Entry is an updated version of the first 3 sections of the book White Plains, New York: A City of Contrastsby Sandra Harrison published in 2013. Remaining updated versions of the book can be found under different titles listed at the end of this entry. Original Book (soft cover & e-book) is for sale at Lulu.com; other online venders. Facebook page for book under this title is also maintained by author and gives daily info:
CONTRASTS: Today, White Plains (WP), New York (NY) is a modern city best known for its shopping centers, courts & services. Visitors come for work, study & entertainment. A suburb of New York City, WP has an “urban” vibe offering services available to much larger cities.
In contrast, the City played an important part in the American Revolution when NY became an independent state; then a few months later the setting for a standoff between the American Continental Army & the British Empire. Had things not gone as they did, the American dream for independence might have been lost.
Throughout the city, one can still find remnants from earlier times. Many older structures have been repurposed converted into something completely different from their original use.
BEGINNINGS: During the early 17th century, WP was home to members of the Weckquaeskeck tribe of the Mohican Nation . Evidence shows settlements on Fisher Hill. Natives referred to the area as Quarropas, which has been translated to mean “white marches” or “plains of white.”
Perhaps the best explanation for the city’s name is that there were once numerous wetlands on which a heavy white mist would often linger. Even though many of these wetlands are gone, mists still hover over the city where the tops of skyscrapers disappear. There is another explanation concerning groves of white balsam but John Rösch dismissed this since there were no traces of the plant by 1874.
A number of old trails used by early inhabitants would become some of WP’s first roads. A number of streets still have Native American origins. Quarropas St is in the business district. Nosband, Shapham and Orawaupum Avenues were named after sachems (tribal chiefs). The name Kensico , which is used for a number of streets, comes from the English spelling of Chief Cockenseco.
In 1644, the British took control of the colony renaming it NY after James II, the Duke of York and Albany. The Dutch retook the area in 1673 but this only lasted till 1674 with the end of the Third Anglo-Dutch War. In 1683, NY was divided into 12 counties of which Westchester was one the Bronx was part of it. People who came to the county found an abundance of forests trees, wildlife, fertile lands and rocks that were readily available for trade, farming and building. Traders who came to the WP area called it “White Plains.”
Settlers came from all over Europe including Scandinavia, Germany, France and Belgium. Groups such as the French Huguenots and Jews came seeking freedom, while Africans were brought to the colony as slaves. Conflicts continued with Native Americans and often resulted in violence.
PURCHASE OF WP & COLONIAL TIMES: The Dutch, who came to N America following Henry Hudson’s explorations of 1609, set up trading posts, towns and forts along the Hudson River as far north as Albany (pictured mural from Yonkers building now torn down). The colony of New Netherland was established with New Amsterdam as its center. Due to the high demand for furs back in Europe, the colony flourished.
On November 22, 1683, a group of Puritans from Rye bought 4,435 acres of land from the Weckquaeskeck and Siwanoy people. The sale took place alongside a lake in the area where The Westchester Mall is now located. On the day of the purchase, WP was considered part of CT. Six days later, though , after a boundary settlement, WP became a part of NY. A drawing by John Rösch illustrating the purchase can be found at City Hall in the Clerk’s Office (pictured above). The library has a photograph in their digital collection that one can access that shows the rocks depicted in the drawing.
Soon after the purchase, John Richbell of Mamaroneck made a claim to the land. WP was part of a much larger purchase he made in 1661. John Richbell sent surveyors to the area but they were driven off. After Richbell’s death in 1684, his claim was sold to Colonel Caleb Heathcoat of Scarsdale but he too failed to reclaim the land before his death in 1706. The settlers petitioned the Governor to grant them a royal patent that would give them the rights to the land but it was not till 1721 that a royal decree was made. The city, though, did not forget John Richbell naming a street after him.
The settlers came from Rye by way of an Indian trail. This road appears on early maps as the “Road to Rye,” but in 1708 it was called “Queen’s Highway” named for Queen Anne. Today, it is known as North St. During colonial times, WP remained a village in the Town of Rye.
By 1697, the Village of WP was centered along another Indian trail where N & S Broadway are today. By 1734, it was referred to as “The Village Street.” Open space called “the Commons” was designated residential use. The commons became the center of Broadway and then Broadway Park. In 1898, Charles Tibbits, a community member, founded WP Village Park Association to improve the park that would later be renamed in his honor.
Running through the park, the Heritage trail with red & blue markers (pictured just left) was created by the WP Monument Committee established in 1958; is now sponsored by the WP Historical Society. It is linked to Google maps at whiteplainshistory.org. An original map of the trail that includes different areas can be found on the Town of Harrison’s website (harrison-ny.gov). Monuments in the park include the Civil War, WWI and Christopher Columbus monuments (pictured below from left to right).
In 2009, the routes used by Generals George Washington & Jean-Baptiste Donation de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (of France) during the later part of the Revolution were designated as a National Historic Trail. In 2016 makers were placed in Tibbits Park marking the route that comes through WP. Information about this trail can be found at the website nps.gov/warp/index.htm. Markers like these can be found elsewhere in the area.
Other updated sections from the book can be found under the following entries for: WP and the American Revolution and War Remembrances from the Battle of WP, Westchester County Seat and Government, Waterways in White Plains, WP’s 1st Village St, WP Older Houses, Historic Traces in WP BD, Houses of Worship, WP Schools History, Buried in WP, WP Quarry & Farms, WP Historic Businesses & Organizations, Memorials in WP & WP Hospitals. Sources for book are listed in a separate entry Sources for Further Study of WP.
Other entries about WP (not found in the book) can be found on this website are: Demographics in White Plains, What’s in a Name: The Bar Building, Battle of WP video, Art in WP, The Arts in White Plains: Past and Present, Seeking History One Foot at a time: WP’s Walking Tours, Where is the Mamaroneck River in WP, What’s in a name? Bloomingdale Rd vs Bloomingdale’s, Presidents in WP, Martine Ave, Coloring for Adults: WP Photos, WP Neighborhoods, Origin of Names of Places in WP, Transportation in WP, How Well Do You Know WP?, Parking in WP, and Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail as well as many others.
When we presented the photo that Marianne DeAngelis of the New York Guard sent us of a mystery racing machine helmed by Private Lewis van Alstyne and his dog Viola, much of the speculation of the identity of the car circled around Fiat or, possibly, Thomas. Yet David Greenlees is very sure neither of those answers is correct; instead, he’s almost positive that the car in question is a G.J.G. More specifically, he believes it to be a one-off racing machine built by G.J.G., and – get this – he thinks it still exists. G.J.G., for those of you without access to a Standard Catalog, stands for George Jacob Grossman, designer of the vehicle, built in White Plains, New York.
Grossman appears to have come from a well-to-do family: His father owned a successful furniture manufacturing business, and the family bankrolled the innovative construction of the factory as well as the company itself with a combined capital of $10,000 (about $241,000 today). Starting in 1909, Grossman offered two basic lines, the 26hp Junior, riding on a 104-inch wheelbase, and the 42hp Senior, riding on a 121-inch wheelbase and bestowed with dashing names like Pirate, Scout, Comfort and Carryall. Some sources claim the G.J.G. was nothing more than an assembled car, built from European components, but the Senior was reportedly able to reach speeds of 65 MPH, causing some observers to claim the initials stood for “Go, Jesus, Go!” Grossman was involved in racing: He offered his garage as the headquarters for the Isotta Fraschini team in the Briarcliff Race of 1908, and he is known to have built at least one race car himself, using a 60hp Wisconsin T-head engine and Brown and Lipe transmission on a Pirate roadster chassis. After G.J.G. advertised it as capable of at least 70 MPH, Paul G. Thebaud of White Plains bought it and entered it in the 10-mile non-stock free-for-all race against three Mercers, a Maxwell and a Fiat in the October 1912 automobile, motorcycle and bicycle races at the White Plains fairgrounds; we so far have found no record of how well Thebaud performed in that race.
According to subsequent owners of the car, it at one point threw a rod through the crankcase, then was hit broadside, but repaired both times. At one point, it was owned by Frank Snook, then later by W.W. Bogardus, until he sold it to Tony LaPorta in 1955. LaPorta advertised it in Hemmings in 1991 (asking $70,000), but held on to it until 1995, when he sold it to Fred Hoch of Schaeffer and Long, the current owner of the car, who supplied us with much of this information and many of these photos.When exactly Lewis van Alstyne owned it, we don’t know. We do know that he was born in 1893 in Kinderhook, New York, served in World War I (which fits with his service in the New York Guard), attended the Massachusetts State College and became renowned for his landscape artistry before dying in 1951.
As for the G.J.G. factory, when the Grossman family opened it as the Mammoth Garage in 1908, not far from the intersection of Post Road and Mamaroneck Avenue, it garnered quite a bit of press for a couple reasons. One, it was allegedly the largest garage in the world, thanks to a new construction technique which involved concrete beams spanning the 80-foot width of the garage and which allowed for a completely pillarless floorplan (depth of the garage measured 250 feet). Two, the façade of the garage featured three tusked mammoth heads made of plaster, each two to three feet tall and fitted with orange light bulbs that glowed at night.
In 1913, Grossman found himself defending himself against a tire company’s lawsuit over the design of the car’s inverted triangle logo; while he won the lawsuit, he soon after told the press he intended to manufacture his cars elsewhere, but then sometime before the end of 1913 closed up shop for good.
According to Renoda Hoffman’s book on White Plains history, “Yesterday in White Plains: A Picture History of a Vanished Era,” the building later housed (sans the mammoth heads) the White Plains branch of the Uppercut Cadillac chain of dealerships, the largest Cadillac distributor on the East Coast. By the late 1930s, the building housed an Oldsmobile dealership. Hemmings Muscle Machines editor Terry McGean, who grew up in White Plains, said he recalls the building housing a drugstore when he grew up, a memory that Hoffman confirms, and today, its façade much altered, it appears to house a dollar store and a billiards hall.
Was the private’s car a G.J.G.? The shape of the radiator on the G.J.G. speedster seems slightly different, but is the closest shape we’ve seen to the shape of the radiator on the private’s car. The frame, however, appears to be a perfect match (see the four rivets?), as do the gas tank and shock absorbers. Plus, I’m not in the habit of doubting David Greenlees’s expertise in such matters.”
Do you remember ever climbing to the top of a tower? I have done so many times but mostly when I was younger. I was less scared of heights back then. I have no trouble on top of mountains or cliffs cause they are naturally made. Do not trust man made towers or bridges as much.
Remember going up the Washington Monument in Washington DC where I believe we walked down after going up in elevator. Climbed the Statue of Liberty as a young child and then when in college. Climbed fire towers at Gettysburg with father and in some woods in Pound Ridge, NY.
I remember going up Bunker Hill monument after doing the Freedom trail. It took me 20 min to cross the center of Charles River where the street opened to a metal see through grate. I was scared out of my life. Reminded me of Brooklyn Bridge where the rushing traffic made the old planks harder to cross (planks were replaced).
Walked across Hudson at Poughkeepsie and actually the cement paved former rail track was not scary at all. But once crossed an old rail track in the snow on a hike and I was scared out of my mind.
I have driven over bridges but when I was doing the driving, it was not such a great experience. Like over the Golden Gate, the former Tappan Zee bridge in NY in high winds and driving CJ Jeep and other bridge crossings for Hudson (Bear Mountain, Rip Van Winkle) but most scary ones were those going to Newport RI and once during a gale storm. I was like the only one on bridge driving into the wind and actually stopped and kissed the ground after getting over the 2nd. The winds were like over 40 mi an hour with pelting rain. It was worth the trip since Newport was a great place to visit
Crossed a lot of bridges in my trips to London and Paris. There are lots of them. Tower of London Bridge had a tower in the center area to climb or use the elevator to then cross on top. I even crossed that bridge with locks that fell into river in Paris so they had to remove the locks.
Travelled south on 95 a number of times and lots of bridges to cross on the way south to Virginia, Georgia, Asheville NC, South Carolina, Savanah, Charleston, Outer Banks, and many others. Lots of bridges to and from and on Long Island.
A few bridges for pedestrians in Israel into old City of Jerusalem. Those were not a problem cause many had stone. Went from Mamilla Mall to Jaffa Gate. Polished stones in old city were very hard to walk on. I had a cane.
Lots of bridges going 95 to Stamford, Mystic, and Norwalk. In 1983, my fears about bridges man made were confirmed. A 100 ft section on Interstate 95 bridge crossing Mianus River in Greenwich, CT, collapsed. I recently crossed this bridge and every time I do, I remember this collapse.
Great Towns where one can walk a nice Main Street or Business District. Some are close to White Plains and others are worth a trip but farther away.
Hartsdale has a nice area of stores and restaurants near the railroad station.
Scarsdale has a nice area near train to shop and go to a restaurant.
Bronxville has a nice street by the train station where there are shops and restaurants as well as a movie theater.
Purchase Street in Rye City is a favorite street for browsing and dining. Train is there but on New Haven line. I get my car serviced in Rye so I usually walk the street when I go. Some shops moved during pandemic like Patisserie Salzburg of Rye and the Arcade Booksellers.
Katonah, NY is a nice place to visit for a few hours or for a day with lots of small shops worth going into and plenty of restaurants. Parking is free. One can also take the train from White Plains and walk around. There is the museum near by.
Bedford Hills along 22 is a mixture of old and newer structures. Court House is original for 1787. Shops and restaurants worth stopping for. If you search there is the Post Rd marker in a grassy area and an old school house. White Plains and Bedford shared the county seat for about 80 years after the Revolution and Bedford had a bigger population.
Cold Springs, NY is a collectible or antique delight. It has a hill with shops/restaurants and an area by the Hudson. Restaurant by the tracks is my favorite.
Saratoga Springs not just a horse town but has state parks that you can take a bath, museums, concerts and great old homes.
Greenwich Ave, Greenwich, CT is a great two blocks or more of shops and restaurants. Check out the side streets.
Don’t know when exactly but fell in love with Lighthouses as a teenager. And, don’t remember which one I saw first or climbed first. I have since my teen years visited or viewed lighthouses. Perhaps, it is why I fell in love with Edward Hopper’s paintings. He painted a lot of lighthouses.
Perhaps, it is the light itself at the top with all the mirrors or a romantic notion about bringing sailors home from out at sea has attracted me but often a lighthouse lets you know that the shore is there. The in turn the lighthouses give me hope like the beacon of light they send off.
Lighthouses I have visited include:
Block Island Lighthouses visited but only from outside. Remember a lot of birds at the South Light. I went out of season in April many decades ago when a snow storm hit the East Coast and closed the Ferry for a number of days. It could have been the April Fools Blizzard of 1997. I remember walking along the coast line where the lighthouse stood and ice was spitting at me from the sea. I remember though a fence around the perimeter so I could not get close.
Only viewed lighthouse from the New Jersey side of the bridge when I used to walk the trail below the Palisades. Shore path walked was from Alping NY to just below the Bridge.
Point Reyes Lighthouse was the most thrilling and for me the most dangerous climb to one with all those steps going down toward Pacific Ocean. The wind was so strong. I did explore the inside as well.
I hated the old bathroom I have especially with the old tooth brushes and soap dispenser above the sink. I took a piece of wood and put across so I have a shelf instead. Using a jar from yogurt container for tooth brush.
Recent visit to Gardening center in Bedford had some nice things among the plants. Love the head in the garden and other things. Water
Ice Cream Social a new ice cream shop is trending on Face Book (FB) and with Westchester Magazine. The store is at a former gas station that was featured in an old add for the Chinese Restaurant that is still across the street. Then it became a flower shop. They have parking but locale is a bit off from rest of Downtown. I would get teens to push ice cream into Downtown or get a truck to bring ice cream to Farmer’s Market and other parts of City but there are other places in WP to get ice cream.
At one time there were more ice cream shops but many closed like Carvel, Basket and Robbins and Häagen-Dazs on Mamaroneck Ave. I was a frequent user of those shops and ice cream shop at City Center Cold Stone Creamery. Then we had the frozen yogurt shops that are mostly closed.
Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt Shops in White Plains:
Cold Stone Creamery at City Center on Mamaroneck Ave.
Ice Cream Social on Mamaroneck Ave.
Haagen-Dazs at The Westchester
Restaurants often serve deserts with ice cream/frozen yogurt choices:
T-swirl Crepe 151 Mamaroneck
Ice cream is still available at the grocery shops in White Plains and some smaller shops.
“Ralph Waite Birth: 22 Jun 1928 White Plains, Westchester County, New York, USA Death: 13 Feb 2014 (aged 85) Palm Desert, Riverside County, California, USA Burial: White Plains Rural Cemetery, White Plains, Westchester County, New York, USA Plot: Section 7, Lot 911-A Memorial #: 125110563 Bio: Actor. He will be best remembered for playing ‘John Walton’, patriarch of the family in the TV series “The Waltons” (1972 to 1981). Following high school, he served with the United States Marine Corps shortly after World War II. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Bucknell University and later attended Yale’s Divinity School which resulted in his being ordained a Presbyterian minister. He landed a position as a religious editor for the publisher Harper and Row and took an interest in liberal politics. Acting also became an important part in Waite’s life and after experiencing a role in the off-Broadway play “The Balcony” in 1960, he marked his Broadway debut in the production of “Marathon 33” (1963 to 1964). His break in motion pictures happened when he was cast for the part of Alibi in the Paul Newman vehicle “Cool Hand Luke” (1967). Although his career in entertainment was now ascending, his personal issues mounted. He had for a period struggled with alcohol abuse and in 1969, he lost his nine-year old daughter to leukemia. In 1970, he appeared opposite Jack Nicholson in “Five Easy Pieces”. In 1977, he received an Emmy Award nomination for the mini-series “Roots” and in 1978, he earned an Emmy Award nomination for “The Waltons”. He went on to star in the TV series “The Mississippi” (1984) and was a cast member in “Carnivale” (2003 to 2005) and the soap opera “The Days of Our Lives” (2009 to 2013). From 2008 until 2013, he had a recurring role as ‘Jackson Gibbs’ in the TV series “NCIS”. Family Members Parents Ralph Harold Waite 1905-1955 Esther Mitchell Waite 1906-1951 Siblings Joan M Waite Hanlon 1929-1979 Donald M. Waite 1939-1998 Children Sharon Barbara Waite 1955-1964 Maintained by: Find a Grave Originally Created by: C.S. (46798780) Added: 13 Feb 2014 URL: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/125110563/ralph-waite Citation: Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/125110563/ralph-waite : accessed 05 August 2021), memorial page for Ralph Waite (22 Jun 1928–13 Feb 2014), Find a Grave Memorial ID 125110563, citing White Plains Rural Cemetery, White Plains, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .”