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History of Yonkers NY
Yonkers was originally made up of various Native American tribes, such as the Mohegan, Manhattan, and Algonquin tribes who lived in the village of Nappeckamack. This village, which translates to “rapid water settlement”, was located where the Neperah steam flowed into the Hudson River. Some time around 1609, Henry Hudson famously travelled up the waterway and then named this area “The Great River of the Mountains”. Since he was the captain of the Half Moon, he told the Dutch West India Company about it. They would sponsor the expedition so that they could find another sailing route to India. Rather than use it as a sales route, the Hudson River had different trade points for fur trading with the Indians.
In 1640’s, the Dutch East India Company offered a grant of land to Adriaen Van der Donck. He became known as a “Jonkheer” or “Jonker”, which is where Yonkers got its name from. He created a sawmill in the area, which is why the river is now known as Saw Mill River. Nearby this mill is the Philipse Manor Hall, which is now a museum that now shows people what life was like before the American Revolutionary War.
Originally Yonkers NY was known for its industrial waterfront and farmland. To encourage growth in the economy, residents started looking towards developing industry. For instance, in 1853 the Otis Elevator company was started after Elisha Otis invented the first safety elevator. The Alexander Smith and Sons Carpet Company expanded their business and became one of the most notable carpet manufacturing centers in the entire world. Industry and manufacturing had long been a staple to Yonkers growth well into the 20th century.
Yonkers is known for its diverse communities, particularly the Irish, Italians, Hispanics, and African Americans. This diversity is one of the things that is still very prominent in the area. Yonkers is so well-known for its diversity that popular plays “Lost in Yonkers” and “Hello Dolly” actually take place in the Yonkers’ Jewish community.
Yonkers (the Northern Part) was incorporated as the Town of Yonkers in 1854 and later it became a city in 1872. What became the southern part of Yonkers (such as Riverdale and Kingsbridge) was later annexed from NYC as what is now known as The Bronx. In 1898, Yonkers become part of NYC again. However, the residents voted against this referendum, though some residents still refer to Yonkers as the “Sixth Borough”.
While there’s a lot of emphasis on the industrial and manufacturing nature of this city, it also played a major role in developing American entertainment. For example, in 1988 John Reid founded the St. Andrew’s Golf Club in Yonkers. This would become the first golf course in the United States. Many famous people have hailed from this city, becoming legends in their industry such as Ella Fitzgerald and Mary J. Blige. It has also become a popular tourist destination, due to its various sites and popular annual events. Yonkers is an incredible place to visit, which has such a fascinating rich history.
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