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.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Report on State of the Village of North Pelham by President Peter Ceder Published in 1913

President of North Pelham, Peter Ceder, prepared a "State of the Village" report that appeared in an issue of The Pelham Sun published in 1913.  The report provides an interesting description of the state of the Village at a time when it was beginning to experience explosive growth that continued until the Great Depression.  The entire report is transcribed below.

"Pres. Ceder on North Pelham

The progress in North Pelham the past few years has been rapid, substantial and systematic.  The mud-hole streets that distinguished the village as a back-woods municipality only three short years ago, are no more.  Instead, the main thoroughfares now present substantial and permanent pavements that will stand the test of time and traffic.

North Pelham is the largest village in the town in population, containing between 1,400 and 1,500.  It is a third-class village, while the villages of Pelham and Pelham Manor are still in the fourth class.

As a third class village the law permits us to have a President and four Trustees.  For fourth class villages the law provides for a President and only two Trustees.  But the law does not make it mandatory upon the part of a third class village to elect four Trustees.

I have been so closely connected with the past few years' municipal history in North Pelham that my optimism about the future of the little village may, perhaps, be a bit exaggerated.  But even so, I am happy to retain my firm conviction that ere long my home village will advance from the third to the second class.

Why shouldn't it?

Our transit facilities excel those of most other villages in the county.  At the south end we have the main New Haven road; in the centre of the old part of the village we have the Fifth avenue station of the New York, Westchester and Boston road; a little further east we have the Clifford avenue station of the same line, and up at the north end people can be handsomely accommodated by the Chester Heights station of the Westchester road.  We also have a chance to use the nearby East Lincoln Avenue station.  And only 30 minutes to 42nd street.

We have trolley car service every fifteen minutes, with the right to transfers in all directions.  The trolley now runs to the further north end of our village and to the east boundary line.  I think that the extension of the trolley line up Pelhamdale avenue, and the attendant increase in car service, together with the pleasing transfer privileges obtained, is one of the most noteworthy achievements of the village administration of which I have had the pleasure to be a part.  Transit facilities are the forerunners of increased population and the consequent increase in property values.

Those whose memory is in good working order have not forgotten how our streets looked a couple of years ago.  Those who are not blind and are willing to see cannot fail to comprehend the tremendous change our permanently improved streets have worked in the village.  Those who have occasion to use our concrete sidewalks will say that walking in North Pelham is just fine.

A little statistics will not be out of place. 

The village has 65,475 lineal feet or 12.44 miles of streets; it has 9.22 miles of sewer; it has 7.4 miles of flag sidewalks; it has 6.17 miles of concrete sidewalks.  Of the nearly 13 miles of streets 6,191 lineal feet are paved with Bithulitic on concrete foundation, 750 feet are paved with Tarvia pavement, 11,855 feet are macadimized and 53,620 feet are dirt roads.

There are 8,960 feet of trolley track within the village limits. 

The dirt roads have been greatly improved by the use of oil, which serves both as a road improver and as a dust exterminator -- a double purpose.

Our street lighting system could and should be improved.  The open flame gas lamps are antiquated and give an inferior illumination compared with the modern street lights now in use in nearly all up-to-date municipalities.

We enjoy good police protection at the hands of our little force of four men.  Robberies and burglaries are rarely heard of and general good order is maintained night and day.

I fail to see why our little village should not grow rapidly, for it contains all the essential elements necessary to make an ideal suburban community for the middle class. 

In conclusion I wish to impress upon the minds of my fellow taxpayers in North Pelham the fact that they should exert themselves a little more than they now do to induce that rapid but sound growth the village is entitled to by reason of the many inducements it can hold out to purchasers of moderate means.  Be boosters, and not knockers.

Pres. Village North Pelham"

Source:  Pres. Ceder on North Pelham, The Pelham Sun, 1913, p. 11, col. 6 (undated newspaper page in the collections of the Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham, NY; digital copy in author's files).

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