Haverstraw is a village incorporated in 1854 in the town of Haverstraw in Rockland County, New York, United States. It is located north of Congers, southeast of West Haverstraw, east of Garnerville, northeast of New City, and west of the Hudson River at its widest point. The population was 11,910 at the 2010 census.
Haverstraw is one of the more urban communities in Rockland County, which makes the village an attractive place to live amongst former New York City residents, the artist community, and New Yorkers with Hudson Valley weekend homes. Because of this, the village is currently in a state of transition as gentrification takes hold. Interest in the village is fueled by its rich history and architecture, its vast Hudson River shoreline and natural amenities, its overall walkability and density, and trans-Hudson ferry service to Ossining and the Metro-North Railroad with direct service to Grand Central Terminal.
Before Dutch settlers traveled to the Hudson River Valley in the early part of the seventeenth century, the Rumachenanck people, a subset of the Lenape tribe, called the area home. In 1609, during one of the many voyages the Dutch financed in search of the Northwest Passage, Henry Hudson sailed the Hudson River, docking his ship in Haverstraw Bay. It was here that the Dutch declared the Hudson River as property of the Dutch.
Haverstraw was founded in 1666, but the village, known as Florus Falls and also as Waynesburgh, wasn't legally established until March 11, 1854, as the Village of Warren, after Joseph Warren, a Major General who had died at the Battle of Breed's Hill in 1775 during the Revolutionary War. Under an act of the state legislature, the name of the village was changed to "Haverstraw" on April 14, 1874, in order to retain its Dutch roots and create a more defined sense of place.
The village is one of the first to appear on maps of North America, listed as Haverstroo, which means "oat straw" as an anglicized version of a Dutch word.
Haverstraw was the site of the most grievous treason of the early years of the United States. During the night of September 19 and September 20, 1780, the English emissary, Major John André, was rowed from the sloop-of-war Vulture to a beach below the Long Cove on the southern boundary of Haverstraw. The negotiations to sell the plans to West Point were not completed by dawn, and Benedict Arnold and André traveled to the Belmont House, owned by Thomas Smith and occupied by his brother Joshua Hett Smith, on the grounds of what is now Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw. The house has since been known as the Treason House.
95th New York Volunteer Infantry
The 95th New York Volunteer Infantry fought in the American Civil War under the command of Ulysses S. Grant, Major General James Samuel Wadsworth and Brigadier General Edmund Rice. Company F was recruited primarily from Haverstraw. The infantry joined in the action of the Railroad Cut on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. They fought many battles, including the Battle of Mine Run, Grant's Overland Campaign, the Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna, Cold Harbor and the Siege of Petersburg. They saw the war to the end, including engagements in the Battle of the Weldon Railroad, the Battle of Hatcher's Run, and the Appomattox Campaign.
"Brickmaking Capital of the World"
Commonly referred to as "Bricktown", Haverstraw was famous for its brickmaking, which was a major industry for the village. Brickmaking was so popular due to the clay formed by the Hudson River's water and the rich soil that lined Haverstraw's waterfront, that it was nicknamed the "Brickmaking Capital of the World". Many of the old brownstone and brick structures that were constructed in New York City in the late 1890s-early 1900s were composed of bricks manufactured by Haverstraw. At one point, in the early 20th century, there were more than 40 brickmaking factories lining the Hudson River within the village. Although brickmaking involved all the ethnic groups, 60 percent of the brickyard workers were African-Americans.
Brick manufacturers 1910
These are the names of suppliers of bricks to New York City metropolitan areas in 1910 with the numbers of machines each manufacturer used, as listed in Within These Gates by Daniel deNoyelles:
The brick industry continued to thrive until World War II, when brick began to lose its value significantly. Shortly after, the village's main industry of brickmaking declined and left the village. The economic vitality of the village greatly decreased. Because of the amount of vacancies and the relatively inexpensive housing available, the village opened up to Hispanic migration, and the village has become home to many Hispanic immigrant families since the 1950s. Many families of Hispanic descent take part in the village's annual festivals. The Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival take place in the village's downtown in early June, and the Dominican Day Parade and Festival occur in late August and in September.
George M. Cohan, the "Father of Modern Broadway", had his debut playing the violin at the Waldron's Opera House on Broadway in the village. The Cohan family stayed in Haverstraw during summer while making their rounds on the vaudeville circuit. The Cohans lived on Division Street, next to a major clay pit in the Village. Cohan was influenced early in his life by the songs of the southern black clay diggers that worked down below the Cohan house in the clay pit. It is often said that Cohan mainstreamed ragtime and jazz through his Broadway tunes.
September 2004 marked the village's 150th anniversary, celebrated by a festival along the village's waterfront. The village has entered a period of revitalization, which coincides with the creation of the Harbors at Haverstraw Community and a sculpture trail which will follow the Hudson River shoreline. The Harbors at Haverstraw is situated on the southern end of the Village and below the higher elevations of the charming riverside southern most neighborhood known as Dutchtown. Some residents have taken to calling the Harbors area the "South End" instead of an older historical term used previously. The State has funded $3 million to the revitalization project, which includes investments on the waterfront esplanade and a possible downtown streetscape project.
As a cost-saving measure, at midnight on January 1, 2006, the Village of Haverstraw Police Department was merged with the Town of Haverstraw Police Department.