Granite Springs History  (Somers) | Granite Springs Westchester County New York
Scenic picnic grounds  at Ward Pound Ridge in Westchester

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Granite Springs History (Somers)


Granite Springs

Westchester County


IBM Pepsi PepsiCo New York City Reservoir Hachaliah Bailey Cradle of American Circus Croton Muscoot Rivers African Elephant Mount Zion Church Wright-Reis Homestead Point of Interest Granite Springs History (Somers)

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Granite Springs is one of five communities in the Town of Somers. The other communities are Amawalk, Baldwin Place, Lincolndale, and Shenorock. The Town of Somers is located in the northern part of Westchester County, NY.

The Mohegan tribe of the Algonquin nation originally occupied Somers. Settlement in Somers began in 1700. The town was originally named Stephentown. However, a town by the same name already existed in Rensselaer County. This lead to the name being changed to Somerstown and in 1808 to Town of Somers.

The railroad developed in the 1840’s and bypassed Somers. This caused a decline in the rate of growth of Somers over the next hundred years. However, the presence of the railroad in nearby communities allowed for a shift from agriculture towards dairy production and fruit growing. Industry continued to thrive, with grist, paper, saw and clothing mills operating in the area. Between 1890 and 1910, the Croton and Muscoot Rivers were flooded to create the New York City Reservoir system, thereby changing the local landscape considerably. After World War II the rolling hillside country attracted weekenders from New York City. The construction of I-684 in the mid-70’s facilitated additional residential and commercial development. IBM and PepsiCo built office complexes in the 1980’s.

Today, numerous 19th century historic buildings remain including Mount Zion Church (1794) and the Wright-Reis Homestead (1867). The Somers Historical Society oversees these properties and makes them available for public visitation several times a year.

Point of Interest: In 1804, a farmer and cattle merchant named Hachaliah Bailey acquired an African Elephant he named “Old Bet”. She was one of the first elephants in America. Although Bailey had planned to use the elephant for heavy-duty work on the farm, many people came to Somers to see the elephant. This inspired Bailey to exhibit Old Bet throughout the northeast. His success in this venture attracted numerous partners and rivals from local families, who joined in the business of importing and exhibiting exotic animals. The resulting menagerie business paralleled the development of the circus in America, and by the 1830’s the two forms of popular entertainment merged to form the basis of the modern American circus. In fact, the majority of early 19th century circus proprietors came from Somers and neighboring towns in northern Westchester and Putnam counties. This has led to Somers being titled “The Cradle of the American Circus”.


Location: Granite Springs

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