History of Croton-on-Hudson

 


pre-colonial times  --  the Kitchawank Indians, part of the Mohican tribe, lived in the area.

1609  --  Henry Hudson sails up the Hudson River.

earliest settlers  --  William and Sarah Teller operated a trading post on Croton Point. 

1645  --  peace agreements signed beneath what became known as the Treaty Oak. 

1677  --  Van Cortland Manor of Stephanus Van Cortlandt.

1682  --  Cornelius Van Bursam purchased the land from the Indians.

1686  --  Stephanus Van Cortlandt acquired all the land between the Croton River and Anthony's Nose.

1697  --  the area was part of a vast land grant from King William III to Stephanus Van Cortlandt; Van Cortlandt had been purchasing blocks from various Indian groups for some time.

1700  --  death of Stephanus Van Cortlandt.  Son Philip Van Cortlandt became Second Lord of the Manor. His wife was Catherine de Peyster. After the father's death, the 83,000 acre estate was gradually broken up. The Van Cortlandts started selling their land holdings in Croton Point and in the future Croton Village, Harmon and Mount Airy.

1748  -- death of the Second Lord of the Manor, Philip Van Cortlandt. Son Pierre Van Cortlandt becomes the Third Lord of the Manor. He was married to Joanna, daughter of Gilbert Livingston.

Revolutionary War  --  Van Cortlandt was visited by Rochambeau, Lafayette, the Duc de Lauzun, von Steuben, Baron de Kalb, Gen Philip Schuyler, and Washington and his aides. 

Revolutionary War  --  British troops commandeered Van Cortlandt Manor and some even carved their initial into the mantel in one of the rooms.

Revolutionary War  --  the British spy Major John Andre was supposed to have made his escape with the plans of West Point on the British sloop Vulture laying at anchor off Croton Point.  But members of the Westchester Militia spotted the ship.  The Militia members brought a cannon in from Verplanck's Point and were able to damage the ship which then sailed away before Andre could reach it.  Andre had to find a land route and he was subsequently apprehended in Tarrytown. 

1788 Cortlandt became a town with Philip Van Cortlandt its first supervisor.

1804  --  Robert Underhill purchased 250 acres of Croton Point for farming.

1814  -- death of Third Lord of the Manor, Pierre Van Cortlandt. 

1829  -- death of Robert Underhill; his sons Dr. Richard and William inherited the land.  Richard raised grapes, apples and roses on his 85 acres and William manufactured bricks on his 165 acres.  Richard built a mansion called Interwasser near the southern tip of Croton Point.

1835 New York City voted to construct a 40 mile brick-lined gravity-fed aqueduct from the Croton River into Manhattan.

1837 construction began on the first Croton Aqueduct and dam. Many of the workers were Irish.

1842 the dam was completed.

1849 the railway was built as far as Peekskill; the Croton station was on River Street (later Riverside Avenue). A result was a much more rapid population growth in the area with a town growing around the railway and station.

1855 work on the new Croton aqueduct began.

1883 there were 13 brickyards operating between Croton Point and Verplanck making 64,000 bricks a day.

1885 the need for a new Croton Dam was already being explored.

1890 the new Croton Aqueduct completed.

1890s a series of droughts led the New York City Aqueduct Commission to call for a new aqueduct and reservoir.

1891 the Aqueduct Commission agreed that a new Croton Dam should be built. (It was to be located about three miles below the old dam on the Croton River. It would cover an area of land 20 miles long)

1892 construction began on the new Dam.

1896 work began on a new dam on the site of the old Cornell Farm on the Croton River.

1898 Croton incorporated.

c. 1900  --  Judge Decker of Croton leaded the Croton Point beach area and organized the Croton Point Club. (There were 23 vacation bungalows along the beach.)

1900 a labor strike led to some people getting injured. The cavalry was called in for a while before the workers were given a slight wage increase.

1906 the new Dam was completed, the second-largest hand-hewn structure in the world, after the famous pyramids of Egypt.

1907 the new masonry Croton Dam completed as well as a new aqueduct.

c. 1912  --  Point Pleasant Park was opened at the southern tip of Croton Point.  Visitors could picnic on the lawn of the Interwasser mansion.

1915  --  when the clay supply was exhausted, the Underhill brickyard closed. 

early 20th century there was an influx of artists into the village.

WWI  --  journalist and socialist Jack Reed marries Louise Bryant and the couple moves to Croton-on-Hudson and start over. After Reed has a retaliatory affair, Louise soon heads off to France as a journalist on the Western Front.

1920s a group of writers and artists from Greenwich Village started buying old farm buildings on Mount Airy Road. Many worked on a monthly magazine named The Masses, a publication that supported views of the political left.

1923  --  opening of the Croton Point Park, an amusement park, on the north shore near the bathhouses. 

1923  --  Camps Kitchawanc and Senasqua at Croton Point provided great camping experiences for both boys and girls.

1924  --  the Westchester Park Commission bought 500 acres of Croton Point.  They reserved 70 acres for a landfill for garbage.

1927 a new roundhouse and 100-foot turntable added to the railway complex. More than half of the male population were directly or indirectly employed by the railroad.

by the 1930s many left-leaning intellectuals could be found on Mount Airy. Some living in the downtown pejoratively referred to the area above them as "Red Hill."

1932 a Tarzan movie, "Tarzan the Ape Man,"  starring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan was made in Croton. It is said that for one scene Johnny Weissmuller jumped off a big 80-foot cliff.

1948  --  Westchester County's first drive-in movie theatre, the Starlight, opened in Croton on South Riverside Avenue. (Closed 1972.)

1950s beginning a tradition of going to the "Dickies" and playing dare-devil around the cliffs.

1953  --  restoration of Van Cortlandt Manor by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his staff of experts from Williamsburg.

1959  --  opening of the Starlight Lanes Bowling Center. (Lasted 20 years.)

1960s New York State demolished the buildings along Riverside Avenue to make way for Route 9. There still remains a lot of resentment in the village over the loss of a big part of Croton history.

1972  --  some 40 million gallons of toxic waster were running into the Hudson River from the landfill at Croton Point.

2003 Croton is now a bedroom community of very affluent to middle-class people.

(Source: Adam Stone, Croton-on-Hudson, http://www.northcountynews.com/archives_2003/6-25-03/news3.htm)