Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Pelham Tries To Kill the Plan to Create Pelham Bay Park: 1887

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The year was 1887. The City of New York was in the midst of efforts to create a massive park to be known as Pelham Bay Park. Only three years earlier the state legislature had enacted a statute authorizing the taking of lands in Westchester County -- including much of the Town of Pelham -- for the creation of the new park.

The people of Pelham were outraged. Among the many things they did to fight the plan (unsuccessfully, as we now know) included a petition and a meeting with the Mayor of New York City in March 1887 to oppose the park plan. The New York Times wrote of their efforts as follows:


A large delegation from the town of Pelham, Westchester County, waited on Mayor Hewitt yesterday afternoon. Dr. John A. Hardenbrook, of Barton-on-Sound [sic], introduced Supervisor Sherman T. Pell, Postmaster Hogan, Roadmaster Hall, Frederick Vickery, Henry D. Carey, Charles Mahoney, and a dozen or more other gentlemen.

Supervisor Pell, in addressing the Mayor, said that the delegation appeared for the purpose of presenting a petition signed by the taxpayers of the town, asking his co-operation and that of the Common Council in requesting the Legislature to repeal so much of the act of 1884 as related to the assumptions of lands in Westchester County for a park to be known as Pelham Bay Park. The petition sets forth that the taking of these lands in Westchester County was mainly in the interest of a few landed proprietors who expected to get upward of $2,000 an acre for swamp lands.

Mayor Hewitt emphatically said: 'Gentlemen, I am very glad to meet you. I appreciate the situation exactly. I think it is an outrageous thing that the Legislature should have passed a bill to acquire lands for park purposes eight miles from the Harlem Bridge, and saddling the expense upon the taxpayers of this city. I suppose you were a happy and contented community until some speculative rascals set their eyes upon your locality and sought to use it for their own selfish ends. I am glad you have called, and I assure you I shall send your petition with my recommendation to the Board of Aldermen at its next meeting.'"

Source: The Pelham Park. Westchester People Ask Mayor Hewitt's Aid To Kill The Scheme, N.Y. Times, Mar. 25, 1887, p. 2.

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