Plus everything you ever wanted to know about how the county got its name.
Q: What crime is reported most?
—Peter Norman, Tarrytown
A: How about the crime of going on TV and saying that the worst rumor you’ve ever heard is that you were born in Yonkers? (Yes, Lady Gaga, we’re talking to you. Don’t even think about dining at X2O…or wearing any of its foie gras on your next dress.) Sorry, we digress, but we’ve been holding that in for a few months. Of the approximately 16,500 crimes reported in 2009 (the most recent data we found that doesn’t include crimes like DWI and drug sales), most were for various types of larceny. But fear not, fellow Westchesterites—crime rates have dropped every year since 2006.
Q: I’m a huge Playland fan, and I loved that you mentioned it in your “Five Thanks” article. But what’s going on with the park? Is it still county-owned?
—Frank Templeton, Rye
A: Yes…for now, and it’s your (and, by “your,” I mean the imperial “your”) fault if it’s not.
Remember that guy who isn’t Andy Spano that you all made County Executive? Astor-something? He’s got this bugaboo about financial solvency, and so the fact that, according to the county, attendance at the park is about 60 percent of what it was five years ago (See? Your fault), thus costing us money, isn’t good. So, despite being an “emotional issue,” says the County Exec, Westchester “is willing to entertain different or hybrid uses of Playland Park other than its current use, utilizing some, all, or none of the existing infrastructure or facilities at Playland Park.” None? Well, don’t get your whip in a tangle quite yet. The park is a National Historic Landmark, as are seven rides (the Grand Carousel, the Derby Racer, Main Whip, Ye Old Mill, Kiddy Coaster, Kiddy Carousel, and Dragon Coaster), and there are certain rules developers must follow (including preservation of almost all historical structures and areas) before they can do anything. And don’t forget that there’s still a Children’s Museum scheduled to open. So, for now, the answer is, as the kids say, TBD. We’ll keep you updated.
Q: Why is Westchester a county and Eastchester a town? And who is Chester?
—Katie Crystal, Scarsdale
A: Actually, “Chester” isn’t a person at all; it’s a city in England in Cheshire County. That city got its name from the Old English word “legacæstir,” meaning “city of legions,” because it had housed a legion when the Romans inhabited the area as early as the first century of the Common Era. The name was eventually changed to just “Chester.” The city is located in northwest England, and thus west of many prominent English cities. It was itself sometimes referred to as “Westchester.” Our Westchester is located, well, you know where it’s located, and thus west of many prominent New England cities; hence, the name (though, ironically, it was referred by the Dutch as “Oostdorp,” meaning “east village” because of the area’s easterly location within the colony then).
Anyway, Westchester was established as a large settlement around 1654. But it was eventually divided up into smaller blocks. One such settlement kept the name Westchester, and another, to the east of it, was named, un-originally, Eastchester. In 1691, the county of Westchester was established. It borrowed its name from the aforementioned settlement.
Have a question for “Ask Westchester”? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: ASK WESTCHESTER.