Inwood is physically bounded by the Harlem River to the north and east, and the Hudson River to the west. It extends southward to Fort Tryon Park and alternatively Dyckman Street or Fairview Avenue further south, depending on the source.
Notably, while Inwood is the northernmost neighborhood on the island of Manhattan, it is not the northernmost neighborhood of the entire borough of Manhattan. That distinction is held by Marble Hill, a Manhattan neighborhood situated just north of Inwood, on what is properly the North American mainland bordering the Bronx. (Marble Hill was isolated from Inwood and the rest of Manhattan in 1895 when the route of the Harlem River was altered by the construction of the Harlem River Ship Canal.)
Because of its water boundary on three sides, the hilly geography, and the limited local street connections (only Broadway and Fort George Hill connect to the rest of the Manhattan street grid), the neighborhood can feel somewhat physically detached from the rest of the borough. The W.P.A. Guide to New York City, published in the 1930’s, described Inwood as: rivers and hills insulate a suburban community that is as separate an entity as any in Manhattan.
Inwood’s western real estate appeals to many who seek lower housing costs and, on certain blocks, a more serene setting, without actually leaving Manhattan and its subway connections. As evidence of the growing marketing value of the Inwood brand, listings in Fort George and even Marble Hill will sometimes describe themselves as being in “Inwood”. Real estate values have risen in recent years as the western sections of the neighborhood have drawn artists, students, musicians and young families priced out of other parts of Manhattan (especially the adjacent and subway-connected Washington Heights, Morningside Heights, and Upper West Side). Whether this leads to any future gentrification of Inwood remains to be seen, as prices remain modest for Manhattan and the western portion of the neighborhood is so small in area and population that its influence on the rest of Inwood is relatively small.