52 Reasons to Love Westchester

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



(page 9 of 15)

36: Because We Take Our Cupcakes Very Seriously

Lulu’s cupcakes are almost too pretty to eat.

 Look out, Westchester cupcake-a-terias (and this means you, Flour & Sun)—things are getting hot! Jay Muse of Scarsdale’s Lulu Cake Boutique is out to conquer the cupcake world with his upcoming spot in Tarrytown. As at Muse’s original Lulu, his Tarrytown shop will feature picture-perfect, expertly crafted cakes all made from scratch with carefully sourced ingredients. Plus, unlike his phone-booth-sized Scarsdale nook, his Tarrytown spot will offer plenty of room to sit with fair-trade coffee or even a cool glass of farm-fresh milk. Expect chic digs and even chicer miniature cakes: milk mustache be damned, we can’t wait.

 

37: Because We Give

Westchesterites may be known for having money, but we don’t all spend our paychecks on huge houses and Prada shoes. When it came time for the Chronicle of Philanthropy to compile “The Philanthropy 50,” a list of Americans who gave the most in 2008, Westchesterites made two appearances on the list. (Unfortunately, Sidney E. Frank, a New Rochelle resident who was a mainstay of “The Philanthropy 50,” died in 2006. Frank, a liquor importer, donated a whopping $142 million in 2004, putting him at No. 9.)

David Rockefeller of Pocantico Hills was No. 15 on the list, donating more than $137 million to causes and recipients like Harvard University, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Museum for African Art.

Jerome Fisher, co-founder and chairman emeritus of the White Plains-based Nine West Group, and his wife, Anne, gave away $50 million to the University of Pennsylvania to build a biomedical research center, which is scheduled to open in 2010. The act put them at No. 33 on the list. We might have the second-highest incomes in New York State, but at least we put them to good use.

38: Because of Mount Vernon’s Always-Contending Basketball Team

The New York Yankees. The Detroit Red Wings. The Los Angeles Lakers. The Pittsburgh Steelers. They all have winning traditions. It’s assumed that, by season’s end, each will be in contention. The same can be said for the Knights of Mount Vernon High School’s basketball team.

The Knights, which breed great players, are a perennial powerhouse, not only in Westchester County, but in the state and, yes, the nation. Since 1967, the Mount Vernon basketball team has won 26 sectional titles and eight New York State titles. (Next best is Peekskill with 17 and five, respectively.) Countless players have gone on to play ball at the collegiate level, and 12 have made it to the National Basketball Association, including Ben Gordon, current member of the Detroit Pistons. Head Coach Bob Cimmino, who continues to produce winning basketball teams, is one of the most respected high school coaches in the country.

“Cimmino is one the true class gentleman of the game,” says David Archer, president of the National High School Basketball Coaches and executive director of the Basketball Coaches Association of New York. “His temperament is what makes him so good. He understands the game, doesn’t go bananas when something goes wrong, and keeps things in proper perspective. He is one of the great ones.”

39: Because We Don’t Have To Travel to the Bronx Zoo To See Real Wildlife

Pity the poor souls whose only brushes with the animal kingdom involve squirrels and pigeons. (In our minds, they’re all just rats.) We haven’t had the heart to tell them that, in addition to our trusty Labradors, we spend our days communing with chipmunks, raccoons, foxes, wild turkeys, and even bears, bobcats, and coyotes (though, thankfully, rarely). Look up and there’s even more to marvel at: butterflies, geese, hawks, owls, and other rascally birds. You can howl with the wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, or set up camp and try and spot bald eagles at Croton Point Park. And, yes, if you happen to be a fan of squirrels and pigeons, we’ve got those, too.

“Westchester boasts a rich diversity of wildlife, with many species adapting well to living within close proximity of people,” says Kurt Hundgen, executive director of the Greenburgh Nature Center. “Here, a few years back, we recorded one-hundred-twenty-four different species of birds, eighteen species of mammals, and fifteen species of reptiles and amphibians.”

That’s a lot of wildlife for one little (33-acre) spot—now imagine what’s living in the whole county. There have been 361 different species of birds in our skies, and more than 200 types of fish swim in the Hudson. Don’t even get us started on the deer. According to the Huffington Post, we have more than 60 white-tailed deer per square mile in one park area. Of course, such popularity comes at a price. According to Hundgen, “Conservationists in the county have worked hard to identify critical habitats and put protection measures into place.”


40: Because The Drapers Live Here

Photo courtesy of Rainbow Media Holdings LLC

 

 

Ossining has never looked so glamorous. While we don’t begrudge Mad Men’s Don and Betty Draper their unfaithful and unhappy marriage, we covet just about everything else about their lives: their picture-perfect 1960s clothes, their sleek mid-century furniture, their red-meat diets washed down with dry martinis. The fact that the series is set in Ossining, with frequent references to local landmarks—Phelps Memorial Hospital Center, Sing Sing Prison, Brookside Elementary School—makes the Mad Men world seem that much more attainable. In fact, after dinner tonight, we just might reach for some Maker’s Mark and a Lucky Strike.

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