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Westchester County, New York
Map of New York highlighting Westchester County
Location in the state of New York
Map of the U.S. highlighting New York
New York's location in the U.S.
Seat White Plains
Largest city Yonkers
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

500 sq mi (1,295 km²)
433 sq mi (1,121 km²)
67 sq mi (174 km²), 13.45%
Population
 - (2000)
 - Density

923,459
2,134/sq mi (823.8/km²)
Founded 1683
Congressional districts 17th, 18th, 19th
County flag Flag of Westchester County, New York
County logo Logo of Westchester County, New York
Website www.westchestergov.com

Westchester County is a suburban county located in the U.S. state of New York. Westchester covers an area of 450 square miles and has a diverse population of approximately 950,000, residing in 45 municipalities. It was named after the city of Chester in England, and the county seat is White Plains.

Its geographical setting is favorable, with New York City and Long Island Sound on the south, Putnam County on the north, Connecticut on the east, the Hudson River on the west. Westchester became the first large scale suburban area in the world to develop. Its significance as a suburb derived mostly from the upper-middle class development of entire communities in the late nineteenth century, and the rapid population growth that occurred as a result.[1]

According to 2006 HUD data, the median income for a household of one person in the county was $75,427 and the median income for a family of four was $96,500.[2][3] Westchester County ranks number two (number one being Manhattan) for wealthiest counties in New York State and the seventh wealthiest county nationally. Westchester County has long been associated with "old money" and some of the country's wealthiest families for generations, along with other places such as Greenwich, Connecticut, and the Long Island's Gold Coast.

Contents

History

Original inhabitants

The native inhabitants of Westchester County belonged to the larger family of Native Americans who spoke languages classified as Algonquian. Their connection to the Mound Builders of the Mississippi Valley, the Aztecs of Mexico or the native groups of Central America, if any ever existed, must have been extremely remote. Fortunately title deeds given to the European settlers supply considerable information about the location of sub-tribes in the region. The Manhattans occupied the island upon which New York City was built, as well as land in Southern Westchester now covered by the city of Yonkers. The Weckquaesgeeks occupied land along the Hudson River and the central portions of the county where Dobbs Ferry, Tarrytown and White Plains now stand. The Siwanoy tribe lived along the coast of Long Island Sound where Pelham, New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck and Rye now stand. The northern portions of the county were occupied by smaller tribes such as the Tankitekes, Kitchawanks and Saint Siks.

Colonial Westchester

Van-Cortland Manor
Philipsburg Manor

The first Europeans to explore Westchester were Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524 and Henry Hudson in 1609. The first European settlers were sponsored by the Dutch West India Company in the 1620s and 1630s. English settlers arrived from New England in the 1640s.By 1664, the Dutch lost control of the County to the English and large tracts of Westchester land were established as manors or patents. Manors were held by a single proprietor, while patents were held by groups of associates. The lords of the manors and patents leased land to tenant farmers and provided many essential services to the tenants. Westchester County was an original county of the Province of New York, one of twelve created by an act of the New York General Assembly in 1683. At the time, it also included the present Bronx County, which constituted the original Town of Westchester (whose center was around the area today known as Westchester Square, in the Bronx) and portions of three other towns: Yonkers, Eastchester, and Pelham.

During the colonial period, life in Westchester was quite primitive. Roads were few and in poor condition. Transportation was heavily dependent on water routes. Nearly everything settlers consumed was raised or made on their farms. They bartered wood, cattle and food for items that they could not produce themselves. Colonial churches not only served as religious centers but also played an important social and political role.

Although the economy was still primarily agricultural, farmers began to supplement income through cottage industries - shoe making and furniture crafting. These industries led to heavier use of local roads; heavier use necessitated road improvements which encouraged increased travel. Taverns providing accommodations for travelers were established and ferries were launched. By 1775, Westchester was the richest and most populous County in the colony of New York.

Revolutionary transition

During the Revolutionary War, Westchester County saw more fighting and suffering than any other area in the country. The Revolution was in some ways a civil war, as families were often divided between patriot and loyalist sympathies. After the battles of Pelham and White Plains in 1776, the main American headquarters was at Continental Village, north of Peekskill in Putnam County. The British were headquartered in New York City. Westchester was the "Neutral Ground" between the two camps and the countryside was pillaged by both sides.

Although the Revolution devastated the County, recovery after the war was rapid. The large landowners in Westchester were mostly Loyalists, and after the war their lands were confiscated by the state and sold. Many local farmers were able to buy the lands they had previously farmed as tenants. In 1788, five years after the end of the Revolutionary War, the County was officially divided into 20 towns. In 1798, the first federal census recorded a population of 24,000 centered in northern Westchester.

Early infrastructure improvements

1867 map of Westchester

In 1800, the first commercial toll road, the Westchester Turnpike, which ran through Pelham and New Rochelle, was chartered. Other toll roads including the Croton (Somerstown) Turnpike were later established. During this same period, steamboats began to appear on the Hudson River. Expansion of transportation options encouraged economic expansion. Larger industries were gradually established such as iron foundries in Peekskill and Port Chester, brickyards in Verplank and Croton, marble quarries in Ossining and Tuckahoe.

Two developments in the first half of the 1800s - the construction of the first Croton Dam and Aqueduct and the coming of the railroad - had enormous impact on the growth of both Westchester and New York City. Construction of the Croton Dam and Aqueduct began in 1837 and was completed in 1842. The aqueduct carried water 41 miles from Croton to two reservoirs in Manhattan to be distributed to the city. The reservoirs were located on the present sites of the Great Lawn in Central Park and the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. Now a National Historic Landmark, the Aqueduct is considered one of the great engineering achievements of the 19th century.

In the 1840s, the railroads came to Westchester. In 1844, the New York and Harlem Railroad reached White Plains. The New York and Hudson River line was completed to Peekskill in 1849. That same year, the New York and New Haven Railroad opened its route through eastern Westchester. The railroads often determined whether a town grew or declined. The railroads contributed to a population shift from northern to southern Westchester. By 1860, the total County population was 99,000 and the largest city was Yonkers. Many small downtowns, centered around a railroad station, flourished.

Post Civil War

The period following the American Civil War brought vast fortunes to a new class of entrepreneurs in the New York area, and many built large estates in Westchester. Several magnificent mansions of this era are preserved and open to the public. Among them are Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, Kykuit in Pocantico Hills, the Jay Heritage Center in Rye, Caramoor in Katonah and Glenview in Yonkers.

Expansion of the New York City water system also impacted local development. Between the systems created new dams, bridges and roads. The flooding of thousands of acres for reservoirs created considerable dislocations in many towns north of White Plains. The building of the New Croton Dam and its reservoir, for instance, resulted in the relocation of the hamlet of Katonah to higher ground. In North Salem the hamlet of Purdys was moved when five percent of the town was inundated, including hundreds of prime acres of dairy land.

During the last half of the 1800s, Westchester's transportation system and labor force attracted a manufacturing base, particularly along the Hudson River. Pills and patent medicines were manufactured in Ossining; greenhouses in Irvington; beer in Dobbs Ferry; sugar, paving material and conduit in Hastings; and in Yonkers, elevators and carpets.

In 1874, the western portion of the present Bronx County, consisting of the then towns of Kingsbridge, West Farms, and Morrisania, was transferred to New York County, and in 1895 the remainder of the present Bronx County, consisting of the Town of Westchester and portions of the towns of Eastchester and Pelham, was transferred to New York County. By that time, the portion of the town of Eastchester immediately north of the transferred portion had seceded from the town of Eastchester (1892) to become the City of Mount Vernon so that the Town of Eastchester had no border with New York City. In 1914, those parts of the then New York County which had been annexed from Westchester County were constituted the new Bronx county.[citation needed]

Twentieth century

During the 1900s, the primarily rural character of Westchester would yield to the suburban county known today. Between the County's railroad network and the proliferation of the automobile in the early 20th century, working in New York City and living in the country became possible for the middle class. In 1907 the Bronx River Commission was established to acquire the necessary lands to eliminate nuisance conditions along the river's banks and improve its water quality through a joint undertaking between New York City and Westchester County. The Commission's efforts led to the creation of the Bronx River Parkway Reservation, completed in 1925, and the first modern, multi-lane limited-access roadway in North America. The success of the Bronx River Parkway Reservation encouraged the County government to develop its outstanding parks system, preserving great tracts of open space. Playland in Rye, a National Historic Landmark, opened to the public in 1928, was the first totally planned amusement park in the country. It continues to be operated by Westchester County. The development of Westchester's parks and parkway systems supported existing residential communities and encouraged the establishment of new ones. New homes were constructed on former estates and farms. The parkways were a boon for commuters and transformed the development pattern of Westchester. New businesses appeared in response to expanded markets; White Plains, with branches of many New York City stores, became the County's central shopping center. With the need for new homes for new families following World War II, multistory apartment houses appeared in the urbanized areas of the County, while the market for single family houses continued to expand. By 1950 the total County population was 625,816.

Major interstate highways were constructed in Westchester during the 1950s and 60s. The establishment of these roadways, along with the construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge, encouraged many major corporations, such as PepsiCo, General Foods, Ciba-Geigy and IBM to establish headquarters in Westchester. They accomplished this by assembling large tracts of property to construct office facilities, which were often designed by world-famous architects and enhanced by extensive landscape.

The County's intense development during the 20th century, while generating prosperity for the region, raised the consciousness of its residents regarding the loss or compromise of Westchester's open space, air and water quality and historic resources.

Today it is one of the most affluent counties in the country, home to many of New York City's most desirable suburban communities. It is a haven for commuters, whether traveling by car or by the Metro-North Commuter Railroad.

National Historic Sites

St. Paul's Church in Mt. Vernon was designated a National Historic Site in 1942. The original church, a wooden structure known as Church of Eastchester, was built in 1695. The present-day stone church was completed in 1764, and its name was changed to St. Paul's in 1795.

The church property, which is operated by the National Park Service, includes a cemetery with burial stones dating to 1704 and the remnants of a village green that was the site of what came to be known as the "Great Election" of 1733.[4] The publisher of the New York Journal, John Peter Zenger, wrote an account of the election and was arrested and tried for seditious libel. His acquittal established the legal precedent for "freedom of the press," which was later incorporated as a basic freedom in the U.S. Bill of Rights.

Horace Greeley's house stands in Chappaqua. Horace Greeley was most famous for his newspaper, The New York Tribune , which ran late into the 19th century. Greeley got a mere sixty votes in the electoral college when he ran for president against Ulysses S. Grant and died shortly thereafter from severe illnesses and broken spirits. His home and the grounds which have not been subdivided are run by the Town of New Castle Historical Society and is open for guided and self-guided tours.

The only Founding Father native to New York State, John Jay, grew up in Rye, New York and returned there to rest among his many descendants. America's first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court served in every branch of US government and his boyhood home is now a National Historic Landmark, open to the public. It is managed by the Jay Heritage Center. The buildings on this historic site, including the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House built by Jay's eldest son, are being restored for educational programs in American History, Architecture and Environmental Stewardship.

Geography

Davids' Island

Westchester County is located at the southeastern tip of New York State. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 500 square miles (1,295 km²), of which 433 square miles (1,121 km²) is land and 67 square miles (174 km²) (13.45%), water. The County shares its northern boundary with Putnam County and its southern boundary with New York City. It is bordered on the west side by the Hudson River and on the east side by Long Island Sound and Fairfield County, Connecticut.

The closest point on the southern border of Westchester is just under 11 miles (18 km) from Columbus Circle in Manhattan (the customary point for measuring distances from New York City), where Pelham Manor meets Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. At over 2,700 acres (11 km2), Pelham Bay Park is the largest of New York City's parks, forming a substantial 'buffer' between suburban Westchester and urban Bronx County. The closest point on the county's northern border is a little over 38 miles (61 km) by air and 51 miles by road.

The Long Island Sound shore is generally rocky. Tidal mud flats and marshes as well as several natural and artificially-maintained sand beaches are interspersed on the coast. A number of islands can be found offshore from New Rochelle. The uses of these islands vary: Glen Island is a County park for passive and active recreation, Huckleberry Island is largely undeveloped and has one of the largest rookeries for some shore bird species in western Long Island Sound, Columbia Island was the former site of CBS television broadcast antennas, Echo Island contains a private yacht club, Pine Island is a private residence, and Pea Island is undeveloped. Davids' Island, the former location of the U.S. Army’s Fort Slocum, is undergoing an environmental cleanup and is slated to be used as passive parkland. Public waterfront access is limited by residential and other development, although municipal and County owned parks provide access to public beaches, nature preserves and passive and active waterfront recreational facilities.

The widest section across the Hudson River, at 3.6 miles, is found between the Westchester and Rockland County shorelines immediately north of Croton Point in Croton-on-Hudson. In Colonial times, this area was called the Tappan Zee or Sea. The Hudson River is tidal and brackish through Westchester and contains a small number of estuarine marshes. Two bridges span the Hudson in Westchester; the Bear Mountain Bridge crosses at Cortlandt and the Tappan Zee Bridge at Tarrytown. Municipal, County and state-owned parks provide access to waterfront landmarks and sites, including Croton Point in Croton, Kingsland Point in Sleepy Hollow and JFK Memorial Marina in Yonkers.

The Hudson River waterfront in Westchester is in the midst of a renaissance, converting from primarily industrial uses to mixed residential, commercial, retail, and recreational uses. This transformation is most notable in Yonkers, Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Ossining, and Peekskill, where redevelopment projects are in various stages of design and construction. In 2004, Westchester County embarked on a project to create a 50-mile long Hudson RiverWalk which will provide public access between New York City and Putnam County along or close to the river. RiverWalk will weave through the Hudson River communities and provide access and linkages to recreational, cultural, and historic resources as well as community business centers.

New Croton Reservoir
Kensico Dam

The County's interior generally is more hilly north of Interstate 287, which bisects the County. The highest elevation in the county is a U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey benchmark known as "Bailey" at 980 feet (300 m) above sea level in Mountain Lakes Park near the Connecticut state line. The lowest elevation is sea level, along both the Hudson and Long Island Sound.

The County is divided into six primary drainage basins or watersheds, which are the Lower Long Island Sound, Upper Long Island Sound, Bronx River, Upper Hudson River, Lower Hudson River and Croton River basins. Within these primary drainage basins are approximately 60 smaller basins, or subwatersheds. The principal streams draining the southern part of the County include Beaver Swamp Brook, Blind Brook, Bronx River, Hutchinson River, Mamaroneck River, Saw Mill River, Sheldrake River, Stephenson Brook and Tibbetts Brook. The primary streams draining the central part of the County include Byram River, Kisco River, Mianus River, Mill River, Pocantico River and Silvermine River. The principal streams draining the northern part of the County include Dickey Brook, Furnace Brook, Hallocks Mill Brook, Hunter Brook, Muscoot River, Peekskill Hollow Brook, and Titicus River. The County contains several major reservoirs for public drinking water supply: The Croton system and the Kensico Reservoir are important components of the New York City water supply system. The system is a series of interconnected reservoirs and lakes in northern Westchester and Putnam Counties that provides 10% of New York City’s water under normal conditions and up to 30% of the in-City consumption in times of drought. The components of the system include the New Croton Reservoir in Cortlandt, Yorktown, Somers and Bedford; the Cross River Reservoir contained largely in Bedford; Titicus Reservoir in North Salem; Amawalk Reservoir in Somers; and the Muscoot Reservoir in Somers, Lewisboro and Bedford. The Kensico Reservoir is located in Mount Pleasant, Harrison and North Castle; and Byram Lake Reservoir in North Castle and Bedford. A number of other smaller reservoirs exist throughout the County.

Officially, the Westchester County Department of Planning divides the county into North, Central and South sub-regions.[5]

Cities, towns and villages

Yonkers City Library

Westchester County has six cities, 19 towns and 20 villages. Any land area in the county that is not contained in one of the cities is in a town. A town may have zero, one or multiple villages. A village can be located in more than one town, as two of Westchester's villages are.

Adjacent counties

Westchester is considered to be a prime suburb of New York City

Climate

The climate of Westchester County is much colder than that of the city. Sometimes temperatures are as much as 15 degrees Fahrenheit colder than those of the city. Winters are cold throughout the county and summers are hot inland but rather cool towards the coast. Rainfall is plentiful and in some areas reaches over 45 inches. Snowfall is much more common in Westchester than in the city. With the exception of the southwest of the county, snowfall is often between 40 and 60 inches - even by the coast. In January, less dense areas have a low of 16-18 and a high of 30-34 while dense areas like Yonkers or White plains have a low of 20-25 and a high of 35-40. In the summer, this effect is much milder. Coastal areas (Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye, Portchester) will have highs 80-83 and lows 62-66 while inland highs will be 84-86 and lows will be 60-66. Wind is heavy, especially by the coast.

Government

Westchester County Government is headed by County Executive Rob Astorino (R). The district attorney is Janet DiFiore (D). The county clerk is Timothy C. Idoni (D).

Board of Legislators

The Westchester County Board of Legislators is the legislative, policy-making branch of Westchester County. The County Board has seventeen members. The current board chair is Elena Dugan (D).[6]

Politics

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democrat
2008 35.8% 147,824 63.4% 261,810
2004 40.3% 159,628 58.1% 229,849
2000 37.5% 139,278 58.6% 218,010
1996 35.9% 123,719 56.9% 196,310
1992 40.1% 151,990 48.6% 184,300
1988 53.4% 197,956 45.8% 169,860
1984 58.7% 160,225 41.1% 229,005
1980 54.4% 198,552 35.6% 130,136
1976 54.3% 208,527 45.1% 173,153
1972 62.8% 262,901 36.9% 154,412
1968 50.3% 201,652 43.4% 173,954
1964 37.9% 149,052 62.0% 243,723

Although the county historically leaned Republican, it swung Democratic in the early 1990s – much like other New York City suburbs. In the most recent national elections, Westchester voters tended to be far more Democratic than national average. In fact, Westchester, after New York City and Albany County, has produced the biggest margins for statewide Democrats in recent years. Democratic voters are mainly concentrated in the southern and central parts of the county. More than 63% of Westchester County voters voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race, the seventh-highest percentage of any New York county, behind four New York City boroughs and Albany and Tompkins counties. Currently, all U.S. congressional representatives from Westchester County are Democrats.

However, Westchester County is less Democratic in state and local elections. For instance, it voted for George Pataki by a margin of 23.07% against African-American candidate, Carl McCall in the gubernatorial race of 2002, and by 26.22% in 1998. Pataki hails from Westchester, where he previously served as mayor of Peekskill prior to being elected governor. Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel, both of whom are Democrats, represent most of the rest of the county (Engel's district also includes parts of the Bronx and Rockland County, and Lowey's also reaches into Rockland County) in Congress. Westchester's third representative is Democrat John Hall, who was elected in 2006, defeating Republican incumbent Sue Kelly. Hall's district includes most of northern Westchester County. County Executive Andrew Spano is just the second Democrat to hold the post in at least a half-century. In 2006, county legislator Andrea Stewart-Cousins defeated 20 year incumbent Nicholas Spano (unrelated to Andrew) for a seat in the New York State Senate in a rematch of the 2004 race, which she lost by only 18 votes. Assembly Member Mike Spano (brother of Nicholas) switched parties in July 2007 to become a Democrat. Current district attorney Janet DiFiore also switched parties from Republican to Democratic in August 2007. In 2009, Republican Rob Astorino ousted three-term county executive Andy Spano, who had the endorsement of the New York Conservative Party, winning in a landslide. Astorino became the first Republican county executive since Andrew O'Rourke, who left the post after the 1997 election. With Astornio's victory, Westchester Republicans hope they can reverse the party's decline in the county and win seats in the U.S. Congress and the state legislature in 2010 that they have gradually lost in the last several decades as Westchester became more Democratic.

Westchester County was the home of former vice-president Nelson Rockefeller, who occupied the Kykuit mansion of the Rockefeller family 3,400-acre (14 km2) estate after the death of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.; it is situated near the town of Pocantico Hills.

The county is also home to the former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who live in Chappaqua. Former First Lady Barbara Bush grew up in Rye.

Emergency services

Westchester County has a wide array of emergency services and is the home to 58 fire departments, 42 ambulance services, a Haz-Mat team, a technical rescue team, a fire academy and a fire investigations unit. Each department has career, volunteer or a combination of career and volunteer personnel. Westchester Country Department of Emergency Services operates the main dispatching system for EMS and fire departments referred to as 60-control located in Valhalla. The department also provides numerous support services for the various agencies throughout the county.

Law enforcement

There are currently 46 local police agencies located in Westchester County. As well as other County, State, Private and Federal law enforcement agencies responsible for protecting Westchester County, these agencies frequently work with one another and other agencies located in the surrounding counties and states as well as the NYPD.

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1900 184,257
1910 283,055 53.6%
1920 344,436 21.7%
1930 520,947 51.2%
1940 573,558 10.1%
1950 625,816 9.1%
1960 808,891 29.3%
1970 894,104 10.5%
1980 866,599 −3.1%
1990 874,866 1.0%
2000 923,459 5.6%
Est. 2006 949,355 2.8%

In 2000, there were 349,445 housing units at an average density of 807 per square mile (312/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 71.35% White, 14.20% African American, 0.25% Native American, 4.48% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 6.63% from other races, and 3.05% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.61% of the population. 64.1% were Whites of non-Hispanic origin. 71.7% spoke English, 14.4% Spanish, 3.5% Italian, 1.1% Portuguese and 1.1% French as their first language.

By 2006, the population was 68.12% White, 13.91% African-Americans, 5.58% Asian, 0.16% Native American and 12.23% of other or mixed race. 18.54% of the population was Latino or Hispanic of any race.

There were 337,142 households of which 34.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.90% were married couples living together, 12.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.20% were non-families. 25.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.21.

Age distribution was 25.00% under the age of 18, 7.20% from 18 to 24, 30.40% from 25 to 44, 23.50% from 45 to 64, and 14.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.30 males.

According to 2006 HUD data, the median income for a household of one person in the county was $67,555 and the median income for a family of four was $96,500.

According to census data, the per capita income for the county in 1999 was $36,726. The Bureau of Economic Analysis lists Westchester in 2004 with the per capita income of $58,952, the eighth highest in the country.[2] The Census Bureau reports that 6.40% of families and 8.7% (2003) of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.53% of those under age 18 and 7.60% of those age 65 or over.

The largest census reviewed area in Westchester County is the City of Yonkers, New York's fourth-largest city, with a population of almost 200,000. The smallest is the community of Scotts Corners in the town of Pound Ridge with a population of 624.

Westchester County Department of Planning - Tomorrow's Communistructure

The Westchester County Department of Planning serves as the repository for all Westchester related census data. Under County Executive Andrew J. Spano's directive, the department recently launched Westchester 2025, [1] a web-based update of its county-wide comprehensive planning policies. This interactive planning resource seamlessly integrates the Plan’s elements with new sections on three-dimensional visualization, community overviews, regional partnerships, as well as planning tools and interactive forums for public comment.

Part of Westchester 2025 focuses on the need to improve regional connectivity, including both physical infrastructure (roads, trains, sewers, etc.) and communication capabilities (wider bandwidths, GIS technology, etc.) to keep pace with the global economy and reduce environmental impacts. This new infrastructure model for the 21st century, Tomorrow's Communistructure, will require a complete paradigm shift in the way the community views and defines its critical infrastructure in the future.

Transportation

Tappan Zee Bridge From Tarrytown, NY
Bee-Line bus in Port Chester, NY.
Arrivals and Departures at Grand Central Terminal

Westchester County is served by Interstate 87 (the New York State Thruway), Interstate 95, Interstate 287 and Interstate 684. Parkways in the county include the Bronx River Parkway, the Cross County Parkway, the Hutchinson River Parkway, the Saw Mill River Parkway, the Sprain Brook Parkway and the Taconic State Parkway. The Tappan Zee Bridge connects Tarrytown to Rockland County across the Hudson River. The Bear Mountain Bridge crosses the Hudson from Cortlandt to Orange County. The combination of these numerous highways, proximity to New York City, and the county's large population all lead to substantial traffic enforcement and very busy local courts.

The development corridors in the county have defined sections and follow transportation corridors. The main north-south corridors are, from west to east, the U.S. Route 9/Albany Post Rd/Broadway Corridor along the Hudson River from Yonkers in the South to Peekskill/Cortlandt in the North. The Saw Mill River Parkway Corridor traverses the county in a north-eastern path, beginning in Yonkers, and terminating at I-684 in Bedford, mostly following the path of the Putnam Branch of the New York Central Railroad, which was abandoned in March 1970 (and which has largely been replaced by a paved path known as the South County and North County Trailways). The Sprain Brook Parkway traverses the county's midsection from a point in Yonkers where it breaks off from the Bronx River Parkway until Hawthorne about 15 miles (24 km) north where it merges with the Taconic State Parkway and continues until I-90 near Albany. The Hutchinson River Parkway lines the eastern county, from the Bronx (terminating at the Long Island crossing—the Whitestone Bridge) until the Connecticut state line in Greenwich, where it becomes the Merritt Parkway. I-684 begins at a junction with the Hutchinson River Parkway and I-287 in Harrison, and continues north into Putnam County (with a brief stretch in Greenwich, Connecticut) through Bedford and North Salem. The eastern most corridor is the I-95/New England Thruway which traverses the county on the Long Island Sound, from the Pelhams through the Town of Rye and into Connecticut. The East-West corridors are the Cross County Parkway, which traverses the southern county from Yonkers in the west through New Rochelle in the east, terminating at the Hutchinson River Parkway. The Cross Westchester Expressway/I-287 is the mid-county corridor spanning from the Tappan-Zee Bridge in Tarrytown to the west to I-95/New England Thruway in the east. The northern-most corridor is that approximating the US-202 route from Cortlandt, and the Bear Mountain Bridge, to Lewisboro and the Connecticut border. But unlike the more southerly corridors, US-202 is for the most part not a limited-access highway and has frequent traffic lights.

Robert Moses and others once proposed a bridge connecting Westchester with Nassau County, most likely using I-287 to do so. Public opposition was fierce, and the New York state government abandoned the plan.

Commuter train service in Westchester is provided by Metro-North Railroad (operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Metro-North operates three lines in the county; west to east, they are the Hudson, the Harlem and the New Haven lines, each of which stops in the Bronx between Westchester and Manhattan. Amtrak serves Croton-Harmon, New Rochelle and Yonkers. There are proposals for a cross-county rail line to connect all three lines and provide easier access to Stamford, Connecticut.

The MTA also operates a ferry service between Haverstraw in Rockland County and Ossining. New York Water Taxi operates a ferry from Yonkers to Battery Park City and the Financial District in Manhattan.

Bus service is provided by the Bee-Line Bus System (operated by the Westchester County Department of Transportation) both within Westchester and to Manhattan (BxM4C). The MTA Bus Company also runs the BxM3 to and from Getty Square in Yonkers to Midtown Manhattan.

Westchester County Airport is adjacent to White Plains.

Media In Westchester

Headquarters of Reader's Digest in Chappaqua.

There are quite a few county-wide media outlets, including:

Education

Westchester County contains 48 public school districts,[7] 118 private college-preparatory and parochial schools, and 14 colleges and universities.

Libraries

Westchester County is served by the Westchester Library System which was established in 1958. The system comprises 38 public libraries.

Historic and cultural attractions

Scenic spillway at the New Croton Reservoir, in Croton-on-Hudson

Geology

The rocks, which compose the Island of Manhattan in New York City and underlie the county of Westchester, are chiefly gneiss and mica-schist, with layers of dolmitic marble and serpentine.

See also

Notes

External links

Coordinates: 41°09′04.57″N 73°45′25.76″W / 41.1512694°N 73.7571556°W / 41.1512694; -73.7571556


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Westchester County, New York
Seal of Westchester County, New York
Map
File:Map of New York highlighting Westchester County.png
Location in the state of New York
Map of the USA highlighting New York
New York's location in the USA
Statistics
Founded 1683
Seat White Plains
Largest City Yonkers
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

 sq mikm²)
 sq mi ( km²)
 sq mi ( km²), 13.45%
wikipedia:Population
 - (2000)
 - Density

923459
Website: www.westchestergov.com

Westchester County is a primarily suburban county located in the U.S. state of New York with about 950,000 residents. It is part of the New York Metropolitan Area. It was named after Chester, in England, and the county seat is White Plains.

Westchester has a reported per capita personal income of $58,592, the eighth highest in the United States.[1]

Contents

History

The first Europeans to explore Westchester were Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524 and Henry Hudson in 1609. The first European settlers were sponsored by the Dutch West India Company in the 1620s and 1630s. English settlers arrived from New England in the 1640s.

Westchester County was an original county of the Province of New York, one of twelve created in 1683. At the time, it also included the present Bronx County, which constituted the Town of Westchester and portions of three other towns: Yonkers, Eastchester, and Pelham. In 1846, a new town, West Farms, was created by secession from Westchester; in turn, in 1855, the Town of Morrisania seceded from West Farms. In 1873, the Town of Kingsbridge seceded from Yonkers.

In 1874, the western portion of the present Bronx County, consisting of the then towns of Kingsbridge, West Farms, and Morrisania, was transferred to New York County, and in 1895 the remainder of the present Bronx County, consisting of the Town of Westchester and portions of the towns of Eastchester and Pelham, was transferred to New York County. By that time, the portion of the town of Eastchester immediately north of the transferred portion had seceded from the town of Eastchester (1892) to become the City of Mount Vernon so that the Town of Eastchester had no border with New York City. In 1914, those parts of the then New York County which had been annexed from Westchester County were constituted the new Bronx County.

Today it is a rather affluent suburban county, home to many commuters from New York City as well as corporations and buisness, many which are located in White Plains.

Geography

File:Munmap.jpg
Map of municipal boundaries in Westchester County (click to enlarge)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,295 km² (500 sq mi). 1,121 km² (433 sq mi) of it is land and 174 km² (67 sq mi) of it (13.45%) is water.

Westchester County is in the southeastern part of New York State.

The highest elevation in the county is a U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey benchmark known as "Bailey" at 300 m (985 feet) above sea level in Mountain Lakes Park near the Connecticut state line. The lowest elevation is sea level, along both the Hudson and Long Island Sound.

In popular conception, Westchester County is generally divided into northern and southern areas. The northern portion (places north of Interstate 287/Cross Westchester Expressway) is often seen as rural and wealthy; the southern portion (White Plains and south) is more urban. These generalities, however, do not necessarily hold true in all communities. For example, Bronxville, Larchmont, Rye and Scarsdale in the southern portion are among the wealthiest communities in the entire US. Officially, the Westchester County Department of planning divides the county into North, Central and South sub-regions[1].

At the closest point, Westchester is only 2 miles north of Manhattan (from Broadway & Caryl Avenue in southern Yonkers to Broadway & West 228th Street in the Marble Hill section of Manhattan).

Downtown White Plains' skyline including the new Ritz-Carlton residences and hotel and the Trump Tower at City Center.

Cities, towns and villages

Main article: Cities, towns and villages in Westchester County

Westchester County has 6 cities, 19 towns and 20 villages. Any land area in the county that is not contained in one of the cities is in a town. A town may contain zero, one or multiple villages. A village can be located in more than one town, as two of Westchester's villages are.

Adjacent counties

Government

The county executive is Andrew J. Spano (D). The district attorney is Janet DiFiore (D, switched from GOP in Aug. 2007). The county clerk is Timothy C. Idoni (D).[2]

Board of Legislators

Main article: Westchester County Board of Legislators

The Westchester County Board of Legislators is the legislative, policy-making branch of Westchester County. The County Board has seventeen members. The current board chair is William J. Ryan(D).[3]

Emergency Services

Main article: Emergency services in Westchester County

Westchester County has a wide array of Emergency services and serves as the home to 58 fire departments, 42 ambulance services, a Haz-Mat team, a fire academy and a fire investigations unit.

Law Enforcement

Main article: Law enforcement in Westchester County

There are currently 46 local police agencies located in Westchester County. As well as other County, State, Private, and Federal Law Enforcement agencies responsible for protecting Westchester County, these agencies frequently work with one another and other agencies located in the surrounding counties and states as well as the NYPD.

Politics

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democrat
2004 40.3% 159,628 58.1% 229,849
2000 37.5% 139,278 58.6% 218,010
1996 35.9% 123,719 56.9% 196,310
1992 40.1% 151,990 48.6% 184,300
1988 53.4% 197,956 45.8% 169,860
1984 58.7% 160,225 41.1% 229,005
1980 54.4% 198,552 35.6% 130,136
1976 54.3% 208,527 45.1% 173,153
1972 62.8% 262,901 36.9% 154,412
1968 50.3% 201,652 43.4% 173,954
1964 37.9% 149,052 62.0% 243,723
1960 56.6% 224,562 43.2% 171,410

Although the county used to lean Republican, it swung Democratic in the early 1990s much like other New York City suburbs, and nowadays Westchester voters tend to be far more Democratic than the rest of the nation. In fact, Westchester, after New York City and Albany, has produced the biggest margins for statewide Democrats in recent years. Democratic voters are mainly in the southern and central parts of the county. 58% of Westchester County voters chose John Kerry in the U.S. presidential election of November 2004, the highest total of any New York county outside New York City, Albany, or Tompkins (Ithaca, New York).

However, Westchester County is less Democratic in state and local elections, as well as in the northern part of the county. Hence, it voted for George Pataki with a margin of 23.07% against his Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial race of 2002, and of 26.22% in 1998. Governor Pataki hails from Westchester, where he previously served as mayor of Peekskill prior to being elected governor. Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel, both of whom are Democrats, represent most of the rest of the county (Engel's district also includes parts of the The Bronx, and Lowey's reaches into Rockland County). Westchester's third US Representative is Democrat John Hall, who was elected in 2006, defeating Republican incumbent Sue Kelly. Hall's district includes most of Northern Westchester County. Additionally, Jeanine Pirro, a prominent New York Republican who ran a short-lived campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton for the U.S. Senate in 2006 served as district attorney of Westchester County. County Executive Spano is just the second Democrat to hold the post in at least a half-century. It also in 2006 sent county legislator Andrea Stewart-Cousins to the New York State Senate defeating 20 year incumbent Nicholas Spano in a rematch of the 2004 race in whence she lost by only 18 votes. Assembly Member Mike Spano switched parties in July of 2007 to become a Democrat. Current DA Janet DiFiore also switched parties from Republican to Democratic in August of 2007.

Westchester County was the home of former vice-president Nelson Rockefeller, who occupied the Kykuit mansion of the Rockefeller family 3,400-acre estate after the death of John D. Rockefeller; it is situated near the town of Pocantico Hills.

The County is also home to the former president Bill Clinton and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who live in Chappaqua; as is it the childhood home of former First Lady Barbara Bush in Rye, where she attended the Rye Country Day School.

Demographics

As of the census² of 2000, there were 923,459 people, 337,142 households, and 235,325 families residing in the county. The population density was 824/km² (2,134/sq mi). The Census Bureau estimates 2006 population at 949,355.[4]

As of 2000, there were 349,445 housing units at an average density of 312/km² (807/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 71.35% White, 14.20% African American, 0.25% Native American, 4.48% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 6.63% from other races, and 3.05% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.61% of the population. 64.1% were Whites of non-Hispanic origin.

By 2005 the population was 61.6% non-Hispanic white. 14.9% of the population was African-Americans. Asians were 5.5% of the county population.[5]

As of 2000 The main European ethnic groups are Italian 31%, Irish 25%, German 5%, Polish 3%. 71.7% spoke English, 14.4% Spanish, 3.9% Italian, 1.1% Portuguese and 1.1% French as their first language.

File:YonkershomesJPG.JPG
Households in Northwest Yonkers, demonstrating a departure from the affluence typically associated with some of the county's wealthier towns and villages.
'There were 337,142 households out of which 34.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.90% were married couples living together, 12.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.20% were non-families. 25.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.21.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.00% under the age of 18, 7.20% from 18 to 24, 30.40% from 25 to 44, 23.50% from 45 to 64, and 14.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.30 males.

According to 2006 HUD data, the median income for a household of one person in the county was $67,555 and the median income for a family of four was $96,500.

According to Census data, the per capita income for the county in 1999 was $36,726. The Bureau of Economic Analysis lists Westchester in 2004 with the per capita income of $58,952, the eighth highest in the country.[1] The Census Bureau reports that 6.40% of families and 8.7% (2003) of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.53% of those under age 18 and 7.60% of those age 65 or over.

The largest census reviewed area in Westchester County is the City of Yonkers, New York's fourth-largest city, with a population of almost 200,000. The smallest is the community of Scotts Corners in the town of Pound Ridge with a population of 624.

Population timeline

Transportation

Tappan Zee Bridge From Tarrytown, NY

Westchester County is served by Interstate 87 (the New York State Thruway), Interstate 95, Interstate 287 and Interstate 684. Parkways in the county include the Bronx River Parkway, the Cross County Parkway, the Hutchinson River Parkway, the Saw Mill River Parkway, the Sprain Brook Parkway and the Taconic State Parkway. The Tappan Zee Bridge connects Tarrytown to Rockland County across the Hudson River. The Bear Mountain Bridge crosses the Hudson from Cortlandt to Orange County. The combination of these numerous highways, proximity to New York City, and the county's large population all lead to substantial traffic enforcement (as seen in at least one Seinfeld episode) and very busy local courts.

The development corridors in the county have defined sections and follow transportation corridors. The main north-south corridors are, from west to east, the U.S. Route 9/Albany Post Rd/Broadway Corridor along the Hudson River from Yonkers in the South to Peekskill/Cortlandt in the North. The Saw Mill River Parkway Corridor traverses the country in a north-eastern path, beginning in Yonkers, and terminating at I-684 in Bedford, mostly following the path of the Putnam Branch of the New York Central Railroad, which was abandoned in March 1970 (and which has largely been replaced by a paved path known as the South County and North County Trailways). The Sprain Brook Parkway traverses the county's midsection from a point in Yonkers where it breaks off from the Bronx River Parkway until Hawthorne about 15 miles north where it merges with the Taconic State Parkway and continues until I-90 near Albany. The Hutchinson River Parkway lines the eastern county, from the Bronx (terminating at the Long Island crossing - the Whitestone Bridge) until the Connecticut state line in Greenwich, where it becomes the Merritt Parkway. I-684 begins at a junction with the Hutchinson River Parkway and I-287 in Harrison, and continues north into Putnam County (with a brief stretch in Greenwich) through Bedford and North Salem. The eastern most corridor is the I-95/New England Thruway which traverses the county on the Long Island Sound, from the Pelhams through the Town of Rye and into Connecticut. The East-West corridors are the Cross County Parkway, which traverses the southern county from Yonkers in the west through New Rochelle in the east, terminating at the Hutchinson River Parkway. The Cross Westchester Expressway/I-287 is the mid-county corridor spanning from the Tappan-Zee Bridge in Tarrytown to the west to I-95/New England Thruway in the east. The northern-most corridor is that approximating the US-202 route from Cortlandt, and the Bear Mountain Bridge, to Lewisboro and the Connecticut border. But unlike the more southerly corridors, US-202 is for the most part not a limited-access highway and has frequent traffic lights.

Robert Moses and others once proposed a bridge connecting Westchester with Nassau County, most likely using I-287 to do so. Public opposition was fierce, and the New York state government abandoned the plan.

Metro North Commuter Trains Scheduled To Westchester County - Grand Central Terminal

Commuter train service in Westchester is provided by Metro-North Railroad (operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Metro-North operates three lines in the county; west to east, they are the Hudson, the Harlem and the New Haven lines, each of which stops in the Bronx between Westchester and Manhattan. Amtrak serves Croton-Harmon, New Rochelle and Yonkers. There are plans for a cross-county rail line to connect all three lines and provide easier access to Stamford.

Metro-North also operates a ferry service between Haverstraw, in Rockland County and Ossining. Plans are currently underway to operate a ferry between Haverstraw and Yonkers with a direct route to New York City's Financial District.

Bus service is provided by the Bee-Line Bus System (operated by the Westchester County Department of Transportation) both within Westchester and to Manhattan (BxM4C). The MTA Bus Company also runs the BxM3 to and from Getty Square in Yonkers to Midtown Manhattan.

Westchester County Airport is adjacent to White Plains.

Media In Westchester

There are quite a few county-wide media outlets, including:

Education

Main article: Education in Westchester County

Westchester County contains 48 public school districts,[6] 118 private schools and 14 colleges/universities.

Libraries

Main article: Westchester Library System

Westchester County is served by the Westchester Library System which was established in 1958 and today comprises 38 public libraries.

Historic and cultural attractions

Interesting facts

  • In the Marvel Comics universe, Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters (the headquarters and training facility for the X-Men) is located in Salem Center in Westchester County.
  • Radio talk-show host Howard Stern started his professional DJ career at WRNW-FM radio in 1977, a low-power station located in Briarcliff Manor, the central part of the county.
  • Talk show host David Letterman resides in North Salem
  • Martha Stewart lives in Bedford, down the road from the estate of John Jay, founding father and first supreme court justice.
  • The publisher of the New York Journal in 1733, John Peter Zenger, covered the account of an election held at St. Paul's Church in the town of Eastchester (now Mount Vernon) and was arrested and tried for seditious libel. He was acquitted and thereby established the legal precedent for "freedom of the press." This later was incorporated as a basic freedom in the U.S. Bill of Rights.
  • Westchester County is often referred to as the "Golden Apple"
  • The origin of the fictional town Bedford Falls, where Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" is set, is a combination of the hamlet of Bedford Hills in Westchester County (a small suburban town about 45 minutes away from New York City), and Seneca Falls in Seneca County (a small town midway between Rochester and Syracuse).
  • The Trixie Belden series of "girl detective" mysteries is set in the fictional town of Sleepyside-on-Hudson, based on the village of Ossining in Westchester County.
  • Artist Alton Tobey resided for most of his life in the Larchmont section of the town of Mamaroneck in Westchester County.
  • Fictional TV characters Chandler Bing and Monica Bing move to Westchester County after the final episode of Friends.
  • Teen fiction series The Clique by Lisi Harrison is based in Westchester.
  • Westchester County is also often referred to as "The Beverly Hills of New York"
  • Westchester is profiled in the 1979 book by the Vanity Fair journalist Alex Shoumatoff, Westchester, Portrait of a County

References

  1. ^ a b CA1-3 per capita personal income (HTML). Regional Economic Accounts. Bureau of Economic Analysis (April 2007). Retrieved on 2007-04-26.
  2. ^ Westchester County Government, http://www.westchestergov.com/, retrieved 2007-04-26 
  3. ^ Westchester County Board of Legislators, http://www.westchesterlegislators.com/, retrieved 2007-08-04 
  4. ^ Westchester County Population Trends (HTML). American Fact Finder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2007-04-26.
  5. ^ http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/36119.html
  6. ^ Westchester County School Districts (HTML). Westchester County Data Book. Westchester County Department of Planning. Retrieved on 2007-04-26.

See also

External links

North: Putnam County
West: Hudson River
Rockland County and Bergen County
Westchester County East: Fairfield County
South: Bronx County


This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Westchester County, New York. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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This article uses material from the "Westchester County, New York" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.







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