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White Plains is a city and the county seat of Westchester County, New York, United States. It is located in south-central Westchester, about 4 miles (6 km) east of the Hudson River and 2.5 miles (4.0 km) northwest of Long Island Sound. It is bordered to the north by the town of North Castle, to the north and east by the town/village of Harrison, to the south by the town/village of Scarsdale and to the west by the town of Greenburgh. As of the 2000 U.S. census, the city had a total population of 53,077, while a 2006 census estimate put the city's population at 57,081. According to the city government, the daytime weekday population is estimated at 250,000.History
At the time of the Dutch settlement of Manhattan in the early 17th century, the region had been used as farmland by the Weckquaeskeck tribe, members of the Mohican nation and was called "Quarropas". To early traders it was known as "the White Plains", either from the groves of white balsam which are said to have covered it, or from the heavy mist that local tradition suggests hovered over the swamplands near the Bronx River. The first non-native settlement came in November 1683, when a party of Connecticut Puritans moved westward from an earlier settlement in Rye and bought about 4,400 acres (1,800 ha), presumably from the Weckquaeskeck. However, John Richbell of Mamaroneck, claimed to have earlier title to much of the territory through his purchase of a far larger plot extending 20 miles (32 km) inland, perhaps from a different tribe. The matter wasn't settled until 1721, when a Royal Patent for White Plains was granted by King George II.
In 1758, White Plains became the seat of Westchester County when the colonial government for the county left West Chester, which was located in what is now the northern part of the borough of the Bronx, in New York City. The unincorporated village remained part of the Town of Rye until 1788, when the Town of White Plains was created.
On July 9, 1776, a copy of the Declaration of Independence was delivered to the New York Provincial Congress, which was meeting in the county courthouse. The delegates quickly adopted a resolution approving the Declaration, thus declaring both the colony's independence and the formation of the State of New York. The Declaration itself was first publicly read from the steps of the courthouse on July 11.
During September and October 1776, troops led by George Washington took up positions in the hills of the village, hotly pursued by the British under General Sir William Howe, who attacked on October 28. The Battle of White Plains took place primarily on Chatterton Hill, (later known as "Battle Hill," and located just west of what was then a swamp but is now the downtown area) and the Bronx River. Howe's force of 4,000-6,000 British and Hessian soldiers required three attacks before the Continentals, numbering about 1,600 under the command of Generals Alexander McDougall and Israel Putnam, retreated, joining Washington's main force, which did not take part in the battle. Howe's forces had suffered 250 casualties, a severe loss, and he made no attempt to pursue the Continentals, whose casualties were about 125 dead and wounded. Three days after the battle Washington withdrew north of the village, which was then occupied by Howe's forces. But after several inconclusive skirmishes over the next week Howe withdrew on November 5, leaving White Plains to the Continentals. Ironically, one of Washington's subordinates, Major John Austin, who was probably drunk after having celebrated the enemy's withdrawal, reentered the village with his detachment and proceeded to burn it down. Although he was court-martialed and convicted for this action, he escaped punishment.
The first United States Census, conducted in 1790, listed the White Plains population at 505, of whom 46 were slaves. (New York City's population at that time was about 33,000.) By 1800, the population stood at 575 and in 1830, 830. By 1870, 26 years after the arrival of the New York Central Railroad, it had swollen to 2,630 and by 1890 to 4,508. In the decades that followed the count grew to 7,899 (1900) and 26,425 (1910). White Plains was incorporated as a village in 1866 and as a city in 1916.Modern history
Early in the 20th century, White Plains' downtown area developed into a dominant suburban shopping district and featured branch stores of many famous New York-based department and specialty stores. Some of these retail locations were the first large scale suburban stores built in the United States, and ushered in the eventual post-World War II building boom. With the construction of the parkways and expressways in the 1940s and 1960s, White Plains' role as a destination retail location was only enhanced. With a city opening ceremony Macy's launched a grand White Plains store on Main Street across from City Hall in 1949. As the mayor said at the time, this was a significant event in the life of White Plains. Other stores later followed such as B. Altman & Co., Rogers Peet, Saks Fifth Avenue, Alexander's, Wallach's and a short-lived branch of Bergdorf Goodman, which was later converted to sister chain, Neiman Marcus, in 1981. White Plains is still a huge retail destination in the area with Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, Macy's, Sears, Burlington Coat Factory, and over 1000 other small and mid-size stores in four malls.
During the late 1960s, the city of White Plains developed an extensive urban renewal plan for residential, commercial and mixed-use redevelopment that effectively called for the demolition of its entire central business district from the Bronx River Parkway east to Mamaroneck Avenue. By 1978, the urban renewal program centered around the construction of the Westchester County Courthouse (1974), the Westchester One office building (1975), the Galleria at White Plains mall (1978), and a number of other office towers, retail centers and smaller commercial buildings.
At the time of its construction, the Westchester One building was the largest office building between New York City and Albany, and east to Hartford.
Beginning in the 1950s, many major corporations based in New York City relocated operations to White Plains and other nearby locations. These included General Foods, PepsiCo, Hitachi USA, IBM, Nestlé, Snapple and Heineken USA. At the height of the 1980s, at least 50 Fortune 500 corporations called Westchester County and nearby Fairfield County, CT, home, but with the corporate mergers and downsizing of the 1990s many of these companies either reduced their operations in White Plains or left the area completely. White Plains continues to attract regional and national business as well as international headquarters within it boundaries such as STarwood Hotels, Nine West Group, Allegiance Financial, ITT Corporation, Nokia, Heineken USA, Alliance Bernstein, AT&T, Verizon, and to the north just across the border in North Castle Town, Swiss Re, IBM World Headquarters, MBIA and to the east Mastercard International, Morgan Stanley, Pepsico, and others.
White Plains is also home to the Arts Exchange Building, which serves as the headquarters of the Westchester Arts Council. Since March 1999, visual and performing artists, emerging cultural organizations and new creative businesses have studios and offices in the building. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The construction of the Galleria at White Plains mall in the 1970s ushered in a new era of downtown retail and office development, but by the early 1990s, economic development had stagnated, hampered by a deep recession and the overbuilding of the commercial real estate markets. For a time, White Plains had the dubious distinction of having one of the highest office vacancy rates in the Northeast. Consolidation within the retail industry led to the closing of many of downtown's original department and specialty stores as well. After its bankruptcy, the B. Altman store closed in 1989 and was eventually demolished to make way for the massive upscale retail mall, The Westchester, which opened in 1995 with anchors Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. A freestanding branch of Macy's, one of downtown's original retail anchor stores, was relocated two blocks away to The Galleria mall by its parent company, Federated Department Stores, replacing the location of sister retailer, Abraham & Straus when these two store divisions were merged in 1995. In early 2002, the Saks Fifth Avenue location was also closed and demolished; it was replaced in 2004 with the large retail complex called The Source at White Plains, featuring the upscale restaurants Morton's of Chicago, The Cheesecake Factory, and the gourmet supermarket chain Whole Foods Markets. Note: As of July 20, 2009, the Fortunoff and Mayrock families re-acquired the Fortunoff brand and intellectual property; all Fortunoff stores are currently closed.
Other major projects were completed in the late 1990s and early 2000s that have further altered the urban character of downtown White Plains. A new courthouse for the Southern District of New York was opened in 1998 and several large-scale office properties in and near downtown, including the former General Foods headquarters building, were retrofitted and leased to accommodate smaller businesses. The Macy's store on Main Street remained vacant for several years until it was also later demolished to make way for the massive City Center White Plains complex. This large mixed-use development features two 35-story apartment and condominium towers, 600,000-square-foot (60,000 m2) of retail, restaurant and entertainment space and new parking facilities. Aside from the Arts Exchange building (which used to be a bank), another bank next to the City Center was renovated to become Zanaro's, a family-style Italian restaurant. In 2010, Zanaros closed and was replaced by Buffalo Wild Wings. City Center's opening in 2003 marked the beginning of a new downtown development renaissance, and with the improving economy and healthy office leasing activity, White Plains entered the new millennium as the leading retail and office center in Westchester County.
In 2005, construction began on a second large parcel in the downtown area. The project, known as Renaissance Square, features two residential and hotel towers, each 40 stories tall, featuring a luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel and more than 400 condominium units. The Ritz-Carlton Westchester is one of the tallest buildings between New York City and Boston, exceeded only by City Place in Hartford.
Beginning in 2000, the city's permanent population experienced a growth spurt as additional apartment buildings were constructed. The city's relatively moderate housing costs and close commuting distance to midtown Manhattan (31–39 minutes by express train ) have also attracted a lot of people who commute to New York City for work. However, in large part because of its proximity to New York, the cost of living in White Plains, although lower than that of New York City itself, is by some measures among the highest in the world.Climate
The economy of White Plains revolves around large companies that have relocated to the city such as Starwood Hotels, ITT, Bunge and Combe. Other companies based in White Plains include Alliance Bernstein, Dannon, Fifth Street Finance Corp., the New York Power Authority, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Krasdale Foods (which supplies products for the C-Town supermarket chain), Nine West, Acadia Realty Trust and AboveNet, as well as the US headquarters of Nokia and Heineken. At the turn of the second millennium, there was a boom in commercial businesses and residential living and as a result the city's infrastructure grew substantially with two double towers being 40 plus stories and both being high-end apartments.
At one time Prodigy had its headquarters in White Plains Plaza in White Plains. In 2000 the company announced that it would move its headquarters to Austin, Texas.Fire department
The City of White Plains is protected 24/7, 365 by the 170 professional firefighters of the City of White Plains Fire Department (WPFD). The department is currently the 7th largest fire department in the State of New York and currently operates out of 5 fire stations, located throughout the city, and maintains a front line fire apparatus fleet of 5 engines, 3 trucks, 1 rescue, and numerous other special, support, and reserve units. The WPFD responds to, on average, approximately 12,000 emergency calls annually. Also, the WPFD has been recently labeled as a ISO Class 1 Fire Department, making it one of only 5 of its kind in the Northeastern United States. Being a Class 1 fire department means that the WPFD provides the maximum amount of fire protection to the area it serves, thus lowering property, commercial, and merchandise taxes for the city's residents and business owners.Fire station locations and apparatus
- Note - The WPFD also operates 2 deactivated fire stations, Fire Station # 4 and Fire Station # 5 that in use as the Fire Prevention, Volunteer Division, and Unified Special Operations offices and quarters. Also, the department operates two reserve engines(Engine 68 & 69) and one reserve ladder(Ladder 33) out of the Ferris Pl. and Terrace Ave. Firehouses.
The White Plains Public School System, with a 2006 enrollment of over 6,000 pupils, maintains five elementary schools (grades K-5), two middle schools (6-8) and one high school (9-12), as well as auxiliary facilities including a pre-kindergarten program, a community school (grades 7-12), adult and continuing education, and a program for school-age patients at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, which campus is located in the city.
Since 1988 the district has operated under a Controlled Parents' Choice Program, whereby the parents of elementary and middle school children can select the school which their child attends based on factors other than proximity to the school.
The five elementary schools, and to a lesser extent, the two middle schools, in addition to teaching core competencies, have different educational focuses including science & technology, communication arts and global understanding. The primary distinction between the two middle schools is the number of pupils enrolled. The smaller "Eastview" Campus has about 1/3 the amount of students as the "Highlands" campus. There are about 1100 students at Highlands and only about 400 at Eastview.
White Plains Senior High School, built in the late 1950s on a 72-acre (29 ha) campus, serves all public school students in grades 9-12. The school has a swimming pool that overlooks a small valley which included the track and football field. The White Plains Recreation Department worked in cooperation with the schools to offer many programs.
The district is governed by a seven-member Board of Education, elected at-large for staggered three-year terms. A school superintendent reports to the Board.Parochial and/or private schools
- Archbishop Stepinac High School on Mamaroneck Avenue in the Gedney area
- Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel on North Broadway, adjacent to the Pace University campus
- Good Counsel Academy Elementary School on North Broadway
- Our Lady of Sorrows Elementary School in the Gedney area
- German School New York on Partridge Road
- Fordham University Westchester Campus is home to Fordham’s Graduate Schools of Business Administration, Education, Social Service, and Religion and Religious Education.
- Pace University White Plains Campus is home to Pace University School of Law and Pace Graduate School. This campus originally belonged to Good Counsel College, later named the College of White Plains (1972–1976). The College of White Plains merged with Pace University in 1976.
- The College of Westchester, formerly known as the Westchester Business Institute
- Berkeley College
- Mercy College
As of the census of 2000, there were 53,077 people, 20,921 households, and 12,704 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,415.5 people per square mile (2,091.1/km²). There were 21,576 housing units at an average density of 2,201.4 per square mile (850.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 64.93% White, 15.91% African American, 4.50% Asian, 0.34% Native American, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 10.37% from other races, and 3.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 23.51% of the population. In 2010, Businessweek Magazine named White Plains one of America's fastest growing cities.
There were 20,921 households out of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.7% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.3% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the city the population was spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 23.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 89.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $58,545, and the median income for a family was $71,891 (these figures had risen to $73,744 and $92,215 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $47,742 versus $36,917 for females. The per capita income for the city was $33,825. About 9.2% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.2% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.Transportation
Westchester County Airport, located in neighboring Harrison, serves the city. The Airport's IATA code is HPN. Often the airlines and traveling public refer to Westchester County Airport as "White Plains." The airport is approximately 7 miles from the core of the downtown area.
Two Metro-North Railroad stations serve the city; the North White Plains (Metro-North station) and the White Plains (Metro-North station) downtown at Main Street and the Bronx River. The Bronx River Parkway is the main north-south highway, and has a bikeway running south to Bronxville.
The Cross-Westchester Expressway (I-287) is the main east-west highway through White Plains. Current highway works include pedestrian walkways over the highway, an extra lane on either side, and on/off ramps to help motor traffic and pedestrians. Vegetation removals have upset some in the community but it is reported that the area will be fixed and trees will be replanted when work on the highway comes to an end.
Bee Line is Westchester County's public bus system and several routes pass through White Plains offering local service to many surrounding communities. A few routes serve the Bronx and connect with the New York City subway. The main Bee Line hub in White Plains is the Trans-Center, adjacent to the Metro-North station. Other regional bus services that serve White Plains include the Tappan-Zee Express to Rockland County; Leprechaun Lines to Poughkeepsie, CT Transit's I-Bus to Stamford, CT as well as Greyhound, Trailways and Coach USA service to upstate New York and Long Island.Media
The Journal News is based in White Plains.Neighborhoods
The city of White Plains has approximately 34 distinct neighborhoods. Each is listed below:
- Battle Hill
- Bryant Gardens
- Colonial Corners
- Downtown White Plains
- East White Plains
- Ferris Avenue
- Fisher Hill
- Fulton Street
- Gedney Farms
- Gedney Manor
- Gedney Meadows
- Gedney Park
- Green Acres
- Haviland Manor
- Idle Forest
- North Broadway
- North Street
- North White Plains
- Old Mamaroneck Road
- Prospect Park
- Reynal Park
- The Ridge
- Rocky Dell
- Saxon Woods
- Secor Gardens
- Westminster Ridge
- Woodcrest Heights
- White Plains Armory (1910), erected on the site of the first Westchester County Courthouse. A monument in front of the building commemorates the first public reading in New York of the Declaration of Independence, on July 11, 1776.
- White Plains Rural Cemetery (incorporated 1854, although in use as a cemetery from 1797). The cemetery office occupies the structure that was the first Methodist Church in White Plains (1795, rebuilt in 1797 after a fire on the day of its original dedication).
- Percy Grainger Home, occupied by the composer from 1921 until his death in 1961, and by his widow, Ella Ström-Brandelius, until her death in 1979. It is now maintained as a museum by the International Percy Grainger Society.
The Jacob Purdy House was used as General George Washington's headquarters in 1778 and possibly in 1776 during the Battle of White Plains in the American Revolutionary War. Originally constructed by Samuel Horton, it was purchased by Jacob Purdy's father, Samuel Purdy in 1730 and came into Jacob's possession in the aftermath of the war when some of the family had fled as United Empire Loyalists. In the 1960s it was repaired and restored, and in 1973 the structure was moved to its present location. A further renovation was conducted around 1980, involving both professional craftsmen and local teenagers in an apprentice program. The Jacob Purdy House is now the headquarters of the White Plains Historical Society.
A National Register of Historic Places plaque commemorates the dates of George Washington's occupancy. The house came into the possession of Jacob Purdy about 1785.
See also Washington's Headquarters for other locations used by George Washington as headquarters.Notable residents
(B) denotes that the person was born there.
- Adam Bradley, mayor of White Plains from 2010-11
- Joseph Campbell, author and expert on myth and legend.(B)
- Dan Duryea, actor, was born in White Plains
- Channing Frye, NBA forward.(B)
- Danilo Gallinari NBA forward for the Denver Nuggets.
- Percy Grainger (1882–1961), Australian-born U.S. composer, pianist and conductor.
- Shelley Hack, American actress and supermodel.(B)
- Bob Hyland, NFL lineman and candidate for mayor.
- Jonathan Larson (1960–96), the writer of the musical Rent.
- Matisyahu, American Jewish reggae artist.
- Boyd Melson, boxer
- Art Monk, played football for White Plains High School
- Scott Reiniger, actor and as "Prince of Ghor" a hereditary prince.(B)
- Vanessa Rousso, professional poker player.(B)
- Andrew S. Tanenbaum, computer scientist and professor.
- Ralph Waite, actor who played John Walton in The Waltons television series.(B)
- James Whitmore (1921–2009), actor.(B)
- Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.(B)