Irvington, sometimes known as Irvington-on-Hudson, is an affluent suburban village in the town of Greenburgh in Westchester County, New York, United States. It is located on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, north of midtown Manhattan in New York City, and is served by a station stop on the Metro-North Hudson Line. To the north of Irvington is the village of Tarrytown, to the south the village of Dobbs Ferry, and to the east unincorporated parts of Greenburgh, including East Irvington. Irvington includes within its boundaries the community of Ardsley-on-Hudson, which has its own ZIP code and Metro-North station, but which should not be confused with the nearby village of Ardsley, New York.
The population of Irvington at the 2010 census was 6,420.
The village's Main Street area has been designated an historic district by New York State, and, as of 2013, is under consideration for addition to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2010, Westchester Magazine ranked Irvington as the "Best Place to Live in Westchester".
Before the area where Irvington is now located was settled by Europeans, it was inhabited by the Wickquasgeck Indians, a band of the Wappingers, related to the Lenape (Delaware) tribes which dominated lower New York state and New Jersey.
After the Dutch came to the area, the land was part of the Bisightick tract of the Van der Donck grant purchased by Frederick Philipse in 1682, but in 1785 the state of New York confiscated the land from his grandson, Frederick Philipse III, after he sided with the British in the American Revolution, and sold it to local patriot farmers who had been tenants of the Phillipse family. This is presumably how part of it came to be the farm of William Dutcher. Dutcher sold half of his farm to Justus Dearman in 1817, who then sold it to Gustavo F. Sacchi in 1848 for $26,000. Saachi sold the parcel to John Jay – the grandson of the American Founding Father by the same name – that same year, and Jay laid it out as a village which he called "Dearman", after Justus Dearman, and sold lots at auction in New York City starting on April 25, 1850.
The organization of the streets into a right-angled grid pattern was criticized by Andrew Jackson Downing, who was at the time the foremost expert on landscape design. Downing condemned the use of the street grid outside of cities, and saw the hilly and heavily wooded site of Dearman as particularly suited to his own theories, which called for curvilinear roads and irregular lots which followed the contours of the land. With the frequent steamboat, stagecoach and train transportation available, he felt that Dearman could have been an ideal suburb, instead of "mere rows of houses upon streets crossing each other at right angles and bordered with shade trees."
The side streets off the village's Main Street – or "Main Avenue", as an 1868 map has it – were originally designated "A", "B", "C", and so forth, but are today named after many of the area's early settlers, such as Barent and William Dutcher, Captain John Buckhout (who lived to 103) and Wolfert Ecker (or "Acker").
Wolfert Ecker's house, then owned by Jacob van Tassel, was burned by the British in the Revolutionary War because it had become a notorious hang-out for American patriots. Washington Irving later wrote about it under the name of "Wolfert's Roost" ("roost" meaning "rest"), and purchased and re-modeled another house on the land to become "Sunnyside". Another early settler was Capt. Jan Harnse, and the Harnse-Conklin-Odell Tavern on Broadway was built in 1693. (See below) It was at Odell's Tavern that the Committee of Safety, the executive committee of the legislature of the new State of New York, officially received the news that George Washington had lost the Battle of Long Island, and, later, British troops camped nearby, putting Jonathan Odell into custody in the Old Dutch Church in Tarrytown. No major battles of the Revolutionary War were fought in the area, only minor skirmishes between residents and soldiers.
With the capture of New York City by the British, Irvington and the rest of southern Westchester County became the "Neutral ground", an unofficial wide zone separating British-occupied territory from that held by the Americans, and the people of the area who remained – many of the Patriot population had fled – traded with both sides to great profit. However, there was also a great deal of pillaging and plundering, even of Tory households, both by the regular British army and loyalist militias and irregulars, all in the name of hunting down rebels. By the time the war was over, the countryside had been ravaged:
The country is rich and fertile, and the farms appear to have been advantageously cultivated, but it now has the marks of a country in ruins, a large portion of the proprietors having abandoned their homes. On the high road where heretofore was a continuous stream of travelers and vehicles, not a single traveler was seen from week to week, month to month. The countryside was silent. The very tracks of the carriages were grown over with grass or weeds. Travelers walked along bypaths. The villages are abandoned, the residents having fled to the north, leaving their homes, where possible, in charge of elder persons and servants.
Eventually, the area recovered and continued to develop. The Hudson River Railroad reached the settlement by 1849; the first passengers on a regularly scheduled run through the village paid fifty cents to travel from Peekskill to Chambers Street in Manhattan on September 29, 1849. By 1853, a ferry ran across the Hudson from Dearman to Piermont on the west bank, the village had a population of around 600, a hotel, six stores and around 50 houses, and the hamlet of "Abbotsford" – which would later become Ardsley-on-Hudson – was forming along Clinton Avenue.
A change of name
In 1854 the village changed its name, by popular vote, to "Irvington", to honor the American author Washington Irving, who was still alive at that time and living in nearby "Sunnyside" – which is today preserved as a museum. Influential residents of the village prevailed upon the Hudson River Railroad, which had reached the village by 1849, to change the name of the train station to "Irvington", and also convinced the Postmaster to change the name of the local post office as well. It was thus under the name of "Irvington" that the village incorporated on April 16, 1872.
By the census of 1860, the population of the village was 599. A few years later, in 1863, Irvington was touched by the New York Draft Riots. Fearing that the violence in the city, which had to be put down by Federal troops, would spread to Westchester, special police were brought in and quartered in a schoolhouse on Sunnyside Lane. They were commanded by James Hamilton – the third son of Alexander Hamilton – whose estate, Nevis, was on South Broadway. The presence of this special force deterred any violence a group of draft protestors which passed through Greenburgh on their way to Tarrytown may have intended. This was the only instance in which Civil War-related activity directly affected Irvington.
With convenient rail transportation now available, the village's cool summer breezes off the Hudson and the rural riparian setting began to attract wealthy residents of New York City – businessmen, politicians and professionals – to the area to buy up farms and build large summer residences on their new estates, setting a pattern which would hold until the early 20th century. Still, the village continued to expand, with various commercial enterprises opening along the waterfront. Pateman & Lockwood, a lumber, coal and building supply company, opened in the village in 1853, and Lord & Burnham, which built boilers and greenhouses, in 1856. Both expanded to newly-created land across the railroad tracks, in 1889 and 1912 respectively, and the Cypress Lumber Company opened on a nearby site in 1909. Nothwithstanding this commercial activity, for many years, through the 19th and early 20th centuries, Irvington was a relatively small community surrounded by numerous large estates and mansions where millionaires, aristocrats and captains of industry lived – the population was reported as 2,299 in 1890 and 2,013 in 1898. Many of the estates and mansions are now gone, having been replaced by suburban sub-divisions, although a small number still exist, but Irvington still has many large houses, and is still an overwhelmingly well-heeled community.