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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Plans to Annex Pelham and Make it Part of New York City in 1870

On May 10, 2007, I posted to the Historic Pelham Blog the text of an article that appeared in The New York Times on August 12, 1870 indicating that residents of Pelham favored annexation of much of Westchester County by New York City in 1870. See:

Thursday, May 10, 2007: Report That Pelham Favored Annexation of Much of Westchester County by New York City in 1870.

Another article on the same topic appeared in the same issue of The New York Times. That article detailed "Grand Schemes" for the improvement of Westchester County revolving around plans to annex much of Westchester County to make it part of New York City. The text of the article appears below, followed by a citation to its source.

"Grand Schemes for the Improvement of Westchester County.

It is now well understood among certain influential political leaders of this City and Westchester County, that a great annexation scheme, heretofore hinted at, together with some other plans, affecting that suburban district, are to be brought forward at the next session of the Legislature. The first and most important scheme affecting the interests of the citizens of Westchester County, is the projected incorporation of the towns of Morrisania, West Farms, Westchester, and the lower section of Yonkers, with the City of New-York. Many now go so far as to favor the annexation of the four towns named entire, as well as the towns of East Chester, Pelham, New-Rochelle, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, White Plains, and Greenburg, and the lower sections of Harrison and Rye, running the boundary line from the Hudson River at Tarrytown, along the northern line of Greenburg and White Plains, thence in a direct line through the towns of Harrison and Rye, to the Connecticut line or Byram River at Porchester. Great inducements are held out to the citizens of the towns named, by the projectors and advocates of the scheme. The convenience of a bountiful supply of Croton water, (by the construction of an additional reservoir, if necessary,) and the protection of the Metropolitan Police and Fire Departments are promised, and a very large proportion of the population would doubtless hail such an event with satisfaction.

Another project is that of converting the Bronx River, from its outlet in the East River, near West Farms, and opposite Riker's Island, to White Plains, into a grand canal, 100 feet wide and 8 feet deep, with locks at such points as may be deemed necessary, so as to render it available at all times for the transportation in barges of lime, lumber, coal and other heavy articles of merchandise. It is likewise suggest that a canal be cut from the Bronx River, at a point just below Williamsbridge to Mill Brook, at Fordham, and thence widen and deepen that stream and construct such locks as may be necessary along the same, so as to adapt it for the purposes of a canal to its outlet in the Harlem River. A portion of the the Bronx River water may by this arrangement be diverted from its present course to Mill Brook, and thus greatly diminish the impurity of the latter stream.

It is contended that this improvement would do much in promoting the prosperity of the country along the lines of the two canals, by increasing the facilities and cheapening the cost of transporting heavy freight, at the same time draining all the low lands through which they would pass, thereby removing all miasmatic influences."

Source: Grand Schemes for the Improvement of Westchester County, N.Y. Times, Aug. 12, 1870, p. 8.

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