Westchester History On Display At Harrison Library

HARRISON, N.Y. – A general history of Westchester County was delivered to Harrison residents at the downtown library Monday night, with at least one person remarking how wonderful it was.

“I thought it was a very good speech,” Dorothy Zaro said of the slide show presentation “From Wigwams to Corporate Headquarters.” “It went from one interesting thing to another.”

Patrick Raftery, librarian at the Westchester County Historical Society, spoke about events from Henry Hudson’s arrival in the early 1600s to the appearance of corporate headquarters in the 1980s.

He started off his presentation with a quote from Henry Hudson, who said in 1609 that Westchester “is as pleasant a land as one need tread upon.”

The six-year librarian discussed the early Native American settlements, Thomas Pell, Anne Hutchinson, John Jay’s impact on the county, Sing Sing prison, slavery in the region and the Revolutionary War, plus the upgrades in transportation and appearance of new hot spots that remain here today.

He offered many tidbits of information, including that in 1698, slaves made up 10 percent of the Westchester population and how by 1827, slavery was outlawed in New York. In another slide, he spoke about how Westchester County could be called the cradle of golf courses, with The St. Andrew's Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson being America’s oldest, as it was founded in 1888.

Before the Westchester County Airport opened, the Armonk Airport was an important part of the region. Other forms of transportation ranged from horse coach, train and trolley to buses and cars.

Raftery said the best part about this presentation is not only getting new members for the society, but also learning something new about a historic place from an audience member.

“A lot of times, you talk to someone that has an interesting connection to one of the historic sites,” Raftery said. “They may have had an ancestor that fought in a particular battle. You get interesting connections like that, people might not otherwise talk about.”

The Historical Society delivers six to eight presentations throughout the year that consist of this one plus “Hidden Treasures of Westchester” and “The Cemeteries of Westchester.”

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