History of the City of Peekskill
"European-style settlement took place slowly in the early 1700s. By the time of the American Revolution, the tiny community was an important manufacturing center from its various mills along the several creeks and streams. These industrial activities were attractive to the Continental Army in establishing its headquarters here in 1776.
"Though Peekskill's terrain and mills were beneficial to the Patriot cause, they also made tempting targets for British raids. The most damaging attack took place in early spring of 1777, when an invasion force of a dozen vessels led by a warship and supported by infantry overwhelmed the American defenders. Another British operation in October 1777 led to further destruction of industrial apparatus. As a result, the Hudson Valley command for the Continental Army moved from Peekskill to West Point, where it stayed for remainder of that war.
"Hawley Green, a resident of Peekskill during the Civil War era, was an African American citizen who voted, ran a downtown barber business, and owned several properties with his wife Harriet. Mr. Green was credited before and during the war with "helping many a slave brother on his way to Canada." Active assistance given by AME Zion Church members, Reverend Beecher, local Quakers and the Greens was part of the famous "underground railroad" of freedom in Peekskill during the 1800s.
"Peekskill's first legal incorporation of 1816 was reactivated in 1826 when Village elections took place. The Village was further incorporated within the Town of Cortlandt in 1849 and remained so until separating as a city in 1940."
Art District in the City of Peekskill
"The city wanted to turn its unused downtown spaces into something useful. Similar to Lowell, MA’s strategy, in order to have a vibrant downtown area one must have a population living there, so that the activity does not only happen from nine to five. In creating spaces where artists both live and work, the city created a situation in which there would always be people downtown, 24 hours a day.
". . . Peekskill took an active role in pursuing displaced artists by taking out advertisements in So Ho art magazines and offering them low interest rates. This helped artists buy buildings and convert them into useful spaces. Once a few artists had moved to Peekskill, a buzz was created and more artists made the move north.
Today, the City of Peekskill has 80 artist/live work lofts. This includes the Peekskill Art Lofts opened in 2002. The Peekskill Art Lofts are an affordable 28-unit limited equity cooperative apartment complex built for qualified artists."
History And Antiquities, Compiled 1841
"Peeksville Village was incorporated in 1826. It is situated 12 miles north of Sing Sing, and immediately south of the southern termination of the highlands. An old engraving of Peekskill shows: The old Dutch Reformed and the Episcopal church are visible on the right; the Methodist and the Presbyterian church, having a small tower, are on the left. The elevated spire of the new Dutch Reformed church is in the central part of the view. Hudson River, with the towering highlands, is seen in the distance. The village represented is situated on an elevation 200 feet above the level of the river, half a mile from the landing, on both sides of a deep ravine. There are in the village a bank, 2 printing offices, 2 large iron foundries, etc. There is an academy, a large edifice, situated on a commanding eminence at the south. The village contains upwards of 200 dwellings and 2 churches for Friends, besides those mention above. There is a steamboat ferry at this place to Caldwell's landing, on the opposite side of the Hudson, two miles distant. Verplank's point an Continental village, places distinguished in the revolutionary ware, are within the limits of this town. This latter place, which had barracks for 2,000 men, was burnt by the British in October, 1777."
Source "Historical Collections of the State of New York, Published by S. Tuttle, 194 Chatham-Square, 1841
History of Pelham, Published 1900
"Thus Stophanus Van Cortlandt became the proprietor of nearly the whole of Westchester County along the Hudson from Crotoii Bay to the Highlands. In the interior his bounds, both at the north and the south, ran due east twenty miles to the Connecticut border (which border was, by the interprovincial agreement between Connecticut and New York, considered to be at a distance of twenty miles from the Hudson). But there were two strips of land above Verplauck's Point of which neither Van Cortlandt nor his heirs ever obtained the ownership. One was the so-called Ryke's patent, a tract called by the Indians Sachus or Sackhoes, embracing about eighteen hundred acres between Verplanck's and Peekskill Creek, whereon a large portion of the village of Peekskill has been built. This tract was bought from the Indians, April 21, 1685, by Richard Abramseu, Jacob Abramsen, Tennis Dekey (or DeKay), Seba, Jacob, and John Harxse, and soon afterward was patented to them for a quit-rent of " ten bushels of good winter merchantable wheat yearly." The name of Ryke's patent is Dutch for Richard's patent, so called after Richard Abramsen, the principal patentee, who later assumed the English name of Lent. Substantially the whole tract passed to Hercules Lent, Richard's son, about 1730. The second of the two strips on the liudson which always remained independent of the Van Cortlandt estate was a three-hundred-acre parcel fronting on the inner and upper part of Peekskill Bay, which was deeded, on April 25, 1685, to Jacobus DeKay " for the value of four hundred guilders, seawant," and which ultimately became the property of John Krankhyte (ancestor of the Cronkhites). Upon this strip is the Peekskill State Camp of Military Instruction."
Source: History of Westchester County, New York: From Its Earliest Settlement to the Year 1900,
History of Peekskill, Compiled 1940
"The city takes its name from Peek's Kill, the creek along its northern boundary named for Jan Peek, a Dutch trader who settled on its bank in 1665. During the early years of the Revolution," American Revolution in Peekskill", staff officers and troops moved back and forth through the settlement on their way between the river landing and their points of duty. Thee was little industrial development until the latte part of the nineteenth centruy. The Standard Brands plant, manufacturing yeast and alcohol, among other products, provides employment for about 2,500 people.
Chauncey M. Depew Park, in the center of the village, contains a statue of Depew, who was born in Peekskill in 1834 and was a lifelong resident. When Depew was 32 years old he was the attorney for Cornelius Vanderbilt's Hudson River & Harlem Railroad; . . . Unlike most men occupying his position as counsel and confidential adviser, he was fond of appearing in public and gained a wide reputation or oratory. His bon mots are still quoted, though he died in 1928.
The Peekskill Military Academy, on Oak Hill, a broad plateau overlooking the Hudson, was founded in 1833 and now has an enrollment of 400. The Gallows Oak Tree, from which the Revolutionary spy, Daniel Strange, was hanged, still stands on the campus.
The First Presbyterian Church, South St. east of Washington St., erected in 1846, is a handsome Greek Revival building. The front has flush boarding and the sides are clapboarded; heavy Doric pilasters frame the lower portion of the facade and tower.
In the hamlet is St. Peter's Church, an exceedingly simple structure built by the Van Cortlandts for the use of their tenants and opened in 1767. The straight-backed pew set aside for the family of the lord of the manor is unchanged; everyone else sat on rough-hewn benches.
Left from the hamlet 0.5 m. and across the creek to Gallow Hill, where Edward Palmer, a Tory spy, was hanged in 1777 by order of General Israel Putnam. Beyond Gallows Hill, at 1.5 m. is the Site of Continental Village, a supply base that had barracks for 1,500 men. The barracks were burned by the British in 1777 and the site was not reoccupied until 1781.
Peekskill to Eastern Junction with State 17; 20.7 m. US 6
This section of US 6 crosses the Hudson, offering magnificent views of the river valley, and cuts across the northern area of Bear Mountain Section.
West of Peekskill, 0 m., the road swings R. and L. on the Bear Mountain Bridge approach, a three-mile stretch carved through the rock directly above the Hudson River and affording splendid views of the Highlands; there are several parking spaces.
At 1.7 m. is the junction with Camp Smith Road.
Source: Excerpts from "New York, A Guide to the Empire State", Compiled by workers of the Writer's Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of New York, 1940 Albany
About Peekskill Today
Children love going to the park and to the delight of kids and parents, the City of Peekskill offers several local parks for the kids and family. Select one of several terrific parks in Peekskill and enjoy watching the kids in the playground, or on a nature walk, or just relax and read a book.
When dining out, select from one of many excellent restaurants in Peekskill City, New York.
Peekskill, New York offers beautiful homes and excellent areas in which to live. Learn more about buying a home in Peekskill, New York, Westchester County.