The Rivertowns, N.Y.

The scenic train ride from Manhattan to the Rivertowns will have you there before you know it. Be sure to take in the views of the Palisades cliffs and Hudson River along the way as the train makes its way north. Click below for more details on the history of and what it’s like to live in:

Dobbs Ferry
Hastings on Hudson
Irvington

What makes these villages unique is their proximity to New York City, the Hudson River, and the historic Croton Aqueduct that connects them via a lovely wooded path. Travelers from the city can step off the train in under 40 minutes from Grand Central station into another world of villages, wooded paths, and a sense of what it’s really like to live in the New York City area. As you stroll along the path connecting the villages, you are more likely to bump into families or joggers than tourists. Along the way, you’ll find ample opportunities to picnic, shop, visit a day spa, enjoy casual or fine dining, and take in beautiful views of the river, cliffs, hills, and the Manhattan skyline.

The Rivertowns offer impressive views of the near vertical Palisades cliffs, which rise up to 600 feet tall in places. They were formed millions of years ago by lava that intruded upward into surrounding sandstone. Seen from Hastings on Hudson's MacEachron Park.

The Rivertowns offer impressive views of the near vertical Palisades cliffs, which rise up to 600 feet tall in places. They were formed millions of years ago by lava that intruded upward into surrounding sandstone. Seen from Hastings on Hudson's MacEachron Park. Click to Enlarge.

Notable Residents

Together, the Rivertowns are home to about 20,000 people, although its hard to believe as you walk along the heavily wooded Croton Aqueduct connecting the villages. Today, the villages are home to people of all walks of life, many of them commuters to jobs in New York City. Past residents have included many Nobel laureates including economist Edmund Phelps, and such historic figures as Civil War Admiral David Farragut, of “damned the torpedos” fame; Hudson River School painter Jasper Cropsey; the sculptor Jacques Lipschitz; Billie Burke, of Wicked Witch of the West fame; the impresario Florenz Ziegfeld; Sarah Walker, inventor of an anti-kink formula for Black women and one of the wealthiest black Americans of her time.

More recent residents have included activist Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers; Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, who grew up in Dobbs Ferry; Meredith Vieira, of the Today Show; Peter Martins, the renowned ballet dancer and director of the New York City Ballet; actress Ricki Lake; Alvin Dark, a New York Giants shortstop who later managed the San Francisco Giants; pro basketball star Mark Blount; NBC television personality Stone Phillips; and Stephen Collins of the television series Seventh Heaven.

Set Your Own Pace

Put together your own walking itinerary suited to your pace—from a half-day to a full-day. It’s a nice year-round escape, since the Croton Aqueduct is almost always walkable. You can walk north or south along the Croton Aqueduct from one village to another, and shuttle between them via the Metro North trains to pick up your car, visit a particular restaurant, or return to Manhattan. You can buy tickets using automated dispensers in each village’s station.

Visitors discover spectacular views of the Hudson River and Palisades Cliffs, the Manhattan skyline from a different perspective, and small river villages that haven’t changed much in 100 years except for having shed their once industrial pasts. Along the Aqueduct walks, you can explore authentic galleries and shops, enjoy day spas, pick up great picnic food, and find casual and fine dining and picnic spots, some with breath-taking river views. You’ll walk in the footsteps of American revolutionaries and pass by the locations of a Revolutionary War battle and a famous Hudson River ferry crossing that carried our soldiers, and George Washington, his wife Martha, and many others, across the Hudson during the war.

Depending on the day of your visit, you might pick up a live concert or performance in one of the town parks or at Irvington Town Hall Theater, or stumble upon a local town festival or farmer’s market.

Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

Dobbs Ferry downtown

Dobbs Ferry downtown. Click to Enlarge.

A villager in Dobbs Ferry once described her town as "more New England than Westchester." With its sloping geography and intimate community, the village does seem better fit for rural Massachusetts than the outskirts of New York City. The community takes great pride in its schools, most notably their athletic teams. Main and Cedar Streets are home to many of the village's restaurants and shops, as well as a few of Dobbs Ferry’s seven art and pottery galleries.

There are no pubs, but two restaurants, Celtic Corner and Doubleday's, have lively bar areas at nighttime. The village boasts a wide variety of restaurants offering continental, Mexican, sushi, Greek, and other cuisines.

Dobbs Ferry boasts the 70-acre Juhning Estate Nature Preserve and Gould Park, home to Dobbs Ferry High School's football team. The Eagles are the toast of the town, because they won three recent state championships. They were also named New York State's small school team of the decade for the 1980s.

Waterfront park in Dobbs Ferry

Waterfront park in Dobbs Ferry

Dobbs Ferry's public school system is comprised of the high school, Dobbs Ferry Middle School and Springhurst Elementary School. There are also three private schools: the Master's School, Our Lady of Victory Academy and Children's Village, a home for troubled boys.


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Hastings-on-Hudson N.Y.

Hastings-on-Hudson is home to two galleries and attracts residents with a penchant for the arts. Famed artist Jasper Cropsey once called Hastings home, and his former residence is now the Jasper F. Cropsey Home Studio and Gallery. The nightlife in Hastings is not extensive, but the village does possess many restaurants from casual to fine dining.

Hastings-on-Hudson owns 11 parks and fields for sports, but its biggest recreational draw is the Old Croton Aqueduct Trailway. The trailway follows the path of an aqueduct used to bring water from the Croton River to New York City during the 18th and 19th Centuries. It runs parallel to the Hudson River and affords spectacular views of the Palisades and the water. Along its path sit old ventilator shafts and flood equipment used as early as the 1700s. Owned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the aqueduct is a favorite exercise and relaxation spot for many in the area.

Hastings-on-Hudson

Hastings-on-Hudson downtown. Click to Enlarge.

The Hastings-on-Hudson School District consists of Hillside Elementary School, Farragut Middle School and Hastings High School. There are approximately 2,000 students collectively enrolled, and all three have been awarded the National Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence.

 

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Irvington

Downtown Irvington

 Downtown Irvington. Click to Enlarge.

Irvington was an agricultural community from the late 1700s to the early 20th Century. It then became a weekend getaway for New York City moguls and wealthy businessmen such as railroad developer Jay Gould.

The New York Times once wrote, "Irvington is the kind of village, that when you sneeze, 50 people will say, ‘Bless You.’” This may not be far from the truth.

Scenic Irvington is unpretentious with no supermarkets or shopping centers. Main Street and Broadway house a handful of small shops, delis and restaurants. The town has some excellent restaurants in a converted factory complex on the Hudson River across from the railroad tracks, and several good restaurants line the main street. There’s a nice assortment of gift, craft, antique, and other boutques.

Like the other Rivertowns, Irvington is rife with parks and fields for outdoor activity. There is also the 432-seat Irvington Town Hall Theater, an exact replica of Washington D.C.'s Ford Theater, where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The theater hosts concerts, shows, meetings, and acting workshops year-round.

The Irvington Union Free School District consists of four schools: Dows Lane School, Main Street School, Irvington Middle School and Irvington High School. The newly renovated middle and high school share a sprawling campus with a panoramic view of the Hudson River. The high school was recently ranked in the top 100 by U.S. News & World Report.

While one of Westchester County’s wealthiest towns, Irvington has a less pretentious feel than Scarsdale, Bronxville, or Rye, which helps explain why it is home to celebrities in film and television who wish their children to grow up in a more down-to-earth environment. It has beautiful, residential neighborhoods with very old homes, and some newer developments further from the river that actually share services with the village but are part of the town of Greenburgh.

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