History of Port Chester
For nearly one hundred years, Rye was disputed territory between New York and Connecticut, until finally, in 1788, the New York State legislature officially established the Town of Rye boundaries. The group of settlers moved outward from Manursing Island and eventually developed Peningo Neck (the present business section of the City of Rye) and "Saw Pit" as Port Chester was commonly called then. Saw Pit (also know as Saw Pits and Saw Pit Landing), was named for the saw-mill and boat building shop near the mouth of the Byram River where the community evolved. It was little more than a hamlet until near the Revolutionary War period. But with its good harbor and growing shipbuilding industry, the port became a natural outlet for farm produce from the surrounding countryside.
During the Revolutionary War, Saw Pit was an important military outpost. Both armies vied for possession of the port, and the village was nearly destroyed in the crossfire. In 1776, American General Israel Putnam used the Bush Homestead, in what is now John Lyon Park, as his headquarters. When the clamor of the Revolution settled, the area was rebuilt and its shipping and shipbuilding industries prospered. Before long it had become an important steamboat stop, the eastern "port of Westchester." The name Port Chester was adopted in 1837. On May 4, 1868, Port Chester was incorporated as a village with specified limits within the Town of Rye.
The decline in agriculture and shipping came during the latter half of the 19th century, with the establishment of major railroads. Gradually the community changed from a port and trading center to a manufacturing center. By 1950, Port Chester was among the leading factory towns in the Lower Hudson Valley. Many well-known corporations had headquarters or production centers in the village, including Life Savers, Empire Brush Works, Arnold Bread, Fruit of the Loom and Russell Burdsall Nut & Bolt Co. On evenings and weekends, Port Chester's downtown hummed with vitality, as residents of neighboring towns flocked to the village's stores and restaurants. During the 1970s, most of the factories began to move south or west. Like many other manufacturing communities in the Northeast, Port Chester struggled with a declining economic base. In 1984, Lifesavers shut down its North Main Street factory after 64 years, the last major manufacturer to leave the village.
Port Chester Today
Wandering tribes of Mohegan Indians were the earliest inhabitants of the area known today as Rye Town and the Village of Port Chester. The first white settlers were a group of enterprising young men and women who came from the English colony of Connecticut in 1660. After land purchases from the Indians, negotiated mostly by Peter Disbrow, they settled on the island of "Manussing," for which they had paid "eight cotes and seven shirts fifteen fathom of womone." Although the land was part of the territory claimed by the Dutch, the defiant colonists drew up a proclamation in 1662 declaring allegiance to Charles of England. Through further treaties with the Indians, their combined holdings soon comprised all of what is now the City of Rye, Town of Rye, Harrison, White Plains and parts of Greenwich, North Castle and Mamaroneck. In 1665 the General Court of Connecticut merged the settlement under the name of Rye, in honor of a prominent family among the early colonists who has come from Rye, England.
Since then, Port Chester has revitalized itself with a growing retail and service economy. The
restaurants in Port Chester are among the best in Westchester. Port Chester's downtown Restaurant Row is renowned throughout the region, offering cuisine from around the world in dozens of top-rated establishments. "The Waterfront at Port Chester" retail center has brought a multiplex movie theater to the Byram River shore, Costco Shoppers Warehouse, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Super Stop & Shop, Marshall's and several other stores. Port Chester's prodigious industrial growth during the first half of the 20th Century attracted large numbers of European immigrants, primarily from Italy, Germany, Poland and Ireland. Similarly, newcomers from Central and South America and the Caribbean have helped to fuel the village's recent revival. Latino-owned stores and restaurants have helped bring customers of all ethnic groups back to Main Street and Westchester Avenue.
"History and Port Chester Today" is sourced from
Village of Port Chester, New York.
History And Antiquities
The following covers "History and Antiquities", a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, and anecdotes about Westchester County and its towns. When reading the following, remember to keep in mind that this information has been written about two hundred years ago. Population statistics and events have not been revised to reflect current events and perspective. We think this adds to the historical flavor and interest of the writings, giving a different perspective on much of this information and written in an "older world" writing style.
"Historical Collections of the State of New York
, Published by S. Tuttle, 194 Chatham-Square, 1841
"Port Chester, first known as Saw Log Swamp and later as Saw Pit, was settled about 1650. Port Chester, post village, is on the New York and Connecticut turnpike, and west side of Byram River, which is here the boundary line of Connecticut and New York; it is pleasantly situated, and contains 3 churches, and about 100 dwellings. This place possesses a convenient landing for steamboats and sloops."
"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
"Port Chester, 0.3 m. (34 alt.,23,074 pop.), . . . Its factories produce candy, ammonia, nuts and bolts, furnaces, coal and gas ranges, soft drinks, and cartons.
"The BUSH Homestead (open 9-4:30 Tues., Thurs., Sat.), Lyon Park overlooking King St., is a well-preserved Georgian Colonial house built shortly before the Revolution by Abraham Bush, a sea captain; it was the headquarters of General Israel Putnam, 1777-8. The original furniture has been preserved, including the bed and desk used by 'Old Put.'.
"The Samuel Brown Home, Browndale Place, built in 1774 on the site of an earlier homestead, has been altered several times, notably by the addition of a wing. The interior walls, doors, and floors are unchanged.
"The Brown Graveyard, at the rear of a vacant lot on Indian Road, a huddle of fallen tombstones among brambles, was the private burial ground of the Brown family from 1660 to 1900."
About Port Chester
Learn about attractions, things to do and places to see around the village of
Port Chester, If you're looking for something to do this weekend, take the children to one of several
parks in Port Chester. Port Chester parks offer many activities for children as well as adults. Kids can play at the playground; and on a hot summer day the kids will love the Water Spray Playground at Columbus Park. Columbus Park is 9.4-acres and is located east of Ryan Avenue, West of I-95 and North of Fox Island. Activities for kids includes a basketball court, two volleyball courts, and for younger children a large and a small play structure with small rock climbing wall. Columbus Park also offers a Water Spray Playground, open in the summer from 11 am to 7 pm.
If you enjoy antiquing, visit
antique stores in and around Port Chester. If you're looking for a good
movie in Port Chester, enjoy a night out at the movies; when its time to eat, select from one of the many excellent
Port Chester Restaurants.