Seeking History One Foot At A Time: White Plains’ Walking tours

At Colonial Day June 18, 2016 in Tibbits Park, City Clerk’s Office gave out two walking tours to explore the past:

My walking tour from a number of years ago. Park at NWP (free on weekends) and walk South to Parkway walking path, go under tracks at tunnel, head East to N Broadway looking for Heritage trail markers, go into WP Royal Cemetery, then go back to road, go down Westview to see Miller Home (blue by 287, go back to N Broadway, stop at church, on to Tibbits, on to Armory on Mitchell, see Mitchell House on Mitchell Pl, go back to Westchester Mall going in or around to Hospital on Bloomingdale. Go back on Westchester Ave to N Broadway to Good Council, and back to car. :

Heritage Trail is available through White Plains Historic Society and for Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Trail a National Park Trail has its own website. Markers are in WP are in Tibbits Park. More info can be found in other entries of this website.

“Gilbert Cannan and His Mill” by Mark Gertler

Saw “Finding Netherlands” musical on Broadway and there was a scene with a merry go round and all I could think was that’s Mark Gertler’s painting. Women had hats with the flat tops just like in painting. There are videos you might access for “Circus of Your Mind” from play.

J.M. Barrie (the character in “Finding Netherlands” that the play is based on is related to Mark Gertler by way of Gilbert Cannan.  Porthos, Barrie’s dog, is portrayed in the painting of Gilbert Cannan and his Mill. Cannan and Barrie were acquainted.

The song number of “Circus of Your Mind” had a part that was just like the “Merry Go Round” painting of Gertler where actors used poles surrounding Barrie in the play.

My reference in my play of going   “round and round” I found in article I found online:

My Daily Art Display today is all about the artist and the person who is the subject of the painting.  The artist who painted today’s featured painting was Mark Gertler and the painting which he co…

Source: Gilbert Cannan and his Mill by Mark Gertler

Where is the Mamaroneck River in White Plains?

Came across this article from  New York Times August 14, 1988: “Wanted: A Watchman Of the Waterways” written by  William G. Lawyer who at the time was the executive director of the Greenburgh Nature Center. Keep in mind that it was written long before  the extensive flooding of Hurricane Irene in 2011. It is hard to find information about the River and other sources do not refer to the east branch as the section that is north-east of Saxon Woods but rather a branch that is further Northeast going into Purchase.

WHEN the first European settlers arrived in lower Westchester in the 17th century, they had to have been impressed with the opportunities they found. Among the region’s hills and valleys was a network of waterways that could provide bountiful hunting grounds for fur-bearing animals, and countless sources of water power to develop the agricultural and lumbering needs of the European colonial economies.

To be sure, none of the interior waterways of lower Westchester matched the mighty Hudson in terms of its breadth and volume. And calling such tributaries as the Saw Mill, Bronx, Hutchinson and Mamaroneck rivers was really stretching a point – where I grew up in southern Pennsylvania we called bodies of water much larger than the Bronx River creeks.

Nevertheless, Westchester’s bodies of water were quickly put to use for mills, reservoirs and waste disposal. The waterways provided the template for the patterns of human development up through the early 20th century. Roads and development followed streambeds geography.

As I traverse the roadways of lower Westchester in the 1980’s, however, I feel that the days when waterways were treasured are over. Now they are more likely to be seen as nuisances to be hidden away, to make room for more highways, more housing and more office-park projects.

A look at the Mamaroneck River – Westchester’s largest watershed system emptying into Long Island Sound – provides a good example of how early development was dependent upon the coexistence with the watershed. And how we are now in the process of ”disappearing” it.

The Mamaroneck River’s numerous branches drain an area of more than 21 square miles, from upper New Rochelle and northern Purchase to the Sound at Mamaroneck Harbor. Its main tributaries are the Sheldrake River, and the East and West Branches of the Mamaroneck, which join together at Saxon Woods.

The Sheldrake begins in the highlands by the Scarsdale-White Plains border, where Garden Road becomes Hartsdale Avenue. From there it flows south through the Fenway Golf Club, by Scarsdale Junior High School, Heathcote, Carpenter Pond, the Hutchinson Parkway, Pine Brook Boulevard, Sheldrake Lake, Weaver Street, I-95, Washingtonville, then joins with the main branch in Columbus Park by the train station.

The West Branch begins near Ridgeway, by Seeger Drive, then flows along Saxon Woods Road until it meets the East Branch. The latter has several smaller tributaries, originating at the Westchester Hills Country Club, Manhattanville College, the Century Country Club and the highlands between the White Plains Reservoir and Rye Lake. The main section is from Silver Lake, along I-287 to the Hutchinson Parkway, through the Maple Moor Golf Course, then along the ”Hutch” to where it joins the West Branch.

In earlier times at least 12 mills were established along the river’s course – starting with one just a few hundred yards in from the harbor that was powered by the changing tides. Carpenter Pond on the Sheldrake, in New Rochelle, and Silver Lake, on the East Branch in White Plains/Harrison, were two of the most prominent mill sites and lasted until late in the 19th century.

Ponds were also created for fishing, ice-making and recreational purposes. Ten golf courses – from the Brae Burn to the Winged Foot – were developed in the 20th century, using portions of the watershed for their attractive obstacle-course system. The county’s Saxon Woods Park, and the campus sites of New York Hospital and Manhattanville College incorporated watershed streams as part of their landscape design.

Although it now seems hard to believe, in earlier times the Mamaroneck River was very important in providing water for drinking and commercial uses. Two reservoirs were constructed along the Shelldrake, and the Mamaroneck Reservoir was established along the main river near lower Saxon Woods.

Finally, the watershed provided an attractive setting for residential sites. From the elegant mansions of the 19th century in Purchase and White Plains to the charming, more modest homes near the Mamaroneck Reservoir, homeowners took advantage of the gently flowing stream to enhance the beauty of their property.

In the late 19th century it became apparent that the use of the Mamaroneck River for both drinking water and as a receptacle for sewage was inappropriate. So the sanitary sewage system was developed. Pollution problems continued, but at least the values of the water to human needs were being asserted.

By the mid-20th century, all these valuable uses of the Mamaroneck Now a watershed is likely to be seen as a nuisance. River basin were on the way out. Water power was a thing of the past, and only a few foundation stones remind us of the waterway’s mills. The river’s use as a source of drinking water was phased out, with the reservoir waterworks being converted to pumping stations for New York City’s Catskill water system.

Ponds were drained to provide more land for housing. Riverbeds had been squeezed into ever-smaller channels along the ever-widening roadways – the Hutchinson Parkway, the Cross Westchester Expressway and the New England Thruway.

Although the river was never navigable, at least in earlier times it was possible to walk along its main branches, enjoying the flora and fauna. Now one has to negotiate highways, culverts and storm sewers even to follow its course. Just finding it on a map can be difficult, because it goes underground in so many places to accommodate development.

I dare anyone to walk from Silver Lake to North Street along the river without suffering at least a moderate degree of stress from the high-speed automotive mayhem of I-287, I-684 and the ”Hutch.”

After leaving the parkland of Silver Lake and Delfino Park, the river has been relegated to the ”no man’s land” between interstate highways and Westchester Avenue eastbound. Instead of paths and scenic views, the riverbed is walled in by relocated rocks, cement channels and thick growths of the various species of hardy weed plants, shrubs and trees that have been able to adapt to such a hostile setting. Poison Ivy is, of course, plentiful, as is the debris of modern life.

As a result of all the upstream disruptions to the river’s ability to absorb rainfall, and uncontrolled development of the flood-plain areas, downstream flooding has caused extensive property damage. Now the Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a $60 million project to build an underground channel to take the Sheldrake directly to the Sound and to realign the main channel from Columbus Park to the harbor. Such a solution does nothing to help restore the river’s ecological value.

Of course, all has not yet been lost. The river still has more tranquil settings, such as when it flows through part of the Maple Moor golf course, along Saxon Woods Road and between the Mamaroneck Reservoir and I-95. And a major positive step was taken when the Larchmont Reservoir along the Sheldrake branch was set aside as a nature-study area. Some efforts were taken in the widening of the Hutch to restore the riverbed to a more natural format.

What worries me is that, in the planning process that determines whether roads are widened and office buildings or homes are built, no one seems to consider the importance of protecting the waterway’s integrity. By this I mean its integrity as a functioning part of the region’s ecosystem – providing for the needs of the wildlife. These include service as a spawning ground for fish, reptiles and amphibians; a source of food and shelter for all the other animals native to this area; and a resource to help provide for the human needs of food, water and recreation. How can we put a value on the impact that widening I-287 or the Hutch will have on the Mamaroneck River?

A good example of this is the current problem concerning ”Larchmont Gardens Lake,” a man-made pond on a Sheldrake branch of the river in the Town of Mamaroneck. When town officials went to dredge the pond, they learned that the sediments contained unsafe levels of hydrocarbons. Now it appears it will cost about $500,000 to transport the dredged materials to a site licensed for ”industrial waste.” The source of these? The State Department of Environmental Conservation said they probably came from nearby I-95. The pond is one of the watershed’s most scenic and accessible sites.

Several years ago, when we were suffering from the kind of drought conditions now widespread in the Middle West, we had to resort to drawing water from the Hudson – a reminder of the importance of our local resources.

Perhaps what is needed is the equivalent of the Hudson River’s Riverkeeper – a watchdog position supported by nonprofit interests. Maybe each interior river doesn’t warrant its own keeper, but at least there could be one to watch over the largest in lower Westchester – the Mamaroneck, Bronx, Saw Mill and Hutchinson. No one is regularly monitoring water quality, herbicide and pesticide runoff or illegal dumping. Just recently there have been several incidents of large fish kills, attributed to low oxygen levels.

While the government ”studies” the problems of the Sound and its tributaries, development and streambed degradation continue apace. We teach our children about nature and ecology, but we don’t apply these concepts to the very things that are going on right in our backyards. How can we save the earth if we lose the Mamaroneck River?

What I can determine about the Mamaroneck River from the few sources I have found is that its watershed covers over 17 sq. miles. In White Plains, it covers most of the City. It covers the eastern side in the north but all of the southern half. The Bronx River has a smaller watershed and this is in the  northwest part but the watersheds overlap. The two watersheds overlap.

The river begins in wetlands north of Silver Lake in West Harrison. The river was dammed to create the lake known today as Silver Lake around 1721. As the river goes south much of the water is in underground pipes. There are some tributaries that branch off and into the river.  An  eastern branch comes into river from areas in Purchase. The river also served as a boundary between West Harrison and Purchase. The Expressway Cross Westchester 287 goes along the river boundary  area. A stream comes into river at Maple Moor Golf Course and water comes down into the area north from Gedney Farms Neighborhood where two golf courses were created. One golf course north of Ridgeway was purchased and the owners want to develop land into a school. The opposition to the school from the City and community has put the project in limbo for over five years.

The West Branch starts in wetlands behind Archbishop Stepinac High School extends down through neighborhoods south above and below ground into Saxon Woods as it meets the main part of the river. This tributary served as a boundary line  in 1721 Royal Patent. The river is northeast of Mamaroneck and and can be viewed above ground at different

Presidents in White Plains

Presidents  are honored in White Plains (WP) by the naming many of its streets after them.

Besides the street named for him, our first President had a school named for him.   There is a George Street but there are others that this street was named after. Developers often gave names to streets with the approval of the City.

Some of the streets named after our Presidents are Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Grant, McKinley, Harding and Coolidge Avenues, Fillmore Place and Cleveland St.

City has a Clinton Drive and Street but this naming came long before President Bill Clinton was in office.

Some Presidents have come to WP and many Presidental candidates have n included a stop in WP.

Martine Ave of White Plains

The Martine Family had a large homestead that was in the area  between what is now East Post Road and Martine Avenue across from the Coachman on East Post Rd.

William Martine (b.1796) is listed in the 1880 census as still living in White Plains at age 84 as a widow. He was married to Fanny Van Wart (1793-1824) who was a descendant of the Isaac Van Wart family. Isaac Van Wart was one of the captors of Major Andre.

Stephen A. Marine in 1868 donated land for creation of the street that still bares his name.  Stephen died in 1871. His widow remarried but died 6 years later (aged 39) from food poisoning in anti fat medicine.  The home was then used by the Keeley Institute from about 1871 to about 1900 till it moved to a  bigger building on Maple. Keeley Institute was established to help Alcoholics.

The Family Homestead was moved to its present location at 149 Grand Avenue during the early 1900’s. Today the building is a commercial building for various businesses. Below is from Weichert Rental Network’s website:

martine homestead

Color Me White Plains

Feel free to print and then color in.

White Plains Battle Flag
Presbyterian Church
Tibbits Park
Former Mitchell House
Former Bus Depot
Mamaroneck River
Presbyterian Church
Anthony Miller House
Tibbits Park
Mural of Hudson Meeting Natives
White Plains Rural Cemetery
View from Broadway
Civil War Monument
Reflection of Armory in Westchester One

Where Are You From? Ancestry 101

Census 2010 identifying 6 racial groups in US (White, Black or Afro American, Asian, Hawaiian and other).

Census results again put German (45+ million) as the top ancestry group that US residents identify with followed by Irish (33+million), English (24+million), American (21+million) or those self identifying as American (Native American, African and/or European Ancestry),  Italian (17+million), Polish (9+million);French (8+million) as the top groups. Hispanic/Latino Groups are calculated separately and have mixed ancestry and races but Mexicans comprise the largest numbers of over 31 million.

A visit to  the Census website is an eye opener.

Demographics of White Plains is different than that of nation, upstate NY and even Westchester County. The demographic breakdown of the school district in White Plains is also different than that of the City.

Coloring for Adults – White Plains Photos

Westchester County Center Parking Lot Marsh


Found this article about the 1%:

Barron’s Penta Daily     May 7, 2012, 12:18 A.M. ET

Who Are the One Percent?

By Richard C. Morais

“If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

Those searing words of Shylock in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice haunt me as I read the explosive report sitting in my lap. On Wednesday the Harrison Group and American Express Publishing releases their 2012 Survey of Affluence and Wealth in America at the American Express Publishing Luxury Summit unfolding at the Breakers in Palm Beach. Penta was given an exclusive look at the survey in advance. It’s a sobering document.

While the report studies all affluent earning more than $100,000 year, I am only going to zero in on the section of the report dealing exclusively with the top 1%, 390 of the 1,268 surveyed that had more than $450,000 in annual income. Here, first, their definition of the One Percent: they have median annual household income of $750,000, median assets of $7.5 million, and there are 1.2 million of them across the country.

Let’s put that annual income level in perspective. The presidents of august educational institutions like Mountain State University of West Virginia and Chapman University of California make $1.8 million and $1.5 million a year respectively. So it’s important the public realize the much-derided 1% is a rich group, yes, but they are nowhere near the 400 über-rich, the Larry Ellisons and Donald Trumps that make up the wealth mythology floridly living in our imagination.

In actual fact, the 1% look a lot more like “regular folk” than most of us really realize. According to the survey:

– 67% grew up in a middle class or poorer household. – 85% made their wealth in their lifetime. – 76% describe themselves as “Middle Class” at heart. – 3% is the sum total of their assets that they inherited.

“This is the triumph of the Middle Class,” says Jim Taylor, Vice Chairman of the Harrison Group. “Even when older, the [One Percent] don’t lose the degree with which they see themselves as the repository of the Middle Class. That means hard work. That means the value of education. That means the value of family and luck.”

Indeed, it’s important to understand most of these “Middle Class” millionaires rose to financial prominence by striving to create a business or idea or product of excellence. The wealth was a byproduct, came to them suddenly and unexpectedly, usually through a liquidity event, such as a big bonus at a major company, or a private equity buyout of the firm they built from scratch.

But here is what is so sad about the Amex-Harrison report: hammered in the financial markets and hammered by the public, this Middle Class made-good, these engines of economic growth for the nation, have dug themselves into the bunker, battered both emotionally and financially. They are hoarding cash, avoiding almost all risk, shunning their communities and hunkering down with a few select friends and family only.

They are, in a word, disengaged.

In 2007, the One Percent had a savings rate of 12%; in 2011, that savings rate had jumped to 34%. So no surprise their savings doubled between 2007 and 2011, from $250 billion a year to $550 billion a year. The percentage of those savings going into “personal savings and money markets,” earning low returns but relatively safe, has jumped from 24% to 54%. Conversely, and more disturbing, is the fact the rate invested in “financial products and markets” has plummeted from 76% to 46%.

That is not good for the nation. These people are, by definition, risk takers, and yet they’ve stopped taking financial risks. They are, in the words of the report, “irrationally defensive.” Taylor warns that “this is tremendously risky for the country. They’re putting their money under the mattress. They’re terribly nervous.”

Why should the public care? Very simply. Investment doesn’t follow job creation; new jobs are the result of risk-takers making investments.

It gets worse. For those who perceive themselves as “Middle Class” at heart – repositories of all those hard working and family values that added greatly to our nation’s fabric – it is a great shock to suddenly be vilified as social villains. Their response, understandably, is to pull back, to become ever more emotionally isolated and withdrawn from the public arena, precisely when they are most needed to be engaged with society.

In Q1 of 2010, 62% of the One Percent surveyed felt it was “important for me to join in social events in my community.” By the same quarter in 2012, that figure had plummeted to 44%. These very affluent folk are so circling their wagons that even their interest in socializing “with people who have achieved a similar level of success as I have” has fallen from 75% to 67% during the same period.

A staggering 92% agreed with the statement, “More and more I find I am preferring to spend my time with my very closest friends and family.” (Compared with 82% for the general population.) It’s an isolation that’s been steadily growing every quarter. In a related response, hanging out with “close friends and family” in the current year was a specific “goal” for 54% of those questioned in Q1 2011. Just a year later the figure had jumped to 62%.

It’s almost like, after several years of being blamed for all the ills in the nation, the One Percent are washing their hands of the rest of us, now too afraid to even be seen in public: 25% are “extremely/very concerned about being scorned for being in the top percent in the economy.” Cara David, Senior Vice President at American Express Publishing, warns against a nation where “success is not something you want to aspire to.”

So let’s take a deep breath. We must respect the Wall Street protestors for acting as a kind of conscience for the nation, their chants and drumming a kind of cri de coeur that all is not well with the nation. But we should also recognize that Witch Hunts are also very much a part of the country’s DNA, and the demonizing of the wealthy has finally reached a dangerous tipping point for the nation.

“We somehow have to change the storytelling about the wealthy in this country,” says David. “The more and more they pull back – it’s not good for anybody. We need the wealthy to be active and out and not be hiding. And those that aren’t [wealthy], need to have more appreciation for those that are.”

The chanting Wall Street protestors, the populist politicians, the media pundits who somehow think it is good sport to hunt down the nation’s wealthy with the soapbox equivalents of elephant guns, need to understand how they are collectively destroying the environment. It’s a simple fact: bio diversity is the sign of a healthy eco-system; kill off the elephants and we all die.


White Plains Neighborhoods


White Plains has 30 neighborhoods. Names come from streets, geographic area, names of estates, Battle of WP, developers name for area, farms and from those that owned or lived in those areas.


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