50 Fabulous Facts About Our History

Perhaps it’s the fault of busy commutes and crammed schedules, but few Westchesterites stop to acknowledge the extraordinary beauty and rich history of this ancient river valley we call home. The centuries-old landmarks, the ever-changing geography, the myriad inventions conceived in our county all make Westchester as fascinatingly unique and interesting as the very people who live here.

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Photo courtesy of animationarchive.org

17. Tinseltown east
Hollywood, Shmollywood. One of the first animated cartoons, “Terrytoons,” and the first Pathé newsreels came from New Rochelle.



18. Fore!
On February 22, 1888, Yonkers resident John Reid became the first person to play golf on American soil by plotting a three-hole golf course in a local apple orchard with a group of friends. Originally from Scotland, Reid named his course St. Andrews and later created the county’s first golf club behind Palisades Avenue.




Before the days of the multiple listing service and mass development, a 1906 real estate brochure touted the quality of life in Westchester: “Harrison is a good place to live. There are over 50 trains daily between Harrison and New York City with a commutation of 10 cents a trip.” Now if only train tickets still cost 10 cents.


Unemployment… recession… bear markets. At least one lucky hardwood is still living the good life. The “Bedford Oak,” a 500-year-old white oak located just outside downtown Bedford Village, boasts its own five-figure trust fund managed by the Bedford Historical Society. The cash supports general maintenance and the two acres of “breathing room” that surround the tree to protect it from development. And, in case the oak decides to kick the bucket anytime soon, the Bedford Historical Society planted two new oaks onsite this Arbor Day.

Quaint, clean, and quiet, Westchester County Airport may appear insignificant in the shadow of the chaotic LaGuardia and JFK. An average of 1.9 million passengers, however, pass though the airport’s gates each year on more than 32,000 commercial flights. And as one of the nation’s busiest corporate aviation facilities with roughly 70,000 corporate and charter operations annually, the airport creates more than 1,300 full-time jobs onsite and thousands more for related industries. Now there’s a stimulus.



Westchesterites have always loved the arts. At the turn of the 20th century, socialite Martha Leonard built the six-tier Brookside Open-Air Theatre in Mount Kisco. Sporting linen suits, muslin dresses, and broad-brimmed straw hats, famous actors including Ruth St. Denis (pictured right), Ben Greet, Ted Shawn, Walter Hampden, and Sir Henry Irving and their spouses visited the amphitheater to see and be seen at summertime operas, dances, and Greek plays.




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