52 Reasons to Love Westchester

How do we love the County? Let us count the ways.



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14: Because of Our Uncharted Islands

David’s Island keeps watch over New Rochelle.

Pop quiz: where can you find Huckleberry Island, Echo Island, and Pea Island? Though they may sound like part of some darling archipelago somewhere near Martha’s Vineyard, all of these islands—and many others—are off the coast of New Rochelle. Some, you may have heard of, such as Glen Island (where the Glen Island Harbour Club plays host to many weddings) or David’s Island (which has a rich military history). Others, however, keep a much lower profile. Huckleberry Island is more popular with birds than it is with people. Columbia Island’s most famous resident was a CBS radio transmitter. Echo Island is home to little else besides the low-key Echo Bay Yacht Club. Others—Pine Island, Pea Island, and Hen Island—are either undeveloped or are private residences. It just goes to show that, even if you think you know everything about the county, there are still places to discover and secrets to uncover.

15: Because We Still Have That Revolutionary Spirit

Many residents of our county—including some elected local officials—have been toying with a really rad idea: let’s dump county government! While we haven’t turned the Hudson or Sound dark with any tea parties (yet), the hot-button issue has stirred up a tempest or two in a teapot—namely one belonging to the Spano family. The wayward son of County Executive Andy Spano has been actively campaigning to put his papa outta work by abolishing his job (and even, at one point, by trying to run against him). Pitting fathers against sons, dividing households—it doesn’t get more revolutionary than that!


16: Because, on Almost Any Night, You Can Dine with Richard Gere

Richard Gere © Warner Bros. Pictures

 

 

While that silver-haired (and very fit) fox is already married, that doesn’t mean you can’t gaze into his eyes every night. Just head down to cozy Bedford Post, where co-owner Richard Gere is a fixture, looking casual, dashing, and fairly approachable as he tucks into his nightly dinner. Sadly, his wife—Bedford Post’s co-owner and designer Carey Lowell—might get in the way of your love connection, but then you must realize that nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

 

 

17: Because Our Hot Dogs Kick Burger Butt

You’ve been hearing a lot lately about New York City cult burgers—you know, how this trendy pattie fuses sirloin and short ribs, while that pattie uses a secret blend of chuck and buffalo. Whatever. Look, Westchester has been onto this secret-blend-of-meats thing for decades; it’s called Walter’s Hot Dogs.
Since its inception in the ’20s—and probably as a reaction to Upton Sinclair’s muckraking exposé of the meatpacking industry, The Jungle—Walter’s Hot Dogs has been using its own specially manufactured sausages. What’s in those unique, pale pink links? The precise recipe may be a secret, but the basics are pork, beef, and veal, split and caramelized to perfection on a griddle in a lavish, hotly debated fatty sauce. Is it bacon grease? Butter? A bit of both? Who knows? All we know is that it’s divine—and ahead of the pack by about eight decades.

18: Because We Were Biking Before It Was Cool

Some municipalities are happy to slap a little icon of a biker on their streets and smugly call it a bike-friendly city. (And good luck navigating all that traffic, city bikers—watch out for parked cars opening their street-side doors.) While these so-called bike lanes may satisfy some commuters, the real bikers head to the trails of Westchester.

Entire families here strap on their helmets and hit the North County Trailway, a 22-mile paved bike-and-pedestrian path that wends its way from the Putnam border all the way down to the Bronx. Following the Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad, you can bet you’ll see great scenery on the trail—and more than just tailpipes and taxicabs.

For more of a challenge, serious cyclists head to the Graham Hills Trailway. Though the trail here is only five miles, it’s vigorous—even experienced mountain bikers come out huffing and puffing in the end. (Good thing Stone Barns is close to the trail for some refreshments.)

If you have to feel the thrill of riding on a thoroughfare that’s also used by automobiles, you can still avoid those death-defying brushes with cars by heading to Bicycle Sundays on the Bronx River Parkway in the months of May, June, and September. The county sections off a slice of the highway, from the County Center in White Plains to Scarsdale Road in Yonkers, for pedal-powered vehicles—and it has been doing so since 1974, way before fixed-gear bikes became the newest trendy accessory.

19: Because We Finally Caught Up With The Times With Our First Gay Pride Event

Let’s face it: for being New York City’s preeminent bedroom community, remarkably, Westchester has kept to the, ahem, straight and narrow. That is until this year, when the county sponsored its first-ever gay pride event. Taking a page from the “gay days” held at Disney World, Westchester held one of its own at Rye Playland in September. Let’s hope this is the start of a new county tradition—and maybe by next year’s event, Westchester will have its own gay bar or club to be proud of, too.

20: Because We Put the Local Back in Locavorian Eating

That’s right, trendy Brooklyn and Manhattan, with all your hipster-packed, locavorian, “haute-barnyard” restaurants—can you actually pretend that you raise your food where you eat it? We didn’t think so. But here in the ’burbs, we can do just that—and even raise our own chickens and goats at home, too. That means that while we can aim for single-digit food miles with Westchester-raised eats from Rainbeau Ridge, Stone Barns Center, or Cabbage Hill Farm, we also can eliminate food miles altogether by plowing up our lawns and putting in chicken coops and vegetable beds. Take that, Boerum Hill, with your pathetic little window boxes.

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