Croton-on-Hudson Village

Town of Cortlandt
Westchester County, NY


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Village of Croton-on-Hudson
Westchester County
Hudson Valley

Croton-on-Hudson is one of two incorporated villages in the Town of Cortlandt. The Town of Cortlandt is located in the northwestern corner of Westchester County, New York. Cortlandt includes the villages of Croton-on-Hudson and Buchanan, the CDPs of Crugers and Verplanck and the hamlets (communities) of Montrose and Cortlandt Manor. It also includes Lake Peekskill and a section of Mohegan Lake. The rural character of the town is defined by the Hudson River, New York City Watershed Lands, numerous wooded hills and steep slopes, wetland areas and beautiful streams.

The Village of Croton-on-Hudson located in the northern part of Westchester County runs along eight miles of Hudson River shoreline. Situated at the confluence of the Croton and Hudson Rivers, the topography of the Village affords dramatic views of Haverstraw Bay and the Croton River Gorge. Beautiful vistas, riverfront parks and extensive wooded areas characterize this picturesque and historic Village.

History of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson
Croton-on-Hudson was formally incorporated as a village in the Town of Cortlandt in 1898. Croton-on-Hudsonís colonial-era history dates back to the 17th century and archaeological evidence indicates that it was populated by Native American Indians as early as 4950 BC. The Kitchawanc tribe, part of the Wappinger Confederacy of the Algonquin Nation, was native to the area. The Kitchawanc called the marsh separating Croton Point from Croton Neck "Senasqua," a name later used for the park further north. Croton itself is believed to be named for the Indian chief of the Kitchawanc tribe, Kenoten, which means "wild wind." A plaque on a rock at Croton Point Park marks the spot where a peace treaty was signed in 1645 between the Dutch and the Kitchawanc.

More Dutch arrived in the following decades, at first to trade and then, by the 1660s, to settle the area. In 1677, Stephanus Van Cortlandt, who later became the first native-born mayor of New York City, began acquiring land to create a manor and in 1697, a Royal Patent was issued designating the estate as the Manor of Cortlandt. The Village of Croton-on-Hudson thus evolved as an enclave of the Van Cortlandt Manor. Originally known as Croton Landing, its early Dutch residents were involved with agriculture and trade.

By the 19th century, farming, shipping, ship-building and flour and brick manufacturing had become the predominant industries, along with work on the railroad and construction of the Croton and New Croton Dams and the New Croton Aqueduct. These major public works projects in the 19th century, the railroad, the dams and the aqueduct, played a pivotal role in shaping Croton-on-Hudsonís demographic development and cemented its importance in the region. The construction of these projects brought an influx of German, Irish and Italian immigrants, who came to work and then settled with their families in the area. The influx of immigrants significantly increased the population of the Village and the surrounding areas so that by the time of its incorporation in 1898, the Villageís population had grown to 1,000 and to over 1,700 in the early 1900s.

The advent of the railroad had a large impact on the growth of Croton-on-Hudson and served as an economic engine for Northern Westchester. Construction of a rail line to Poughkeepsie via Croton-on-Hudson began in 1846, when Poughkeepsie merchants advocated for an improved link to their city from New York City. In 1903, electric trains began operating out of the old Grand Central Terminal and construction began on a steam terminal at Croton Point where trains would switch over from electric to steam power to continue north past Croton-on-Hudson.

Most of the land acquired for the engine terminal was purchased from Clifford Harmon, a real estate developer, who took title to the Van Cortlandt family farm when electrification plans were announced in 1903. He stipulated in the deed to the property to NY Central Railroad that the station on Croton Point must always bear his name, hence the Croton-Harmon Station. The terminal for steam locomotives was completed in 1913, heralding a new era for Croton-on-Hudson as a railroad town. Since the New York Central rail line stopped in Harmon to change engines, it became a destination point for metropolitan area travelers. A shopping district developed around the railroad, creating a railroad village that became a focal point and source of employment in Northern Westchester.

Construction began on the Croton Dam in 1837 after several water crises in New York City made clear the need for a steady supply of potable water. The project provided many jobs for Irish immigrants who had emigrated to escape the potato famines and it is estimated that at one point 10,000 laborers were working on the project. The New Croton Aqueduct was completed in 1890 and the New Croton Dam, designed to meet the ever-increasing demands for fresh water from New York City, was completed in 1907 after 15 years of Construction.

In 1932, two separate communities, Mount Airy and Harmon, were incorporated into the Village. Each area had a distinct identity that contributed to the cultural richness of the Croton-on-Hudson community. Mount Airy had remained a Quaker enclave into the 1800s but evolved in the early 1900s into a summer colony that attracted many Greenwich Village artists and writers. Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and actress Gloria Swanson both resided in Croton-on-Hudson, and Elizabeth Duncan, sister of Isadora Duncan, founded a dance school there. Many noted members of the American Communist party lived and organized there as well. The area continued to attract writers and artists through the mid-1900s.

Harmon was founded in 1903 by Clifford Harmon with the goal of developing a rural enclave for artists, writers and musicians. The developer constructed a playhouse on Truesdale Drive, where ballets and concerts were performed, and also the Nikko Inn, which became a fashionable place for stage and government notables. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks both lived in Harmon as did writers, journalists, teachers and college professors. By the 1920s, as the railroad expanded its services, Harmon had become a residential neighborhood for railroad workers and commuters to New York City.

About Croton-on-Hudson
Find outdoor activities, attractions, things to do and places to go, in or near Croton-on-Hudson. Visit parks in Croton-on-Hudson. Many golfers find golfing in Westchester's premier golf courses to be amongst the best in the country. Play golf at a golf course in Westchester. Hudson National Golf Club opened in June of 1996 and quickly forged a national reputation around its traditional design, supreme conditioning, and spectacular Hudson River views.

Visit the antique shops in Croton-on-Hudson. Also shop for antiques in Buchanan, or other towns in the north western part of Westchester County. Select from a wide range of outdoor activities in Croton, one of the River Towns of Westchester County. Go fishing in Croton-on-Hudson, or enjoy a day of biking in Croton. Children love picnics, take the kids on a picnic at a Croton-on-Hudson park. Bring the whole family to this park and explore the wine cellars or take the children on a nature walk at Croton Point Park, a 508 acre park situated on a peninsula on the east shore of the Hudson River. This park offers year-round events and activities, including camping, hiking, and swimming. Croton Point Park is also the home of wine cellars, thought to be the oldest in New York State.

If you live in Manhattan or are planning a visit to New York City, plan a day-trip to the Hudson River Valley. Take the train from Grand Central to Croton-on-Hudson. Go to Grand Central Station and take the MTA Metro-North Railroad to the Croton-on-Hudson Station located at 4 Veterans Plaza (cross street is Croton Point Ave.) Croton-on-Hudson, NY, 10520-3054. The Croton-on-Hudson Station is only 33.2 miles from Grand Central Terminal.

Source: Town of Cortlandt

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