A Walk or Bike Ride on the Aqueduct


The Highlights 
A shady walk or bike ride along a 19th-Century aqueduct that's a National Historic Landmark; impressive Hudson River views; two old river towns with galleries, shops and top restaurants.

Places to Visit
A riverside museum displaying the works of the Hudson River School; a bike trail following an old railroad bed; a Georgian mansion; the estate of the Rockefellers; evening entertainment options in Tarrytown, N.Y.

Bike rentals are available for the Old Croton Aqueduct at Endless Trail Bike Worx on 56 Main St., in Dobbs Ferry. Call 914-674-8567

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View of the Palisades from Hastings on Hudson

View of the Palisades from Hastings on Hudson. Click to Enlarge.

Hastings-on-Hudson and Dobbs Ferry sit side by side on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, but an engineering marvel — a 19th-Century aqueduct — is their biggest link.

Residents of the two suburban villages walk, jog and bike alongside the Croton Aqueduct, a brick tunnel that that once brought water more than 40 miles from the Old Croton Dam in Westchester County to a then expanding metropolis, New York City.

Peter J. Riolo Real Estate

The aqueduct, now a National Historic Landmark maintained by New York as a state park, was built from 1837 to 1842. It was based on engineering principals of ancient Rome, using gravity to propel water south through an elliptical tube about eight feet wide and nine feet tall.

New York City’s thirst for water grew too great, and a larger aqueduct had to be built underground further west. The original aqueduct stopped delivering water to New York City in 1955.

Click to Enlarge.

The engineering wonder was on no one’s mind in 1609 when English explorer Henry Hudson, working for the Dutch East India Company, sailed up the river he would subsequently name for himself and past lands later named Hastings-on-Hudson and Dobbs Ferry. The lands were inhabited by Weckquaesgeek Indians, an Algonquin tribe that lived in huts of sticks, bark and animal skins.

Dutch carpenter Frederick Philipse traded guns, blankets, kettles and other items to acquire the area in 1682. His family owned it for about 90 years, until it was confiscated after the Revolutionary War as punishment for the family's support of the British. The land was subsequently divided into parcels, including what is now Hastings-on-Hudson, and was leased to area residents.

About 1730, William Dobbs began a ferry service that operated for nearly 30 years in the area that was later named Dobbs Ferry. George Washington’s wife, Martha, was a passenger, and the ferry landing played a role in the American Revolution. American troops sent information by boat from the ferry landing to other soldiers camped across the river.

The area known as Hastings-on-Hudson was neutral territory during the war, but it was repeatedly raided by both sides. Peter Post, owner of a local tavern, led Hessian soldiers into an ambush and was regarded as an American war hero.

Hastings-on-Hudson probably got its name from Saunders, a local factory operator who supposedly was born in Hastings, England. In 1879, when the village was incorporated, the name changed from Hastings-Upon-Hudson to Hastings-on-Hudson.

Many European immigrants flocked to the area after waterfront factories were built. Workers also moved to Dobbs Ferry to build and work at manor houses of rich New York professionals who bought property overlooking the Hudson River.

Hudson River School painter Jasper Cropsey lived in Hastings-on-Hudson in the late 19th Century. His home, Ever Rest, overlooks the river and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The home and Cropsey’s artwork are preserved and displayed by the Newington-Cropsey Foundation and are open to the public.

Other famous who have lived in Hastings-on-Hudson include jazz great Fats Waller, Civil War Admiral David Farragut, actress Ricki Lake and Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers.

Dobbs Ferry also has its share of notables. Mark Zuckerberg grew up in Dobbs Ferry before attending Harvard University, where he founded the computer Web site, Facebook, in 2004. Other famous locals: Alvin Dark, a New York Giants shortstop who later managed the San Francisco Giants; pro basketball star Mark Blount, and NBC television personality Stone Phillips.

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