Mount Vernon has in recent years undergone a transition from a city of homes and mediocre businesses to a city of regional commerce. Between 2000 and 2006, the city of Mount Vernon's economy grew 20.5%, making it one of the fastest growing cities in the metropolitan area of New York. Mount Vernon is often considered a poster child for cities within the county for having such a large magnitude of diversity for a city of its size.
During the 1960s, Mount Vernon was a divided city on the brink of a "northern style" segegration. Many blacks from the South came to the north and settled in the city of Mount Vernon for better job opportunities and educational advancements. At the same time, many well to do Caucasian people from the Bronx and Manhattan looked to Mount Vernon as a new "bedroom community" due to rising crime in New York City (a "white flight" factor entailed as well). As a result, Mount Vernon became divided by the New Haven Line railroad tracks of the Metro North railroad into two parts north and south. The population of the "South Side" of the tracks became almost 100% black while the "North Side" of the tracks was almost 100% white. At the height of this "segregation" in the 1970s August Petrillo was Mayor; when he passed away, Ronald Blackwood was elected mayor, the first African-American mayor of the city (as well as of any city in New York State). In many ways he was the perfect man to try to bridge the gaps and bring a divided city together. For one thing, he did not come to Mount Vernon from the South but was originally from Jamaica (at the time unlike today very few of the black population was of West Indian origin). He wife was white and he was a former Republican in a heavily Democratic and liberal city. He claimed that Mount Vernon would stand apart from cities that supported segregation and division amongst its people, touting itself as "The City Too Busy to Hate." That characterization was sharply disputed by many of the city's Caucasian residents saying "The city was never divided, we had our side and they had theirs,but it was all Mount Vernon". However, he was popular among Mount Vernonites of all races and soon the black population became the dominant social and political force in the city. By the mid-1990s the school board and Superintendent of Schools was black. Every mayor of Mt. Vernon since Blackwood has been African-American. The majority of neighborhoods on the "North Side" are demographically African-American as well today, though some measure of demographic and political re-diversification has taken place.
Mount Vernon at this time consisted mainly of farm lands crossed by two important railroads, the New York and Harlem (that already had a station there) and the New York and New Haven (that had no station until the Industrial Home Association built one for it).
Central Mount Vernon remained mostly undeveloped until Charles Crary bought land on Chester Hill in 1869. He laid out orderly building lots and placed restrictions on the use of the lots and who could purchase them. Chester Hill became a privileged community.
The Mount Vernon city court is part of the Unified Court System of the State of New York. It has three elected full-time judges who serve for ten years and one part-time associate judge who is appointed by the mayor for a period of eight years. The Chief Judge of the Court is the Hon. Brenda Dowery. Hon. William Edwards and Hon. Mark Gross also serve as full time judges, and the Hon. Adam Seiden serves as an Associate Judge of the court. The Court handles a wide variety of cases including initial processing of all felony criminal cases; handling of all misdemeanor cases from inception through trial; civil proceedings with a limited monetary jurisdiction of up to $25,000; all landlord tenant cases originating in the city; small claims cases; and all vehicle and traffic law matters. The court is housed in a state of the art facility in the public safety complex which is adjacent to city hall.
Possibly owing to the city's African American majority, each mayor elected since the 1980s has been black. The uninterrupted string of black mayors in excess of twenty years is a first for any municipality in the New York metropolitan area and the Northeast.
Law enforcement services are provided by the Mount Vernon Police Department. The police commissioner, David Chong, a former NYPD police officer, was appointed by former mayor Ernie Davis, and has been retained by the current mayor, Clinton L. Young.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11.3 km²), of which, 4.4 square miles (11.3 km²) of it is land and 1.7 square miles (4.3 km²) of it (0.76%) is water.
"Mount" Vernon's elevation at City Hall is about , reflecting its location between the Bronx River to the west and the Hutchinson River to the east. From many parts of the City Throgs Neck Bridge can be seen from away on a clear day and at night the bridge lights can be seen. The seal of the City, created in 1892, depicted what were then considered the highest points in Mount Vernon: Trinity Place near Fourth Street, Vista Place at Barnes Avenue, and North 10th Street between Washington and Jefferson places. Since then, it was discovered that the city's highest elevation is on New York Route 22, North Columbus Avenue, at the Bronxville line.
Mount Vernon is typically thought to be divided into four major sections in four square miles: The North Side, the South Side,Mount Vernon Heights and Downtown.
Within this area of the city, the population density is very high. The majority of the city's African American and Brazilian population resides here. It is home to many parks, the NYC famous "Fourth Avenue", Gramatan Avenue, the Boys and Girls Club (made famous by Denzel Washington who started attending the club when he was 6 and has often given the club credit for keeping him on the straight path), and many historic landmarks.
Numerous events take place periodically during the year, both indoors and outdoors. The Ice Hutch is a domed sports complex where ice hockey is played during the winter, located on the grounds of Hutchinson Field, on the southbound side of the Hutchinson River Parkway. Indoor golf and tennis are also available at the Ice Hutch throughout the year. Outdoors at Hutchinson Field, there are many minor-league fields and a batting cage. Hooperstown, a sports facility located on Sandford Blvd (6th St), contracts basketball-court time to teams and leagues and use of the facility for baseball clinics. It also rents the facility to other businesses that may offer one-on-one training or fitness camps. It is not yet open to the public. Adjacent to Hutchinson Field is the stadium-like Memorial Field, which contains a track for running, a soccer/football field, and a tennis court.
The city hosts many annual events, such as the Arts on Third Street Festival that is held in September, Parade of Flags in October, the MVCSD's Band Day Parade which is held in June, the Veterans Day parade which is held in November, Ben Gordon Day in August and the go-cart Grand Prix which is held in June or July in the downtown.
A famous landmark has existed on Gramatan and Lincoln Avenuea since the late 1800s. It was known simply as "The Circle" until circa 1942 It was named McArthur Circle after General Arthur McArthur, a Civil War and Spanish- American War hero, a Medal of Honor winner and father of WWII hero, General Douglas McArthur. "The Circle" was torn down in 1972.
A statue of a Spanish-American soldier was added and remains in the center of the new "Roundabout", which opened in 2000. (Added by Edward A. Bruno)
As of the census of 2000, there were 68,381 people, 27,048 households, and 18,432 families residing in the city. The population density was 14,290.3 people per square mile (5,792.7/km²). There were 28,558 housing units at an average density of 7,205.9/sq mi (3,509.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 28.63% White, 59.58% African American, 0.32% Native American, 2.12% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 4.85% from other races, and 4.44% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.48% of the population. A significant proportion of the population is of Brazilian origin, and they can be included into the categories of African American, White, Multiracial and/or Latino. Similarly, a significant part of the Black and/or Latino population is of West Indian origin.
There were 27,048 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% were married couples living together, 28.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.2% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.27.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.3% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 82.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,128, and the median income for a family was $55,573. Males had a median income of $41,493 versus $37,871 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,827. 13.9% of the population and 11.8% of families were below the poverty line. 12.7% of the population is 65 or older.
The city of Mount Vernon's three major employers are the Mount Vernon city school district with 1,021 employees, Michael Anthony Jewelers (712 employees), and Mount Vernon Hospital (700 employees).
The Brazilian community is heavily concentrated in an area along and near West Lincoln Ave., from its beginning at the corner of Mt. Vernon Ave. going about half a mile down to Gramatan Ave. (N. Fourth Ave.), and has begun to spread into East Lincoln Avenue. Brazilian stores line commercial areas in these parts of Mount Vernon (especially within Gramatan Avenue [North Fourth Avenue]. from the railroad tracks to Lincoln Ave. and adjacent blocks), and neighborhood public schools have brought in teachers and counselors who speak Portuguese. The language can be heard on the streets throughout this area.
The Brazilians living in Mount Vernon have also transformed their Brazilian hometown, pumping millions of dollars into its economy and helping to pay for new homes and businesses there. So important are these remittances that Brazilian journalist Walther Alvarenga has made Mount Vernon the focus of a series of documentaries for Brazilian public television called New York, O Sonho Brasileiro ("New York, the Brazilian Dream").
In November 2005 Mayor Ernest D. Davis traveled to Poços de Caldas to sign a sister-city agreement to strengthen the bond between the two cities.
Mount Vernon Hospital has 228-beds. It provides in-patient, critical care, and ambulatory services to residents of Mount Vernon and neighboring communities. The hospital is most known for its premier Chronic Wound Treatment and Hyperbaric Center, which is one of the most advanced in the Northeast. It also offers a variety of services including the Assertive Community Treatment Center (ACT), the Family Health and Wellness Center, the Hopfer School of Nursing, Hyperbaric Medicine, and Intensive Case Management.
Mount Vernon Hospital is one of four hospitals in the county (Sound Shore Medical Center, White Plains Hospital, and Westchester Medical Center are the others), which provides programs in medicine, nursing, surgery and podiatry. The hospital has “some of the finest medical doctor educators on staff. There is a 92 percent pass rate on boards for medical residents.”
Mount Vernon hospital's emergency room is going to be expanded at a cost of 2.5 million dollars. The 115-year-old hospital is doubling the size of its emergency room from to 18,500. The expansion plans include 15 private treatment rooms and upgrades to the waiting area, triage room and other areas in the emergency department.
The hospital treats 25,000 patients a year in the emergency room and is part of the Sound Shore Health System.
The area around the hospital has many medical office buildings and facilities for treatment which provide healthcare to residents living in Mount Vernon, the southeast section of Yonkers, and the north Bronx which shares a border with the city.
Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, the Planned Parenthood affiliate that services Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester Counties of New York, opened its first medical center in Mount Vernon in 1935, and the affiliate remains a vital source for reproductive health care services to Mount Vernon residents.
Westchester Community College also has an extension site education facility located in the downtown.
Major ancestry groups reported by Mount Vernon residents include:
Ralph Branca, John Branca, Art Carney, David Chase, Dick Clark, P. Diddy, Heavy D, Damion Easley, Eddie F, Linda Fairstein, Elise Finch, Ben Gordon, Rudy Hackett, Dennis Hinton, Michael Imperioli, Axella Johannesson, Andy Karl, Roz Kelly, Lachanze, Rodney McCray, Scooter McCray, Arthur Murray, Asia Nitollano, Phylicia Rashad, Leon Robinson, Wayne Allyn Root, Ken Singleton, Betty Shabazz, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Al B. Sure!, Earl Tatum, Denzel Washington, E.B. White Eddie Williams, Gus Williams, Ray Williams, Sylvia Woods, DMX, W.C. Heinz, Mark Caruso Davetta Sherwood, Chris Bartolini, Mark Harris, novelist, born in Mt. Vernon Eric M Ruthman world famous Blackjack player
were born (or grew up) in Mount Vernon.
Selected Mayors: William Hart Hussey, Joseph Vaccarella, August Petrillo, Ronald Blackwood
For all movies except Dead Presidents, as reported in Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com)
Both the 2 train and the 5 train of the New York City subway system have terminals just south of the border of Mount Vernon, served by the Bee-Line. The 2 train terminates at 241st Street & White Plains Road in the Wakefield section of the Bronx (During rush hours the 5 also goes to Nereid Ave/238th St & White Plains Road), and the 5 train terminates at 233rd Street & Dyre Avenue in the Eastchester section. Both locations are within 5 minutes walking distance of the South Side of Mount Vernon.
Mount Vernon is served by three of the county's busiest parkways which link to New York City, the Cross County Parkway, the Bronx River Parkway, and the Hutchinson River Parkway. I-95 and I-87 are both less than a mile from Mount Vernon's borders, offering both passenger car and truck access to the area.