Acting on the behalf of the Dutch East India Company, Dutchman Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan Island for the equivalent of $72 of beads, cloth, hatchets, and other trinkets. To
symbolize the peaceful bond between the Natives and Europeans, the Lenape tribe planted a huge tulip tree at the place that would become the entrance to Inwood Hill Park.
The Dutch colonized. Inwood was colonized by Dutch farmers, most notably the Dyckmans. The Dyckman legacy includes a street namesake and the only original Dutch farmhouse still standing on Manhattan (it was built by a later Dyckman, completed in 1783).
A surprise attack and a quick forfeit leaves Manhattan in the hands of the British, renamed New York.
Inwood is used as a haven for the English-employed Hessian mercenaries. A few minor skirmishes occur between Americans and Hessians.
After the war and the eviction of the Hessian mercenaries, Inwood becomes a land occupied mostly by very wealthy New Yorkers of British and Dutch descent. Due to its distance from the bustle of Lower Manhattan and the lack of efficient transportation to the area, it was the ideal location for large mansions and estates to be erected by the elite. One such family of elites are the Lords, of the Lord & Taylor department store, who owned three hundred acres of land, upon which sat two mansions. The estate burned in the late 1800s.
The first attempts to make Inwood more like part of a city than a suburb occur. Gas street lamps are installed on street corners. One of these original street lamps can still be found today on the corner of Broadway and 211th Street.
The IRT subway line (1 Train) extended into Inwood in 1908. This created an easy, effective route of transportation into the heart of Inwood and caused a real estate boom as it became easier for people to populate the area. Among the many groups to come into the area include the Jews and Irish from the Lower East Side.
Access to the Inwood area was made even easier when the IND subway line, A Train, extended to 207th Street. As part of FDR’s WPA (Works Progress Administration) policies to ease the blow of the Great Depression, Inwood Hill Park came into its current fruition complete with pathways, ball fields, plant maintenance, etc. As a result of the beautification of the park, the last of the Lenape Native Americans to live there were driven away.
Housing projects were constructed on 10th Avenue from Dyckman Street to 204th Street. This led to a massive population increase, namely of minority groups. Crime and ethnic and socioeconomic tensions became more proportionally apparent.
With the passage of the Hart-Celler Act in 1965, abolishing the immigration quotas based on nationality, a large wave of immigrants, namely those from the Dominican Republic, makes Inwood their home.
The larger population that had become so so quickly exponentially raised crime rates, especially drug-related crimes. Inwood is a haven for drug pushers and dealers and is considered a relatively unsafe area.
In recent years, with the gentrification of the area and tougher drug laws, Inwood has had a renaissance. Inwood, a naturally beautiful place and home to the only natural forest remaining on Manhattan (Inwood Hill Park), now attracts a younger demographic from the higher socioeconomic statuses.