Ask Westchester June 2013: Everything You Wanted to Know About the County and Weren’t Afraid to Ask
Border battles and bears: Why our county line zigs and zags, and the case of Carvel’s third wheel.
Hug Me the Bear: an ice cream cake vastly under-appreciated in its own time
Q:Can you help me solve the mystery of the two Lola’s in White Plains? I know one Lola’s is a Mexican restaurant and is connected to BUtterfield 8, but what about the one on the corner of East Post Road and South Broadway? — Anne, White Plains
A: You are correct, Anne. There are two Lola’s coming to White Plains. The first is Lola’s Mexican Kitchen and is located at 169 East Post Road, and the other is Lola’s Restaurant and Bar, which will be located at 221 East Post Road. The former is connected to New York City staple BUtterfield 8 and its own sister restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut, and focuses on trendy Mexican food; the latter is not opened yet, but will focus on Hispanic food and drinks. Why the duplicate names? Probably because each didn’t know the other was going to exist at the time of construction.
Q: What’s that third Carvel cake? —Via Email
A: We know what you’re expecting: a “what kind of question is that?” phrased in our usual hilarious, biting way. But, oh no. This is one of those queries that separates the true Westchesterites from the imposter...ites. It’s for any native who grew up watching commercials for Fudgie the Whale, Cookie Puss, and the “third tenor” of ice cream cakes: Hug Me the Bear. Lest you be an out-of-towner reading our fair magazine for the first time, Carvel is known for making delicious ice-cream cakes that, up until recently, usually came in one of three molds. Carvel has since expanded its shapes. We don’t quite know why Hug Me the Bear never achieved the fame of his crunchy-filled brethren, but perhaps it’s because actually hugging the cake generally did not end well.
Q: How did Westchester get its borders/shape? — Ben Haroldsen, Mount Vernon
A: A long time ago in a land not so far, far away, a bunch of Dutch settlers came to the New World and started “buying” land from the American Indians, forming both towns and manors (manors had lords who provided essential services in exchange for rent). The tracts of land used for these municipalities were delineated with boundaries based on natural features such as brooks or even lines of “marked trees.” For example, in 1677 the governor of the province authorized Stephanus Van Cortlandt to form his manor “on the east side of Hudson’s River” on land not yet purchased from the Indians. In 1683, a number of these towns and manors were merged together to form the County of Westchester. So landmarks like the Hudson became County boundaries instead of just municipal boundaries. Over the next few decades, New York City gobbled up portions of the County and added them to the Bronx, but the remaining border of the County was still based on old municipal borders, namely Yonkers and Mount Vernon.
The most fascinating part of the story is the border battle with Connecticut. The New York Dutch and the Connecticut English had disputed their boundary since the mid-1600s. When the English took over New York in the 1660s, representatives from Connecticut proposed that the border would be “twenty miles east of the Hudson River,” which they determined was the mouth of the Mamaroneck River. However, if you drive from Mamaroneck to the Hudson and actually go 20 miles, you’d better get a new GPS, because the two are really only 10 miles apart. Sneaky Connecticut! An attempt to fix this mistake in 1683 involved quite a bit of cartographical maneuvering. New York let Connecticut keep everything up to the mouth of the Byram River in Port Chester in exchange for an equivalent amount of land to the north (which padded that 20 mile border a bit). From the Byram, the border cut northwest, giving Connecticut Greenwich and other towns. In return, the border then jutted northeast to give New York a little more. Finally, a quick trip northwest again brought the border back to the 20-plus mile mark from the Hudson before running straight north-to-south. Now don’t even get us started on the great Rye defection of the late 1600s!