Preserve America Community:
Rockland County, New York
Rockland County, New York, (population 294,965) is bounded by the Hudson River on the east, New Jersey on the south, and the Ramapo Mountains to the north and west. Henry Hudson’s 1609 exploration of the river that would bear his name gave the Dutch control of the Hudson Valley from New York City to Albany. In 1664, the English took control and established a system of counties. Rockland became a separate county in 1798.
Rich in Revolutionary War history, Rockland County was the site of two important battles and is also famous for Benedict Arnold’s treasonable plot to sell West Point fortification plans to the British. British Major John Andre’s capture in 1780 alerted authorities to Arnold’s treason, and he was imprisoned in the Old ’76 House in Tappan before he was hanged.
Throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th century, the county’s economy was based primarily on small-farm agriculture. With the opening of the Tappan Zee Bridge and the completion of the New York State Thruway and the Palisades Interstate Parkway, Rockland’s population tripled from 1950 to 1980, and today many of its residents commute to New York City, just 16 miles away.
Rockland County’s many other historical buildings include the Jacob Blauvelt Farmstead, built in 1832, which offers tours by docents in period costumes. The Stony Point Battlefield is a State Historic Site and includes a lighthouse built in 1826. George Washington’s temporary headquarters at the DeWint House, the oldest surviving structure in the county, have been restored.
Another attraction is the Edward Hopper House Art Center in Nyack, where Hopper was born and lived as a boy in the late 1800s. New City’s recently restored 1836 Dutch Gardens features a teahouse with intricate brick patterns and carvings, as well as a gazebo, an arbor, and a bandstand.
Rockland County offers many brochures and guides to visitors, including a “Driving History” self-guided tour and the “Heritage on Hudson” brochure.
For more information
County of Rockland: www.rockland.org
The Historical Society of Rockland County: www.rocklandhistory.org
Posted February 19, 2009