100 Fascinating Facts About Westchester County


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51. We are the seventh most populous county in New York State. The six ahead of us are Kings (i.e., Brooklyn), Queens, New York, Suffolk, Bronx, and Nassau. Richmond County, aka Staten Island, comes in at number 10. Westchester is also the 44th most populous county in the country.

Photo by Gabe Palaccio

52. The 79,000-square-foot building for the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College was designed by world-famous architect Philip Johnson to match the rest of the brick buildings on the college’s campus. Johnson’s first residential building was Bedford’s Booth House, one of a series of studies that would lead to his legendary Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, a few years later. Roy Neuberger was a financier, artist, and philanthropist, who died at age 107 last year.

53. Westchester County Airport has appeared on screen doubling for Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, as well as New York’s LaGuardia and JFK, in films such as Meet the Parents, Random Hearts, and The Best Man.

54. Scarsdale: Soviet spy haven? Robert Hanssen (pictured) was an American FBI agent who sold state secrets—to the tune of $1.4 million over the course of 20 years—to Soviet spies. He kicked off his treason streak while living in Scarsdale in the late ’70s. Not to worry: Hanssen now spends 23 hours a day in solitary confinement at a maximum-security prison in Colorado.

55. Then again, maybe Yonkers is the real spy den. Among the 10 people exposed as part of a massive Russian spy ring in 2010 were former CUNY professor and Yonkers resident Juan Lazaro (below left) and his wife, Vicky Peláez (below right). Lazaro, whose real name was Mikhail Vasenkov, admitted to federal authorities that he passed information to Russian intelligence officials. He was deported to Russia along with the rest of the ring and is said to be trying to make his way to Peru.

56. Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler (whose real name is Steven Tallarico) was not born in Boston—where the band first found success—but right here in Yonkers. He was expelled from the city’s Roosevelt High School for drug use.

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

57. On September 23, 1780, outside Tarrytown, British Army Major John André was caught by American militiamen as he attempted to smuggle plans for the fort at West Point, which had been provided by Benedict Arnold. André, who was dressed in civilian clothes, had not planned to make the trip back to Tory lines on foot, but the sloop in which he had traveled upriver was attacked by Americans and forced to retreat without the spy. André was held briefly at the Continental Army post at Sands’ Mills in Armonk before being hanged across the river in Tappan.

58. A Chicago suburb and a neighborhood in western Los Angeles are also named Westchester. In addition, there is a West Chester, Pennsylvania, in Chester County.

59. Philip Johnson (see facing page) wasn’t the only famous architect to draw up plans for the area: Chinese American modernist I. M. Pei designed the global headquarters of MasterCard International in Harrison (which the New York Times called the “architectural jewel of Westchester”), and IBM’s office in Somers.

60. Al Roker’s ex-wife, Alice Roker, is the Town Clerk of Yorktown. She’ll probably roll her eyes reading this (“They won’t let me live it down!”), but who doesn’t love Al Roker? The ex-duo was married from 1984 to 1994, and lived in Yorktown. Alice was recently featured in the Daily Yorktown for revamping Yorktown’s marriage certificates to accommodate same-sex couples.

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