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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|23. ROGER THAT|
In 1912, Edwin Armstrong, an inquisitive college student from Yonkers, invented the FM radio. His close friend C.R. (Randy) Runyon later logged the first FM broadcast from his home at 544 North Broadway in Yonkers.
24. ON THE ROAD
$1.5 million was the cost of each mile of I-684 when it was built in the 1960s.
25. DID YOU KNOW?
It probably didn’t seem that exciting the last time you drove by it, but the Bronx River, or Aquehung, as Native Americans called it, used to serve as a key border between the Wappinger and Siwanoy tribes. The Bronx River was later renamed after Jonas Bronck, who purchased 500 acres of land from the Dutch in 1639 to become the first European settler in Westchester. When the Bronx River Parkway was completed in 1925, it became the first multi-lane, limited-access parkway in North America.
26. A PORCH WITH A VIEW
From the veranda of the Jay mansion, built in 1838, Peter Augustus Jay (pictured right), the eldest son of John Jay, peered across the oldest known man-managed meadow in New York State to the Long Island Sound more than three-fourths of a mile away. The meadow dates back at least 5,000—and possibly 10,000—years, according to archaeological shovel tests that prove Paleo-Indians burned the meadow to keep it clear for hunting, agriculture, and settling.
27. FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS
Who says you need to go to Philadelphia to see an authentic 18th-century bell? Take a tour at St. Paul’s Church in Mount Vernon and climb atop the 225-year-old church tower to see a bell cast in 1758 at the same foundry as the Liberty Bell. Then listen to the sounds of the 1833 pipe organ, one of the oldest functioning organs in America, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back centuries.
28. TICKETS, HERE
$90 was the average yearly cost of commuting from Yorktown to New York City in 1890.
29. THE MISFIT
Anyone who drives Titicus Road in North Salem has seen the mysterious “Balanced Rock,” a 60-ton boulder oddly resting on five smaller stones. Featured in Bob Ripley’s Believe It or Not series, the red granite of this “glacial erratic,” or rock that differs in size, shape, and composition from native rocks, is found only in New Hampshire and Canada. As a result, many scientists believe the rock was swept down the Hudson Highlands as a glacier passed through thousands of years ago. In 1873, John Jay, grandson of the founding father, presented an opposing theory to the Westchester Historical Society that the immense igneous boulder was a dolmen purposely perched in place by Neolithic men. Most, however, dismiss this argument as wishful thinking.