Elmsford History | Elmsford Westchester County New York
Early evening over the Bear Mountain Bridge

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Elmsford History


Elmsford

Westchester County


Storm's Bridge Hall's Corners elm tree Revolutionary War cocktail Harvey Birch American spy Revolutionary War

WRW radio station Alexander Hamilton Isaac Van Wart Empire City Racing Association Dollar racehorse thoroughbreds Elms Ford Point of Interest Elmsford History

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Elmsford was known as Storm's Bridge in the early 1700's and as Hall's Corners during the middle of the nineteenth century. One-mile square, it is midway between White Plains and Tarrytown. Elmsford was named in 1870 for a large elm tree, nearly 30 feet in circumference which had been a landmark since the Revolutionary War.

In Elmsford's central square was a tavern, built in the early 1700's by Abraham Storm, and known later as O'Brien's Chateau. During the Revolutionary War, French and Colonial officers often gathered in this tavern and the barmaid, Betsy, frequently garnished their drinks with the tail feathers of chickens appropriated by the Colonials from Torie's hen-coops in the neighborhood. Thus Elmsford became the birthplace of that celebrated libation, "the cocktail." The tavern was also the scene of the escape of Harvey Birch, famous American spy, as related by James Fenimore Cooper in "The Spy". In his writings Cooper also mentioned another historical place in Elmsford, "Katy's Cave, " where American soldiers were hidden during the Revolution.

Through the greater part of the 1800's Elmsford grew very slowly. It was just a little hamlet with a church, a school and a store, surrounded by outlying farms. Then in the last decades of the century the railroad followed the river northward and established a station there. This meant that people who worked in New York City could now live in Elmsford. The village experienced a population explosion which culminated in its incorporation in 1910.

The easy accessibility of the community has contributed greatly to the industrial and commercial position of the village. One of the first radio stations in the county and perhaps the state, WRW began operation in Tarrytown in 1920 by an Elmsford resident. Descendants of Alexander Hamilton and Isaac Van Wart have resided in Elmsford. Van Wart, one of the captors of Major John Andre, during the Revolution, is buried in the cemetery of the Elmsford Reformed Church.

Point of Interest: In 1955 the Empire City Racing Association offered the village a life-size statue of "Dollar", a famous racehorse and sire of a line of thoroughbreds. The statue had once stood at the gate of the Empire City Racetrack (later Yonkers Raceway), purchased by James Butler in 1908. "Dollar" had been moved to the Butler estate, which had since been sold to Union Carbide. Elmsford decided to accept the statue and to have it placed in front of Village Hall. So in May of 1956, a crane pulled up and workmen lowered the statue. It is told that the Village Clerk was dismayed that the tail end was facing her office. Up went the statue again and when it was finally put down the tail end was facing the Police Department. By the time the Chief of Police had arrived on the scene, the truck had pulled away. Since that day the statue has been a well-known and unique historical landmark in the Village of Elmsford.


Location: Elmsford

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