and 208th Street. This fine stone structure was built in 1758 by the Isaac Valentine farm family, and the hand-carved floorboards and deep-set windowsills are still intact. In 1792, Valentine sold it to Isaac Varian. After being auctioned off, it was eventually donated to the Bronx County Historical Society in 1965. Since 1968 it has been the Museum of Bronx History. Another lovely stone structure (at 3400 Reservoir Oval) is the Williamsbridge Reservoir keeper’s house. Built in 1888, it is now a private family home.

Cultural Institutions: The Bronx County Historical Society (3309 Bainbridge Avenue) houses loads of local research information. The Mosholu Bainbridge Community Assistance Center and the West Bronx Housing Association (3176 Bainbridge) provide social services for seniors and mediation between tenants and landlords. Nearby (at 585 East 187th Street) is the Bronx Dance Theatre, which offers classes in a variety of areas. The Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (3450 DeKalb Avenue) operates a Hebrew school and programs for young men and women.

Famous Residents: Baseball Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch was born and raised in Norwood. Also reared in the area were director Rob Reiner and fashion icons Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.

Notable Event: The Norwood Street Fair was started in 1993 as part of a neighborhood anti-drug effort. Today called the Jerome-Gun Hill Festival, it takes place in late September on Jerome Avenue between Mosholu Parkway and Gun Hill Road. The Festival, which now celebrates neighborhood unity, includes performances by local dance groups, community info booths, arts and crafts, and sweet eats.

Local Politicians: Congressman Eliot Engel, assemblymen Naomi Rivera and Jeffrey Dinowitz, and Councilman G. Oliver Koppell, all Democrats; and state senators Eric Schneiderman, and Jeffrey Klein, both Democrats.

Best Bar: The Sandbox (320 East 204th Street) deals a decent happy hour and has a CD jukebox with smooth selections.

Best Restaurants: Nicky’s Coffee Shop (3140 Bainbridge) is a morning must. The wait inside the packed diner can be grueling, but fortunately delivery is available. For a taste of authentic Dominican food, try La Del Nuevo Milenio Restaurant (352 East Gun Hill Road). Whether it’s a Cuban sandwich or my favorite, pollo al carbon, this eatery rocks. (Speaking of rock, after hours the waitresses have been known to dance a quick merengue or salsa with their customers.)

Crime: As of November 6, 2005, the 52nd Precinct, which covers Bedford Park, Fordham, Kingsbridge, and University Heights in addition to Norwood, listed 13 murders, 30 rapes, 418 robberies, 343 felony assaults, 523 burglaries. (As of June 16, the 52nd Precinct, which covers Bedford Park, Fordham, Kingsbridge, and University Heights in addition to Norwood, listed 11 homicides, the same as at this time last year; 19 rapes, compared to 22 last year; 274 robberies, compared to 259 last year; 259 felony assaults, compared to 223 last year; and 343 burglaries, compared to 377 last year.)