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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 farther south, depending on the source.
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 bordering the Bronx. (Marble Hill was isolated from Inwood and the rest of Manhattan in 1895 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. The W.P.A. Guide to New York City, published in the 1930s, described Inwood with "rivers and hills insulate a suburban community that is as separate an entity as any in Manhattan."
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 to the southeast (ending at Dyckman Street), the Alexander Hamilton Bridge over the Harlem River from the Trans-Manhattan Expressway to the Cross Bronx Expressway, the Washington Bridge at 181st Street crossing the Harlem River to the Bronx, the University Heights Bridge from 207th Street in Manhattan across the Harlem River to Fordham Road in the Bronx, and the Broadway Bridge across the Harlem River north to Marble Hill. Inwood's main commercial shopping streets are Broadway, Dyckman Street and West 207th St. The majority of neighborhood residents commute via the subway using either the A train at the 207th Street or Dyckman Street stations along Broadway or the 1 train at the Dyckman Street, 207th Street, or 215th Street stations along Tenth Avenue. The station at 207th Street and Broadway has been the northernmost terminus for the A train since it opened in 1932 and was renovated in 1999 to be ADA accessible. Inwood is also served by the M100, Bx7, Bx12+, and Bx20 bus routes. All routes except the Bx7 terminate in the neighborhood. The median commute time for all residents is approximately 45 minutes with 72.5% of residents working in New York County.
Inwood marble, a soft, white, metamorphic rock found in northern Manhattan, takes its name after the neighborhood. From the mid-17th to the late 18th century, 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. 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.
Sherman Creek is a small inlet of the Harlem River located south of West 201st Street, north of the Harlem River Drive, and east of Tenth Avenue. As a name for the several blocks around it, Sherman Creek is something of a historical relic, although many people ignorantly regard it as a part of Washington Heights. The name is a reference to a residential neighborhood, may make a comeback if a much-discussed condominium complex is someday constructed.
Municipal planners haven't stopped using the name, however. The Manhattan Institute held a forum, "Saving Sherman Creek," in January 2006 at the Harvard Club of New York. The Daily News (New York) has written about the project.
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. On the southern tip of the island Minuit founded New Amsterdam. A plaque (on a rock) marking what is believed to be the spot of the sale is in Inwood Hill Park, the only natural forest left in Manhattan.
During the British occupation of Manhattan in the American Revolutionary War, there was an encampment containing more than sixty huts occupied by Hessian troops between 201st and 204th streets along Payson Avenue. The camp was discovered in 1914 by local archeologist and historian Reginald Bolton after a series of digs around the neighborhood.
Inwood was a very rural section of Manhattan well into the early 20th century. Once the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line (1 train) reached Inwood in 1906, speculative developers constructed numerous apartment buildings on the east side of Broadway. Construction continued into the 1930s, when the IND Eighth Avenue Line (A train) 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.
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. 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 (57,000 m2). The development also contains a basketball court which is very popular among New York City streetball enthusiasts. NBA basketball all-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 4,500 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. 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 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. However, in the 1960s-1980s, many Irish residents moved out of Inwood to the other boroughs and the suburbs (Riverdale) in a pattern consistent with overall trends in the city at that time. During the same period that the Irish were leaving Inwood, there was a dramatic rise in the number of immigrants from the Dominican Republic to the area.
Today, Inwood has a predominantly Dominican population in the majority areas east of Broadway. Hispanic residents make up 74 percent of Inwood’s people, as a whole, according to census data. 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. Other than the aforementioned historically dominant groups, the remaining population of Inwood is diverse, similar in makeup to the rest of New York City.
Inwood is very large in area for a Manhattan neighborhood, and its real estate rents and values are sharply bifurcated between east and west. According to the US Census, the districts east of Broadway are predominantly lower-income and Spanish-speaking. This area is also more industrial and commercial and has few parks and trees. Real estate values and rents are correspondingly lower than the area west of Broadway.
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, consisting mostly 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 (93,000 m2) athletic fields along West 218th Street known as 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.
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. 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.
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Inwood is home to various public schools:
- PS/MS 278 The Paula Hedbavny School, a K–8 public school
- PS/IS 18 Park Terrace, a K–8 public school
- PS 5 The Ellen Lurie School, a K–5 public school
- PS 98 Shorac Kappock, a K–5 public school
- IS 52 Inwood JHS, a 6–8 public school
- High School for Excellence and Innovation, a 9–12 public specialty school
Three public schools are "schools of choice" for District 6 and admit by lottery:
- PS 314 Muscota New School, a K–5 progressive public school
- PS/IS 311 Amistad Dual Language School, a K–8 English/Spanish dual language public school
- PS 366 Washington Heights Academy, a K–8 public school
There is one charter school located in Inwood:
- Inwood Academy for Leadership Charter School, a 5–7 public charter school (expanding each year)
There are several private religious schools in Inwood:
- St. Jude School, a 1–8 Roman Catholic school (CLOSING JUNE 2013)
- Good Shepherd School, a PK–8 Roman Catholic school
- Mahattan Christian Academy, a PK–8 Christ-centered school
- Northeastern Academy, a 9–12 Seventh Day Adventist high school
Although not technically located in Inwood by most definitions, these schools located south of Dyckman St also serve Inwood families:
- PS 152 Dyckman Valley, a K–5 public school
- MS 322, a 6–8 public school
- PS 178 Juan Bosch School, a K–2 public school (expanding to Grade 5)
- Our Lady Queen of Martyrs School, a PK–8 Roman Catholic school
There is one higher-education classroom campus in Inwood:
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 (30 m)-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 current and former residents of Inwood include:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born 1947), former NBA basketball star, grew up in the Dyckman Houses as Lew Alcindor.
- Jim Carroll (1950–2009), author of The Basketball Diaries, an autobiography set in 1960s Inwood which was adapted into a film in 1995 starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
- Wynn Handman (born 1922), Artistic Director of The American Place Theatre.
- Bess Houdini (1876–1943), wife of magician and stunt performer Harry Houdini lived at 67 Payson Avenue and conducted seances to contact him after his death.
- Lionel Mapleson (1865–1937), violinist and librarian of the Metropolitan Opera House for nearly 50 years. Creator of the Mapleson Cylinders, one of the earliest recordings of live classical music. Mapleson lived on Park Terrace East at the time of his death.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda (born 1980), actor and writer of the Broadway musical In the Heights.
- Henry Stern (born 1935), longtime former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
- Isidor Straus (1845–1912), owner of Macy's department store, owned a country estate that was located in present-day Inwood Hill Park 
- Will McIntosh (born 1962), Winner of the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Short Story.
- Brian Lehrer popular radio host on WNYC.
- Anthony Marx, current president and CEO of the New York Public Library. 
- 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( Most Common), about a half-dozen blocks to the north, on Department of City Planning maps. Real estate agents seem to agree with the encyclopedia."
- 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)."
-  "Secrets of New York" Podcast, "Facelift: Inwood Hill, Harlem River Ship Canal, Secret of Marble Hill Episode"
-  The program was sponsored by the Manhattan Institute's Center for Rethinking Development, which fosters a new understanding of the importance of development to New York City's well-being. Focusing on such areas as zoning and planning, environmental review, building codes, historic preservation, and public housing, CRD offers concrete, feasible proposals for reform.
-  Saving Sherman Creek, The Manhattan Institute.
- "Bronx". Daily News.
- "Peter Minuit," Britannica Online
- "Sherman Creek initiative at nyc.gov"
- "Columbia Athletics".
- RING Garden
- Entertainment Weekly. "Jim Carroll Cool Poet". Accessed March 24, 2008.
- 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."
- "Reports Message of Houdini Decoded". The New York Times, January 9, 1929.
- Lionel S. Mapleson, Opera's Librarian; Served Metropolitan Nearly Half Century-Victim of Heart Attack. The New York Times. Dec. 23, 1937.
- Melena Ryzik. "Heights before Broadway". The New York Times. Accessed March 24, 2008.
- 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."
- NYC Parks Department. . Accessed March 24, 2008.
- World Science Fiction Society, Aussie Website 2010. Wikipedia, Hugo Award Winner, Best Short Story 2010.
- NYPL. .
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