Peekskill, New York

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Peekskill, New York
Downtown Peekskill
Downtown Peekskill
Location in Westchester County, and the state of New York
Location in Westchester County, and the state of New York
Peekskill, New York is located in New York
Peekskill, New York
Peekskill, New York
location of Peekskill in New York State
Peekskill, New York is located in the United States
Peekskill, New York
Peekskill, New York
Location of Peeskill in the US
Coordinates: 41°17′N 73°55′W / 41.283°N 73.917°W / 41.283; -73.917Coordinates: 41°17′N 73°55′W / 41.283°N 73.917°W / 41.283; -73.917
CountryUnited States
StateNew York
Incorporated (village)1816; 206 years ago (1816)
Incorporated (city)1940; 82 years ago (1940)
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorVivian C. McKenzie (D)
 • City ManagerAndy Stewart
 • Common Council
Members' List
 • Total5.57 sq mi (14.43 km2)
 • Land4.34 sq mi (11.25 km2)
 • Water1.23 sq mi (3.18 km2)
128 ft (39 m)
 • Total23,583
 • Estimate 
 • Density5,592.77/sq mi (2,159.34/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)914
FIPS code36-56979
GNIS feature ID0960097

Peekskill is a city in northwestern Westchester County, New York, United States, 50 miles (80 km) from New York City. Established as a village in 1816, it was incorporated as a city in 1940. It lies on a bay along the east side of the Hudson River, across from Jones Point in Rockland County. The population was 23,583 during the 2010 census.

The area was an early American industrial center, primarily for iron plow and stove products. The Binney & Smith Company, now as Crayola LLC and makers of Crayola products, linked to the Peekskill Chemical Company founded by Joesph Binney at Annsville in 1864 and succeeded by a partnership by his son Edwin and nephew Harold Smith in 1885.

The well-publicized Peekskill Riots of 1949 involved attacks and a lynching-in-effigy occasioned by Paul Robeson's benefit concerts for the Civil Rights Congress, although the main assault following the September concert properly took place in nearby Van Cortlandtville. Nevertheless, the city of Peekskill has since had multiple African American mayors since 1984.[3][4][5][6]



In September 1609, Dutch explorer Henry Hudson, captain of the Half Moon, anchored along the reach of the Hudson River at Peekskill. His first mate noted in the ship's log that it was a "very pleasant place to build a town".[7] After the establishment of the province of New Netherland, New Amsterdam resident Jan Peeck made the first recorded contact with the Lenape people of this area, then identified as "Sachoes".[citation needed] The date is not certain, (possibly early 1640s), but agreements and merchant transactions took place, formalized in the Ryck's Patent Deed of 1684. The name Peekskill derives from a combination of Mr. Peeck's surname and the Dutch word for stream, kil or kill.

Fort Independence[edit]

Fort Independence on the Hudson, depicted on an improved, published version of British commander-in-chief Sir Henry Clinton's battle map of October 6, 1777
Eastern redoubt on Fort Hill Park

Located on the north bank of the Annsville Creek as it empties into the Hudson, Fort Independence combined with Forts Montgomery and Clinton to defend the Hudson River Valley. Fort Independence was built in August 1776, while Forts Montgomery and Clinton were started in June.[8]: 18  Fort Hill Park, the site of Camp Peekskill, contained five barracks and two redoubts.[9][10]

Settlement was slow in the early 18th century. By the time of the American Revolution, the tiny community was an important manufacturing center, which made it attractive to the Continental Army, which established an outpost here in 1776.[citation needed] Several creeks and streams powered mills which provided gunpowder, leather, planks, and flour. Slaughterhouses provided fresh meat, easily shipped from docks along the river. Much was needed to support several other forts and garrisons located to support the Hudson River Chains placed between Bear Mountain Bridge and Anthony's Nose during the Revolution to prevent British naval passage upriver.

Though Peekskill's terrain and mills were beneficial to the Patriot cause, they also made tempting targets for British raids. The most damaging attack took place in early spring of 1777, when an invasion force of a dozen vessels led by a warship and supported by infantry overwhelmed the American defenders. On leaving New Windsor in June, 1781, Washington established his quarters, for a short time, at Peekskill.[11]


South Street in 1908

Peekskill's first legal incorporation of 1816 was reactivated in 1826 when Village elections took place. The Village was further incorporated within the Town of Cortlandt in 1849 and remained so until separating as a city in 1940.

In 1859 Rev. Henry Ward Beecher bought a thirty-six acre farm at Peekskill. Beecher made many improvements and established a summer home for his family.[12] In 1902 the locally prominent McFadden family bought the property. In 1987 the Beecher-McFadden Estate was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In August 1949, following reports misquoting Paul Robeson's speech to the World Peace Conference in Paris as stating that African Americans would not fight for the United States in any prospective war against the Soviet Union, a planned benefit concert for the Civil Rights Congress in Peekskill had to be cancelled amid White Nationalist and anti-communist violence. An effigy of Robeson was lynched in the town. The artists were able to plan a second concert in nearby Van Cortlandtville[13] on a farm owned by a Holocaust survivor. (His house was subsequently shot into and brickbats thrown through his windows.) The publicity drew a crowd of around 20,000, and two men with rifles were discovered and removed prior to any violence during the concert itself. It was one of the earliest performances of Pete Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer"; Robeson sang surrounded by union guards and volunteers from the audience as protection against other snipers. Following the event, area police and state troopers directed exiting traffic down a single road into an ambush where rocks were thrown through car windows (even at cars with small children). Some were overturned and their occupants beaten without police intervention. These Peekskill Riots were subsequently well-publicized in news report and folk songs and formed a major event in E.L. Doctorow's historical fiction novel The Book of Daniel.

Peekskill was the landing point of a fragment of the Peekskill Meteorite, just before midnight on October 9, 1992. The meteoric trail was recorded on film by at least sixteen individuals.[14] This was only the fourth meteorite in history for which an exact orbit is known. The rock had a mass of 27.7 pounds (12.6 kg) and punched through the trunk of Peekskill resident's automobile upon impact.

The Peekskill Evening Star and the Peekskill Highland Democrat were two of the city's daily newspapers through much of the City's history. The Evening Star published under various mastheads from the 19th century on, and as the Evening Star from 1939 till 1985 when the paper folded into what would become the nexus of the Journal News, a conglomeration of local papers from throughout Westchester County.[15] The Journal News focused more on statewide and New York City issues, however, which led to the founding of the Peekskill Herald in 1986.[16] Although numerous prominent citizens came together to try to keep the paper afloat after a series of New York Times articles about the paper's foundering fiscal situation, it folded in 2005, being replaced by the Peekskill Daily in 2009.[17][18]

The Centennial Firehouse, built in 1890, was located under a U.S. Route 9 bridge. During the original construction of the bridge in 1932 part of the roof of the firehouse was removed. As part of a 2008 highway reconstruction project it was to be relocated to a new historic district.[19] The city spent $150,000 in grant money in preparing the building. Unfortunately a mechanical failure during a turn caused the building to collapse.[20]

In 1984, Richard E. Jackson would become Peekskill's first African American mayor.[3][4]


Peekskill is located at 41°17′N 73°55′W / 41.283°N 73.917°W / 41.283; -73.917 (41.2889, −73.9200)[21] in northwestern Westchester County.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.5 square miles (14 km2), of which 4.3 square miles (11 km2) is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) (20.99%) is water. The city's eastern border is the Town of Cortlandt and its western border is the Hudson River.[clarification needed]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)24,295[2]3.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[22]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 23,583 people living in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 35.8% White, 21.4% Black, 0.2% Native American, 2.9% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from some other race and 2.5% from two or more races. 36.9% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census[23] of 2000, there were 22,441 people, 8,696 households, and 5,348 families living in the city. The population density was 5,189.7 people per square mile (2,005.7/km2). There were 9,053 housing units at an average density of 2,093.6 per square mile (809.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 57.12% White, 25.54% African American, 0.42% Native American, 2.38% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 9.83% from other races, and 4.64% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 21.92% of the population.

There were 8,696 households, out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.7% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.5% were non-families. 31.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.18.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.4% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 34.9% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $47,177, and the median income for a family was $52,645. Males had a median income of $38,091 versus $34,757 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,595. About 10.3% of families and 13.7% of the population were below the poverty line.

Rehabilitation efforts[edit]

Transfer-printed teapot for the American market, c. 1845, showing Peekskill Landing, William Ridgway & Company, Hanley, England

Beginning in the early 1990s, Peekskill made sustained efforts to attract artists, particularly from high-rent areas in New York City. These included economic development incentives to landlords such as tax incentives, grants, facade improvements, and loans to renovate buildings that could be used as live-work spaces by artists. In 2002 the city of Peekskill and the County of Westchester joined with a private real estate company to develop The Peekskill Art Lofts, a 28 unit limited equity income[which?] co-op offering artists an opportunity for affordable home ownership. By one account, upwards of 50 artists in all relocated to the community.

Some local art-related highlights included Paramount Center for the Arts, a restored 1930 movie palace which served as the area's cultural hub, offering music, comedy, drama and independent films before suspending operations in 2012; the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art;STUDIO No.9 Gallery and Workshops; and the Peekskill Coffee House, which showcases local acts. The Bean Runner Cafe, on South Division Street, and 12 Grapes, on North Division Street, also showcase local artists and musicians.


Locally owned WLNA 1420 AM has served the community since 1948.


The town contains several parks and recreation areas, including Charles Point, with bay and river views; Depew Park, which has pools and a pond in addition to ballfields and trails and is the home of the Recreation Department headquarters; Franklin Park; Lepore Park; Fort Hill Park; Peekskill Dog Park; Peekskill Stadium; Riverfront Green Park; and Tompkins Park (home of Little League).[24]


Primary and secondary schools[edit]

The Peekskill City School District is the local school district, with Peekskill High School being the main high school.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York operates Catholic schools in Westchester County. Our Lady of the Assumption School in Peekskill closed in 2013.[25] The closest Catholic school to Peekskill is St. Columbanus School, which is located in Cortlandt Manor.[26]


Peekskill is served by the Hudson Valley Hospital Center (HVHC), founded in 1889 as Peekskill Hospital on lower South Street. In 2014, the hospital began an affiliation with New York-Presbyterian Hospital and is now referred to as New York Presbyterian – Hudson Valley Hospital.

The hospital has 128 inpatient beds and includes a comprehensive cancer center, maternity center, neonatal intensive care unit and surgery center among several other patient care services.[27][28][29]

The city also has an emergency medical service staffed by EMTs and paramedics from the city's fire department and volunteer ambulance corps. The fire department staffs seven EMTs and eight paramedics whereas the volunteer corps has 60 active riding members. Most patients are transported to NYP-Hudson Valley Hospital.[30][31]


Peekskill train station provides commuter service to New York City, 41 miles (66 km) away via Metro-North Railroad. The Bee-Line Bus System provides bus service to Peekskill on routes 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 31. The Bear Mountain Bridge, five miles (8 km) to the northwest, gives road access to Bear Mountain State Park across the Hudson River, Palisades Interstate Parkway and to the United States Military Academy at West Point via US 6 and US 202. The Croton Expressway portion of US 9 ends here. NY 9A and NY 35 also run through the city.

Notable people[edit]

Memorial in Hillside Cemetery to Major General Seth Pomeroy of the Massachusetts militia, who died in Peekskill en route to providing aid to General George Washington in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War

Popular culture[edit]

The 1980s American sitcom The Facts of Life was about teenagers and young women who attend a fictional all-girls' boarding school in Peekskill, named Eastland School for Girls (inspired by a now-defunct all-girls school that still overlooks the city) and similarly fictional Langley College.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Williams, Lena (December 23, 1984). "Peekskill Mayor Looks to Growth". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Mayor Andre Rainey". City of Peekskill. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  5. ^ Bailey, A. Peter (April 1985). "Richard E. Jackson: The New Man On Top In Peeskill". Ebony – via Google Books.
  6. ^ "Vivian McKenzie declares victory in Peekskill mayoral race". News 12 Brooklyn. November 2, 2021. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  7. ^ Sandler, Corey (2007), Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession, Citadel Press, ISBN 978-0806528533
  8. ^ Dunwell, F.F., 1991, The Hudson River highlands, New York: Columbia University Press; ISBN 0231070438
  9. ^ "History and Events in Peekskill | Peekskill History Summary". The Peekskill Museum. July 29, 1940. Archived from the original on January 9, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  10. ^ "Peekskill officials dot historic mountain with plaques" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 13, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  11. ^ Lossing, Benson (1859). The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution. Harper & Brothers, Publishers. pp. 734, 681.
  12. ^ Beecher, William C.; Scoville, Rev. Samuel (1891). A biography of Rev. Henry Ward Beecher. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. pp. 619–623; with the assistance of Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  13. ^ Ford, Carin T. Paul Robeson: I Want to Make Freedom Ring, Ch. 9, p. 97. 2008.
  14. ^ Nemiroff, R.; Bonnell, J., eds. (November 19, 2006). "The Car, the Hole, and the Peekskill Meteorite". Astronomy Picture of the Day. NASA. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  15. ^ "Westchester County Newspaper Collections". May 27, 2001. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  16. ^ "New owner has ambitious plans for Peekskill Herald". Westchester County Business Journal. 1998. Archived from the original on June 29, 2014.
  17. ^ "". Archived from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  18. ^ Rowe, Claudia (June 8, 1997). "Paper Fights To Stay Alive". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  19. ^ "A Peekskill Firehouse on the Move". The New York Times. August 9, 2008.
  20. ^ "Historic Peekskill firehouse collapses in move".
  21. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  22. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  23. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  24. ^ "Depew Park | Peekskill NY". Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  25. ^ Otterman, Sharon (January 23, 2013). "New York Archdiocese to Close 24 Schools". The New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  26. ^ "St. Columbanus School". St. Columbanus School. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  27. ^ "Hospital Is Haunted by History of Deals With Board Members". The New York Times. March 14, 1999. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  28. ^ "Patient Services in Yorktown Heights, Peekskill & More – NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  29. ^ "History – NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  30. ^ "Peekskill Community Volunteer Ambulance". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  31. ^ "Emergency Medical Services". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Prominent Peekskill People". Peekskill Arts Council. 2007. Archived from the original on August 14, 2007. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  33. ^ Condos, James (2014). Biographical Sketches of Federal and State Officers and Members of the General Assembly of 2015–2016 (PDF). Montpelier, VT: Vermont Secretary of State. p. 20.
  34. ^ "Passion player". The Guardian. February 29, 2004. Retrieved May 1, 2021.
  35. ^ "Jackie Gleason's Round House". Popular Mechanix. April 1960. Archived from the original on December 31, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  36. ^ Statham, Richard (July 31, 1963). "Jackie Gleason's fabulous home is now up for sale". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  37. ^ "Here's House For Sale, Jackie Gleason Special". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  38. ^ "New Vrindaban: The Black Sheep of ISKCON". Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  39. ^ "Green Skin's Grab-Bag: "An Interview with Herb Trimpe"". Archived from the original on October 26, 2009. Retrieved April 25, 2014.

External links[edit]