Rye, New York

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Rye, New York
City of Rye
Jay Estate is the childhood home of American Founding Father John Jay.
Jay Estate is the childhood home of American Founding Father John Jay.
Official seal of Rye, New York
Location in Westchester County and the state of New York
Location in Westchester County and the state of New York
Coordinates: 40°58′52″N 73°41′02″W / 40.98111°N 73.68389°W / 40.98111; -73.68389Coordinates: 40°58′52″N 73°41′02″W / 40.98111°N 73.68389°W / 40.98111; -73.68389
CountryUnited States
StateNew York
Incorporated (as a village)1904[1]
Reincorporated (as a city)1942[1]
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorJosh Cohn (D)
 • Interim City ManagerGreg Usry
 • City Council
Members' List
 • Total20.02 sq mi (51.86 km2)
 • Land5.85 sq mi (15.16 km2)
 • Water14.17 sq mi (36.70 km2)
 • Total15,720
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,681.53/sq mi (1,035.43/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)914
FIPS code36-64309

Rye is a small, coastal, suburban city in Westchester County, New York, United States. It is separate from the town of Rye, which has more land area than the city.[4] Rye city, formerly the village of Rye, was part of the town until it received its charter as a city in 1942, making it the youngest city in New York State. Some resources that track housing estimate that Rye's population is over 16,000.[5] Its population density for its 5.85 square miles of land is roughly 2,729.76/sq mi.[6]

Rye is notable for its waterfront which covers 60 percent of the city's six square miles and is governed by a waterfront act instituted in 1991.[7][8][9][10] Located in the city are two National Historic Landmarks: the Boston Post Road Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 1993; its centerpiece is the Jay Estate, the childhood home of John Jay, a Founding Father and the first Chief Justice of the United States.

Playland, a historic amusement park designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987 is also located in Rye. Playland features one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the Northeast, the Dragon Coaster.


Rye Beach, early 20th century

Rye was once a part of Fairfield County, Connecticut, belonging to the Sachem Ponus, of the Ponus Wekuwuhm, Canaan Parish, and was probably named for that chieftain, "Peningoe Neck".[11]

It was founded in 1660 by three men: Thomas Studwell, Peter Disbrow and John Coe. Later landowners included John Budd and family.[12][13]

During the 19th and early 20th centuries it was a haven for wealthy Manhattanites who travelled by coach or boat to escape the city heat. Its location on Long Island Sound and numerous beaches also appealed to visitors with more moderate means who gravitated for short stays at cottages and waterfront hotels.

It has an extraordinary inventory of buildings with architectural distinction that help visually articulate specific neighborhoods and districts.[13]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.0 square miles (52 km2), of which 5.9 sq mi (15 km2) is land and 14.2 sq mi (37 km2) is water.[4]

Rye is "situated in the eastern part of central Westchester County on Long Island Sound. The western border of the City generally parallels Beaver Swamp Brook, while the eastern border is formed by Milton Harbor and the Sound. Blind Brook traverses the City from the northwest corner of Rye to Milton Harbor at the southern end."[13]

Rock and wetlands[edit]

Rye High football field flooded in 2011

The geology and hydrology of Rye is characterized by a significant quantity of rock, marshes and wetlands [7] which makes the city both desirably scenic but also challenging for developers.

Rye's bedrock is predominantly constituted of Fordham gneiss and Harrison diorite also known as Byram Black granite.[14]

According to Rye's 1985 Master Plan, "Rye contains a variety of environmentally significant areas. Numerous tidal and freshwater wetlands are found near the waterfront and brooks. The Milton Harbor area (including the Marshlands Conservancy and Rye Golf Club), Disbrow Park and the Manursing area contain the most extensive wetlands in the City. In addition, substantial areas near the Sound, Milton Harbor, Blind Brook and Beaver Swamp Brook are within the 100 year flood hazard area, and thus subject to potential flooding."[7] According to the City of Rye, "Considerable acreage of these important natural resources has been lost or impaired by draining, dredging, filling, excavating, building, polluting and other acts inconsistent with the natural uses of such areas. Remaining wetlands are in jeopardy of being lost, despoiled or impaired by such acts contrary to the public safety and welfare." As a result, the City has charged itself with the responsibility of "preventing the despoilation and destruction of wetlands and watercourses while taking into account varying ecological, economic, recreational and aesthetic values. Activities that may damage wetlands or watercourses should be located on upland sites in such a manner as not to degrade these systems."[15]

In 2017, Rye resident and then New York State Senator George Latimer noted that wetlands maps for the area have not been updated in over 20 years [16]


Flooding has long been an issue in Rye as in other coastal towns with water coming in from Long Island Sound. The Blind Brook watershed is also a source of that flooding.

Three major weather events in just five years produced catastrophic damage in the town.

  • Following major flooding in March 2007, the April 2007 nor'easter six weeks later left some homes in Rye with over 5 feet of floodwater.[17][18]
  • In 2011, the after effects of Hurricane Irene in August and Hurricane Maria in September included swelling of Blind Brook and submersion of private and commercial properties including the Rye Nature Center, Indian Village, the Rye High football field, businesses on Purchase Street and homes on Milton and Highland Roads.[19]
  • Storm surges from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 resulted in evacuations of many coastal residences and facilities including the Milton firehouse.[20]

The City's response to these recurring hazards was to apply for funding through the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program.c Rye received $3,000,000 to safeguard the city against future flooding threats, upgrade its infrastructure for resiliency, identify stormwater mitigation solutions, and protect historic buildings and natural wetlands.[21][22]

Archaeological significance[edit]

As of 2010, seventy-five percent of the acreage in Rye or the equivalent of 3,954 acres had been determined to be archaeologically sensitive with numerous Native American contact sites.[23][24][25] Historic Native American burial sites have been noted in numerous publications together with discoveries of artifacts near the shoreline.[26]

Planning and zoning[edit]

The City's Master Plan was last updated in 1985 with an expectation that it would be updated again in 2000. Failure to update the Master Plan has produced concerns from residents about unrestricted development, flooding, higher than expected volume of teardowns and numerous other negative impacts on community life.[27][28] Previous Master plans were created in 1929, 1945 and 1963.


  • Central Business District
  • Church Row
  • Dogwood/Upper Dogwood Lane
  • Dublin (West Rye)
  • Grace Church Street Area
  • Greenhaven
  • Indian Village
  • Loudon Woods
  • Milton Harbor
  • Rye Town Park
  • Soundview Park


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)15,695[3]−0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[29]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 15,720 people living in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 88.2% White, 1.3% Black, 0.8% Native American, 5.6% Asian, and 2.7% from two or more races. 6.7% were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Estimates for 2018 were 15,752.[30]


According to a 2018 USA Today article, Rye is ranked 30th among America's wealthiest towns based on the following data: the median household income was $162,394; the median house value was $1,107,000. 73.2% of Rye residents had a college degree.[31]

Rye is home to:

Arts and culture[edit]

Lectures, concerts, exhibits and classes[edit]

  • Jay Heritage Center
  • Rye Arts Center
  • Rye Free Reading Room
  • Rye Historical Society
  • Wainwright House (1928)(5 acres) - Historic estate with gardens and central building commissioned by US Congressman J. Mayhew Wainwright. In 1951, the property was re-imagined as a religious center "for research and training in the laws of God for Human Conduct."[32] It was donated by Mrs. Philip King Condict to the Layman's Movement for a Christian World, an ecumenical organization serving New York men in business, banking and the law. [33][34] Complaints about departure from its core mission of “inspiring greater understanding through body, mind, spirit and community” have mired the "nonsectarian spiritual and educational center" in controversy on numerous occasions. [35] [36]
Memorial Day Parade, Rye, NY Boys Scouts

Largest annual community events[edit]

  • Rye Little League Parade (April)
  • American Legion Memorial Day Parade (May)
  • Rye Sidewalk Sale (July)
  • Jay Day (September)
  • Rye Harrison Football Game (October)
  • Rye Window Painting (October)
  • Rye Turkey Trot (November)
  • Mistletoe Magic (December)

Service and Volunteer Organizations[edit]

  • American Legion Post 128 [37]
  • Rye City Lions [38]

Historic sites[edit]

Of the more than 2600 National Historic Landmark (NHL) sites in the country, Rye has two: the Boston Post Road Historic District and Playland Amusement Park [13]

Boston Post Road Historic District (Rye, New York) (NRHP listing 1982) (NPS designation 1994)[edit]

Includes 5 historically significant parcels; much of the land was originally the ancestral home of American Founding Father John Jay. It is where he grew up and where he is buried.

  • Jay Estate - 23 acre park operated by the Jay Heritage Center.[39][40] Restoration of the Jay Mansion (1838) overlooking Long Island Sound was an official project of the Save America's Treasures Program. The Jay Mansion is the oldest National Historic Landmark (NHL) structure in New York State with a geothermal heating and cooling system and the first in Westchester County to have such an energy efficient system. Member site of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.[41] It is also listed on Westchester County's African American Heritage Trail.[42] Other historic buildings at the estate include a 1760s farmhouse, 1907 Zebra House and Carriage House, late 1800s Ice House and a 1917 Tennis House.
  • Lounsbury (1836–38)
  • Marshlands Conservancy (dates back to Paleo Indian era; part of original Jay Estate - partitioned in 1966)
  • Whitby Castle (Rye Golf Club)(1852–54)
  • The Jay Cemetery (established 1805)

Rye Playland (NRHP listing 1980)(NPS designation 1987)[edit]

The wooden Dragon Coaster is a signature component of Playland Amusement Park, a National Historic Landmark that dates back to 1927.

This 279-acre theme park is owned and operated by Westchester County and includes rides, games, an indoor skating rink or Ice Casino, beach, a boardwalk, and concession stands. It is one of only two amusement parks in the country with National Historic Landmark status, the other one being Kennywood in Pennsylvania. It has been a popular destination since it first opened in 1928. Its wooden roller coaster, the Dragon Coaster, built in 1929, is one of the last roller coaster rides built by engineer Frederick Church that is still operating.[43] The Derby Racer, also built by Church, is one of only three rides of its kind remaining in the world. Glenn Close's and Ellen Latzen's characters ride the roller coaster in the 1980s thriller film, Fatal Attraction. Airplane Coaster, Church's most acclaimed coaster, was removed in 1957.[44] Playland is also the setting for several key scenes in the 1988 comedy film Big, starring Tom Hanks

Sites on the National Register of Historic Places[edit]

Rye Post Office dedicated to Caroline O'Day

Of the more than 88,000 sites in the country that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), Rye has 8.[13]

Local landmarks[edit]

  • Haines-Robinson House (1867), 556 Milton Road
  • Jay Estate (formerly known as the Alansten District), 210 Boston Post Road
  • Stillman Residence (1915), 235 Boston Post Road
  • Village Green, Purchase Street

Additional historic resources[edit]

Of note are two 200 plus year old milestones labeled 24 and 25 on the Boston Post Road, oldest thoroughfare in the United States.[citation needed] The concept of mile markers to measure the distance from New York City was originated in 1763 by Benjamin Franklin during his term as Postmaster General. These sandstone markers likely date from 1802 when the Westchester Turnpike was configured.

Rye is also home to a rare 1938 WPA mural by realist Guy Pene du Bois which is located within the city's Post Office lobby and titled John Jay at His Home.

Rye is home to two of the 14 sites on the African American Heritage Trail of Westchester County- The Rye African-American Cemetery and the Jay Estate.

Cemeteries and burial grounds[edit]

  • Greenwood Union Cemetery - originally known as Union Cemetery; founded in 1837
  • Guion Cemetery
  • Milton Cemetery - oldest recorded burial is 1708
  • Rye African-American Cemetery - established in 1860
  • St. Mary's Cemetery - earliest burial 1854
  • Playland Ice Casino - site of Native American burying ground [47][48]

Churches and synagogues[edit]

Christ's Church clock tower Rye
  • Community Synagogue of Rye
  • Christ's Church Episcopal - established in 1695 as Grace Church; current building erected in 1866
  • Church of the Resurrection
  • Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester
  • Rye Presbyterian Church

Parks and recreation[edit]

Jay Meadow, Rye, NY

Parks and nature reserves[edit]

Rye has over 454 acres of green open space with multiple types of usage from active to passive recreation including walking, hiking, bird-watching and dog walking.[13] It is also a significant coastal community. In 1991, the City of Rye authored a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) to provide clear guidance for addressing future water conservation and preservation issues [7]

  • Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary (179 acres) established in 1985.
  • Jay Estate (23 acres) - opened as a park in 1992; site of 1917 Palmer Indoor Tennis Court currently undergoing restoration for public use. Dogs on leash allowed.
  • Marshlands Conservancy (137 acres/147 with tidal lands), originally called the Devereux Reservation, opened as nature preserve in 1966. No dogs allowed.
  • Rye Nature Center (47 acres) acquired by city in 1956 and opened in 1957.
  • Rye Nursery Park (6.74 acres) - acquired "for wetland restoration and park uses" [49] and deemed as "crucial land in the Long Island Sound Estuary" in 2001 following a recommendation by the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the Long Island Sound with the help of $3.1 million from the NY State and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund CWSRF administered by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and NY State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC);[50] also supported by the Westchester Land Trust and approved for $1.6 million in funding from The Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act.[51][52][53]
  • Rye Town Park (62 acres) - opened as a park in 1909 and jointly owned with the Town of Rye. Walking, dog friendly during appropriate seasonal hours. Recipient of multiple grants to fund ADA compliance including $300,000 grant from the State Office of Parks and Recreation [54]

Private and public clubs[edit]

Rye has numerous private country clubs, many of which were formed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The combined acreage of these clubs affords members and guests over 993 acres of recreation.[55]

  • American Yacht Club (New York) (1883) (12 acres+) - sailing, tennis, paddle
  • The Apawamis Club (1890) (120 acres) - golf, squash, tennis, paddle, swimming
  • The Coveleigh Club (1933) (13 acres) - tennis, swimming, beach, bocce
  • Manursing Island Club (1912) (65 acres) - tennis, swimming, beach
  • Rye Golf Club (1921) (126 acres) (formerly known as Rye Country Club [56] and Ryewood) - golf, swimming
  • Shenorock Shore Club (1945) (former site of defunct Milton Point Casino) (12+ acres)- tennis, swimming, beach
  • Westchester Country Club (1922) (Main Club: 583 acres; Beach Club:62 acres; 645 Total acres) - golf, tennis, squash, paddle, swimming, beach

Recreation facilities[edit]

Access to recreation in Rye is plentiful with numerous public, private and shared sports facilities from tennis, to ice hockey to boating.

Rye recreation facilities (79 acres total) (city owned and operated)[edit]

  • Damiano Recreation Center (1.5 acres)
  • Disbrow Park (51 acres) - 4 tennis courts, baseball - 12 acres dedicated as a park in 1930 with acreage added in 1931 by Mayor John Motley Morehead [57][58] Includes a former city landfill.
  • Gagliardo Park (2.5 acres)
  • Rye Nursery Park - (6.74 acres) natural grass soccer and lacrosse fields
  • Rye Recreation Park (17 acres) - tennis courts, soccer fields

Other recreation facilities owned by city[edit]

  • Rye Boat Basin/Marina - boating
  • Rye Golf Club (126 acres) - golf, swimming; course designed by Devereux Emmet in 1920
  • Rye High School - football, tennis, track; the Rye High School sports teams are named the Garnets.
  • Osborn School
  • Midland School
  • Milton School

Recreation facilities not owned by city[edit]

  • Durland Scout Center (2.7 acres)(1967-2007) - defunct sailing and swimming facility lost to development
  • Playland Ice Casino - skating, hockey
  • Row America Rye - rowing
  • Rye Country Day School - skating, hockey; the Rye Country Day teams are named the Wildcats.
  • Rye YMCA - swimming, fitness
  • School of the Holy Child (18 acres)
  • Tide Mill Yacht Basin


Nursery school programs[edit]

  • Rye Presbyterian
  • Christ's Church

Public schools[edit]

Rye is served by three public elementary schools: Osborn, Milton, and Midland.

Rye Middle School and Rye High School are part of the same campus, and the two buildings connect.

The Greenhaven and The Preserve at Rye neighborhoods of the City of Rye are served by the Rye Neck School District. Rye Neck High School and Middle School are on one campus also located partially in the City of Rye.

Rye High School has been named a Gold Medal school and the 61st-best high school in the U.S., ninth-best in New York state, and best in New York state if test-in schools are disregarded, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2013 "Best High Schools". The annual Rye-Harrison football game has been played for more than 80 years and is a top high school football rivalry in Westchester County.

Rye schools were recently ranked #18 in New York State with "A" ratings in all aspects except diversity.[59]

Private schools[edit]

  • Rye Country Day School, Pre-K through 12th grade, a college preparatory school
  • School of the Holy Child (18 acres), for girls, grades 5–12. The school was founded in 1904.[60]
  • Resurrection Elementary School (grammar school/middle school) is a Catholic school located in Rye.



  • Rye TV

Newspapers and print[edit]

  • The Rye Record - The Rye Record has been Rye's community paper for 22 years.[61]
  • The Rye Chronicle
  • Rye Rising.
  • The Rye City Review

Website only and blogs[edit]

  • My Rye [62]
  • Rye Moms



The Rye train station provides commuter rail service to Grand Central Terminal in New York City or Stamford and New Haven-Union Station via the Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line. The Bee-Line Bus System provides bus service to Rye on routes 13 and 61 with additional seasonal service to Rye Playland on routes 75 and 91.

Rye Fire House on Locust (1907)

Police department[edit]

The City of Rye police department has 36 sworn-in officers police officers and about six auxiliary police officers. They operate a fleet of Ford Crown Victorias, Chevrolet Tahoes, and one military-surplus truck used for emergency services. There is also one Toyota Prius for parking enforcement. The Rye Auxiliary Police is an all-volunteer force that provides assistance when needed. The Westchester County Police also patrols several areas of Rye, such as Playland Park, and The Marshlands. New York State Police patrols Interstate 95 and 287 while the MTA Police patrols the Rye Train station and property within the Metro North right-of-way.

Fire department[edit]

The City of Rye Fire Department is a combination department consisting of 100 volunteer firefighters (only 20 active) and 21 career firefighters of which 4-5 are on duty at all times. The department has two fire stations and man three engines, two ladders, two utility units, and two command vehicles. The Rye Fire Department responds to approximately 1,000 emergency calls annually and does not respond to medical calls.

Emergency medical services[edit]

Emergency medical service is provided by Port Chester-Rye-Rye Brook EMS at the Advanced Life Support Level (ALS). They are a combination agency with 50 members (30 paid EMTs, 15 paramedics and five volunteers). They operate up to five ALS ambulances and three paramedic flycars from their station in Port Chester and responds to over 5,000 calls a year between Port Chester, Rye and Rye Brook.

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The 1995 music video for Mariah Carey's Fantasy featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard was shot at Rye Playland.[65]
  • In the television series Mad Men, Rye is the home of Henry and Betty Francis and Betty's three children from her previous marriage to Don Draper. The Francis family lives there from 1965 to 1970.[citation needed]
  • One of the early scenes from hit movie in 1988 "Big" was shot at Rye Playland


In 2010, spurred by disastrous flooding events in 2007 and other environmental concerns, the Rye Sustainability Committee (RSC) was formed and tasked with creating a plan to inform best environmental and land stewardship practices for the city. A sustainability plan was formally adopted in December 2013 [66]


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External links[edit]