There’s a reason so many city families are heading to the Rivertowns
A few decades ago there was a local advertisement that read, “Hastings-on-Hudson…Shhh.” The Rivertowns have always been a bit of an undiscovered area nestled along the beautiful Hudson River, but in recent years, that has changed.
These were factory towns filled with workers who spent their daysworking with commodities like steel. At the end of a long, hard day,they could then have a drink at a local bar and walk home to theirfamilies in the peaceful oasis outside NYC. Life was tough but good.
Later the Rivertowns started attracting artists like the cubist sculptor Jack Lipschitz. He had his art studio in Hastings-on-Hudson and would meet his friend Picasso at the station cafe from time totime.
The landscape painter Jasper Francis Cropsey painted at hisbreathtaking estate in Hastings-on-Hudson till 1893, where you canstill tour the amazing property and see hiswork.
Fast-forward, I moved here in 2011 with my musician boyfriend, who isnow my husband, and fell in love with the Rivertowns. I loved thatthis area was right outside the hectic NYC, but it wasn’t what Ienvisioned a suburb to be. I could walk to towns and even escape backto NYC in 30 minutes or so.
The villages in the Rivertowns were cute and quaint. I liked most the people I met who lived there because they were down-to-earth and friendly. It actually felt like I had moved to some small collegetown, filled with married adults instead of students. And of course, who wouldn’t love the beautiful and calming Hudson River, which flowsboth ways and follows you everywhere you go.
Of course, a year or two after I lived here, this area started getting popular. All of sudden I would see young and hip couples moving in, oreven 30-something men with beards walking the streets! How could thisbe? This area was always more folksy than super hip, so something wasa’ changing.
But it all made sense, the New York Times had found us. In 2013 the New York Times writer Alex Williams wrote the story Creating Hipsturbia about how Brooklyn was coming to our “suburbia.” The piecetalked about how young creatives were leaving NYC and Brooklyn becauseit had become too expensive and they were attracted to the laid back vibe of the Rivertowns.
The term “Hipsturbia” and NY Times piece itself didn’t thrill manypeople in the community. People were offended to be labeled that way because we were much more than some manufactured idea or trend. Ourcommunity included all types of families from blue-collar to whitecollar, to no collar. Also, I’m not sure everyone was happy that ourquiet little community wasn’t such a secret anymore.
Of course, real estate prices started rising after that and I startedmeeting younger and sometimes hip families on our streets, searchingfor their dream non-suburban home and life outside the city.
Since then the New York Times published a few more favorable piecesabout this area. One called, Twenty Miles from Midtown a Riverside Village Awaits was all about the area, highlightingthe Hastings FarmersMarket and the great stores and restaurants in the village.
“There’s nothing cookie cutter about Hastings,” the market’s organizerPascale Le Draploulec said in the piece. And yes, after that story, Iwould see more stragglers walking through the village and farmer’smarket, checking out the area.
Last year, when I asked a mom who moved here with her family fromoutside London how she discovered the Rivertowns, shesaid it was the first listing that popped up on Google when shesearched for towns outsides NYC. She hadn’t heard about SuburbanJungle like the rest of us!
I guess it’s hard to keep such a beautiful and quaint area, with anamazing community and school-system under wraps. Whether it’s Googleis to blame for the buzz or something else, we welcome each newcomerto the Rivertowns, no matter what you do, what you look like or whereyou come from—as long as you’re not too hip to be friendly.
Why the Rivertowns Are NOT the Suburbs
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.
Why Moms Love the Rivertowns, NY
If the popular show in the 50’s Father Knows Best was created today, it would definitely be called Mom Know Best. Our instincts are razor sharp and we just know what works and doesn’t work for our family when moving to a new area, well, on a good day. In any case, if you’re doing anything new with your life, check in with moms you trust. And then your partner can come next, of course! (wink) I polled some of my favorite mamas in the area to get the scoop on why they love the Rivertowns and here’s what they said:
The schools in the Rivertowns area are great and ranked well. Selena Coul, a Hastings-on-Hudson mom and photographer says, “My son Alex grew up in Tribeca and he attended Leman since Kindergarten. I can honestly say that the quality of education and attention Alex has received for the last 4 years in Hastings is better than anything he ever experienced in his former school. The day we visited Hastings for the first time and within the first 10 minutes of walking the hills, my son’s words made the choice for me. He said: ‘Wow, mom, I can actually hear myself think up here.’ The rest is history.”
I’m a city girl at heart, which is exactly why I need some nature around me to calm me down! Meghan Covington, a local trainer, and yoga-teacher who recently moved to Ardsley says, “I love living in the Rivertowns because of all the opportunities my family has to connect with nature. We walk the Old Croton Aqueduct. We picnic by the Hudson. We even get to chase deer and bunnies in our own backyard. The outdoor adventures are seemingly endless!”
You might think it’s not as easy to make friends when you hit a certain age, but not in this area. “What stands out the most is the close-knit, warm community. As a working mom, I was apprehensive that there would be limited opportunities to meet people, but the complete opposite has been true. There’s a local MOMS’ Club for the Rivertowns, a Dobbs Moms’ Night Out every third Thursday (and one for dads!), and an active community that regularly organizes local events. I’m also lucky that I have the most amazing neighbors. These days, it’s hard to find a weekend where we don’t have a play date or dinner plans with friends,” says Dobbs Ferry resident and head of PR at Ollie Jacalyn Lee.
Laid Back Lifestyle
Once you get off that train from the city, the pace of life has decreased a few notches, which isn’t for everyone, but was exactly what I wanted. Maybe the Hudson River puts us all in some sort of relaxing state, but we’re all a bit more chill in the Rivertowns! There’s a strong sense of community and warmth, making it great for moms looking for a laidback lifestyle, while still being close to the city.
The Living is Easy
Along with that calm, comes an ease of life and fewer crowds, yes, even at Costco. My hairdresser and Hastings-on-Hudson resident Daphne Shih says, “Household errands are a breeze even with kids! Everything is nearby with easy parking and no long lines. Schools are the biggest convenience. All the towns have great schools so there is no testing to get into a school. Once you move in (to the Rivertowns) you know where your kids will be until they graduate HS. Smaller communities allow many people to have eyes on your child, we all watch out for each other.”
Eating well is really easy in this area. You’ll find your gluten-free, Whole30 compliant, organic foods anywhere you look. Plus, we have some of the best farmers’ markets ever! “One of the things I love most about the Rivertowns is our magical farmers’ markets run by Pascale Le Draoulec. The Hastings and Irvington markets are like weekly town squares. Everyone is relaxed and off their phones, the live music is fantastic, and the array of farm-fresh ingredients can’t be beaten. You can find everything you want, and you’re sure to run into friends,” says Daniel Claro, a resident of Irvington and author of the book, The New Rules of Pregnancy: What to Eat, Do, Think About, and Let Go Of While Your Body Is Making a Baby.
Close to the City
As much as we were so ready to leave N.Y.C, we still like to be close by and visit. Well, some times. The Rivertowns are so attractive because they are only a quick 30-minute train ride away. Mom Alyssa Paolucci Mills and Ardsley resident says, “We love that the Rivertowns are so close to the city! Our son gets the best of both worlds, the beauty of suburbia and the culture and diversity of the city.”
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