Ramapo, formerly known as New Hempstead and then Hampstead, is a town in Rockland County, New York, United States, located north of Bergen and Passaic Counties in New Jersey, southeast of Orange County, New York, south of the town of Haverstraw, and west of the towns of Clarkstown and Orangetown. As of the 2010 census, Ramapo had a total population of 126,595.
Ramapo is in the southwest corner of Rockland County, consisting of about one-third of the county's land area. The name, recorded variously as Ramopuck, Ramapock, or Ramapough, is of Native American origin, meaning either "sweet water" or "sloping/slanting rocks".
In 2006 Money magazine ranked Ramapo as the 49th best place in the United States and the best place in New York State to live. Arts and leisure, business, housing, low crime rates and open spaces/parkland determined the towns ranking. In the category of park space, percentage of land set aside for gardens and parks, the town finished first. The town received the highest rating and one of the best in the country for its open spaces and parkland.
In 2012, CNNMoney named Ramapo the 58th best small city to live in America.
On April 24, 2006, Ramapo received the Outstanding Facility Award (Class 3) for communities with a population more than 75,000, for its community, health and sports center located in the village of Hillburn.
Ramapo is run by a Town Supervisor, Christopher St. Lawrence. It is represented in the United States House of Representatives by Nita Lowey. In state government it is represented by Senator David Carlucci, and Assemblymembers Ellen Jaffee, Kenneth P. Zebrowski and Annie Rabbitt.
During the American Revolutionary War, Commander-in-Chief George Washington is said to have climbed the Ramapo Torne (near Ramapo hamlet) with a telescope to watch the movement of British ships off Sandy Hook in New Jersey.
The Town of Hempstead was formed from part of the Town of Haverstraw in 1791. In 1829 the name was changed to Ramapo.
Ramapo Iron Works, located near present-day Route 17 at the base of Terse Mountain, was a producer of cut nails, wood screws, cotton cloth, and spring steel in the first half of the 19th century. Its founder, Jeremiah H. Pierson, was influential in building the Nyack Turnpike and the New York & Erie Railroad across the county. A cotton mill is still standing on the east side of the road.
See also the histories of Suffern and of Rockland County.