Welcome back to our new Untapped Cities series on NYC’s Micro Neighborhoods, where we delve into long standing ethnic enclaves.
Irish and American flags representing the neighborhood pride in Woodlawn. Photo via amNY.
In the northern Bronx, just above its namesake cemetery and east of Van Cortlandt Park, you can find New York City’s own Little Ireland. The neighborhood of Woodlawn Heights or simply Woodlawn, as it is better known, has been a destination for the Irish exodus in New York City. Though originally populated by Germans, Woodlawn is now predominantly Irish with its share of Italian-Americans as well. It is here that you’ll find the greatest abundance of four-leaf clover insignias on storefronts in all of the city.
Bustling Katonah Avenue. Photo via Tracy’s New York Life.
Although Woodlawn has its definitive borders, the Irish community itself is present on both sides of McLean Avenue, which serves as the border between New York City and Yonkers. Both areas, however, are nearly indistinguishable when judging from their inhabitants, businesses and neighborhood character. The majority of residents have lived here for generations, making it home to both an Irish-American and Irish immigrant population. The neighborhood’s proximity to Manhattan, along with the variety of imported Irish products available have long been attracting its inhabitants from across the ocean. An Irish presence can also be found in other neighborhoods, such as the Bronx’s Riverdale and Norwood, and Manhattan’s Inwood.
The neighborhood can be a trek to access depending on your method of transportation. Woodlawn is best reached by vehicle or by the swift Metro-North Harlem line, which stops at East 233rd Street near the Bronx River Parkway. The number 4 subway line also stops at the southern part of Woodlawn Cemetery, though it is a distance from the neighborhood’s center. Once in the vicinity however, be ready to indulge in the many Irish locales. The commotion can be felt on Katonah Avenue, the main commercial district dotted with Irish pubs, cafés, restaurants and even shops specializing in authentic Irish imported goods and gifts.
Tombstones throughout Woodlawn Cemetery. Photo via Animal New York.
Apart from the Irish festivity opportunities, Woodlawn also pampers its locals with green space found in the bordering 1,186-acre Van Cortlandt Park. If spooks intrigue you, then check out the famous Woodlawn Cemetery with its grand mausoleums and eerie tombstones surrounded in greenery. The cemetery hosts guided walking tours and is the final resting ground of notable figures such as the Olmstead brothers and Latin artist Celia Cruz. If it’s Irish style partying that you’re craving, be sure to stop at the Rambling House or The Tombstone Saloon. When hunger strikes, Mary’s Celtic Kitchen and Patrizia’s Of Woodlawn will satiate any palate. There’s also the Woodlawn Arts and Music House sure to satisfy local artists. Whatever the itinerary, a trip to Woodlawn’s Little Ireland is sure to impress those looking for traces of Ireland in the big city.
Get in touch with the author: @Bronxiite