Place:Yonkers, Westchester, New York, United States

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NameYonkers
TypeCity
Coordinates40.941°N 73.864°W
Located inWestchester, New York, United States
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Yonkers is a city in Westchester County, New York. It is the fourth most populous city in the U.S. state of New York, behind New York City, Buffalo, and Rochester. The population of Yonkers was 195,976 as enumerated in the 2010 United States Census and is estimated to have increased by 2.5% to 200,807 in 2016. It is an inner suburb of New York City, directly to the north of the Bronx and approximately two miles (3 km) north of the northernmost point in Manhattan.

Yonkers' downtown is centered on a plaza known as Getty Square, where the municipal government is located. The downtown area also houses significant local businesses and non-profits, and serves as a major retail hub for Yonkers and the northwest Bronx.

The city is home to several attractions, including Untermyer Park; Hudson River Museum; Saw Mill River daylighting, wherein a parking lot was removed to uncover a river; Science Barge; Sherwood House; and Yonkers Raceway, a harness racing track that has renovated its grounds and clubhouse and added legalized video slot machine gambling in 2006 in a "racino" called Empire City.

Major shopping areas are located in Getty Square, on South Broadway, at the Cross County Shopping Center and Westchester's Ridge Hill, and along Central Park Avenue, informally called "Central Ave" by area residents, a name it takes officially a few miles north in White Plains.

Yonkers is known as the "City of Seven Hills" which includes Park Hill, Nodine Hill, Ridge Hill, Cross Hill, Locust Hill, Glen Hill, and Church Hill.

Contents

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Early years

The land on which the city is built was once part of a land grant called Colen Donck that ran from the current Manhattan-Bronx border at Marble Hill northwards for , and from the Hudson River eastwards to the Bronx River. In July 1645, this area was granted to Adriaen van der Donck, the patroon of Colendonck. Van der Donck was known locally as the Jonkheer or Jonker (etymologically, "young gentleman," derivation of old Dutch jong (young) and heer ("lord"); in effect, "Esquire"), a word from which the name "Yonkers" is directly derived. Van der Donck built a saw mill near where the Nepperhan Creek met the Hudson; the Nepperhan is now also known as the Saw Mill River. Van der Donck was killed in the Peach War. His wife, Mary Doughty, was taken captive and ransomed later.

Near the site of van der Donck's mill is Philipse Manor Hall, a Colonial-era manor house which today serves as a museum and archive, offering many glimpses into life before the American Revolution. The original structure (later enlarged) was built around 1682 by Frederick Philipse and his wife Margaret Hardenbroeck. Frederick was a wealthy Dutchman who by the time of his death had amassed an enormous estate, which encompassed the entire modern City of Yonkers, as well as several other Hudson River towns. Philipse's great-grandson, Frederick Philipse III, was a prominent Loyalist during the American Revolution, who, because of his political leanings, was forced to flee to England. All the lands that belonged to the Philipse family were confiscated and sold.

19th century

For its first two hundred years, Yonkers was a small farming town with an active industrial waterfront. Yonkers's later growth rested largely on developing industry. In 1853, Elisha Otis invented the first safety elevator and the Otis Elevator Company, opened the first elevator factory in the world on the banks of the Hudson near what is now Vark Street. It relocated to larger quarters (now the Yonkers Public Library) in the 1880s. Around the same time, the Alexander Smith and Sons Carpet Company (in the Saw Mill River Valley) expanded to 45 buildings, 800 looms, and over 4,000 workers and was known as one of the premier carpet producing centers in the world.

The community was incorporated as a village in the northern part of the Town of Yonkers in 1854 and as a city in 1872. In 1874 the southern part of Yonkers, including Kingsbridge and Riverdale, was annexed by New York City as The Bronx. In 1898, Yonkers (along with Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island) voted on a referendum to determine if they wanted to become part of New York City. While the results were positive elsewhere, the returns were so negative in Yonkers and neighboring Mount Vernon that those two areas were not included in the consolidated city, and remained independent. Still, some residents call the city "the Sixth Borough" referring to its location on the New York City border, its urban character, and the failed merger vote.

During the American Civil War, two hundred fifty-four Yonkers resident joined the Army and Navy. They enlisted primarily in four different regiments. These included the 6th New York Heavy Artillery, the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry, the 17th New York Volunteers, and the 15th NY National Guard. During the New York City Draft Riots , Yonkers formed the Home Guards. This force of constables was formed to protect Yonkers for rioting that was feared to spread from New York City, which fortunately for Yonkers residents it never did. In total, seventeen Yonkers residents were killed during the Civil War.

The New York City and Northern Railway Company (later the New York Central Railroad) connected Yonkers to Manhattan and points north from 1888. A three-mile spur to Getty Square existed until 1943.

Aside from being a manufacturing center, Yonkers also played a key role in the development of entertainment in the United States. In 1888, Scottish-born John Reid founded the first golf course in the United States, St. Andrew's Golf Club, in Yonkers.

20th century

Bakelite, the first completely synthetic plastic, was invented in Yonkers circa 1906 by Leo Baekeland, and manufactured there until the late 1920s. Today, two of the former Alexander Smith and Sons Carpet Company loft buildings located at 540 and 578 Nepperhan Avenue have been repurposed to house the YoHo Artist Community, a collective group of talented artists that works out of private studios there.

During World War I, a total of 6,909 Yonkers residents entered military service. This was approximately seven percent of the population. Most Yonkers men joined either the 27th Division or the 77th Division.[1] In total one hundred thirty-seven Yonkers residents were killed during the war.[1] Among the survivors of the U.S.S. President Lincoln, a Navy transport ship sunk during the war, were seventeen sailors from Yonkers.[1] Civilians helped in the war effort by joining organizations such as the American Red Cross. In 1916, there were one hundred twenty-six people in the Yonkers chapter of the Red Cross. By the end of the war, 15,358 Yonkers residents were members of the chapter. Some of the activities that the Yonkers Chapter of the Red Cross participated in were preparing surgical dressings, creating hospital garments for the wounded, and knitting articles of clothing for refugees and soldiers. Besides joining the Red Cross, residents of Yonkers donated to various war drives. The total amount raised for these drives were $19,255,255.[1]

Early in the 20th century, Yonkers also hosted a brass era automobile maker, Colt Runabout Company; despite the car's seemingly glowing performance, the company went under. Yonkers was also the headquarters of the Waring Hat Company, at the time the nation's largest hat manufacturer. World War II saw the city's factories manufacture such items as tents and blankets in the Alexander Smith and Sons Carpet Factory and tanks in the Otis Elevator factory. After World War II, however, with increased competition from less expensive imports, Yonkers lost much of its manufacturing activity. The Alexander Smith Carpet Company, one of the city's largest employers, ceased operation during a labor dispute in June 1954.

In 1983, the Otis Elevator Factory finally closed its doors. With the loss of jobs in the city itself, Yonkers became primarily a residential city, and some neighborhoods, such as Crestwood and Park Hill, became popular with wealthy New Yorkers who wished to live outside Manhattan without giving up urban conveniences. Yonkers's excellent transportation infrastructure, including three commuter railroad lines (now two: the Harlem and Hudson Lines) and five parkways and thruways, as well as its 15-minute drive from Manhattan and picturesque prewar homes and apartment buildings, made it a desirable city in which to live. Yonkers's manufacturing sector has also shown a recent resurgence.

On January 4, 1940, Yonkers resident Edwin Howard Armstrong transmitted the first FM radio broadcast (on station W2XCR) from the Yonkers home of C.R. Runyon, a co-experimenter. Yonkers also had the longest running pirate radio station, owned by Allan Weiner during the 1970s through the 1980s.

In 1942, a short subway connection was planned between Getty Square and the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line, which terminates in Riverdale at 242nd Street just slightly south of the city line, but the plan was dropped.

In 1960, the Census Bureau reported Yonkers's population as 95.8% white and 4.0% black.[2] The city's struggles with racial discrimination and segregation were highlighted in a decades-long federal lawsuit. After a 1985 decision and an unsuccessful appeal, Yonkers's schools were integrated in 1988. Federal judge Leonard B. Sand ruled that Yonkers had engaged in institutional segregation in housing and school policies for over 40 years and tied the illegal concentration of public housing and private housing discrimination to the city's resistance to ending racial isolation in its public schools.


In the 1980s and 1990s, Yonkers developed a national reputation for racial tension, based on a long-term battle between the city and the NAACP over the building of subsidized low-income housing projects. The city planned to use federal funding for urban renewal efforts within Downtown Yonkers exclusively; other groups, led by the NAACP, felt that the resulting concentration of low-income housing in traditionally poor neighborhoods perpetuated poverty. Although the City of Yonkers had been warned in 1971 by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development against further building of low-income housing in west Yonkers, subsidized housing continued to be built in this area between 1972 to 1977. Yonkers gained national/international attention during the summer of 1988, when it reneged on its previous agreement to build promised municipal public housing in the eastern portions of the city, an agreement it had made in a consent decree after losing an appeal in 1987. After its reversal, the city was found in contempt of the federal courts, and Judge Sand imposed a fine on Yonkers which started at $100 and doubled every day, capped at $1 million per day by an appeals court, until the city capitulated to the federally mandated plan.

Yonkers remained in contempt of court until September 9, 1988, when the City Council relented in the wake of library closures and sanitation cutbacks and while looking at massive city layoffs which would have been required to continue its resistance to desegregation. First-term mayor Nicholas C. Wasicsko fought to save the city from financial disaster and bring about unity. Yonkers's youngest mayor (elected at age 28), Wasicsko was a lonely figure in city politics, which was scarred with the stigma of the "Balkanization of Yonkers". He succeeded in helping to end the city's contempt of the courts, but was voted out of office as a result. His story is the subject of a miniseries called Show Me a Hero that aired on HBO in 2015, which is based on the 1999 nonfiction book of the same name by former New York Times writer, Lisa Belkin.

A Kawasaki railroad cars assembly plant opened in 1986 in the former Otis plant, producing the new R142A, R143, R160B, and R188 cars for the New York City Subway, and the PA4 and PA5 series for PATH.

Ethnic communities

Yonkers is a diverse community, with residents of many ethnicities. Hispanics are prominent in Yonkers including, but not limited to, large population of Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. Also prominent is the African American community, many of whom migrated north to Yonkers during the Great Migration (African American) from 1930s-1970s. The Irish-American community is prominent in Yonkers, and the city hosts one of the nation's oldest St. Patrick's Day parades. It is also home to a large Italian-American community, and the city hosts a large Columbus Day festival with a "Miss Italian-American" pageant. Yonkers also has a significant Portuguese population.

Yonkers also has a large Slavic community. In the early and mid-20th century a large number of people emigrated from Poland, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Russia, and Croatia. Recently a large number of immigrants from the former Yugoslavia have called Yonkers home. The Slavic community is centered around St. Casimir's Roman Catholic Church, Most Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, and St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church. The city also has a stanytsia (branch) of Plast.

Yonkers also has a large Arab population, coinciding with the high percentage of Arabic speakers in Yonkers. Most of these Arabs come from the Levant region, mainly from Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon, and are of the Christian faith. The Arabic community specifically Jordanian currently has three churches in the city, Virgin Mary Orthodox Church, St Mary's Roman Catholic Church, and Christ the Savior Melkite Church. The community settled in Yonkers in the late 1940s and has since continued a steady growth.

There also once was a significant Jewish population (the Broadway plays Lost in Yonkers and Hello Dolly take place within the Yonkers Jewish community). However, it has since dwindled.

21st century

In the 2000s, some areas bordering similar neighborhoods in Riverdale, Bronx began seeing an influx of Orthodox Jews. Subsequently, Riverdale Hatzalah Volunteer Ambulance Service began serving some neighborhoods in the southwest section of the city. There is also a small Jewish cemetery, the Sherwood Park Cemetery.

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