Norwood is the second most populous city in Hamilton County, Ohio, United States. The city is an enclave of the larger city of Cincinnati. The population was 21,675 at the 2000 census. Originally settled as an early suburb of Cincinnati in the wooded countryside north of the city, the area is characterized by older homes and tree lined streets. Norwood is currently undergoing economic and social changes due to recent retail and business development.
In 1873, a local dry goods merchant named L. C. Hopkins subdivided 30 acres of his own land near the intersection of Hopkins Avenue and Montgomery Road. Shortly thereafter, other subdivisions were planned. The area quickly developed into one of Cincinnati's original suburbs. It was at Hopkins’ suggestion the name of Norwood was substituted for that of Sharpsburg.
Much of the remaining land from which the city originated were farms of the Mills, Smith, Langdon, Williams, Durrell and Drake families. The village was incorporated into a city in 1888 under the name Norwood.
Norwood is located at (39.160060, -84.455074).
The southern, eastern, and western areas of the city lie mostly on flat terrain, while the northern half of the city is characterized by a steeper elevation. The highest point in Norwood is at the Norwood Indian Mound burial site in Tower Park at 656 ft above sea level. That site is one of the highest land elevations in southwest Ohio. It is believed the burial mound was built at that site due to the high elevation.
Near the burial mound are two huge water towers, built in the 1800s, which Norwood uses to store water and regulate water pressure throughout its City. The towers were curious points of interest in the early 20th century. Because they were built with spiral staircases (long since removed), people rode horses or took carraige rides to the towers in order to climb the stairs and view growing Cincinnati to the south and countryside to the north. Norwood is credited with coming to the aid of Cincinnati residents during the Ohio River flood of 1937. Cincinnati's drinking water was largely contaminated so their residents depended on Norwood for fresh water, which Norwood had stored safely in the towers, above flood waters.
There were 9,270 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.8% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.4% were non-families. 36.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 11.9% from 18 to 24, 32.4% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 12.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,223, and the median income for a family was $39,951. Males had a median income of $31,530 versus $25,852 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,108. About 8.6% of families and 12.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.3% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.
Traditionally, the nickname "Gem of the Highlands" has been more of a public relations moniker for the city and is not commonly used by residents in casual conversation. Newer nicknames such as "The Wood" and "N-Wood" have emerged and are more commonly used by locals in day-to-day discourse.
As the city is ideally situated between several major railways, state roads and interstate highways, it has traditionally been an attractive location for businesses and corporations in the area. In the 1940s and 1950s, the relatively small community held the distinction of producing more goods per capita than any other city in the world.
Prominent Norwood industries included: United States Printing & Lithographing Company, Mead Container Corporation, American Laundry Machine Company, Globe Wernicke, Bulloch Electric Company, Allis-Chalmers, Siemens, J.H. Day Corporation, Zumbiel Box, dozens of tool and die makers and other industrial concerns. Corporations founded and still located in Norwood include The United States Playing Card Company and United Dairy Farmers.
However, between 1923 and 1986 the General Motors and Fisher Body automobile assembly plants were far and away the city's major employer in terms of production, payroll and employees. For decades Norwood's fortunes rose (and later fell) with these businesses.
Located across Norwood's main thoroughfare from Norwood City Hall, the Norwood Assembly plant built Chevrolet and Pontiac automobiles and provided Norwood with approximately 35% of its tax base from payroll taxes. The Norwood Plant produced 90% of the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird "muscle cars" of the 1970s. The prevalence of railroads through the area is a main reason the plant flourished. The railways were able to provide a steady flow of parts into the plant and an equally steady flow of assembled automobiles out of the plant. The plant used the enlarged McCoullough Yard, originally built for the McCoullough Seed Company in the 1920's.
The closing of the assembly plant nearly dealt a death blow to Norwood’s economy. As the main factory building sat vacant (for nearly 10 years), the city faced economic catastrophe and possible bankruptcy if replacement income was not found.
Due to the plant's unique location between Interstate 75, Interstate 71, the Norwood Lateral, U.S. Route 22 and Ohio State Route 561, the city approached GM about tearing down the old plant so Norwood could develop it. Initially GM refused, but after settling an unresolved tax dispute (GM potentially owed the city of Norwood millions of dollars in back taxes) GM agreed to demolish the remaining buildings and to donate ownership of the land to the City of Norwood.
In 1990, the first phase of development took place with the construction of the Central Parke complex on the former GM Assembly site. A new roadway, Wall Street, was built and the Grande Central Station outdoor mall was opened with a discount movie theater along with a mix of restaurants, retail, and light industry businesses. Behind the mall along the newly extended Wesley Avenue, a green space and lake were added in addition to several businesses including a technical college and medical billing firm.
In 1993, phase two took place as the city added a 1,000,000 square feet mixed-use light industrial and office building at the northeast corner of Montgomery and Sherman Avenues. Commonly referred to as the Matrixx/Convergys building, the facility opened with two retail financial institutions, a marketing firm, a satellite television customer-service center, a medical consulting/MRI/diagnostic laboratory and telephone company firm as initial tenants. The new office building was conveniently able to utilize the still standing GM Assembly Plant parking garage located on Elm Avenue. Bennett Avenue, a two-block city street, was eliminated with the new construction. Greenspace was added along Montgomery Road.
A second development, the $125 million Rookwood Exchange, was planned on the southern edge of this area directly across the street from the Rookwood Pavilion. However, the area where Rookwood Exchange was to be built was already occupied by a small 11 acre neighborhood. The city, declaring the neighborhood of about 70 homes and businesses as "blighted”, attempted to use eminent domain to obtain the land from the property owners.
Three remaining owners in the neighborhood fought Norwood’s use of eminent domain and refused to sell their property. The dispute eventually made national headlines when it was brought before the Ohio Supreme Court in Norwood, Ohio v. Horney. In 2006, the court ruled unanimously for the homeowners and city developers were forced to return ownership of the three properties to the homeowners. Currently, the site sits vacant and there are no future plans for development.
Norwood continued to develop commercial properties by capitalizing on developing other parcels of land which had been idle for years. In 2006, the city broke ground for the Linden Pointe project at the former American Laundry Machine Company, which closed in the 1990s and Globe Wernicke, which closed in the 1970s, both located near Montgomery Road and the Norwood Lateral. The city had been eying the property for development for several years. However, due to the nature of manufacturing at Globe Wernicke, contaminants were present in the ground which prevented new construction. Norwood was eventually able to utilized federal and state cleanup funds to eliminate those hazards. By fall 2007, the former American Laundry building had been renovated with the building's original historic facade preserved. The building was re-habbed with "Greening" features and re-opened with a cable-television service center and telephone company. A multi-story office complex was also constructed at the adjoining Globe Wernicke end of the property. As of November, 2007, an architectural firm was the first announced tenant. In order to cater to the new development, the street scape surrounding Linden Pointe was altered for aesthetic and traffic purposes. Several historic buildings on the narrow block at the intersection of Montgomery Road and Carthage Avenue were razed to "open up" the office park's visibility from Interstate 71. Montgomery Road and Norwood Avenues were widened, and two city blocks of Carthage Avenue and an adjoining on-ramp to State Route 562 were permanently closed. A boulevard entrance was added alongside Linden Point along the former West Norwood Avenue. (This street had previously been closed to traffic in the 1970s for urban renewal).
Norwood is also currently in the midst of two additional projects located in the Montgomery Road central business corridor. Surrey Square Mall is undergoing major expansion with addition of a 76,000-square-foot Kroger anchor store, a large cafeteria-sized McDonald's restaurant and several mid-size businesses. A medical complex is also planned at the site of the former Sherwin-Williams paint store at the intersection of Montgomery and Smith Roads between Central Parke and Linden Place. That project is scheduled for completion in 2008.
The original Norwood High School was built in 1912 on Sherman Avenue. That building now houses Norwood Middle School. A newer high school was built as a state-of-the-art facility in 1972, and houses a planetarium, television studio for both Norwood City Schools and City of Norwood civic broadcasts, greenhouse and swimming pool. Drake Planetarium, named after astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake, is linked to NASA.
Norwood High School won the 1936 state title for baseball.
The Norwood Recreation Commission operates and supervises four playgrounds and three swimming pools during the summer months. Permits for ball diamonds, tennis courts and picnic areas are also issued through the Recreation office. The Recreation Commission conducts leagues for 30 softball teams for men and women in addition to assisting and cooperating with the Norwood Knothole Association and Norwood Soccer Association in providing facilities for all their teams. In the past the Norwood Recreation Commission has moved into the schools with its Fall, Winter, and Spring programs.
Norwood has 38 churches for its residents to choose from.