Yonkers is the fourth largest city in the U.S. State of New York (behind Rochester, Buffalo, and New York City), and the largest city in Westchester County, with a population of 196,086 (according to the 2000 census). More recent estimates put the population at 197,234 in 2002, 197,126 in 2004 and 196,425 in 2005. Yonkers borders the New York City borough of The Bronx and is 2 miles (3 km) north of Manhattan at the cities' two respective closest points.
The city is home to several attractions, an example of which is Yonkers Raceway, a harness racing track that has renovated its grounds and clubhouse and added legalized video slot machine gambling in 2006 in a "racino" called Empire City. The race track's renovation forced the move of the city's weekly Flea Market; now held in the parking lot of the Edward J. Murray Skating Center, located at 348 Tuchahoe Road, every Sunday between the months of May & December. There are also many large shopping areas along Central Park Avenue (NY 100), informally called "Central Avenue" by area residents, a name it takes officially a few miles north in White Plains, New York.It is also in consideration of being annexed by the city of New York as a new borough
Yonkers is located at (40.941478, -73.864365).
The city occupies 20.3 square miles (52.6 km²), including 46.8 km² (18.1 sq mi) of land and 5.8 km² (2.2 sq mi) (11.02%) of water, according to the United States Census Bureau.
The Bronx River separates Yonkers from Mount Vernon, Tuckahoe, Eastchester, Bronxville, and Scarsdale to the east. The towns of Greenburgh and Hastings-on-Hudson are to the north, and on the western border is the Hudson River.
On the south, Yonkers borders the Riverdale, Woodlawn, and Wakefield sections of The Bronx. In addition, the southernmost point of Yonkers is only 2 miles (3 km) north of the northernmost point of Manhattan when measured from Broadway & Caryl Avenue in Yonkers to Broadway & West 228th Street in the Marble Hill section of Manhattan.
There are 74,351 households out of which 30.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.2% are married couples living together, 17.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% are non-families. 29.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.61 and the average family size is 3.23.
In the city the population is spread out with 24.3% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 15.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 84.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $44,663, and the median income for a family is $53,233. Males have a median income of $41,598 versus $34,756 for females. The per capita income for the city is $22,793. 15.5% of the population and 13.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 24.8% of those under the age of 18 and 9.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
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Near the site of van der Donck's mill is Philipse Manor Hall, a Colonial-era manor house which today serves as a museum and archive, offering many glimpses into life before the American Revolution. The original structure (later enlarged) was built around 1682 by Frederick Philipse, a wealthy Dutchman who, by the time of his death, had amassed an enormous estate which encompassed the entire modern City of Yonkers, as well as several other Hudson River towns. Philipse's great-grandson, Frederick Philipse III, was a prominent Loyalist during the American Revolution, who, because of his political leanings, was forced to flee to England.
For its first two hundred years, Yonkers was a small farming town with an active waterfront. Yonkers's later growth rested largely on developing industry. In 1853, the Otis Elevator Company, opened the first elevator factory in the world on the banks of the Hudson. Around the same time, the Alexander Smith and Sons Carpet Company (in the Saw Mill River Valley) expanded to 45 buildings, 800 looms, and over 4,000 workers and was known as one of the premier carpet producing centers in the world. In 1892, Smith carpets were sent to Moscow for the czar's coronation. Bakelite, the first completely synthetic plastic, was invented in Yonkers circa 1906, and manufactured there until the late 1920s.
Yonkers was also the headquarters of the Waring Hat Company, at the time the nation's largest hat manufacturer. World War II saw the city's factories manufacture such items as tents and blankets in the Alexander Smith and Sons Carpet Factory and tanks in the Otis Elevator factory.
After World War II, however, with increased competition from less expensive imports, Yonkers lost much of its manufacturing activity. The Alexander Smith Carpet mill fell on hard times and ceased operation on June 24, 1954. In 1983, the Otis Elevator Factory finally closed its doors. With the loss of jobs in the city itself, Yonkers followed the trend of many suburban cities after World War II, becoming primarily a commuter city. Yonkers' excellent transportation infrastructure, including three commuter railroad lines (now two) and five parkways and freeways, as well as its 15-minute drive from Manhattan, made it a desirable city to live in. Yonkers' manufacturing sector, however, has recently shown a resurgence. A Kawasaki railroad cars assembly plant opened in 1986 in the former Otis plant, producing the new R142A and R160B cars for the New York City Subway, and the PA4 and upcoming PA5 series for PATH.
Aside from being a manufacturing center, Yonkers also played a key role in the development of entertainment in the United States. In 1888, Scottish immigrant John Reid founded the first golf course in the United States, St. Andrew's Golf Club, in Yonkers. 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. Yonkers also had the longest running pirate radio station, owned by Allan Weiner during the 70s through the 80s. In spite of this historic broadcast, Yonkers has the dubious distinction of being the largest city in the United States to not have a broadcast station licensed to it, but WVIP / WRTN 93.5 FM has been in Yonkers, NY since the 1950s. One of the main reasons for this is its central location in the New York City market, with many nearby stations crowding the airwaves.
The Irish-American community plays a prominent role in Yonkers, and the city hosts one of the oldest St. Patrick's Day parades in the country.
The city is also home to a large Italian-American community, many of whom moved to the city after originally settling in the Bronx and in Brooklyn. The city hosts a large Columbus Day festival with a Miss Italian-American pageant.
Another large community is the Slavic community. In the early and mid 20th Century a large amount of people emigrated from Poland , Ukraine , Czechoslavakia , Russia , and Croatia . Recently a large amount of immigrants from the former Yugoslavia have called Yonkers home. The Slavic community is centered around St. Casimir's Roman Catholic Church, Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Most Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, and St. John the Baptist Ukranian Catholic Church. Yonkers still has a large Slavic community.
Yonkers also has a signifigant Portuguese population.
There also once was a significant Jewish population (the Broadway plays Hello Dolly! and Lost in Yonkers both take place within the Yonkers Jewish community). However, its size has dwindled (but not vanished) as the older generation dies off and the younger generation moves to the Sunbelt or to other (usually more affluent) parts of metropolitan New York City, with the trend accelerating after the housing integration court battles (see below). However, in recent years, some areas bordering similar neighborhoods in Riverdale are seeing an influx of Orthodox Jews.
There was a years-long battle over housing integration in the 1980s and 1990s, which ended only after a court ruling nearly bankrupted the city government, by imposing exponentially increasing contempt of court penalties after the then-mayor refused to build public housing outside of the traditionally black and Latino neighborhoods downtown. (See "Image", below.)
Though Yonkers contains many small residential enclaves and communities, it can conveniently be divided into four quarters, demarcated by the Saw Mill River. There are roughly 37 or more distinct neighborhoods, but these names are out of date only being used by real estate agents, along with a few other natives.
Landmarks include the Hudson River Museum, Untermyer Park and the Lenoir Nature Preserve. The significant amount of surviving Victorian architecture and 19th century estates in northwest Yonkers has attracted many filmmakers in recent years.
The two block section of Palisade Ave between Chase and Roberts Ave in northwest Yonkers is colloquially known as the "end" of Yonkers. It was and still is the only retail and food shopping area in the neighborhood, and was well known by the local kids for an original soda fountain store "Uricks". It was once the end of the # 2 trolley line. The # 2 bus replaced the trolley line. One part of Yonkers that is sometimes overlooked is Nepera Park. This is a small section at the northern part of Nepperhan Avenue on the Hastings-on-Hudson border.
Southeast Yonkers is mostly Irish-American (a lot of the Irish being native born) and a good amount of Italian-Americans. Much of the architecture and types of stores in the area cause southeastern Yonkers to bear a greater resemblance to certain parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, or Staten Island than to points north. This is not surprising as southeastern Yonkers is largely within walking distance of the Riverdale, Woodlawn, and Wakefield sections of the Bronx. Many residents regard eastern McLean Avenue, home to a vibrant Irish community shared with the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, to be the true hub of Yonkers. 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.
Many southwesterners are of African, Caribbean, Italian, or Hispanic decent while an influx those from other cultural backgrounds has continued to shape a culturally diverse community. Some neighborhoods right on the Riverdale border are increasingly becoming home to Orthodox Jews. The revitalization of the downtown Yonkers/Getty Square area has helped to nurture growth for Southwest Yonkers. In the early 2000s several new luxury apartment buildings were built along the Hudson, as well as a new monument park, renovation of a Victorian-era pier, a new public library housed in the remodeled Otis elevator factory. Many new projects are intended to revitalize downtown Yonkers.
Yonkers is among the cities with the highest transit ridership. It has four Hudson-Line Metro-North Railroad stations providing commuter service to New York City: Ludlow, Yonkers, Glenwood and Greystone. The Yonkers station is also served by Amtrak. Several Harlem-Line stations are on or very near the city's eastern border. These include Wakefield, Mt. Vernon West, Fleetwood, Bronxville, Tuckahoe and Crestwood.
The former New York and Putnam Railroad running through the middle of Yonkers has been converted into bicycling and walking paths going north along the Saw Mill River to Elmsford and south to Van Cortlandt Park.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Yonkers developed a national reputation for racial tension, based on a long-term battle between the City of Yonkers and the NAACP over the building of subsidized low-rent housing. The City wanted to use federal funds to create or expand high-rise housing projects in southwest Yonkers; other groups, led by the NAACP, felt that concentrating subsidized housing in traditionally poor neighborhoods perpetuated poverty. The climax of the battle came when United States district court Judge Leonard Sand imposed a fine on Yonkers which started at $1 and doubled every day until the City capitulated to the federally mandated plan. A history of this battle can be found in Lisa Belkin's 1999 book Show Me a Hero.
Public schools in Yonkers are operated by Yonkers Public Schools
Libraries are operated by the Yonkers Public Library
Amidst a growing need for increased economic viability in Yonkers, a vast revitalization project proposal, promising to add luxury housing, waterfront development, commercial and retail space, has been designed for the city. With hopes of increasing the city's tourism and economic importance in the state and county, the project is one of the largest revitalization projects ever proposed for any locality within the New York Metropolitan Area, totaling more than $3 billion
The project is headed by Westchester County's Louis R. Cappelli, Struever Bros. of Baltimore, and New Jersey's Fidelco Realty. The project is expected to include a controversial Minor League Baseball stadium, and an expansive retail and residential project, adding approximately 800 residential units throughout the downtown area and the waterfront. The community's strong opposition to plans for high rise buildings along their waterfront is so far being ignored by both developers and city government.
The project has as its catalyst the "daylighting" of the now buried Saw Mill River, an idea championed by community-based organizations like Groundwork Yonkers and its Saw Mill River Coalition. The Pataki Administration at Scenic Hudson's urging contributed $34 million in funds for daylighting. The concept of a river accompanied by a natural greenway path and commercial development has been successful in the revitalization of downtowns in San Antonio, Texas and Providence, Rhode Island.
Although many city officials and residents find much need for city revitalization and urban redevelopment efforts, controversy has surfaced over the major project. A number of residents feel the project is an insidious attempt by the city government and project officials to enforce a policy of outright gentrification. Due to the use of eminent domain and other methods, some residents are fearful that they will ultimately be the victims in the redevelopment battle.
Others, however, are staunch proponents of the multi-billion dollar redevelopment effort, foreseeing the transition of Yonkers from a suburban city in the shadows of New York City, to a tourist attraction of economic importance.
Although no official time table has been proposed for the redevelopment project, it will likely take several years before the completion of the project.