Tarrytown-On-Hudson is located in the western part of Westchester County, NY. It is situated on the eastern shore of the Hudson River in an area called "The Tappan Zee". The first documented inhabitants of Tarrytown are the Weckquaesgeek Indians, a branch of the Mohican tribe of the Algonquin nation. The Weckquaesgeeks raised corn, squash, beans, and tobacco. They fished the Hudson for shad, oysters and other shellfish and hunted the area for deer and black bear. They also trapped for fur and hides for clothing, and later traded these with the Dutch. Their principle settlement was at the foot of Church Street at a place they called Alipconk, also known as the Place of Elms.
Records show that the first residence in Tarrytown was built in 1645. However, the exact location is not known. The first white settlers were Dutch. They were farmers, fur trappers, and fishermen. Tarrytown soil was light and loamy which was ideal for growing cereals; especially wheat. This led to the area being known as Wheat Town, or Terve Town, which later became mispronounced as Tarrytown. Some historians believe that "tarry" is a corruption of the Dutch word "tarwe" wheat, hence the name "Tarrytown".
Point of Interest: Washington Irving's explanation for the name of "Tarrytown" as written in "The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow", published in the Sketch Book of 1820 is: "In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators of the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port which by some is called Greenburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent county, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days."
Frederick Philipse, 1626-1702, of Dutch descent, began buying land in 1681 becoming the largest land owner in the Tarrytown area. In 1693, Frederick Philipse was granted a charter for 52,000 acres along the Hudson River by Monarchs William and Mary of Great Britain. His land extended from North Tarrytown, NY, to the Bronx, with the Hudson River on the west and the Bronx River on the east. This area covered approximately 90,000 acres. Philipse built two grand manor houses: "Philipse Manor and Philipsburg Manor".
During the American Revolution (1775 - 1781), Tarrytown was part of the "Neutral Ground", an area of Westchester County lying between the British lines to the south and the American lines to the north. Without the protection of either army, the people were subjected to fierce raids by both sides. In 1780 a momentous incident took place which many historians believe helped win the American Revolution.
Point of Interest: On September 23, 1780, Major John Andre, a British spy, was captured by three local militiamen, John Paulding, Isaac Van Wart, and David Williams. Major Andre was carrying papers describing the fortification of West Point, given to him by Benedict Arnold. The clandestine meeting near Haverstraw ended at dawn making it too risky for the Loyalists to row Andre back to the Vulture, which was to carry him back to British Headquarters in New York City. The next day the Americans fired upon the Vulture from Croton Point, forcing it to leave without Andre. There is a historical marker at the foot of Church Street because Americans again fired on the Vulture as it passed by Tarrytown. Benedict Arnold recommended that Andre travel by land on the eastside of the Hudson and was traveling south on horseback, eventually reaching the neutral territory of Tarrytown. John Paulding, who had recently escaped from a British prison in New York City was wearing a Hessian coat, and Andre approached the group thinking they were allies. He was stopped and questioned by the three militiamen who found the plans to West Point hidden in Andre's boot. Andre was brought to the authorities. He was tried and convicted as a spy and hanged in Tappan, New York on October 2, 1780.
In 1853, near Patriot's Park, a monument was erected to honor the three heroic militiamen. At a later dedication, the monument was increased and a bronze stature of John Paulding was added. There is a dedication in stone on the south side of the monument which reads "On this spot the 23rd day of September, 1780, the spy, Major John Andre, Adjutant General of the British Army, was captured by John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart, all natives of this county. History has told the rest. The people of Westchester County have erected this Monument, as well to commemorate a great Event, as to testify their high estimation of that Integrity and Patriotism which, rejecting every temptation, rescued the United States from most imminent peril by baffling the arts of a Spy and the plots of a Traitor. Dedicated October 7, 1853." On the north side of the block an inscription reads, "Their conduct merits our warmest esteem. They have prevented, in all probability, our suffering one of the severest strokes that could have been meditated against us" written by George Washington.
A brief business history of Tarrytown:
Throughout the 18th century the majority of Tarrytown life revolved around the mill. However, there were a small number of farms in Tarrytown that grew mostly wheat, and there were a few taverns and shops. Gradually a few industries began to appear. In 1868 a wagon and carriage factory was opened on Orchard Street. An early leading industry was the Silver Shoe Factory on Washington Street, opened by the Silver brothers in 1871, in which they employed 150 workers. The Woodward Steam Pump Co. opened in 1875 on lower Main Street. In 1881, Albert P. Husted Sr. moved his silk factory from New Jersey to Tarrytown. The Cooper Flour Mill opened a five story building in 1886 and refined 300 barrels of flour a day. John Brown had a boatyard near the Main Street Landings. He also had a cider mill and is reputed to have made among the best cider in the county.
The automobile industry began in the area in 1899 with the Mobile Company of U.S.A. They were followed by Maxwell-Briscoe, and then, The Chevrolet Motor Co. in 1915 that became the General Motors Assembly Division in 1918. The General Motors plant was in North Tarrytown (now Sleepy Hollow), During World War II the assembly plant was retooled to make wings for Grumman torpedo bombers and was named Eastern Aircraft employing 10,000 workers, 2,900 of the workers were women. Before the 1970's most workers lived in Tarrytown or Sleepy Hollow. On the southern end of town is the General Motors Training Center that instructs dealer technicians. They have been in Tarrytown since 1955. General Foods became Kraft General Foods in 1989 and is involved in product development, packaging, and quality control. Hitachi Corporate has been in Tarrytown since 1984.
Tarrytown flourished as an active river port in the post-war period. After the Hudson River Railroad opened in 1849, river traffic slowed and various manufacturing enterprises sprang up. Marking this growth, the village incorporated in 1870. It was as a distinguished residential community, however, that Tarrytown truly gained eminence.
1849 was a turning point in the history of Tarrytown as the New York & Hudson River Railroad connected New York City and Albany as it passed through Tarrytown. The Railroad decreased the amount of steamboat traffic on the river, and it began the change from rural farming in Tarrytown. The railroad increased the population that began to work in factories, tool works and other industries that sprang up on the River. At that time, the Hudson River reached to the bottom of Cottage Place and Windle Park. Orchard Street, Depot Plaza, and Franklin Courts were built on top of landfill.
Orchard Street, was the main business section of Tarrytown from 1845 to 1969. It ran south from Valley and Wildey Street to Franklin and White Street. It consisted of several blocks of beautiful 19th century buildings. By the 1960's there had been several devastating fires, and the buildings were beginning to look run down. As a result, in 1969 the difficult decision to raze Orchard Street was made to make way for Urban Renewal and the building of Asbury Terrace.
History of Tarrytown Mansions, Castles, and Historic Sites:
Frederick Philipse built "Philipse Manor" circa 1682, in Yonkers as the permanent family seat. The estate eventually passed into British and then American hands in the Revolution, and its administration as a single unit was never restored. Soon after the American Revolution, a New York merchant bought the Yonkers manor house, and in 1868 the city of Yonkers purchased it for use as the city hall.
Frederick Philipse built "Philipsburg Manor" circa 1683, as a mill and a manor hall. Philipsburg Manor was the northern family seat, at Upper Mills, North Tarrytown, on the Pocantico River. When Frederick died in 1702, his son Adolph became "Lord of the Manor". He doubled the size of the original home and increased the capacity of the mill by adding a third set of millstones so that he could grind barley and corn as well as his wheat. Over the years, Philipsburg Manor has been extensively restored. It now features a stone manor house, 18th-century period furnishings, a working water-powered grist mill and millpond, an 18th-century barn, a slave garden, and a reconstructed tenant farm house. The grounds are home to historic breeds of cattle, sheep, and chickens. Today, Philipsburg Manor is a living history museum of Dutch colonial life.
Frederick Philipse built "The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow" circa 1697
By the turn of the 20th century, the Tarrytown skyline was filled with many new and "old" mansions and castles. Tarrytown was known as "Millionaire's Colony". More than 65 grand estates filled the area.
"Lyndhurst" circa 1838, is a preeminent architectural landmark. It resides in a 67-acre park representing 19th century architecture, decorative arts, and landscape. Overlooking the Hudson River in Tarrytown, NY, Lyndhurst is one of America's finest Gothic Revival mansions. Its noteworthy occupants included: former New York City mayor William Paulding, merchant George Merritt, and the railroad magnate and Wall Street tycoon Jay Gould.
"Hillcrest" circa 1882, built by Captain William Casey on 18 acres of land. Mark Twain bought the estate in 1902. After living there for two years, Mark Twain had a dispute with the village regarding the assessment of the estate. In 1904 he sold it to Charles Gardner who sold it to Jacques Halle, a member of the New York Stock Exchange. Halle demolished the old home and made a larger mansion that he called Halleston. It was later acquired by a developer, David Swope. Today, Tappan Hill is known as "Abigail Kirsch at Tappan Hill" an elegant venue for receptions.
"The Tarrytown Music Hall" circa 1885, built in the Queen Anne Style by William Wallace, the chocolate candy manufacturer. The Tarrytown Music Hall is the oldest continually operating theater in Westchester. The interior displays the beauty of Victorian craftsmanship, and the Art Deco style.
"Carrollcliff" circa 1897 and 1910 was built in two stages. It was built in the Tudor style by Carroll, the son of a Civil War General. It was built from stone quarried on the property and nearby Glenville. Carroll was a correspondent for the New York Times, a playwright, and organizer of a street paving company. Today, this site is the magnificent "Castle on the Hudson" hotel.
"Kykuit" circa 1902, built by John D. Rockefeller and has been the home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Kykuit means "high point" in Dutch and has breathtaking views of the Hudson River. Kykuit is home to beautiful furniture, paintings and sculptures. The grounds contain wonderful terraces, fountains, gardens, and a large collection of 20th century sculpture. Kykuit also has a large collection of antique cars and horse drawn vehicles.
Historic Sites of Westchester.
The millionaires of "Millionaire's Colony" greatly contributed to Tarrytown's economy. Every mansion and castle was built mostly by local tradesmen, every estate had many local workmen, and every local merchant had his share of millionaire customers.
Following World War II, socio-economic changes altered this aspect of the community, as clusters of single family homes replaced large estates. Construction of the New York State Thruway and Tappan Zee Bridge accelerated the growth of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, with new residents flocking to this desirable community.