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Monday, September 14, 2009

Name Your Neighborhood

A little more than a decade ago, when the Norwood News expanded beyond Bedford Park to include another neighborhood to its south in Community Board 7, we wondered what to call it. In the 1970s, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition called its local affiliated association the Fordham-Bedford Community Coalition, named for the southern and northern street boundaries. And the nonprofit housing company that sprung from that group called itself the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation.

In the Norwood News, we call the community “North Fordham,” which has long irked colleagues affiliated with both aforementioned organizations. We thought it better described the community north of Fordham Road and south of Bedford Park and its namesake boulevard. We felt like Fordham-Bedford was a confusing conglomeration of the two neighborhood names of Fordham and Bedford Park.

Last week, we got this e-mail from John Reilly, the long-time executive director of Forhdam Bedford Housing Corporation, who reported with no shortage of glee that Wikipedia now has an entry for Fordham-Bedford while North Fordham has none .

Gentlemen: How interesting that Wikipedia now recognizes Fordham Bedford as a neighborhood in the Bronx. It does not seem to reference anything about North Fordham. It would seem that the march of time and popular recognition are gradually winning out and that places are ultimately named by the people who live and work there. Just as “Holy Comforter” is now Concourse House, Fordham Bedford is STILL Fordham Bedford (as it has been for 35 years!)

And, we must admit, he has a point. Even if Fordham-Bedford is a made-up name that relatively few people use, North Fordham is no less made up or infrequently used. It also has the disadvantage of being more recently made up and by people who don’t live or work in the neighborhood.

But detracting from Mr. Reilly's argument is that the Wikipedia entry says Fordham-Bedford comprises two smaller neighborhoods – Fordham and Bedford Park. Our purpose in naming the neighborhood was to give it its own distinct identity, separate from Bedford Park.

So, we put it to you dear readers : If you live between Bedford Park Boulevard and Fordham Road, and between Webster and Jerome avenues, what do you call your neighborhood? And if you don’t feel like your neighborhood has a name, and you tell people you live on the Grand Concourse or Kingsbrige Road, or East 198th Street, what would you like it to be called?

We’re looking forward to hearing from you.


  1. Whatever the merits of the argument, Wikipedia is the worst possible measure of legitimacy. I could throw off the entire argument simply by creating an entry on my own for "North Fordham" right now.

    "Fordham-Bedford" sounds forced, like a newspaper or a non-profit needed a name for an area (which is the case) and picked the names of the two major streets (also the case). But no one really refers to the area as "Fordham-Bedford."

    I'd say a good rule of thumb would be to call east of the Concourse "Bedford Park" and west of the Concourse "University Heights," as it has been since time immemorial.

    Or just use the street names.

  2. Bedford Park really doesn't run much further south than 198th (196th at the maximum).

    I vote for North Fordham, or just Fordham.


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