Jump to content

Peekskill, New York

Coordinates: 41°17′N 73°55′W / 41.283°N 73.917°W / 41.283; -73.917
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peekskill, New York
City of Peekskill
Downtown Peekskill
Downtown Peekskill
Official seal of Peekskill, New York
Location in Westchester County and New York
Location in Westchester County and New York
Interactive map of Peekskill
Coordinates: 41°17′N 73°55′W / 41.283°N 73.917°W / 41.283; -73.917
Country United States
State New York
County Westchester
Incorporated (village)1816; 208 years ago (1816)
Incorporated (city)1940; 84 years ago (1940)
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorVivian C. McKenzie (D)
 • City ManagerMatthew Alexander
 • Common Council
Members' List
 • Total5.57 sq mi (14.43 km2)
 • Land4.34 sq mi (11.25 km2)
 • Water1.23 sq mi (3.18 km2)
128 ft (39 m)
 • Total25,431
 • Density5,854.28/sq mi (2,260.30/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code914
FIPS code36-56979
GNIS feature ID0960097

Peekskill is a city in northwestern Westchester County, New York, United States, 35 miles (56 km) north of New York City. Established as a village in 1816, it was incorporated as a city in 1940. It lies on a bay along the east side of the Hudson River, across from Jones Point in Rockland County. The population was 25,431 at the 2020 U.S. census, up from 23,583 at the 2010 census. It is the third-largest municipality in northern Westchester County, after Cortlandt and Yorktown.

The area was an early American industrial center, primarily for iron plow and stove products. The Binney & Smith Company, now named Crayola LLC and makers of Crayola products, is linked to the Peekskill Chemical Company founded by Joseph Binney at Annsville in 1864, and succeeded by a partnership by his son Edwin and nephew Harold Smith in 1885.

The well-publicized Peekskill Riots of 1949 involved attacks and a lynching-in-effigy occasioned by Paul Robeson's benefit concerts for the Civil Rights Congress, although the main assault following the September concert properly took place in nearby Van Cortlandtville. Nevertheless, the city of Peekskill has since had multiple African American mayors since 1984.[2][3][4][5]



In September 1609, English explorer Henry Hudson, captain of the Half Moon, anchored along the reach of the Hudson River at Peekskill. His first mate noted in the ship's log that it was a "very pleasant place to build a town".[6] After the establishment of the province of New Netherland, New Amsterdam resident Jan Peeck made the first recorded contact with the Lenape people of this area, then identified as "Sachoes".[citation needed] The date is not certain (possibly early 1640s), but agreements and merchant transactions took place, formalized in the Ryck's Patent Deed of April 21, 1685.

First page of Ryck's patent with the name of Sachem Sirham, chief of the Sachoes.

Peekskill derives from a combination of Peeck's surname and the Dutch word for stream, kil or kill.

Indian Village of Sachoes[edit]

Not much is currently known about the village of the Sachoes or their origin. It was suggested by city historian Charles Arthur Clark that the grove of tall pine trees that the Sachoes lived amongst were "not a native of this region, so it is believed that Indians must have brought them from somewhere, and planted them. The same may be believed about the cluster of weeping willow trees indicated."[7]

The last known Sachem (chief) of the Sachoes at the time of the signing of Ryck's Patent was named Sirham.[8] After trading with Jan Peeck for a considerable amount of the time, the Sachoes began calling the creek where he set up his trading post as "John Peek's Creek" and is likely how the city's name came to be.[9]

Some early writings regarding the Natives and Peekskill refer to the last Sachem as "Saham." Other names quoted as the locality now known as Peekskill were Sachus, Sackhoes and Sackock. They are equivalents and refer to the outlet of Magregere's Brook and have the same meaning - "at the mouth or outlet of a creek or river." Their territory extended from this brook to Dickey Brook which runs through Depew Park and Blue Mountain Reservation. Sachus is regarded as the first Sachem of Sachoes. This name can be translated "black kettle".[10] After the signing of the patent, portions of then Van Cortlandt Manor, north of Magregories brook remained in its wilderness state and the natives roamed the entire section until approximately 1742.[11][12]

Appearance in World's End[edit]

The Sachoe tribe play a prominent role in World's End, a novel by T. C. Boyle which takes place in a fictitious version of Peekskill named Peterskill.[citation needed]

Fort Independence[edit]

Fort Independence on the Hudson, depicted on an improved, published version of British commander-in-chief Sir Henry Clinton's battle map of October 6, 1777
Eastern redoubt on Fort Hill Park

On the north bank of Annsville Creek as it empties into the Hudson, Fort Independence combined with Forts Montgomery and Clinton to defend the Hudson River Valley. Fort Independence was built in August 1776, while Forts Montgomery and Clinton were started in June.[13]: 18  Fort Hill Park, the site of Camp Peekskill, contained five barracks and two redoubts.[14][15]

Settlement was slow in the early 18th century. By the time of the American Revolution, the tiny community was an important manufacturing center, which made it attractive to the Continental Army, which established an outpost here in 1776.[citation needed] Several creeks and streams powered mills, which provided gunpowder, leather, planks, and flour. Slaughterhouses provided fresh meat, easily shipped from docks along the river. Much was needed to support several other forts and garrisons located to support the Hudson River Chains between Bear Mountain Bridge and Anthony's Nose during the Revolution to prevent British naval passage upriver.

Though Peekskill's terrain and mills were beneficial to the Patriot cause, they also made tempting targets for British raids. The most damaging attack took place in early spring of 1777, when an invasion force of a dozen vessels led by a warship and supported by infantry overwhelmed the American defenders. On leaving New Windsor in June 1781, Washington briefly established his quarters at Peekskill.[16]


South Street in 1908

Peekskill's first legal incorporation of 1816 was reactivated in 1826 when Village elections took place. The Village was further incorporated within the Town of Cortlandt in 1849 and remained so until separating as a city in 1940.

In 1859, Henry Ward Beecher bought a 36-acre farm at Peekskill. He made many improvements and established a summer home for his family.[17] In 1902, the locally prominent McFadden family bought the property. In 1987, the Beecher-McFadden Estate was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In August 1949, following reports misquoting Paul Robeson's speech to the World Peace Conference in Paris as saying that African Americans would not fight for the United States in any prospective war against the Soviet Union, a planned benefit concert for the Civil Rights Congress in Peekskill was canceled amid White Nationalist and anti-communist violence. An effigy of Robeson was lynched in the town. The artists planned a second concert in nearby Van Cortlandtville[18] on a farm owned by a Holocaust survivor. (His house was subsequently shot into and brickbats thrown through his windows.) The publicity drew a crowd of around 20,000, and two men with rifles were discovered and removed before any violence during the concert. It was one of the earliest performances of Pete Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer"; Robeson sang surrounded by union guards and volunteers from the audience as protection against snipers. Afterward, area police and state troopers directed exiting traffic down a single road into an ambush where rocks were thrown through car windows (even at cars with small children). Some were overturned and their occupants beaten without police intervention. These Peekskill Riots were subsequently well-publicized in news reports and folk songs and formed a major event in E.L. Doctorow's historical fiction novel The Book of Daniel.

Peekskill was the landing point of a fragment of the Peekskill Meteorite, just before midnight on October 9, 1992. At least 16 people recorded the meteoric trail on film.[19] This was only the fourth meteorite in history for which an exact orbit is known. The rock had a mass of 27.7 pounds (12.6 kg) and punched through the trunk of a Peekskill resident's automobile upon impact.

The Peekskill Evening Star and the Peekskill Highland Democrat were two of the city's daily newspapers through much of the city's history. The Evening Star published under various mastheads from the 19th century on, and as the Evening Star from 1939 until 1985, when the paper folded into what became the nexus of the Journal News, a conglomeration of local papers throughout Westchester County.[20] But the Journal News focused more on statewide and New York City issues, which led to the founding of the Peekskill Herald in 1986.[21] Although numerous prominent citizens came together to try to keep the paper afloat after a series of New York Times articles about the paper's foundering fiscal situation, it folded in 2005, replaced by the Peekskill Daily in 2009.[22][23]

The Centennial Firehouse, built in 1890, was under a U.S. Route 9 bridge. During the bridge's original construction in 1932, part of the roof of the firehouse was removed. As part of a 2008 highway reconstruction project it was to be relocated to a new historic district.[24] The city spent $150,000 in grant money in preparing the building. Unfortunately a mechanical failure during a turn caused the building to collapse.[25]

In 1984, Richard E. Jackson became Peekskill's first African American mayor.[2][3]


Peekskill is located at 41°17′N 73°55′W / 41.283°N 73.917°W / 41.283; -73.917 (41.2889, −73.9200)[26] in northwestern Westchester County.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 5.5 square miles (14 km2), of which 4.3 square miles (11 km2) is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) (20.99%) is water. The city's eastern border is the Town of Cortlandt and its western border is the Hudson River.[clarification needed]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[27]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 23,583 people living in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 35.8% White, 21.4% Black, 0.2% Native American, 2.9% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from some other race and 2.5% from two or more races. 36.9% were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The American Community Survey in 2020, the city was 13.8% Ecuadorian, 10.4% was Puerto Rican, 4.9% Guatemalan.

As of the census[28] of 2000, there were 22,441 people, 8,696 households, and 5,348 families living in the city. The population density was 5,189.7 inhabitants per square mile (2,003.8/km2). There were 9,053 housing units at an average density of 2,093.6 per square mile (808.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 57.12% White, 25.54% African American, 0.42% Native American, 2.38% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 9.83% from other races, and 4.64% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 21.92% of the population.

There were 8,696 households, out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.7% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.5% were non-families. 31.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.18.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.4% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 34.9% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $47,177, and the median income for a family was $52,645. Males had a median income of $38,091 versus $34,757 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,595. About 10.3% of families and 13.7% of the population were below the poverty line.

Transfer-printed teapot for the American market, c. 1845, showing Peekskill Landing, William Ridgway & Company, Hanley, England

Arts and culture[edit]

Some local art-related highlights included Paramount Center for the Arts, a restored 1930 movie palace that served as the area's cultural hub, offering music, comedy, drama and independent films before suspending operations in 2012; STUDIO No.9 Gallery and Workshops; and the Peekskill Coffee House, which showcases local acts. The Bean Runner Cafe, on South Division Street, and 12 Grapes, on North Division Street, also showcase local artists and musicians.

The Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art (Hudson Valley MOCA), formerly known as the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, has a 12,000 foot exhibition space and an artist-in-residence program.[29]


Locally owned WLNA 1420 AM has served the community since 1948.


The town has several parks and recreation areas, including Charles Point, with bay and river views; Depew Park, which has pools and a pond in addition to ballfields and trails and is the home of the Recreation Department headquarters; Franklin Park; Lepore Park; Fort Hill Park; Peekskill Dog Park; Peekskill Stadium; Riverfront Green Park; and Tompkins Park (home of Little League).[30]


Primary and secondary schools[edit]

The Peekskill City School District is the local school district, with Peekskill High School the main high school.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York operates Catholic schools in Westchester County. Our Lady of the Assumption School in Peekskill closed in 2013.[31] The closest Catholic school to Peekskill is St. Columbanus School, which is in Cortlandt Manor.[32]


Peekskill is served by the Hudson Valley Hospital Center (HVHC), founded in 1889 as Peekskill Hospital on lower South Street. In 2014, the hospital began an affiliation with New York-Presbyterian Hospital and is now called New York Presbyterian – Hudson Valley Hospital.

The hospital has 128 inpatient beds and includes a comprehensive cancer center, maternity center, neonatal intensive care unit, and surgery center, among other patient care services.[33][34][35]

The city also has an emergency medical service staffed by EMTs and paramedics from the city's fire department and volunteer ambulance corps. The fire department staffs seven EMTs and eight paramedics whereas the volunteer corps has 60 active riding members. Most patients are transported to NYP-Hudson Valley Hospital.[36][37]


The Peekskill station

Peekskill train station provides commuter service to New York City, 41 miles (66 km) away via Metro-North Railroad. The Bee-Line Bus System provides bus service to Peekskill on routes 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 31. The Bear Mountain Bridge, five miles (8 km) to the northwest, gives road access to Bear Mountain State Park across the Hudson River, Palisades Interstate Parkway and to the United States Military Academy at West Point via US 6 and US 202. The Croton Expressway portion of US 9 ends here. NY 9A and NY 35 also run through the city.

Notable people[edit]

Memorial in Hillside Cemetery to Major General Seth Pomeroy of the Massachusetts militia, who died in Peekskill en route to providing aid to General George Washington in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War

Popular culture[edit]

The 1980s American sitcom The Facts of Life was about teenagers and young women who attend a fictional all-girls' boarding school in Peekskill, Eastland School for Girls (inspired by a now-defunct all-girls school that still overlooks the city) and similarly fictional Langley College.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Williams, Lena (December 23, 1984). "Peekskill Mayor Looks to Growth". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Mayor Andre Rainey". City of Peekskill. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  4. ^ Bailey, A. Peter (April 1985). "Richard E. Jackson: The New Man On Top In Peekskill". Ebony – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Vivian McKenzie declares victory in Peekskill mayoral race". News 12 Brooklyn. November 2, 2021. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  6. ^ Sandler, Corey (2007), Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession, Citadel Press, ISBN 978-0806528533
  7. ^ Indian Village of Sachoes, fultonhistory.com. Accessed April 11, 2024.
  8. ^ "Ryck's Patent".
  9. ^ Peekskill history, fultonhistory.com. Accessed April 11, 2024.
  10. ^ "Pioneers, patriots, and people, past and present; a history of Peekskill, New York ---".
  11. ^ "Pioneers, patriots, and people, past and present; a history of Peekskill, New York ---".
  12. ^ "1906 Proceedings NY Hist. Asoc".
  13. ^ Dunwell, F.F., 1991, The Hudson River highlands, New York: Columbia University Press; ISBN 0231070438
  14. ^ "History and Events in Peekskill | Peekskill History Summary". The Peekskill Museum. July 29, 1940. Archived from the original on January 9, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  15. ^ "Peekskill officials dot historic mountain with plaques" (PDF). Hudsonrivervalley.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 13, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  16. ^ Lossing, Benson (1859). The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution. Harper & Brothers, Publishers. pp. 734, 681.
  17. ^ Beecher, William C.; Scoville, Rev. Samuel (1891). A biography of Rev. Henry Ward Beecher. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. pp. 619–623; with the assistance of Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  18. ^ Ford, Carin T. Paul Robeson: I Want to Make Freedom Ring, Ch. 9, p. 97. 2008.
  19. ^ Nemiroff, R.; Bonnell, J., eds. (November 19, 2006). "The Car, the Hole, and the Peekskill Meteorite". Astronomy Picture of the Day. NASA. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  20. ^ "Westchester County Newspaper Collections". Rootsweb.ancestry.com. May 27, 2001. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  21. ^ "New owner has ambitious plans for Peekskill Herald". Westchester County Business Journal. 1998. Archived from the original on June 29, 2014.
  22. ^ "peekskilldaily.com". peekskilldaily.com. Archived from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  23. ^ Rowe, Claudia (June 8, 1997). "Paper Fights To Stay Alive". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  24. ^ "A Peekskill Firehouse on the Move". The New York Times. August 9, 2008.
  25. ^ "Historic Peekskill firehouse collapses in move". Lohud.com.
  26. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  27. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  28. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  29. ^ "Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art". Sotheby's. Archived from the original on December 16, 2023. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  30. ^ "Depew Park | Peekskill NY". www.cityofpeekskill.com. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  31. ^ Otterman, Sharon (January 23, 2013). "New York Archdiocese to Close 24 Schools". The New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  32. ^ "St. Columbanus School". St. Columbanus School. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  33. ^ "Hospital Is Haunted by History of Deals With Board Members". The New York Times. March 14, 1999. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  34. ^ "Patient Services in Yorktown Heights, Peekskill & More – NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  35. ^ "History – NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  36. ^ "Peekskill Community Volunteer Ambulance". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  37. ^ "Emergency Medical Services". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Prominent Peekskill People". Peekskill Arts Council. 2007. Archived from the original on August 14, 2007. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  39. ^ Condos, James (2014). Biographical Sketches of Federal and State Officers and Members of the General Assembly of 2015–2016 (PDF). Montpelier, VT: Vermont Secretary of State. p. 20.
  40. ^ "Passion player". The Guardian. February 29, 2004. Retrieved May 1, 2021.
  41. ^ "Jackie Gleason's Round House". Popular Mechanix. April 1960. Archived from the original on December 31, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  42. ^ Statham, Richard (July 31, 1963). "Jackie Gleason's fabulous home is now up for sale". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  43. ^ "Here's House For Sale, Jackie Gleason Special". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  44. ^ "New Vrindaban: The Black Sheep of ISKCON". Henrydoktorski.com. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  45. ^ "Green Skin's Grab-Bag: "An Interview with Herb Trimpe"". Webcitation.org. Archived from the original on October 26, 2009. Retrieved April 25, 2014.

External links[edit]