New York - New Rochelle
New Rochelle (72 alt.,72,182 pop.) is rich in historical landmarks and monuments scattered among its modern apartment houses, cottages, and estates. Main Street, the principal business thoroughfare, follows the route of the historic Boston Post Road, along which patriot messengers carried the news of Lexington and Bunker Hill to New York. From it branch tree-shaded avenues lined with two-story villa residences, each with its lawn and flower garden facing the road. Other residential sections, especially in the northern part of the city, are built up in a series of parks. New Rochelle was reputedly the scene of George M. Cohan's Fortyfive Minutes from Broadway; the modern New Haven trains make the Grand Central Terminal in half an hour.
In the heart of the Westchester country club district (the Wykagyl Country Club and several others are in the city and the Winged Foot Golf Club and Travers Island are close by), and with nine miles of sheltered water front on Long Island Sound, the city prides itself on its sporting activities: golf, tennis, boating, yachting, and swimming throughout the summer months, and salt-water fishing in all weathers.
The fact that New Rochelle has one of the highest ratings of per capita wealth among the communities of the country is reflected in the rich architecture of its homes, its schools, and its churches. The city's diversified industrial products include powder puffs, surgical instruments, chemicals, and metal novelties.
In the poorer sections of the city live many Negroes, most of whom earn a living as servants in apartment houses and private homes, and 5,000 descendants of the Italian laborers imported in the eighties to lay railroad lines.
The city occupies the site of the villages of the Siwanoy, principal nation of the Wappinger Indian confederacy. In 1688 a small group of Huguenot refugees landed at what is now Bonnefoi Point. In 1689 they purchased from John Pell, second lord of the manor of Pelham, through the agency of Jacob Leisler, a tract of 6,000 acres and named the settlement for their old home in France, La Rochelle. In 1692 they built the first church in New Rochelle. With the passing of the years, they became communicants of the Anglican church. In 1698 a census showed a total population of 232, consisting of 188 whites and 44 Negro slaves.
Highlights of the Revolutionary period were the arrival of Paul Revere and other messengers from Boston to New York and the overnight stay of George Washington in 1775 on his way to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to take command of the Continental Army. General Philip Schuyler rode into town with him and left the next morning to take command of the defenses on the northern New York frontier. Schuyler was familiar with New Rochelle: as a boy of 15 he had attended the school of the Reverend Pierre Stouppe here, and his shore estate was near Pell's Point, five miles southeast.
New Rochelle became a village in 1857 and was incorporated as a city in 1899. As early as the 1890's it began to attract theatrical people, artists, and writers. Agnes Booth and Cora Tanner, famous in their day as stars of the melodrama The Sporting Dutchess, from time to time made the city their home, as did Eddie Foy, vaudeville actor and hero of the Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago. Francis Wilson, of Erminie fame, lived here; and Frederic Remington, sculptor and painter of western scenes, and Augustus Thomas, playwright, were commuters. Here, too, lived George Randolph Chester, who invented that delectable character of the old school, GetRich-Quick Wallingford. Faith Baldwin, novelist, was born in New Rochelle in 1893. A contemporary resident is Norman Rockwell, artist and illustrator.
The observance in the summer of 1938 of the 250th anniversary of the settlement of New Rochelle included a pilgrimage of children to New York City to commemorate the long trips to church taken by the first settlers. While the Huguenots, according to tradition, went barefoot all the way, the children put on their shoes and stockings after one block.