Upstate has Niagara Falls, San Fran the Golden Gate Bridge, and Paris the Eiffel Tower. But Westchester is also home to some unique — okay, some might say odd, quirky, and/or weird — manmade and natural sights. Here’s a look at some of the not-to-miss, kitschy, strange, sometimes poignant, one-of-a-kind wonders of Westchester.
The Bedford Oak
Intersection of Rte 22 (Cantitoe St) and Hook Road; www.bedfordhistoricalsociety.org
Unlike the aforementioned cellphone-tower tree, this majestic 500-plus-year-old white oak, with a girth of more than 30 feet and a 120-foot branch spread, is the real grown-from-an-acorn deal. A survivor of Superstorm Sandy, it has its own endowment, collected in the 1970s, to save it from encroaching development. It’s now administered by the Bedford Historical Society.
Babe Ruth’s Gravesite
Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Section 25; 10 West Stevens Ave, Hawthorne; 914.769.3672; www.gateofheavenny.com
It’s not unusual to find Yankee caps, Little League ribbons, and even hot dogs in buns placed here by the faithful who flock to this final resting place of baseball legend George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Composed of a 10-foot-tall stone with adjoining five-foot stone slabs, it features a sandblasted relief carving of Jesus with an arm around a young slugger and an inspirational epitaph from Cardinal Spellman.
Paul Bunyan Statue
BP Gas Station, Rte 9A, Elmsford
Photo by Alec Carroll
One of 70-plus kitschy fiberglass statues made of the famous tall-tale lumberjack by a California company in the 1960s and ’70s, our chiseled-jaw local folk hero, who monitors traffic in this busy spot through bright green eyes, is more distinctive than his brethren. Because his formerly axe-wielding right appendage was whacked off by vandals some 40 years ago, these days you could say he’s more of a no-armed bandit.
The Balanced Rock
667 Titicus Rd (corner of Rtes 121 and 116), North Salem
A Native American worship site? A Celtic monument? The exact origin of this mysterious, 60-ton hunk of pink granite resting precariously on a ring of five smaller stones is unclear. Many geologists believe the gravity-defying structure is a glacial “erratic,” a massive rock left behind when continental glaciers receded after the last Ice Age. Though you’ll want to tip it over (g’luck with that), this unique sculpture by Mother Nature is a really cool sight.
Tarrytown Rd (at the corner of Aqueduct Rd), White Plains
Photo by Alec Carroll
Erected by the Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester & Putnam in 2011, this distinctive Ghost Bike Memorial is dedicated to the memory of Merrill Cassell, who was killed while riding his bike nearby on November 9, 2009. Painted an eerie all-white and featuring a plaque with the accident date, it’s a poignant reminder to motorists to be aware of the many cyclists with whom they share local roads.
Taxidermy Bear at Muscoot Tavern
105 Somerstown Tpk, Somers; 914.232.2800; www.muscoottavern.com
Knock back a few at the laid-back Muscoot Tavern with a new drinking buddy — the taxidermy bear mounted behind the bar. No one knows exactly when he first appeared at this establishment, which dates back to the early 1920s. But for a carnivorous mammal, this brown, furry barfly, preserved from the midsection up, with a big smile and a waving paw, is a downright friendly-looking fellow.
Cellphone Tower “Tree”
Mobile station south of Exit 25 on the Hutchinson River Pkwy, Harrison/White Plains
It’s been likened to everything from a giant mascara wand to a toilet bowl brush. But one thing this 150-foot imposter has rarely been mistaken for is a real pine tree. Telecommunication companies call this attempt to camouflage a cellphone tower as a tree a “stealth antenna.” With its uniformly sized branches placed on only the top-third of its trunk, we think “counterfeit conifer” may be a more apt descriptor.
Seely’s ”Skinny House“
175 Grand St, Mamaroneck
Photo by Alec Carroll
In stark contrast to the numerous McMansions that dot the county, this red-brown wood-shingled, three-story house is a mere 10-feet-wide. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, African American contractor Nathan T. Seely built it from salvaged materials in 1932, on a twelve-and-a-half-foot sliver of land that his Italian-immigrant next-door neighbor gave him after Seely lost his business and bigger home in the Depression. Makes a casserole seem downright stingy by comparison.