Irvington is a village within the Town of Greenburgh located on the east bank of the Hudson River about 22 miles north of Manhattan. It is the smallest of the "rivertowns" and a small-town atmosphere prevails. Irvington is approximately 35-40 minutes by car or train from New York City.
Points of Interest In Irvington
Brief History of Irvington:
Irvington was first inhabited by Native Americans know as the Weckquaseqeeks, (whose name means "place of the bark kettle"). They were a part of the Mohegan tribe of Algonquins.
In the 1600s, Dutch settlers came to the area to farm and trade. Four main families settled in the area: Stephen Ecker, whose plantation was located on what is now the Sunnyside property; Jan Harmse, who settled land on the south and west sides of Dows Lane; Captain John Buckhout, who settled near the Hudson River; and Barent Dutcher, who established a farm on what would become Matthiessen Park.
Once a stop for travelers on the road between New York City and Albany, Irvington had its own rest spot, Odell's Tavern, built in 1690 on what is now South Broadway.
In the 1700s, King's Highway (known as Albany Post Road after the Revolutionary War and now as Broadway - Rte 9 in Irvington & the other Rivertowns) was completed to serve as a post road between New York City and Albany. The post road was the principal road through Irvington and facilitated settlement in the area. Maps from that time period show that many of the estates and farms were set along the east and west sides of the road.
In the American Revolution, British and Hessian troops, stationed at Odell and Buckhout Farms, laid waste to the area. Rebuilding took nearly half a century.
In 1817, Justus Dearman purchased parcels of land and named his territory Dearman Town.
In 1837, construction began on the Croton Aqueduct, which ran parallel to and just west of Broadway. Some farms were subdivided and roads rerouted to create space for the Aqueduct. The Old Croton Aqueduct was completed in 1842.
Ferry service started in 1848 and rail service in 1849.
John Jay, nephew of the first Chief Justice, purchased land in Dearman Town in 1848; these lots were later sold to the Merchants Exchange in New York City.
This subdivision would become the village center and was laid out as 266 property lots and a street grid, with easy access to the railroad line. The plan included the east-west artery of Main Street with streets branching off in a north-south direction from the foot of Main Street east to Broadway. This development became the Village's main shopping district and municipal center, with the Village Hall, schools, churches and other public institutions situated in the Main Street vicinity. The homes that were developed on smaller lots around the core were occupied by artisans and the employees of the estates.
Some industry developed as well along the riverfront, most notably the Lord and Burnham Company, which manufactured greenhouses, but the area preserved its residential character.
Several infrastructure projects were also underway in the 1800s that shaped Irvington's growth and development.
In 1849, the railroad line was completed along the Hudson River, running between New York City and Peekskill and then farther north to Poughkeepsie. The introduction of the railroad transformed Irvington from a sleepy rural riverfront community into a bustling commuter suburb. See History of Irvington - 1849-1860
In 1854, the hamlet of Dearman Town became known as Irvington in honor of its famous resident, Washington Irving. and in 1872, Irvington was officially incorporated as a village government.
Between 1860 and 1890, the population of Irvington increased rapidly. In the mid 1800's, wealthy families from New York City built stately vacation homes in Irvington. The Village has continued to attract notables throughout the years. Magnificent views of the Hudson, combined with small-town flavor and easy access to New York City, made Irvington a magnet for famous names.
Well-known residents included James Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton's son, who constructed the Nevis Estate that is now home to Columbia University's Nevis Laboratories; Cyrus Field , inventor of the Atlantic cable, who lived on a 780 acre estate known as Ardsley Park (The estate included houses for each of his children, stables, kennels, an ice-house, graftery, and conservatory, among other structures.), Charles Tiffany, who developed Tiffany Park which later became Matthiessen Park; and the author, Washington Irving, who developed the Sunnyside Estate .
Creator of Tiffany glass, Louis Tiffany spent boyhood vacations in the Village during the 1860's. he loved to sketch the swirling pattern of leaves as he sat by the Hudson; many of these patterns later found their way into his designs. In the Irvington Library, stained-glass Tiffany lamps hang near the bookshelves.
With the electrification of the rail line in 1913, Irvington began to transition into being a commuter suburb.
Many of these estates were subdivided following World War I to make room for new residential communities, but the estate homes still stand and the park-like settings of the properties were preserved, contributing to Irvington's historic character and significant open space.
The subdivision of the estate properties after World War I created residential developments such as Jaffrey Park, Matthiessen Park and Spiro Park. The park-like setting of these neighborhoods has helped Irvington retain its rural character and open space feel even as the population has grown.
Madam C.J. Walker, an African American, who was America's first self-made millionairess, resided here, at Villa Lewaro , from 1918 to 1919. Her 30 room Italian Renaissance mansion was designed by architect Vertner Woodson Tandy and was the scene for the most spectacular parties to date.
In 1934, the DuPont family donated the remaining 68 acres of James Hamilton's Nevis estate to Columbia University.
Two of Irvington's most venerable landmarks are the Octagon House and gazebo (also know as the Armour-Stiner House) and the Irvington Town Hall Theater building. The Octagon House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Banker Paul Armour had it built in 1860 when octagonal houses were especially popular. It is an outstanding example of its type. The Irvington Town Hall Theater has been a local institution since the beginning of this century. Constructed in the Classic Revival style, this building was patterned after Ford's Theater in Washington. It underwent extensive renovation and re-opened in 1980. Its repertoire includes concert performances and stage productions by the Town Hall Players and other artists. The Theater is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Irvington Parks & Recreational Facilities
Irvington Recreation Department Programs
Isabel K. Benjamin Community Center
Located on Main Street, the community center is the headquarters for the Irvington Recreation Department and is used for most of the indoor recreation programs and various other village events.
Memorial Park & Station Road Park
An 7.6 acre park located on Dows Lane & Station Road. Memorial Park contains three lighted tennis courts, softball field, baseball field, football/soccer field, playground, spray pool, fitness par center and restroom facilities.
An 3.3 acre passive riverfront recreational facility situated directly on the banks of the Hudson River. This magnificent park contains a beach, picnic & barbecue facilities, playground equipment, shuffle board courts, horse shoe pits, and restrooms.
Scenic Hudson Park
11 acre riverfront park with views of the Manhattan skyline and the Tappan Zee Bridge. Facilities include: a baseball field, a softball field, lighted basketball courts, two playgrounds, a boat launch, a fishing bulkhead, the senior citizen center and restrooms.
Senior Citizen Center
The Irvington Senior Citizen Center is a recently remodeled, spectacular, 4800-square-foot, two story brick building located at 29 Bridge St along the banks of the Hudson River in the 11 acre Scenic Hudson Park. The Center’s amenities include a large, glass enclosed multi-purpose room with commanding views of the Hudson River. The multi-purpose room is suitable for special events, large meetings, parties and exercise classes. In addition, there are variety of meeting rooms, lounges and a kitchen in the Senior Center. Brief History of The Irvington Senior Citizen Center
Halsey Pond Park Preserve
Historic nature preserve and pond which offers residents a passive recreational area for hiking, walking, fishing and pure enjoyment of the great outdoors.
The Irvington Woods - Irvington Reservoir, Watershed & Contiguous Greenspace
Color Map Of Irvington Woodland Trails - PDF file
Accessible from either Mountain Road or Harriman Road & Cyrus Field Road, this magnificent reservoir & green belt is a valuable woodland preserve suitable for hiking & nature walks. It is also contiguous to a large county woodland park.
O'Hara Nature Center
The O'Hara Nature Center is a brand new building being constructed at the Mountain Road entrance to the newly expanded Irvington Woods. Located at 170 Mountain Road, the building has been erected and the finishing touches are being added with the official opening expected to be Spring 2012. Once open, the building and its parking lot will act as a gateway to the Peter Oley Trail System within the Irvington Woods and will serve as a focal point for nature studies and programs.
Old Croton Aqueduct
Built in 1845, it is owned and managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the trailway offers a scenic walk from northern Westchester County to New York City. It follows the path of the aqueduct that was once used to bring fresh water from the Croton River to New York City.
Rockefeller State Park Preserve - NYS Department of Parks
Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve
Over 1,000 acres of woodlands, meadows, wetlands and a 24-acre lake offer a wonderful retreat from the city. Come to hike, jog, fish, cross-country ski or study nature.
Fishing licenses are required and horseback riding is allowed with a permit. Kykuit, former home of the Rockefellers and one of the valley's most popular attractions, is located adjacent to the preserve.
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