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Woodlawn Heights has a reputation as a family-oriented community with a small-town atmosphere where neighbors take the time to get to know each other well.Read more about Woodlawn Heights
The small-town atmosphere comes in part from the fact that the area is self-sufficient: it possesses its own schools, churches, fire station, library, and the grassy haven of Van Cortlandt Park. The residents of Woodlawn Heights are known for their strong sense of civic pride and their high level of community involvement.
Best of all, this quaint neighborhood with a small-town feel is convenient to Manhattan: Woodlawn Heights residents can commute to the island via Metro-North trains, Liberty Line express busses, or the subway. The ride takes only about a half hour.
Woodlawn Heights is bordered by Woodlawn Cemetery on the south, the Westchester County line on the north, Van Cortlandt Park on the west, the Bronx River Parkway and the tracks of the Metro-North Railroad on the east. The neighborhood is a green and cozy enclave of manicured numbered streets lined with one- and two-family homes at its core, with rental apartments, co-ops and condos on the edges, often with charming park or cemetery views.
According to Bronx borough historian Lloyd Ultan, Woodlawn Heights’ development began in 1832 with the construction of the Harlem Railroad. The area was largely just farmland until 1863 when the 400-acre Woodlawn Cemetery was created in part to bury the Union soldiers of the Civil War.
The establishment of Woodlawn Cemetery inspired a flurry of development: monument shops, workers, masons, and florists moved in. Hotels, restaurants, and bars sprung up to cater to the bereaved who came from Manhattan to mourn their dead. The population of the area rose in 1890 when Irish laborers arrived to build a second aqueduct from the Croton reservoir across Van Cortlandt Park.
Beloved as a playground and respite for the whole neighborhood, Van Cortlandt Park is a lush green space that features a municipal golf course and playing fields for cricket, baseball, and boccie ball. It’s a year-round center of activity and a cherished community gathering space.
Most of the houses in Woodlawn Heights are sturdy wood-frame or brick colonials that date to the early part of the 20th century. The majority of the land parcels are small, some measuring just 30 by 100 feet, and not many of the houses have driveways or garages.
The population of this warm and welcoming neighborhood is made up of mostly Irish-American families or recent immigrants from Ireland. The main thoroughfare of the town, McLean Avenue, boasts Irish pubs and churches. The butcher on intersecting Katonah Avenue sells Irish delicacies like a sausage known as “black and white pudding.”