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Rockland County, New York

Rockland County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York, 12 miles north-northwest of New York City. It is part of the New York Metropolitan Area. As of the 2000 census, the population was 286,753. The county seat is New City. The name comes from "rocky land", an early description of the area given by settlers. Rockland is New York's southernmost county west of the Hudson River. It is suburban in nature, with a considerable amount of scenic designated parkland. Rockland County may not border any of the New York City boroughs but it is still only 9.5 miles north of Manhattan at the counties (New York and Rockland) two respective closest points (Palisades, NY in Rockland and Inwood Park in Manhattan)

Rockland County ranks 9th on the list of highest-income counties by median household income in the United States with $75,306 according to the 2004 census. It is served by area code 845.

Rockland County is one of 24 areas in New York State designated a Preserve America Community.


The area that would become Rockland County was originally inhabited by Algonquian-speaking Indians, including Munsees, or Lenni Lenape.

In 1609, Henry Hudson, thinking he had found the legendary "Northwest Passage", sailed up the river that would one day bear his name and anchored near the area that is now Haverstraw before continuing to disillusionment at Albany.

The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in the area. A number of unique Dutch-style red sandstone houses still stand, and many placenames in the county reveal their Dutch origin.

When the Duke of York (who became King James II of England) established the first twelve counties of New York in 1683, present-day Rockland County was part of Orange County. Orangetown was created at the same time, originally encompassing all of modern Rockland County. Haverstraw was separated from Orangetown in 1719 and became a town in 1788; it included the present-day Clarkstown, Ramapo and Stony Point. Clarkstown and Ramapo became towns in 1791, followed by Stony Point in 1865. Rockland County was split from Orange County in 1798.

During the American Revolution, when control of the Hudson River was viewed by the British as strategic to dominating the American territories, Rockland saw skirmishes at Haverstraw, Nyack and Piermont, and significant military engagements at the Battle of Stony Point, where General "Mad" Anthony Wayne earned his nickname. George Washington had headquarters for a time at John Suffern's tavern, the later site of the village of Suffern.

British Major John André met with American traitor Benedict Arnold near Stony Point to buy the plans for the fortifications at West Point. André was captured with the plans in Tarrytown on his way back to the British lines; he was brought to Tappan for trial in the Tappan church, found guilty, hanged and buried nearby.

The American Industrial Revolution was supplied, in part, from forests and iron mines in Rockland County. Resource utilization extracted a heavy toll on the region, especially from lumbering and agriculture, since the poor, thin soils on hillsides were easily depleted. By the early 1900s development along the lower Hudson River had begun to destroy much of the area's natural beauty.

Many unsuccessful efforts were made to turn much of the Hudson Highlands into a forest preserve. However, when the State of New York tried to relocate Sing Sing Prison to Bear Mountain in 1909, some of the wealthy businessmen who had homes in the area, led by Union Pacific Railroad president E. H. Harriman, donated land as well as large sums of money for the purchase of properties in the area of Bear Mountain. Bear Mountain/Harriman State Park became a reality in 1910, and by 1914 it was estimated that more than a million people a year were coming to the park.

Historical figures who have visited Rockland County include:

Historical Places of Rockland County

Law/Government and Politics

New York State Senate

Thomas Morahan (R,C,I,WF) represents the entire county of Rockland in the New York State Senate and parts of Orange County, New York.

New York State Assembly

Kenneth Zebrowski, Jr. (D), is a member of the New York State Assembly representing the 94th district. Ellen C. Jaffee (D), represents the 95th district of the New York State Assembly. Nancy Calhoun (R), is a member of the New York State Assembly representing the 96th district.

County Executive

The county executive is C. Scott Vanderhoef (R), who was re-elected in 2005 to his fourth four-year term. He is the second county executive in Rockland history, having defeated the incumbent, John Grant (D), in 1993. Vanderhoef ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2006. Prior to 1985, Rockland County did not have a county executive.

County Legislature

Rockland is divided into 17 single-member legislative districts. The Chairwoman of the Legislature is Harriet Cornell (D). The other legislators are: Gerold Bierker (R-C), Connie Coker (D), William Darden (D), Edwin Day (R), Theodore Dusanenko (R), David Fried (D), Michael Grant (D), Jay Hood Jr. (D), Douglas Jobson (R), Bruce Levine (D), John Murphy (R), Patrick Moroney (R), V.J. Pradhan (D), Ilan Schoenberger (D), Philip Soskin (D), and Joseph Meyers (D).

County Courts

There are three types of general trial courts in Rockland County: the New York Supreme Court, the County Court and the Justice Courts. The Supreme Court is the trial level court of the New York State Unified Court System, which presents some confusion as the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeals in the federal system as well as in most states (the Court of Appeals is the highest court in New York State). The Supreme Court has broad authority over all categories of cases, both civil and criminal. Generally the Supreme Court in Rockland County hears civil cases involving claims in excess of $25,000. While the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over criminal cases in most counties this is handled by the County Courts. In Rockland however, the Supreme Court does exercise jurisdiction over some criminal cases.

The County Court is inferior to the Supreme Court and is authorized to hear all criminal cases that have occurred in the county as well as limited jurisdiction over civil cases. The County Court handles felony cases exclusively and shares jurisdiction with the town and village justice courts on misdemeanor cases and other minor offenses and violations. The County Court's jurisdiction on civil cases is limited to those involving less than $25,000.

Each of the towns and fifteen of the villages have Justice Courts. These courts mostly hear routine traffic ticket cases, especially from the New York State Thruway and the Palisades Interstate Parkway. They also handle drunk driving charges, lower-level criminal misdemeanor matters, and they will occasionally perform arraignment on felonies (most felony proceedings are heard in County Court). These courts generally handle the highest volume of cases, which, considering the population density and highways in the county, is not surprising.


Rockland County lies just north of the New Jersey-New York border, west of the Hudson River, and south of Orange County.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 199 square miles (516 km²), of which, 174 square miles (451 km²) of it is land and 25 square miles (65 km²) of it (12.60%) is water. Approximately 30% of Rockland County is parkland.

The highest elevation in the county is Rockhouse Mountain, at 391 m (1,283 feet). However, nearby Jackie Jones Mountain also has a summit above 390 m (1,280 feet) whose exact elevation is not known and may well be higher.

The lowest elevation is sea level along the Hudson River

Rockland is the smallest county in New York outside of New York City

Adjacent counties

Rockland's borders with Putnam and Passaic counties are short, totaling less than one mile.

Environmental Issues in Rockland County


As of the census of 2000, there were 286,753 people, 92,675 households, and 70,989 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,646 people per square mile (636/km²). There were 94,973 housing units at an average density of 545 per square mile (210/km²). However, Rocklanders live closer together than the census numbers indicate, as 30 percent of the county is reserved as parkland. The racial makeup of the county was 76.91% White, 10.98% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 5.52% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 3.78% from other races, and 2.51% from two or more races. 10.18% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.6% were of Italian, 14.5% Irish, 5.8% West Indian, 5.7% American and 5.3% German ancestry according to Census 2000. 9.17% reported speaking Spanish at home, 4.96% Yiddish, 4.33% French or a French-based creole, 1.45% Italian, 1.30% Tagalog, 1.25% Hebrew, and 1.01% Russian. Other languages spoken at home by at least 1000 people include Malayalam, Korean, Chinese, German, and Polish.

The 2005 estimates show that Rockland county remains a diverse place. 69.2% of the population was grouped under the heading "non-Hispanic whites" but with such high numbers of speakers of such languages as Russian and Italian, this figure hid more than it revealed. The percentage of African-Americans had risen to 11.9. Native Americans were gaining ground now constituting 0.3% of the population. Asians continued to grow in their percentage of the county population, now making up 6.4% of the population. Latinos were now 12.2% of the population.

In 2000 there were 92,675 households out of which 37.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.80% were married couples living together, 10.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.40% were non-families. 19.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.01 and the average family size was 3.47.

In the county the population was spread out with 28.00% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 28.00% from 25 to 44, 24.30% from 45 to 64, and 11.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 95.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $75,306, and the median income for a family was $86,624. Males had a median income of $58,214 versus $43,955 for females. The per capita income for the county was $31,680. The mean, or average, income for a family in Rockland County is $102,542 according to the 2004 census. About 6.30% of families and 9.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.30% of those under age 18 and 7.60% of those age 65 or over.

31.4% of Rockland residents are Jewish, the highest Jewish population per capita of any county in the United States. The county is also home to several large Orthodox Jewish communities, especially in the hamlet of Monsey, and the villages of New Square, Kaser, New Hempstead, and Wesley Hills.

Communities in Rockland


There are five towns in Rockland County. The most populous is Ramapo with 108,900 people, while the least populous is Stony Point with 14,200 people. Clarkstown, Haverstraw and Orangetown all come in between with a range of 33,800—82,000 people.

Incorporated villages

There are nineteen incorporated villages in Rockland County, twelve of which are located at least partially in the town of Ramapo:

  • Piermont (Orangetown)
  • Pomona (Haverstraw/Ramapo)
  • Sloatsburg (Ramapo)
  • South Nyack (Orangetown)
  • Spring Valley (Ramapo/Clarkstown)
  • Suffern (Ramapo)
  • Upper Nyack (Clarkstown)
  • Wesley Hills (Ramapo)
  • West Haverstraw (Haverstraw)
  • There are no villages in the town of Stony Point.

    Unincorporated hamlets

    Rockland County has a number of unincorporated hamlets, including:

  • Ladentown (Ramapo)
  • Monsey (Ramapo)
  • Mount Ivy (Haverstraw)
  • Nanuet (Clarkstown)
  • Nauraushaun, New York (Pearl River)
  • New City (Clarkstown)
  • Orangeburg (Orangetown)
  • Palisades (Orangetown)
  • Pearl River (Orangetown)
  • Sparkill (Orangetown)
  • Stony Point (Stony Point)
  • Tappan (Orangetown)
  • Thiells (Haverstraw)
  • Tomkins Cove (Stony Point)
  • Valley Cottage (Clarkstown)
  • Viola (Ramapo)
  • West Nyack (Clarkstown)
  • Upper Grandview (Orangetown)
  • Historical settlements

    During the 19th century, the following settlements existed in these towns.

    • Clarkstown
      • Cedar Grove Corner - North of the hamlet of Rockland Lake, East of New City.
      • Clarksville - Renamed Nyack Turnpike, then Mont Moor and presently West Nyack.
      • Durant - small settlement of private residences one mile south of New City. In the 1900s, a railroad station named after Thomas C. Durant, organizer and builder of the Union Pacific Railroad, was the third stop of the New Jersey & New York Railroad. Durant's daughter, Heloise Durant Rose was the founder of the Rockland County Welfare Society and ot the Dante League of America.
      • Dutch - North of Nanuet, South of Spring Valley
      • Kakiat (Hackyackawet)- East of Mechanicsville, West of New City.
      • Quaspeck - Located at the foot of Hook Mountain at the southern end of Rockland Lake. The Original patent, which included 5,000 acres is dated 1694. The creation of Rockland Lake State Park ended the community.
      • Rockland Lake - Formally known as Slaghters Landing. A thriving Community in Rockland Lake State Park made up of the many workers at the Knickerbocker Ice Company which owned numerous pieces of property. The hamlet included a number of hotels, Knickerbocker Fire House - established 1862, school, stores and the stone-crushing mill.
      • Sickletown - A hamlet named after the Sickles family located along the east and west side of Sickletown Road, also named after them. A few of the sandstone homes, mostly Pre-Revolutionary, built by the members of the Sickles family remain.
    • Haverstraw
      • Archerville - Later changed to Samsondale. North of Haverstraw Village, South of Bensons Corners. Samsondale Iron Works was established in 1832.
      • Bensons Corners - North of Garnerville.
      • Diamond Valley - A farming community southeast of Johnsontown.
      • Johnsontown (Town of West Haverstraw) - Founded in the late 1700s by the Johnson brothers who came to the mountain area looking for timber to use for shipbuilding. It stretched along what is now known as Lake Sebago and Lake Kanawauke making it the largest settlement in the western part of the state park.
      • Meads Corner - South of Garnerville.
    • Orangetown
      • Middletown - A hamlet midway between the pioneers settled at Ramapo and Tappan.
      • Muddy Brook - Pearl River proper.
      • Orangeville Mills - Orangeville was a hamlet 2 miles west from Blauvelt, formally known as Blauveltville.
      • Pascack - A hamlet, often called "South Spring Valley" settled in the first half of the 18th century.
      • Sneden's Landing - Formally known as Waldberg Landing.
      • Upper Grandview
    • Ramapo
      • Alexis Station - Hamlet
      • Bulsontown - Hamlet
      • Cassedys Corners - South of Mechanicsville
      • Forshays Corners - North of Viola.
      • Furmanville - North of Sherwoodville, South of Ladentown.
      • Mechanicsville - Present day Viola.
      • Ladentown - 18th century settlement within the Village of Pomona.
      • Pine Meadow - Present site of Pine Meadows Lake. Mostly heavy forest, boulders, swamps and streams. Community, southeast of Johnsontown, populated mainly by farmers, wood-cutters and basket-weavers. James H. Conklin built a cabin which was posted as an historic site before it was bandalized and ultimately destroyed. Only the root cellar remains.
      • Sandyfield - was submerged when swampy Beaver Pond was dammed to create Lake Welch by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission
      • Sherwoodville - North of Mechanicsville in the Village of Montebello.
      • Saint John's-in-the-wilderness - located about a mile from Sandyfield. It once was a thriving mission established in 1880. It is the only private land within the Harriman State Park.
      • Sterlington - One mile east of Sloatsburg. The name was adopted when the post office opened in 1882. The Sterling Mountain Railwaytransported ore to the furnaces at sterling which was known as Sterling Junction or Pierson's Depot. Sterlington ceased when the railway ceased operation.
      • Woodburn - Hamlet
      • Woodtown - Founded in the early 18th century. Between Pine Meadow and Ladentown, southeast of Johnsontown
    • Stony Point
      • Caldwells Landing - Formally known as Gibraltar. North of Tomkins Cove, South of Iona Island.
      • Doodletown (Town of Stony Point) in Harriman State Park is now a ghost town.
      • Grassy Point - Renamed North Haverstraw on August 21st, 1834. Renamed back to Grassy Point on September 10th, 1836.
      • Iona Island - Formally known as Waggons (Weyant's Island). It is said that has all been a "picnic and pleasure ground visited annually by thoussnds from New York and other neighboring cities".
      • Jones Point -
      • Mountville - An alternate name for the southern end of Doodletown.
      • West of Stony Point -
      • Willowgrove -

    Communities of significant population

    According to the 2000 census, these nine Rockland communities have a population exceeding 10,000 people:

    • New City, a hamlet of 34,038
    • Spring Valley, a village of 25,464
    • Nanuet, a hamlet of 16,707
  • Pearl River, a hamlet of 15,553
  • Monsey, a hamlet of 14,504
  • Stony Point, a hamlet of 11,744
  • Suffern, a village of 11,006
  • West Haverstraw, a village of 10,295
  • Haverstraw, a village of 10,117
  • Education

    School Districts

    There are 8 school districts in Rockland

  • Nanuet Union Free
  • North Rockland
  • Nyack
  • Pearl River
  • Ramapo
  • South Orangetown
  • Blue Ribbon Award

    The Blue Ribbon Award, which is part of the No Child Left Behind program, is considered to be the highest honor that an American school can achieve.

    • Valley Cottage Elementary School (2000-2001) (Valley Cottage)
    • Strawtown Elementary School (2007) (West Nyack)
    • Franklin Avenue School (2008) (Pearl River)

    Post-Secondary Schools

    Hospitals in Rockland County

    Transportation in Rockland County


    The Transport of Rockland is the bus system providing service along major routes in Rockland County as well as connections to other community bus operations - (Minitrans) and connections to Rockland Coaches and Short Line routes providing service to Northern New Jersey and New York City.

    Brega Transport Corp provide free shuttle service between the main campus of Rockland Community College in Viola and the Haverstraw and Spring Valley extensions to evening students during the Fall and Spring semesters.


    New Jersey Transit/Metro-North Railroad - Port Jervis Line which stop at the Suffern Railroad Station and Pascack Valley Line which stops include Pearl River, Nanuet and Spring Valley in their respective hamlets and village of the same name.

    International Airports near Rockland

    Roads in Rockland County

    Roads in New York Counties

    Twin/Sister cities

    Rockland County has been paired with San Marcos and Huehuete, Nicaragua as its Sister City. The Rockland County Sister City Project with San Marcos and Huehuete, Nicaragua, is coordinated by Cleta Ciulla of Nyack, NY. Since 1990, the organization has collected donated clothes, bicycles and other useful things for our Nicaraguan partners in community development. Fundraising consists of donations and yardsales. Participants travel regularly to Nicaragua to review project details and community needs.

    Additionally, the town of Ramapo is twinned with a number of cities.

    Famous/Notable people from Rockland County

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    Additionally, singer-songwriter Regina Spektor produced a demo named "Rockland County", about staying with a relative in Rockland County after coming to America from Russia.

    Books and Publications

    Anderson, Jane McDill Rocklandia: A collection of facts and fancies, legends and ghost stories of Rockland County life 1977

    Baracks, Clarence,. Growing up in New City, New York in the early 1920s

    Budke, George H. Rockland County during the American Revolution, 1776 - 1781. New York. The Rockland County Public Librarians Association. 1976

    Cohen, David Steven The Ramapo Mountain People Rutgers University Press 1974

    Cole, David D.D, History of Rockland County: ([New York) 1976, Historical Society of Rockland County.

    Gonyea , Maryellen Stony Point in Words and Pictures, , ed. NCL RR 974.728 STO

    Gottlock, Barbara H., Gottlock Wesley., New York's Palisades Interstate Park (NY) (Images of America)

    Green, Frank Bertangue. MD, The History of Rockland County:

    Knight, Robert P Centennial history of Pearl River, New York Pearl River Centennial Committee 1973

    Kuykendall, Eugene L., Historic Sloatsburg, 1738-1998, The Way it Was, Is and Can Be, Sloatsburg Historical Society, 1998.

    Lucanera, Viola M. The role of Orangetown in the Revolution (Rockland County bicentennial publication)

    Penford, Saxby Vouler The first hundred years of Spring Valley;: Written in commemoration of the Spring Valley Centennial, 1842-1942 (Social Science Research Foundation. Publications)

    Pritchard, Evan T Native New Yorkers: The Legacy of the Algonquin People of New York Published by Council Oak Books, 2002 ISBN 1571781072

    Smeltzer-Stevenot, Marjorie., Footprints in the Ramapos: Life in the Mountains Before the State Parks

    Stalter Elizabeth Doodletown: Hiking through history in a vanished hamlet on the Hudson

    Talman, Wilfred Blanch., How things began in Rockland and places nearby

    Talman, Wilfred Blanch, Fabend, Firth Haring Ed. Tappan, 300 Years, 1686-1986 Tappantown Historical Society, (1989)

    Watts, Gardner F., A short history of Suffern and the Ramapaugh area: With emphasis on Revolutionary days and ways (Rockland County bicentennial publication) (1972)

    Zimmerman, Linda Rockland County: Century of History

    Zimmerman, Linda Rockland County Scrapbook Published by Eagle Press, 2004

    American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Sloatsburg: Bicentennial History of Sloatsburg, NY 1776-1976,

    America’s Bicentennial, 1776-1976, Haverstraw Commemorative Edition. [NCL 974.728 HAV]. Celebrate Clarkstown 1791-1991. Clarkstown, NY: Clarkstown Bicentennial Commission, 1991.

    The Nyacks Historical Society of the Nyacks and the Nyack Library, Arcadia Publishing of Maine October, 2005

    Nyack in the 20th Century: A Centennial Journal by the Historical Society of the Nyacks Published in 2000

    Suffern: 200 years, 1773-1973 Bicentennial Committee, Suffern, N.Y. Published in 1973,

    See also


    External links

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