BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- In doing my research last week on Westchester County political offices, I had a wonderful moment of "accidental learning" as I stumbled upon articles about the county itself. We have a very interesting and storied home.
From the historical perspective, Westchester was home to many luminaries. Before his rout at the Battle of White Plains in 1776, George Washington stayed at the Elijah Miller House, which still stands on Virginia Road in North White Plains.
Founding Father John Jay was raised in Rye, matriculated at King's College (Columbia) at age 14, and went on to be governor, co-author of the Federalist Papers, and first chief justice of the Supreme Court before retiring to a homestead in Bedford.
Horace Greeley, founder of the New York Tribune and the Republican Party as well as a presidential candidate against Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, was a Chappaqua resident and has been immortalized as a namesake of a local high school.
John Peter Zenger wrote an article about an Eastchester town election that heavily criticized the New York governor and resulted in a trial for "seditious libel." The result in favor of Zenger led to the enshrining of freedom of the press in the Bill of Rights.
In the more recent past, a Mount Vernon native, Lt. Ira Palm, led a raid on Adolph Hitler’s Munich apartment in 1945. Though Hitler was not there, Lt. Palm returned home with a gold-plated pistol bearing the letters AH.
In 1912, an inquisitive college student from Yonkers, Edwin Armstrong, invented FM radio, and the year prior, a Dominican nun named Mother Mary Alphonsa founded the first home for terminal cancer patients. Born Rose Hawthorne, she was the daughter of American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, and when she opened a second home in Unionville, the town was renamed Hawthorne in her honor.
Tuckahoe marble was used to build the New York Public Library, the Federal Reserve Bank in the Wall Street area, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the US Capitol, and the Washington Monument.
Howard Stern started his radio career as a disc jockey in Briarcliff Manor, and Beatles' wives Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney both lived in Scarsdale and attended Sarah Lawrence College. One of Scarsdale’s more infamous residents was FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who sold state secrets and began his treason while living in Scarsdale in the late 1970s.
A tunnel in the shuttered Memorial Field on Sanford Boulevard in Mount Vernon was used to film the iconic "Mean Joe Greene" Coke commercials so popular in the early 1980s.
Even though we are home of the cocktail--because legend has it that American soldiers in Elmsford often stole tail feathers from Tory-owned chickens before heading to O'Brien's for a few beverages and the tavern's barmaid began to decorate the potables with the plumage thus birthing the cocktail--Crain's New York Business says we are New York's slimmest, fittest county for our low rates of obesity, inactivity, and diabetes. We truly live in a fascinating county!
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