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Here is a short excerpt from this reprint of the 1888 historic guide to the Hudson River and the communities along it shores.
About two miles above Mount St. Vincent, on the same side of the river, and seventeen miles from New York, is Yonkers, the first town of importance above the city. Yonkers is an old Dutch settlement, its name being derived from Yorkeer, which, according to Lossing, means young master, or lord, the common appellation for the heir of a Dutch family. Lands were purchased here from the Indians, by some of the Dutch West India Company, as early as the beginning of Peter Stuyvesant's administration of the affairs of New Netherland.
There was an Indian village here, named Nap-pe-cha-mak, signifying rapid water, and the name of Neperah, derived from this, was applied to the rapid little stream upon which the town is built, now, however, known by the prosaic appellation of Saw-Mill River.
Yonkers remained for many years nothing more than a slow and old-fashioned Dutch town, until the opening of the Hudson River Railway, some forty years ago, when suddenly it sprang into importance, and rapidly became a thriving suburb of the great metropolis. It is now chartered as a city. A very large proportion of its citizens are business-men of New York. It contains many handsome residences, from the grand villa down to the pretty cottage, with not a few imposing churches, and in all particulars is a first-rate specimen of a prosperous American semi-rustic town.
For the antiquary, there is one notable attraction, this being the Philipse Manor Hall, a spacious stone edifice, that once belonged to the lords of Philipse Manor. The older portion of this building was erected in 1682; the present front, forming an addition, was built in 1765.
The rooms are large and wainscoted, with lofty ceilings. The principal one has some elaborate ornamental work in high-relief. Some of the fireplaces are surrounded with borders of ancient Dutch tiles, and in the grounds there is a well, it is said, with a subterranean passage leading from it, nobody knows to where. It has been recently converted to municipal uses, the city offices being located within its walls.
The Manor House was built by Frederick Philipse, who came to New York at the time of Governor Stuyvesant; he secured to himself, by purchase of the Indians and grants from the government, all the hunting - grounds between Spoyten Duyvel and Croton River, and this vast estate was formally erected into a manor by royal charter, under the style and title of Manor Philipseburg. Two manor-houses were erected, one at Sleepy Hollow, and one upon the present site of Yonkers. Frederick Philipse, the third lord of the manor, endeavored to maintain a strict neutrality during the War of the Revolution, but he was suspected of favoring the royal cause, although Washington stayed several nights under his roof.
In 1779 the New York Legislature declared him attainted of treason, and confiscated the manor. He went to England in 1783, where two years later he died; and in 1784 the State offered the estate for sale in tracts to suit purchasers.
The first town above Yonkers is Hastings (twenty-one miles from New York); but the shore is here so thickly dotted with cottages and villas, that it is not easy to mark the end or note the beginning of a town or village. Hastings is historically noted as the place from which, during the Revolution, the army of Cornwallis, after the fall of Fort Washington, crossed the Hudson in order to attack Fort Lee. About a mile above Hastings is Dobb's Ferry, a town so named after one of its early settlers, who established a ferry here.
This 1888 guide to the valley is profusely illustrated with 60 b&w drawings. 52pp P $7.95
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Copyright © 1995 by Richard Frisbie -- All rights reserved.