Westchester County is a suburban county with about 940,000 residents located in the U.S. state of New York. It was named after Chester, in England. The county seat is White Plains. Although many of its residents are quite wealthy and it is home to many extremely affluent suburbs of New York City, Westchester has a more diverse population, both demographically and economically, than its stereotypical image suggests.
The first Europeans to explore Westchester were Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524 and Henry Hudson in 1609. The first white settlers were sponsored by the Dutch West India Company in the 1620s and 1630s. English settlers arrived from New England in the 1640s.
Westchester County was an original county of New York State, one of twelve created in 1683. At the time, it also included the present Bronx County, which constituted the Town of Westchester and portions of three other towns: Yonkers, Eastchester, and Pelham. In 1846, a new town, West Farms, was created by secession from Westchester; in turn, in 1855, the Town of Morrisania seceded from West Farms. In 1873, the Town of Kingsbridge seceded from Yonkers.
In 1874, the western portion of the present Bronx County, consisting of the then towns of Kingsbridge, West Farms, and Morrisania, was transferred to New York County, and in 1895 the remainder of the present Bronx County, consisting of the Town of Westchester and portions of the towns of Eastchester and Pelham, was transferred to New York County. By that time, the portion of the town of Eastchester immediately north of the transferred portion had seceded from the town of Eastchester (1892) to become the City of Mount Vernon so that the Town of Eastchester had no border with New York City. In 1914, those parts of the then New York County which had been annexed from Westchester County were constituted the new Bronx County.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,295 km˛ (500 mi˛). 1,121 km˛ (433 mi˛) of it is land and 174 km˛ (67 mi˛) of it is water. The total area is 13.45% water.
Westchester County is in the southeastern part of New York State. It is bordered to the south by the borough of The Bronx in New York City, to the west by the Hudson River (New Jersey is across the river from Yonkers; most of the rest of the county is across the Hudson from Rockland County), to the east by Connecticut and the Long Island Sound and to the north by Putnam County. The county's terrain is largely composed of rolling hills. The three main river flowing within the county are the Bronx, the Croton and the Saw Mill.
The highest elevation in the county is a U.S. Geological Survey benchmark known as "Bailey" at approximately 299 m (980 feet) above sea level in Mountain Lakes Park near the Connecticut state line. The lowest elevation is sea level, along the Hudson.
In popular conception, Westchester County is generally divided into northern and southern areas by virtue of their distinguishing social and economic differences. The northern portion (places north of Interstate 287/Cross Westchester Expressway - also) is seen as rural and wealthy; the southern portion (White Plains and south) is considered urban and poor. These generalities, however, do not necessarily hold true in all communities. The Westchester County Department of planning divides the county into North, Central and South sub-regions  (http://www.westchestergov.com/planning/research/Census2000/Oct03Updates/maps/subregionsbig.jpg).
Westchester County Municipal Boundaries
There are six cities in Westchester County.
- Mount Vernon
- New Rochelle
- Rye (Rye is also the name of a town.)
- White Plains
Towns and Villages
There are 19 towns in Westchester County. Any land area in the county that is not contained in one of the cities is in a town. A town may contain zero, one or multiple villages. Three towns are coterminous with the village of the same name. Two villages are split between two towns.
Many towns contain area which does not belong to any village. This area may contain communities referred to as hamlets. Hamlets have no legal status and depend upon the town for government and services. There are also areas called census-designated places (CDPs), which are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau for statistical purposes only. A CDP may or may not correspond to a hamlet.
The towns are listed as follows:
- Villages (if any), one per bullet
- CDPs (if any), all listed on a single bullet
- Communities not in a village or CDP (if any), all listed on a single bullet
- (The list of towns, villages and CDPs is complete. The listing of additional communities should not be considered complete.)
- Bedford, containing no villages
- (contains the CDP of Bedford)
- (plus additional area belonging to no CDP, including the communities of Bedford Village, Bedford Hills and Katonah)
- Cortlandt, containing two villages:
- (contains the CDPs of Crugers and Verplanck)
- (plus additional area belonging to no village or CDP, including the community of Montrose)
- Eastchester, containing two villages:
- (contains the CDP of Eastchester, which encompasses all area outside the villages)
- Greenburgh, containing six villages:
- Dobbs Ferry
- (contains the CDPs of Fairview, Greenville and Hartsdale)
- (plus additional area belonging to no village or CDP, including the communities of Edgemont and Glenville)
- Harrison, coterminous with the village of the same name
- Lewisboro, containing no villages
- (contains the CDP of Golden's Bridge)
- (plus additional area belonging to no village, including the communities of Cross River, Lewisboro, South Salem, Vista and Waccabuc)
- Mamaroneck, containing two villages:
- Mamaroneck (This village is shared with the Town of Rye.)
- (plus additional area belonging to no village)
- Mount Pleasant, containing three villages:
- Briarcliff Manor (This village is shared with the Town of Ossining.)
- Sleepy Hollow (formerly named North Tarrytown)
- (contains the CDPs of Hawthorne, Thornwood and Valhalla)
- (plus additional area belonging to no village or CDP, including the communities of Eastview and Pocantico Hills)
- New Castle, containing no villages
- (contains the CDP of Chappaqua)
- (plus additional area belonging to no CDP, including the community of Millwood)
- North Castle, containing no villages
- (contains the CDP of Armonk )
- (plus additional area belonging to no CDP, including the community of Banksville)
- North Salem, containing no villages
- (contains the portion of the CDP of Peach Lake that is not in Putnam County)
- (plus additional area belonging to no CDP, including the communities of Croton Falls, Purdys and Salem Center)
- Ossining, containing two villages:
- Briarcliff Manor (This village is shared with the Town of Mount Pleasant.)
- Ossining (The village of Ossining is contained within the Town of Ossining.)
- (plus additional area belonging to no village)
- Pelham, containing two villages:
- Pelham (The Village of Pelham is contained within the Town of Pelham.)
- Pelham Manor
- (The villages cover the entire area of the town.)
- (The village of North Pelham existed from 1896 to 1975, when it was merged into the village of Pelham.)
- Pound Ridge, containing no villages
- (contains the CDP of Scotts Corners)
- (plus additional area belonging to no CDP)
- Rye (Rye is also the name of a city.), containing three villages:
- Mamaroneck (This village is shared with the Town of Mamaroneck. The portion in Rye is unofficially also called "Rye Neck".)
- Port Chester
- Rye Brook (Prior to 1982, Rye Brook was the area of the town not belonging to any village.)
- (The villages cover the entire area of the town.)
- Scarsdale, coterminous with village of same name
- Somers, containing no villages
- (contains the CDPs of Heritage Hills, Lincolndale and Shenorock)
- (plus additional area belonging to no CDP, including the communities of Amawalk, Baldwin Place, Granite Springs, and Somers)
- Yorktown, containing no villages
- (contains the CDPs of Crompond, Jefferson Valley-Yorktown, Lake Mohegan, Shrub Oak and Yorktown Heights)
- (plus additional area belonging to no CDP, including the communities of Kitchawan and Yorktown)
Althrough the county used to lean Republican, it swung Democratic in the early 1990s, and nowadays Westchester voters tend to be far more Democratic than the rest of the nation. 58% of Westchester County voters chose John Kerry in the U.S. presidential election of November 2004.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 923,459 people, 337,142 households, and 235,325 families residing in the county. The population density is 824/km˛ (2,134/mi˛). There are 349,445 housing units at an average density of 312/km˛ (807/mi˛). The racial makeup of the county is 71.35% White, 14.20% African American, 0.25% Native American, 4.48% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 6.63% from other races, and 3.05% from two or more races. 15.61% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 337,142 households out of which 34.00% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.90% are married couples living together, 12.20% have a female householder with no husband present, and 30.20% are non-families. 25.70% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.30% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.67 and the average family size is 3.21.
In the county the population is spread out with 25.00% under the age of 18, 7.20% from 18 to 24, 30.40% from 25 to 44, 23.50% from 45 to 64, and 14.00% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 38 years. For every 100 females there are 91.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 87.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $63,582, and the median income for a family is $79,881. Males have a median income of $53,136 versus $39,966 for females. The per capita income for the county is $36,726. 8.80% of the population and 6.40% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 11.00% of those under the age of 18 and 7.60% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
The Census Bureau estimates 2003 population at 940,302  (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/36119.html).
Population time line
Westchester County is served by Interstate 87 (the New York State Thruway), Interstate 95, Interstate 287 and Interstate 684. Parkways in the county include the Bronx River Parkway, the Cross County Parkway, the Hutchinson River Parkway, the Saw Mill River Parkway, the Sprain Brook Parkway and the Taconic State Parkway. The Tappan Zee Bridge connects Tarrytown to Rockland County across the Hudson River. The Bear Mountain Bridge crosses the Hudson from Cortlandt to Orange County.
The development corridors in the county have defined and follow transportation corridors. The main north-south corridors are, from east to west, the Route 9/Albany Post Rd/Broadway Corridor along the Hudson River from Yonkers in the South to Cortlandt in the North. The Saw Mill River State Parkway Corridor, traverses the country in a north-eastern path, beginning in Yonkers, and terminating at I-684 in Bedford. The Sprain River State Parkway traverses the counties midsection until it moves closer to the Hudson River as it becomes the Taconic State Parkway. The Hutchinson River State Parkway lines the eastern county, from the Bronx (terminating at the Long Island crossing - the Whitestone Bridge) until its northern terminus at I-287, where it continues as I-684 into Putnam County through Bedford and North Salem. The eastern most corridor is the I-95/New England Thruway which traverses the county on the Long Island Sound, from the Pelhams through the Town of Rye and into Connecticut. The East-West corridors are the Cross County Parkway, which traverses the southern county from Yonkers in the east through New Rochelle in the west, terminating at the Hutchinson River Parkway/I-95. The Cross Westchester Expressway/I-287 is the mid-county corridor spanning from the Tappan-Zee Bridge in Tarrytown to the west to I-95/New England Thruway in the east. The northern-most corridor is that approximating the US-202 route from Cortlandt, and the Bear Mountain Bridge, to Lewisboro and the Connecticut border.
Commuter train service in Westchester in provided by Metro-North Railroad (operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Metro-North operate three lines in the county; west to east, they are the Husdon, the Harlem and the New Haven lines. Amtrak serves Croton-Harmon, New Rochelle and Yonkers.
Bus service is provided by the Bee-Line Bus System (operated by the Westchester County Department of Transportation).
Westchester County Airport is adjacent to White Plains.
- Westchester County owns and operates the Playland amusement park in Rye, America's only government owned and operated amusement park.