Westchester County, New York
Learn more about Westchester County, New York
|Westchester County, New York|
| Image:Map of New York highlighting Westchester County.svg|
Location in the state of New York
1,295 km² (500 mi²)
1,121 km² (433 mi²)
174 km² (67 mi²), 13.45%
Westchester County is a suburban county with about 940,000 residents located in the U.S. state of New York. It is part of the New York Metropolitan Area. It was named after Chester, in England. The county seat is White Plains.
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.
At least in part due to the wealth of some of its residents, their manicured lawns and country clubs — the county has 25 — Westchester has somewhat misleadingly acquired an overgeneralized image of affluence, homogeneity, insularity, and elitism. Westchester is actually a rather economically and demographically diverse region (for example, the towns of Yonkers, Port Chester, Elmsford and Mount Vernon have significant African-American and/or Hispanic populations). It is home to a maximum security state prison, Sing Sing, and a nuclear power plant, Indian Point. Westchester is among the most densely populated counties in the U.S., and has a slightly higher crime rate than that of neighboring suburban counties.
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 U.S., and Peekskill in the northern portion is relatively urban and low-middle income. The Westchester County Department of planning divides the county into North, Central and South sub-regions.
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) One can walk this distance in about 40 minutes, the amount of time it would typically take to drive from Westchester to Manhattan. However, most places in Westchester are much farther from most places in Manhattan than this unusual example may suggest.
There are six cities in Westchester County.
- Mount Vernon 3rd Largest
- New Rochelle 2nd Largest
- Peekskill 5th Largest
- Rye (Rye is also the name of a town.) 6th Largest
- White Plains 4th Largest
- Yonkers Largest
 Towns and Villages
There are 19 towns in Westchester County. 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. The towns of Harrison, Mount Kisco, and Scarsdale are coterminous with the village of the same name. Two villages are split between two towns—Briarcliff Manor crosses the border between Ossining town and Mount Pleasant, and Mamaroneck village straddles the boundary between Mamaroneck town and Rye town.
With the exception of the towns of Rye and Pelham, all the towns contain area and residents which do not belong to any village. These areas may contain communities referred to as hamlets. Hamlets have no legal status and depend upon the town for all municipal government and services. There are also areas called census-designated places (CDPs), which are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau for statistical purposes only. A CDP may or may not correspond to a hamlet.
Because some municipalities have the same name, it is often necessary to indicate whether one is referring to the city, town, village, or hamlet. For example, the town of Rye is completely separate from the city of Rye. Pelham is the name of a town and also of a village in the town. The village of Mamaroneck is located partially in the town of Mamaroneck and partially in the town of Rye, but has nothing to do with the city of Rye.
All of the towns have Justice Courts, and some of the villages do as well.
The towns are listed as follows:
- Villages (if any), one per bullet
- CDPs (if any), all listed on a single bullet
- Communities not in a village or CDP (if any), all listed on a single bullet
- (The list of towns, villages and CDPs is complete. The listing of additional communities should not be considered complete.)
- Bedford, containing no villages
- Cortlandt, containing two villages:
- Eastchester, containing two villages:
- Greenburgh, containing six villages:
- Harrison, coterminous with the village of the same name
- (plus additional area belonging to no CDP, including the community of Purchase)
- Lewisboro, containing no villages
- Mamaroneck, containing two villages:
- Mount Kisco, coterminous with village of same name
- Mount Pleasant, containing three villages:
- New Castle, containing no villages
- North Castle, containing no villages
- North Salem, containing no villages
- Ossining, containing two villages:
- Pelham, containing two villages:
- Pound Ridge, containing no villages
- (contains the CDP of Scotts Corners)
- (plus additional area belonging to no CDP)
- Town of Rye (Rye is also the name of a city.), containing three villages:
- Mamaroneck (This village is shared with the Town of Mamaroneck. The portion in Rye is unofficially also called "Rye Neck". The city of Rye separates Mamaroneck from the rest of the town of Rye.)
- Port Chester
- Rye Brook (Prior to 1982, Rye Brook was the area of the town not belonging to any village.)
- (The villages cover the entire area of the town.)
- Scarsdale, coterminous with village of same name
- Somers, containing no villages
- Yorktown, containing no villages
 Adjacent Counties
- Putnam County, New York - north
- Fairfield County, Connecticut - northeast
- Bergen County, New Jersey - southwest
- Rockland County, New York - west
- Bronx County, New York - south
The Board of Legislators has seventeen members, each representing a district in the county; eleven of them are Democrats and six are Republicans :
- George Oros (R) minority leader
- Ursula G. LaMotte (R)
- Suzanne R. Swanson (R)
- Michael B. Kaplowitz (D)
- William J. Ryan (D)
- Martin Rogowsky (D) majority leader
- Judith A. Myers (D)
- Lois T. Bronz (D)
- William Burton (D)
- Vito J. Pinto (D)
- James Maisano (R)
- Thomas J. Abinanti (D)
- Clinton I. Young, Jr. (D)
- Bernice Spreckman (R)
- Gordon A. Burrows (R)
- Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D)
- José I. Alvarado (D)
|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 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. Peekskill and the northern part of the county are also part of the congressional district currently represented by Sue Kelly, a moderately conservative Republican. Nita Lowey or 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). 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.
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/mi²). There were 349,445 housing units at an average density of 312/km² (807/mi²). 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. The main European ethnic groups are Italian 29-33%, Irish 25%, German 5%, Polish 3%.
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.
The per capita income for the county was $36,726. About 6.40% of families and 8.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.00% of those under age 18 and 7.60% of those age 65 or over.
The Census Bureau estimates 2003 population at 940,302.
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 time line
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 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, 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 Westcheter 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, Connecticut.
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:
- The Journal News, a daily newspaper, owned by Gannett Company, Inc.. WCBS-TV operates a news-bureau in conjunction with The Journal News.
- InTown Westchester, a monthly lifestyle magazine published by The Journal News and Gannett.
- The Westchester County Business Journal, a weekly newspaper published by Westfair Communications Inc..
- News 12 Westchester, a cable news station owned by Cablevision.
- Westchester Magazine, a monthly magazine published by Spotlight Publications.
- WFAS (103.9 FM), a radio station focusing on Westchester.
- WXPK (107.1 FM), or The Peak, is a newer radio station also broadcasting from Westchester. It's owned by Pamal Broadcasting.
- WRTN (93.5 FM), a radio station broadcasting from New Rochelle. Varied programming includes news, education, and music. Part of LinkUp Media, an all-inclusive Carribean media company.
- RNN, a news station owned by WRNN License Company, LLC.
 Public School Districts
There are forty public school districts in Westchester County. Most school districts do not adhere to municipal boundaries, although the six city school districts do have the same boundaries as their cities.
This list excludes Special Act Grade Organization districts, which overlap the districts listed above.
 Private Schools
Elementary, Junior High and Special Schools
 Colleges and universities
- Berkeley College, White Plains, New York
- Concordia College, Bronxville, New York
- College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, New York
- Fordham University, Tarrytown, New York
- Iona College, New Rochelle, New York
- Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York
- Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, New York
- Monroe College, New Rochelle, New York
- New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York
- Pace University, Pleasantville, Briarcliff Manor, and White Plains, New York
- Purchase College, State University of New York, Purchase, New York
- Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York
- Westchester Community College, Valhalla, New York
- Long Island University, Westchester Graduate Campus, Purchase, New York
 Historic and cultural attractions
- Emelin Theatre, Mamaroneck, New York
- Ever Rest, historic home of painter Jasper Francis Cropsey, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York
- Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York
- Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
- Irvington Town Hall Theater, Irvington, New York
- Jacob Burns Film Center, Pleasantville, New York
- Jacob Purdy House, White Plains, New York
- Jay Heritage Center, historic homestead of John Jay, Rye, New York
- Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens, PepsiCo, Inc. World Headquarters, Purchase, New York
- Kykuit, historic home of John D. Rockefeller, Sleepy Hollow, New York
- Lyndhurst, historic Gothic Revival home, Tarrytown, New York
- Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, Purchase, New York
- Paramount Center for the Arts, Peekskill, New York
- Philipsburg Manor, historic site, Sleepy Hollow, New York
- Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site, Yonkers, New York
- Playland amusement park. America's only government owned and operated amusement park, Rye, New York
- The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, Purchase, New York
- The Square House Museum, Rye
- Sunnyside, historic home of author Washington Irving, Tarrytown, New York
- Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown
- Thomas Paine National Historical Association, New Rochelle
- The Timothy Knapp House, Rye
- Union Church, Pocantico Hills
- Westchester Jazz Orchestra, Mount Kisco
- Westchester Philharmonic Orchestra, White Plains
- Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers
 Interesting facts
- In the Marvel Comics universe, Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters is located in Westchester County.
- Radio "shock jock" 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.
- Notorious serial killer, child predator, and cannibal Albert Fish committed his most infamous murder in Westchester and was tried and convicted in White Plains.
- "Son of Sam" David Berkowitz, another infamous serial killer, lived and was arrested at 25 Pine Street in Yonkers.
- Former President Bill Clinton and current U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton reside in the northern Westchester hamlet of Chappaqua.
- Talk show host David Letterman resides in Pound Ridge
- Martha Stewart lives in Katonah, 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).
- Artist Alton Tobey resided for most of his life in the Larchmont section of the town of Mamaroneck in Westchester County. The "artists" page of the Westchester Directory at westchester.com states that "Alton S. Tobey is probably Westchester's most famous artist."
 External links
- Westchester County official website
- Census maps of Westchester County
- Westchester County School Districts including BOCES and other Special Education Districts
- Westchester County "Places of Worship"
- InTown Westchester Magazine
- The Westchester WAG, the Magazine of Westchester People, Events, and Lifestyles
- The Journal News, the local newspaper
- Northern Westchester Democratic Clubs of Somers and Lewisboro
- Traffic Courts in Westchester County
|North: Putnam County|
|West: Hudson River
Rockland County and Bergen County, New Jersey
|Westchester County||East: Fairfield County, Connecticut|
|South: Bronx County|