Yonkers, New York

Coordinates: 40°56′29″N 73°51′52″W / 40.94139°N 73.86444°W / 40.94139; -73.86444
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Yonkers
Corporation of the City of Yonkers
Yonkers upon the Hudson River as seen from The Palisades in New Jersey
Yonkers upon the Hudson River as seen from The Palisades in New Jersey
Flag of Yonkers
Official seal of Yonkers
Nicknames: 
The Central City, The City of Gracious Living, The City of Seven Hills, The City with Vision, The Sixth Borough, The Terrace City
Location of Yonkers in Westchester County, New York
Location of Yonkers in Westchester County, New York
Map
Interactive map of Yonkers
Coordinates: 40°56′29″N 73°51′52″W / 40.94139°N 73.86444°W / 40.94139; -73.86444
CountryUnited States
StateNew York
CountyWestchester
Founded1646 (village)
Incorporated1872 (city)
Government
 • TypeStrong mayor–council
 • BodyYonkers City Council
 • MayorMike Spano (D)
 • City Council
Members' List
Area
 • Total20.27 sq mi (52.49 km2)
 • Land18.01 sq mi (46.63 km2)
 • Water2.26 sq mi (5.85 km2)
Elevation
82 ft (25 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total211,569
 • RankUS: 107th NY: 9th
 • Density11,749.92/sq mi (4,536.75/km2)
Demonym(s)Yonkersonian
Yonkersite
Yonker
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
10701, 10702 (post office), 10703–10705, 10707 (shared with Tuckahoe, NY), 10708 (shared with Bronxville, NY), 10710, 10583 (shared with Scarsdale, NY)
Area code914
FIPS code36-84000[2]
GNIS feature ID0971828[3]
Websitewww.yonkersny.gov

Yonkers (/ˈjɒŋkərz/[4]) is a city in Westchester County, New York, United States. The city, a core suburb of the New York Metropolitan Area had a population of 211,569 as of the 2020 United States Census.[5] It is classified as an inner suburb of New York City, located directly to the north of the Bronx and approximately 2.4 miles (4 km) north of Marble Hill, 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 nonprofit organizations. It serves as a major retail hub for Yonkers and the northwest Bronx. 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.

The city is home to several attractions, including access to the Hudson River, Tibbetts Brook Park, Untermyer Park, the Hudson River Museum, the Saw Mill River, the Science Barge, and Sherwood House. Yonkers is considered a City of Seven Hills; the seven hills are Park, Nodine, Ridge, Cross, Locust, Glen, and Church Hills. In more recent years, Yonkers has undergone gentrification.[6]

Name[edit]

In July 1645, the area was granted to Adriaen van der Donck, the patroon of Colendonck. Van der Donck was known locally as the Jonkheer ('young gentleman'), a Dutch honorific title derived from the old Dutch jonk ('young') and heer ('lord'). In effect, it meant "Esquire". Jonkheer was shortened to Jonker (possessive form: Jonkers), from which the name Yonkers is directly derived.[7]: 91 

The gentilic for residents is alternately Yonkersonian, Yonkersite, or Yonk.[8]: 549 

History[edit]

Early settlements[edit]

Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site

The indigenous Native American village of Nappeckamack was located near the Neperah stream (now Saw Mill River, also called Nepperhan Creek) which flowed into the Shatemuck (Hudson River).[9] The land on which the city is built was once part of Colen Donck, a Dutch 24,000-acre (97-square-kilometer) land grant. It ran from the current ManhattanBronx border at Marble Hill northwards for 12 miles (19 km), and from the Hudson River eastwards to the Bronx River.

Adriaen van der Donck built a saw mill near the confluence of Nepperhan Creek and the Hudson River. Van der Donck died in 1655. Near the site of Van der Donck's mill is Philipse Manor Hall, a Colonial-era manor house owned by Dutch colonists. In modern times, the manor is operated as a museum and archive. Around 1682, the original structure was built by workmen and slaves for Frederick Philipse and his wife Margaret Hardenbroeck de Vries. Philipse was a wealthy Dutchman who, by the time of his death, had amassed an enormous estate which encompassed the entire modern city of Yonkers and several other Hudson River towns. Philipse's great-grandson, Frederick Philipse III, was a prominent Loyalist during the American Revolution. He had many economic and political ties to English businessmen. Because of his political leanings, he fled to England. The American colonists in New York state confiscated and sold all lands and property that belonged to the Philipse family.[10]

Gentrification and redlining of neighborhoods[edit]

Yonkers has undergone several changes to neighborhoods in a effort to revitalize the city including gentrification. Changes were done to the Yonkers waterfront including a revitalization of green spaces, which brought an increase in the quality of life for wealthier residents.[6]

In the 1980s, as residents were fighting against segregation, residents of the western area of downtown Yonkers opposed the Pierpointe, a condominium complex development proposal that would build over 1,900 condominiums including six 38-story towers. Critics stated that the proposal would bring homelessness and gentrification to the area as the total rent amount would make it harder for poorer residents to pay.[11]

The gentrification process in the downtown area raised concerns that it could force poorer residents of the city.[12] A painting named "But It’s Ours: The Redline Between Poverty and Wealth", which was created by Shanequa Benitez, symbolizes the effects of gentrification on the city. The painting is displayed at the Yonkers Arts Gallery.[13]

In an effort to combat redlining in Yonkers, the city announced the Yonkers Greenway project, a $14 million project that would run on tracks that were used by former railways such as the New York and Putnam Railroad. The tracks will run 3.1 miles from the Van Cortlandt Park to areas of downtown Getty Square.[14] Construction is expected to start in spring of 2024 and is estimated to be completed in 2026.[15]

Incorporation and growth[edit]

Yonkers in 1867, including the Village of Yonkers, which was very small; the southern part of Yonkers was annexed by New York City in 1874.

The Village of Yonkers was incorporated in the western part of the Town of Yonkers in 1854, and the village was incorporated as a city in 1872. In 1873, the southern part of the Town of Yonkers, outside the City of Yonkers, was separated as the Town of Kingsbridge. This included the current neighborhoods of Kingsbridge and Riverdale, as well as Woodlawn Cemetery and Woodlawn Heights. In 1874, the Town of Kingsbridge was annexed by New York City as part of 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, voters in Yonkers and neighboring Mount Vernon opposed the referendum and were not included in the consolidated city, remaining independent.[16] Still, some residents call Yonkers "the Sixth Borough", referring to its location on the New York City border, its urban character, and the failed merger vote.[17]

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 slightly south of the city line. The plan was dropped.[18][19]

In 1937, a 175-foot water tower collapsed in the Nodine Hills area, injuring 9 people.[20]: 1 : 4–5  The injury toll increased by 3 after the collapse, bringing the total number of injuries to 12.[21]: 1  Around 100,000 U.S. gallons (380,000 L) of water from the tower were spilled, causing flooding in the area that crushed cars and damaged homes. Construction on the new tower began in 1938, and the tower opened a year later in 1939.[22]

Wartime history[edit]

During the American Civil War, 254 Yonkers residents joined the U.S. Army and Navy. They enlisted primarily in four regiments: 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. The Home Guards were a force of constables formed to protect Yonkers from rioting that was feared to spread from New York City, but never did. In total, seventeen Yonkers residents were killed during the Civil War.[23]

During World War I, a total of 6,909 Yonkers residents (approximately 7% of the population) entered military service.[24]: vi  Most Yonkers men joined either the 27th Division or the 77th Division.[24]: 6  In total, 137 Yonkers residents were killed during the war.[24]: 77  In the 1918 sinking of the USS President Lincoln, seventeen sailors from Yonkers survived.[24]: 15  Civilians helped in the war effort by joining organizations such as the American Red Cross. In 1916, there were 126 people in the Yonkers chapter of the Red Cross. By the end of the war, 15,358 Yonkers residents were members of the chapter. Mostly women, they prepared surgical dressings, created hospital garments for the wounded, and knit 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 was $19,255,255.[24]: 23–24 

During World War II, the city's factories were converted to produce items for the war effort, such as tents and blankets by the Alexander Smith and Sons Carpet factory and tanks by the Otis Elevator factory. After World War II, increased competition from less expensive imports resulted in a decline in manufacturing in Yonkers, and numerous industrial jobs were lost.[25]

Industrial history[edit]

Yonkers, c. 1860s
Yonkers Public Library in December 2014

Yonkers initially was a small farming town producing peaches, apples, potatoes, oats, wheat, and other agricultural goods to be shipped to New York City along the Hudson River. Water power allowed the creation of new manufacturing jobs.[26]: 2  In 1853, Elisha Otis invented the first safety elevator, and the Otis Elevator Company opened the world's first elevator factory on the banks of the Hudson River, near what is now Vark Street.[27][28]: 66  In the 1880s, they relocated to larger quarters, which later became Yonkers Public Library.

Around the same time, the Alexander Smith and Sons Carpet Company in the Saw Mill River Valley expanded to 45 buildings, 800 looms, and more than 4,000 workers. It was known as one of the premier carpet-producing centers in the world.[29]: 15  Aside from being a manufacturing center, Yonkers played a key role in the development of sports recreation in the United States.

In 1888, Scottish-born John Reid founded Saint Andrew's Golf Club in Yonkers; it was the first golf course in the United States.[30] Beginning in 1888, the New York City and Northern Railway Company (later the New York Central Railroad) connected Yonkers to Manhattan and points north. A three-mile spur to Getty Square operated until 1943.[31][32] Bakelite, the first completely synthetic plastic, was invented c. 1907 in Yonkers by Leo Baekeland, and manufactured there until the late 1920s.[33]

In the early 20th century, Yonkers hosted brass era automobile maker Colt Runabout Company.[34]: 63  Although the vehicle reportedly performed well, the company went out of business. Yonkers was the headquarters of the Waring Hat Company, the nation's largest hat manufacturer at the time of its opening.[35] 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.[36] Yonkers had the longest running pirate radio station, owned by Allan Weiner and operated during the 1970s and 1980s.[37]

Alexander Smith Carpet Company, one of the city's largest employers, ceased operation during a labor dispute in June 1954.[25] In 1983, the Otis Elevator factory closed.[38] A Kawasaki railroad car assembly plant opened in 1986 in the former Otis plant. With the loss of manufacturing jobs, Yonkers became primarily a residential city.[39] 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 and five parkways and thruways, made it a desirable city in which to live. It is a 15-minute drive from Manhattan and has numerous prewar homes and apartment buildings. Yonkers's manufacturing sector has also shown a resurgence in the early 21st century.

Racial discrimination and United States v. Yonkers[edit]

In 1960, the population of Yonkers was 95.8% white and 4.0% black.[40] 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 in the city. The city planned to use federal funding for urban renewal efforts within Downtown Yonkers exclusively; other groups, led by the NAACP, believed that the resulting concentration of low-income housing in traditionally poor neighborhoods would perpetuate 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, it continued to support subsidized housing in this area between 1972 and 1977.[41]

In 1980, the NAACP and the federal government filed suit against the city of Yonkers and its board of education, beginning United States v. Yonkers.[42][43] After a 1985 decision and an unsuccessful appeal, Yonkers' schools were integrated in 1988.[44]: 1  Federal judge Leonard B. Sand ruled that Yonkers had engaged in institutional segregation in housing and school policies for over 40 years. He tied the illegal concentration of public housing and private housing discrimination to the city's resistance to ending racial isolation in its public schools.[45]

Yonkers gained national and international attention during the summer of 1988, when it backed out of its previous agreement to build municipal public housing in the eastern portions of the city, an agreement it had made in a consent decree after losing its appeal in 1987. After its reversal, the city was found in contempt of the federal courts. 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,[46] until the city capitulated to the federally mandated plan. Yonkers remained in contempt of court until September 9, 1988. The city council relented as the financial impacts threatened a library closure and sanitation cutbacks. The city council also considered massive layoffs, which would have adversely affected its ability to provide services to the upper classes it was trying to retain.[47] Nicholas C. Wasicsko, Yonkers' youngest mayor (elected at age 28), struggled in city politics. He succeeded in helping to end the city's contempt of court, but was voted out of office as a result.[48][49] His story is the subject of the 2015 miniseries Show Me a Hero. It was adapted from the 1999 nonfiction book of the same name by Lisa Belkin.[50] The 2007 documentary Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story also covers racial discrimination and housing segregation in Yonkers.[51]

As as a result of the federal lawsuit, Yonker's public school enrollment dropped from 54% of the city's eligible population to under 30% as thousands of white families either left the city for suburbs or enrolled their children in private schools, effectively gutting Yonker's middle class and tax base. This compounded the school district's financial burden as they estimated the cost for integration was over $262 million. Being forced to cut programs, Yonker's schools slid heavily in national rankings as test scores also sharply declined. By 1995 The New York Times called the desegregation effort "a profound disappointment to blacks and whites alike." Michael Sussmann, the NAACP's lawyer during the case, blamed Sand for failing to set federal funds aside to help relieve the cost of integration.[52]

21st century[edit]

Welcome sign on northbound Riverdale Avenue at the Bronx line (2013)

In the 2000s, some areas of Yonkers that border similar neighborhoods in Riverdale began seeing an influx of Orthodox Jews. Subsequently, Riverdale Hatzalah Volunteer Ambulance Service began serving some neighborhoods in the southwest section of the city.[53] There is also a small Jewish cemetery, the Sherwood Park Cemetery.[54]

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 which works out of private studios there.[55] Yonkers Raceway, a harness racing track, renovated its grounds and clubhouse, and added legalized video slot machine gambling in 2006 to become a "racino" named Empire City.[56][57] MGM Resorts International bought the raceway and casino in 2018 for $850 million.[58]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the city opened several test sites at the ParkCare Pavilion of St. John's Riverside Hospital, which was seen as a COVID-19 hotspot in the city.[59] The test site was operated by the New York State Department of Health during the pandemic.[60] More test sites opened in the city as students prepared to return to school for in-person learning.[61]

In February 2023, the Yonkers City Council approved the US Post Office on Main Street for Local Landmark status after being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.[62]

On September 29, 2023, a state of emergency was declared in the city after flash flooding affected most of the Hudson Valley and New York City. Most of the parkways in the area were closed and flooding was reported in the Mount Vernon area of the city.[63] Following the floodings, crews pumped water out of homes.[64]

Yonkers has been used as a filming location for many films and television series.[65] The City Hall courtroom is used for many film scenes and commercials.[66] Yonkers is part of New York City's union zone, meaning crews do not need to be paid travel fees.[67][needs update?] Catch Me If You Can (2002) and Mona Lisa Smile (2003) were partially filmed in Yonkers.[67][68] Yonkers is the setting of two feature films by local filmmaker Robert Celestino: Mr. Vincent (1997) and Yonkers Joe (2008).[69][70]also in 2011, 2 times Grammy winning artist Tyler the Creator released his song Yonkers that boosted him into fame. Yonkers is also the setting for A Tale of Two Pizzas (2005).[71] Neil Simon's play Lost in Yonkers and its film adaptation are set in the city.[72] The city also opened a new Lionsgate Studios facility, which hosts the Spanish multimedia communications group Mediapro, and a new $500 expansion will be planned for the facility that would make it the largest production filming in the Northeast.[73]

Geography[edit]

High-rise apartments along the Hudson River in Northwest Yonkers

Yonkers is 20.3 square miles (53 km2), including 18.1 square miles (47 km2) of land and 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2) of water. The Bronx River separates Yonkers from Mount Vernon, Tuckahoe, Eastchester, Bronxville, and Scarsdale to the east. The town of Greenburgh is to the north, and the Hudson River forms the western border. On the south, Yonkers borders the Riverdale, Woodlawn, and Wakefield sections of The Bronx.[74]: 2 

Saw Mill River, Getty Square

The city is spread out over hills rising from near sea level at the eastern bank of the Hudson River to 416 feet (127 m) above sea level at Sacred Heart Church, whose spire can be seen from Long Island, New York City, and New Jersey.

Yonkers is considered a City of Seven Hills; the seven hills are Park, Nodine, Ridge, Cross, Locust, Glen, and Church Hills.[75][76] Much of the city developed around the Saw Mill River, which enters Yonkers from the north and flows into the Hudson River in the Getty Square neighborhood.[77] Portions of the Saw Mill River were earlier buried in flumes beneath parking lots, but have since been uncovered (daylighted).[78] Daylighting promotes the restoration of habitat for plants, fish, and other fauna, and helps develop an understanding of where Native Americans camped in spring and summer months.[79]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
18608,218
187012,73354.9%
188018,89248.4%
189032,03369.6%
190047,93149.6%
191079,80366.5%
1920100,17625.5%
1930134,64634.4%
1940142,5985.9%
1950152,7987.2%
1960190,63424.8%
1970204,2977.2%
1980195,351−4.4%
1990188,082−3.7%
2000196,0864.3%
2010195,976−0.1%
2020211,5698.0%
Historical sources: 1790–1990[80][81]

As of the 2018 American Community Survey, 34.8% of Yonkers residents spoke Spanish, and 4.2% of the population was West Indian. Yonkers has a sizeable Arab population, mainly from the Levant, especially Jordanians and Palestinians.[82][83] There is a sizeable Albanian population in Yonkers.[84][85]

As of the 2010 census,[86] there were 195,976 people in the city. The population density was 10,827.4 people per square mile (4,180.5 people/km2). There were 80,839 housing units at an average density of 4,466.2 per square mile (1,724.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 55.8% White, 18.7% African American, 0.7% Native American, 5.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 14.7% from other races, and 4.1% from two or more races. 34.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any racial background. Non-Hispanic Whites were 41.4% of the population in 2010,[87] down from 89.9% in 1970.[40]

After data from the 2020 Census was released, the city population of Yonkers grew by 8% from 2010 to 2020, making the population of residents increase from 195,976 to 211,569. Yonkers surpassed Rochester as the third largest city in New York, trailing only Buffalo and New York City.[88] The census release saw a rise in the increase of Hispanics, with the population of the non-Hispanic population decreasing to 33% from 41.4% in 2010.[89] The amount of Hispanics and Latinos rose to 40%. and the amount of Asians increased to 5.9%. The city also reported a decrease in whites from 55.8% to 46.3%.[90]

Demographic profile 2020[90] 2010[87] 1990[40] 1970[40] 1950[40]
White 46.3% 55.8% 76.2% 92.9% 96.7%
 —Non-Hispanic 33% 41.4% 67.1% 89.9% N/A
Black or African American 18.7% 16.0% 14.1% 6.4% 3.2%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 40.0% 34.7% 16.7% 3.5% N/A
Asian 5.9% 5.8% 3.0% 0.4%

Neighborhoods[edit]

Saint Patrick's Day parade (2010)

Yonkers includes several small residential enclaves and communities that fall into four quarters, demarcated by the Saw Mill River. There are at least 38 distinct neighborhoods, but many of their original names are rarely used except by older residents and real-estate brokers.[91]

Northeast Yonkers[edit]

The Blue Cube, a former factory turned into a television production facility on the Northwest Yonkers waterfront, seen from across the Hudson River
Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church
Riverdale Avenue looking north from The Bronx line
Messiah Baptist Church

Northeast Yonkers is a primarily Irish-American and Italian-American area. House sizes vary widely, from small houses set close together, to larger homes in areas like Lawrence Park West and mid-rise apartment buildings along Central Avenue (NY 100). Central Avenue (officially named Central Park Avenue) provides an abundance of shopping for Yonkers residents. Notable former residents include Steven Tyler of the rock band Aerosmith, whose childhood home was located at 100 Pembrook Drive.[92]

Northeast Yonkers contains the affluent neighborhoods of Crestwood, Colonial Heights, and Cedar Knolls, as well as the wealthy enclaves of Beech Hill and Lawrence Park West. It also contains a gated community off the eastern edge of the Grassy Sprain Reservoir, known as Winchester Villages. Landmarks include St Vladimir's Seminary, Sarah Lawrence College, and the Tanglewood Shopping Center (one-time home of the Tanglewood Boys gang).[93] Northeast Yonkers is somewhat more expensive than the rest of the city, and due to the proximity of several Metro-North commuter railroad stations, its residents tend to be employed in corporate positions in Manhattan.

Northwest Yonkers[edit]

Northwest Yonkers is a collection of widely varying neighborhoods, spanning from the Hudson River to around the New York State Thruway (I-87) and from Ashburton Avenue north to the Hastings-on-Hudson border. With the Hudson River bordering it to the west, northwest Yonkers has many Victorian-era homes with panoramic views of The Palisades. The significant amount of surviving Victorian architecture and number of 19th-century estates in northwest Yonkers has attracted filmmakers.[68]

An interest in historic preservation has taken hold in this area in recent years, as demonstrated on streets like Shonnard Terrace, Delavan Terrace, and Hudson Terrace. In Delavan Terrace, this was shown with the 1854 Smith-Collins House, which was considered as part of the city's architecture in a 1983 article by The New York Times.[94] The house was demolished in 2007, and former City Council President Chuck Lesnick called for a legislation that would make a demolition of a 75-year-old landmark in the city be subject to the landmark review process.[95]

Neighborhoods include Nepera Park, Runyon Heights, Homefield, Glenwood, and Greystone. Landmarks include the Hudson River Museum, the Lenoir Nature Preserve, and Untermyer Park and Gardens.[96]

The two-block section of Palisade Avenue between Chase and Roberts Avenues in northwest Yonkers is colloquially known as "the north end" or "the end". It was, and still is, the only retail area in northwest Yonkers, and was well known for its soda fountain, Urich's Stationery, and Robbins Pharmacy. It was once the end of the #2 trolley line, which has since been replaced by a Bee-line Bus route. Nepperhan Avenue in Nepera Park is a major shopping district for the area.

Southeast Yonkers[edit]

The residents of southeast Yonkers are mostly Irish American and Italian American. Among the Irish Americans, there is a notable population of recent immigrants from Ireland.[97][98] The architecture in southeast Yonkers bears greater resemblance to certain parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island than to points north. Southeastern Yonkers is largely within walking distance of the Woodlawn and Wakefield sections of the Bronx.

Many residents regard eastern McLean Avenue, home to a vibrant Irish community shared with Woodlawn, to be the true hub of Yonkers.[99][100] Similarly, a portion of Midland Avenue in the Dunwoodie section has been called the Little Italy of Yonkers. Landmarks of southeastern Yonkers include the Cross County Shopping Center, Yonkers Raceway, and St. Joseph's Seminary in the Dunwoodie neighborhood, which was visited by Pope John Paul II in October 1995 and later by Pope Benedict XVI in April 2008.[101][102]

Southwest Yonkers[edit]

The center area of Getty Square

Getty Square is Yonkers's downtown and the civic center and central business district of the city. Much of southwest Yonkers grew densely along the multiple railroads and trolley (now bus) lines along South Broadway and in Getty Square, connecting to New York City. Clusters of apartment buildings surrounded the stations of the Yonkers branch of the New York and Putnam Railroad and the Third Avenue Railway trolley lines and these buildings still remain although now served by the Bee-Line Bus System. The railroad companies themselves built neighborhoods of mixed housing types ranging from apartment buildings to large mansions in areas like Park Hill wherein the railroad also built a funicular to connect it with the train station in the valley.[103]

Off South Broadway and Yonkers Avenue one can find residential neighborhoods, such as Lowerre, Nodine Hill, Park Hill, and Hudson Park. These neighborhoods have a mix of building styles including dense clusters of apartment buildings, blocks of retail with apartments above, multifamily row houses, and detached single-family homes.[104] The neighborhoods of Ludlow Park, Hudson Park, and Van Cortlandt Crest have a larger number of detached houses.[105]

Southwest Yonkers was traditionally populated by African American and white residents; it has seen an influx of immigrants from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, South Asia, and the Middle East. Many residents are of African, Caribbean, Italian, Polish, or Mexican descent. Some neighborhoods on the Riverdale border are increasingly becoming home to Orthodox Jews.

The area is home to significant historical and educational institutions including the historic Philipse Manor Hall, the Science Barge, Beczak Environmental Education Center, and a 2003 Yonkers Public Library.[106] The revitalization of the Getty Square area has helped to nurture growth for Southwest Yonkers. In the early 21st century, several new luxury apartment buildings were built along the Hudson River. A Victorian-era pier was renovated, and a new public library was housed in the remodeled Otis elevator factory. Peter X. Kelly's fine dining restaurant, X20 Xaviar's on the Hudson, is located at the renovated pier.[107] In 2020, several more new rental buildings were placed at the river's edge on Alexander Street. Sawyer Place is an 18-story building that sits atop the site of the original old mill.[108][109] There are new proposals along with the current projects which are intended to revitalize downtown Yonkers.

Government[edit]

Yonkers City Hall, built between 1907 and 1910, was designed by H. Lansing Quick in the Beaux-Arts style

Phillipse Manor Hall was the site of the first Yonkers Village Hall and City Hall from 1868 to approximately 1906.[96]

Yonkers is governed via a strong mayor–council system. The Yonkers City Council has seven members; six elected from each of the six districts and a council president. The mayor and city council president are elected in a citywide vote. The mayor is Democrat Mike Spano and the council president is Michael Khader.

Yonkers, like the rest of Westchester County and New York state, is typically a Democratic stronghold on the national level. In 1992, Yonkers voted for George H. W. Bush over Bill Clinton and Ross Perot for president, but it has voted solidly Democratic ever since. At a local level, recent mayors of Yonkers have included Republicans Phil Amicone and John Spencer, and the Yonkers City Council has mostly been controlled by Republicans. In the State Assembly, Yonkers is represented by Democrats J. Gary Pretlow and Nader Sayegh, and in the State Senate by Democrats Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Shelley Mayer. At the federal level, Democratic representative Jamaal Bowman represents the city.

Education[edit]

Public schools in Yonkers are operated by Yonkers Public Schools. There are several other elementary Catholic schools and one Muslim school. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York operates Catholic schools in Westchester County.[110] Academy for Jewish Religion, a rabbinical and cantorial school, is located in the Getty Square neighborhood of Yonkers.

Sarah Lawrence College, which gives its address as Bronxville, New York, 10708,[111] is actually located in Yonkers.[112] Westchester Community College (part of the State University of New York system) operates a number of extension centers in Yonkers, with the largest one at the Cross County Shopping Center.[113] Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary is located in Crestwood. The Japanese School of New York was located in Yonkers for one year; on August 18, 1991, the school moved from Yonkers to Queens and on September 1, 1992, classes began at its current location in Greenwich, Connecticut.[114]

Three libraries are operated by the Yonkers Public Library: Crestwood, Riverfront, and Grinton I. Will. The Carnegie Library, funded by Andrew Carnegie, was demolished in May 1982 to make way for the expansion of Nepperhan Avenue into an arterial roadway.[115][116]: 34 

Transportation[edit]

Mass transit[edit]

Yonkers Metro-North train station
Yonkers Metro-North platform

Yonkers has the eleventh-highest rate of public transit ridership among cities in the United States, and 27% of Yonkers households do not own a car.[117]

Bus service in Yonkers is provided by the Westchester County Bee-Line Bus System, the second-largest bus system in New York state, along with some MTA Bus Company express routes to Manhattan. Yonkers is the top origin and destination for the Bee-Line Bus service area, which includes Westchester and the northern Bronx, with the Getty Square intermodal hub serving millions of passengers per year.[118]

Through Metro-North Railroad, Yonkers is served by two heavy-rail commuter lines: the Hudson Line and the Harlem Line. The Ludlow, Yonkers, Glenwood, and Greystone stations serve the Hudson Line, which provides commuter service to New York City.[119] The Yonkers station is also served by Amtrak. All of the named Empire Service trains except the Lake Shore Limited serve the Yonkers station. Several Harlem Line stations are on or near the city's eastern border. These include Wakefield, Mount Vernon West, Fleetwood, Bronxville, Tuckahoe and Crestwood.

Beginning in the late 19th century, the area was also served by the New York and Putnam Railroad, a commuter line that was shut down in phases until its final closure in 1958. Its path has been paved and is used as a public park and part of the Empire State Trail which spans 750 miles (1,210 km) from New York City to Albany.[120] Until December 2009, New York Water Taxi operated a ferry service from downtown Yonkers to Manhattan's Financial District.[121] From 2018 to 2020, Yonkers had a dockless bikeshare program operated by LimeBike.[122] It now operates an electric scooter program, which was launched in August 2020 by Bird, making Yonkers the first city in New York to deploy an electric scooter program.[123]

Roads and paths[edit]

Cross County Parkway (eastbound)

Major limited-access roads in Yonkers include Interstate 87 (the New York State Thruway) and the Saw Mill, Bronx River, Sprain Brook, and Cross County parkways. US 9, NY 9A, and NY 100 are important surface streets.

The main line of the former New York and Putnam Railroad has been converted into a paved walking and bicycling path called the South County Trailway. It runs north–south in Yonkers from the Hastings-on-Hudson border in the north to the Bronx border in the south at Van Cortlandt Park, where it is referred to as the Putnam Greenway.[124]

The historic Croton Aqueduct tunnel has a hard-packed dirt trail, called the Old Croton Aqueduct Trailway, running above it for most of its length in Yonkers, with a few on-street routes on the edge of the Getty Square neighborhood.[125]

Fire department[edit]

Yonkers Fire Department headquarters from 1927 to 2015

The city of Yonkers is served by the Yonkers Fire Department (YFD), which has 459 firefighters under the command of a fire commissioner and 3 deputy chiefs. Founded in 1896, the YFD operates out of 14 fire stations, located throughout the city in 2 battalions, under the command of 2 assistant chiefs each shift.[126] The YFD responds to approximately 16,000 emergency calls annually. In its fire apparatus fleet, the YFD has 10 engine companies, 6 ladder companies, 1 squad (rescue-pumper) company, 1 rescue company, 1 fireboat, 1 air cascade unit, 1 USAR (urban search and rescue) collapse unit, 1 foam unit, 1 haz-mat unit, and several special, support, and reserve units.[127]

Economy[edit]

Yonkers is home to several brewing companies, most notably the Simple Motive Brewing Company and Yonkers Brewing Company.[128] The Yonkers Brewing Company opened in 2015 at the former Yonkers Trolley Barn, a former trolley station that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Prior to its opening, brewery was associated with former mobster Dutch Schultz.[129] In 2023, the Simple Motive Brewing Company opened in the Carpet Mills Art District at The Mills, a former 55,000-square-feet warehouse that specialized in carpet manufacturing, after years of obstacles delayed its opening.[130][128]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Yonkers recorded an unemployment rate of 18.7%, with around 17,800 unemployed.[131] The unemployment rate increased to 19.4% in July 2020, the highest in the cities history. In April 2023, the city unemployment rate was 2.8%, the lowest in the city history.[132]

Principal employers[edit]

According to Yonkers' 2022 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[133] the principal employers in the city are:

  1. Montefiore IT – 780 employees
  2. Liberty Lines Transit – 689 employees
  3. Yonkers Raceway – 566 employees
  4. Stew Leonard's – 511 employees
  5. Kawasaki Rail – 455 employees
  6. Consumer Reports – 508 employees
  7. American Sugar Refining – 318 employees
  8. Macy's – 285 employees
  9. Cintas – 220 employees

Notable people[edit]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Yonkers is twinned with:

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Further reading[edit]

  • Allison, Charles Elmer. The History of Yonkers. Westchester County, New York (1896).
  • Duffy, Jennifer Nugent. Who's Your Paddy?: Racial Expectations and the Struggle for Irish American Identity (NYU Press, 2013), Irish Catholics in Yonkers
  • Hufeland, Otto. Westchester County During the American Revolution, 1775–1783 (1926)
  • Madden, Joseph P. ed. A Documentary History of Yonkers, New York: The Unsettled Years, 1853–1860 (Vol. 2. Heritage Books, 1992)
  • Weigold, Marilyn E., Yonkers in the Twentieth Century (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2014). xvi, 364 pp.

External links[edit]