This self-proclaimed city girl loves life in the Rivertowns…which, she explains, are NOT the “suburbs…”
I grew up in Queens and am a city girl at heart. The last thing I ever wanted to do was move to the burbs. But by the time I was in my mid 30s, I was done with NYC. I had enough of crowded subway rides, sitting in a grey cubicle every day, and that never-ending bustling energy that eventually left me tired.
Though I was happy I got my NYC fix in through my 30’s and had so much fun while it lasted. Now it was time for some rest and peace of mind … but never in a suburb.
I couldn’t imagine living in a home surrounded by grass and trees and not being able to walk to a town to get coffee or a paper. I couldn’t imagine having to landscape a backyard, drive an SUV, join a PTA or all the other things I imagined was going on in suburbia, which probably never really happened the way I perceived.
I had lived in cities like San Francisco, Tel-Aviv, and even Miami, and I wasn’t going to isolate myself in any suburb, but the Rivertowns felt different. I met a man while living in New York City who lived in Hastings-on-Hudson, the closest Rivertown to the city and one night I hopped on a Metro-North for our date. As I watched the Hudson River from the train’s window, I felt the calm I was craving. Then I got off the train, I felt like I arrived in a ghost town. “How could anyone live here?” I wondered.
When the sun fully came out in the morning (not necessarily on that same date, wink wink) and I could finally see clearly, I came to realize how special this area was.
Aside from the gorgeous views from the river that follows you wherever you go, the village was quaint and people actually said hello to each other on the streets and in cafes. There was a special community here of artists and professionals, and everyone seemed down-to-earth and friendly.
Later I found out there were actually four river towns south of the Mario Cuomo bridge, each with their own personalities, yet each connected in some way. This area felt unique. It had a soulfulness and beauty I had experienced when I lived in San Francisco. I knew after just a short amount of time that the Rivertowns were where I was going to call my home and raise a family.
My boyfriend became my husband and we eventually had a child, who is now three-years-old. We bought a comfortable two bedroom apartment with river views and are now part of an amazing community of young families in a wonderful school system.
Even though the Rivertowns has received a lot of popular buzz in recent years, mainly because of some NY Times features, this area isn’t for everyone.
The Rivertowns can also feel dated and slow for some, especially if you’re used to a busy, happening area like Brooklyn or the East Village. These villages are small and some storefronts are still empty. Plus, some of the homes were built decades ago and need a lot of work.
But honestly, that slower pace, less-crowded and less-pressured lifestyle was what attracted me to the area. After NYC living, I wanted a serious downshift and I liked that life felt a few years behind. Though for better or worse, things are changing here too, as more and more young driven families move here and making changes.
That’s my story about how I found myself in the Rivertowns and not a “burb”. If you still need a breakdown of how the Rivertowns are not like the suburbs, here you go:
Homes are not very spread out and you won’t get much land with your property. You might just have a small backyard. Therefore, you should feel more connected to your neighbors and less alone once you leave an urban jungle.
Hudson River Views
The most amazing part of this area is that you’re living along the Hudson River with the rocky palisades behind it. You will never get tired of the view and the energy that comes from the river, which flows both ways. Not everyone has a river view from their home, but if you do, you’re in luck.
The Rivertowns has been known to be less uptight and less competitive than other Westchester area, maybe because the river has a calming effect. There’s a more down to earth vibe among people here, overall. Though again, that might change over time.
Many people can walk to their downtown areas from their homes in these villages, which is perfect for someone used to city living. Especially, with a kid or two, it’s so nice to stroll into town and get lunch, that coffee in the morning or ice cream in the evening.
History of Workers
The Rivertowns were industrial factory towns, with GM in Tarrytown and the Anaconda, a copper factory in Hastings-on-Hudson. The Suburbs by nature are commuting communities for white-collar workers, but the Rivertowns didn’t begin that way. These were blue collar working towns, which gives it the humble and down-to-earth vibe that still exists today.
Artists were always attracted to this area and were inspired by the beauty of the river. Jack Lipschitz, a 20th-century world-famous sculpture lived in Hastings-on-Hudson and Picasso would visit with him. Jasper Cropsey, a famous Hudson river school oil painter lived here. Washington Irving settled here during the colonial period in Irvington and wrote, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This area is still very much inspired by artists, which gives it a dynamic, non-suburban vibe.
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