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Port Chester, New York


Port Chester, New York

Port Chester
Nickname(s): Gateway To New England, PC
Motto: "Tiny But, Mighty"
Location of Port Chester, New York
Location of Port Chester, New York
Country United States
State New York
County Westchester
 • Mayor Dennis Pilla
 • Board of Trustees
  • Daniel Brakewood
  • Joseph Kenner
  • Gene Ceccerelli
  • Saverio Terenzi
  • Luis Marino
  • Greg Adams
 • Total 2.5 sq mi (6.4 km2)
 • Land 2.4 sq mi (6.1 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 43 ft (13 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 29,248
 • Density 12,000/sq mi (4,600/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 10573
Area code(s) 914
FIPS code 36-59223
GNIS feature ID 0977392
Summerfield United Methodist Church
In 1906

Port Chester is a village in Westchester County, New York, United States. The village is part of the town of Rye. As of the 2010 census, Port Chester had a population of 28,967.[1] The village name is pronounced with the same syllable stress pattern as that of the county which contains it, i.e. PORT ches-ter, not Port CHES-ter.

Port Chester is one of only twelve villages in New York still incorporated under a charter, the other villages having incorporated or re-incorporated under the provisions of Village Law.[2]


  • History 1
    • Early settlement 1.1
  • Demographics 2
  • Geography 3
    • Neighborhoods 3.1
  • Economy 4
  • Transportation 5
  • Government 6
  • Fire Department 7
    • Fire Station Locations and Apparatus 7.1
  • Education 8
    • Music in Port Chester 8.1
  • Gulliver's Fire 9
  • Legal challenges to Port Chester's electoral system 10
  • Redevelopment area controversy 11
  • Notable residents and natives 12
  • Sister cities 13
  • See also 14
  • References 15
  • External links 16


The Bush-Lyon Homestead, Capitol Theater, Life Savers Building, Putnam and Mellor Engine and Hose Company Firehouse, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, and United States Post Office are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[3]

Early settlement

In 1660, three settlers from Greenwidge (now Greenwich, Connecticut), Thomas Studwell, John Coe, and Peter Disbrow, arranged to buy Manursing Island and the land near the Byram River from the Mohegan Indians. The land that they bought is now Port Chester. The village was originally known as Saw Pit for the saw pits which were in use during the time. Logs were cut in holes in the ground for wood to be used for shipbuilding. The name of Sawpit was used for the first time in 1732. The village eventually outgrew this name and became Port Chester by incorporating as a village in 1868. When Port Chester was first incorporated, it was considered a major seaport.

In 1665, Sawpit was claimed by both New York and Connecticut. However, the land was given back to the New York Colony by Connecticut in 1683. This struggle over the ownership of Sawpit continued for almost 105 years. In 1788, the Legislature of New York ruled that Sawpit was a part of the town of Rye in New York.

Travel was considered dangerous in the early years of Sawpit as good roads were hard to find. The Boston Post Road, King Street, and Grace Church streets are some of the early migration paths in the Sawpit/Rye settlement. Other roads were usually dirt, which made transportation via water important.

The local waterways, the Byram River and Long Island Sound, were a key part of the growth and development of Sawpit/Port Chester. Early residents took part in boat building, farming, and shell fishing.


As of the census[6] of 2010, there were 28,967 people, 9,240 households, and 6,348 families residing in the village. The population density was 11,722.5 people per square mile (4,526.1/km²). There were 10,046 housing units at an average density of 4,185.8 per square mile (1,646.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 61.1% White, 6.5% African American, 0.9% Native American, 2.1% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 24.6% some other race, and 4.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 59.4% of the population.[1]

There were 9,240 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.5% were headed by married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 24.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.08 and the average family size was 3.54.[1]

In the city the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 34.2% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.4 years. For every 100 females there were 110.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 111.4 males.[1]

At the 2000 census, the median income for a household in the village was $45,381, and the median income for a family was $51,025. Males had a median income of $32,848 versus $32,461 for females. The per capita income for the village was $ About 10.1% of families and 13.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.3% of those under age 18 and 12.6% of those age 65 or over.

Port Chester contains a more diverse, working-class population than many of its surrounding communities.[7]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.5 km2), of which 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2), or 5.22%, is water.

Port Chester has a transitional climate between a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) and a humid continental climate, although in reality it shares far more features with the latter. Due to its location on the coast, temperatures don't get extremely cold or warm and precipitation is plentiful for the entire year. Winters are usually cold and powerful nor'easters are common, often dropping over 2 feet of snow on the city. Average annual snowfall is 38.6 inches, which is significantly more than New York City. Snow cover while typically not persistent for the entire winter is present much of the time, sometimes during all of January and February. During the summer, Port Chester is typically warm, however is far cooler than towns even a few miles inland.

Climate data for Port Chester, New York
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 35
Average low °F (°C) 21


Port Chester is unofficially divided into 7 distinct neighborhoods, located north and south of Westchester Avenue, Port Chester's main east-west street.

  • North of Westchester Avenue:
    • Brooksville
    • Tower Hill
    • Colonial Ridge (Area of Puritan Dr.)
    • Alden Estate (Area of Quintard Dr.)
    • Rye Brook (Village in town of Rye)
    • Washington Park
  • South of Westchester Avenue:
    • Downtown
    • The Bowery (South Main St./ Grace Church St. from the square to Midland Ave. including all the streets off of and including Purdy Ave.)
    • Edgeland (Area served by Midland Ave. and upper Grace Church St.)
    • Purdy's Grove


  • The Life Savers Candy Company operated a factory in Port Chester from 1920 until 1984. The building, now apartments, is one of Port Chester's prominent landmarks.[8]
  • Port Chester is the home of Hubba's and Texas Chili.
  • National Collector's Mint is headquartered there.


The Port Chester train station provides commuter rail service to Grand Central Terminal in New York City or Stamford and New Haven-Union Station via the Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line. The Bee-Line Bus System provides bus service to Port Chester on routes 13 and, 61, and CT Transit Stamford Division provides bus service to Port Chester on routes 11A and 11B. The 13 was combined with the southern portion of the 76 on December 31, 2011.[9]


Port Chester's Government consists of a Mayor and 6 Trustees. The Board and Mayor employ a professional Village Manager.[10]

Current Mayor: Dennis Pilla (D)

Current Board of Trustees:

  • Daniel Brakewood
  • Joseph Kenner
  • Gene Ceccerelli
  • Saverio Terenzi
  • Luis Marino
  • Greg Adams

Current Village Manager: Chris Steers

Local Elections in Port Chester occur in March. The next election is March 2015. Only the Mayoral seat will be up for election at that time. As part of a recent Justice Department decision, Port Chester now employs Cumulative Voting for trustee positions.[11] The Mayoral position is not affected by cumulative voting. One vote per person.

Fire Department

Port Chester Fire Headquarters on Westchester Avenue

The village of Port Chester is protected by the Port Chester Fire Department(PCFD), established in 1823 and formally incorporated in 1856. Paid members staff 2 Engines, and volunteer members operate an apparatus fleet of 5 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Tower Ladder, 1 Heavy Rescue, 1 Utility Unit, 1 Transport Bus, 1 Fireboat, 1 Mass Decontamination(Decon.) Support Unit, and 3 Fire Chief's Vehicles, all operating out of 4 Fire Stations. The current Chief of Department is Edward Quinn.

Fire Station Locations and Apparatus

Company Engine Ladder Special Unit Address Neighborhood
Reliance Engine & Hose Co. 1, Harry Howard Hook & Ladder Co. 1, Fire Patrol & Rescue Co. 1 Engine 58(Paid), Engine 60 Ladder 31, Tower Ladder 2 Rescue 40 209 Westchester Ave. Downtown
Putnam Engine & Hose Co. 2, Mellor Engine & Hose Co. 3 Engine 61, Engine 63, Engine 16(Spare) Utility 65, Utility 66, 51 Grace Church St. South End
Washington Engine & Hose Co. 4 Engine 59(Paid), Engine 64 464 Westchester Ave. Washington Park
Brooksville Engine & Hose Co. 5 Engine 62 509 Willett Ave. Brooksville


Within the city's borders, there is one public school district, the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District, established in 1884. Making it the oldest school district in Westchester County.


At one time the Westchester Fairfield Hebrew Academy (now Carmel Academy) was in Port Chester. It opened in Port Chester in 1997, in rented space.[14]

The Japanese Weekend School of New York, a Japanese weekend school, holds classes at Port Chester Middle School.[15] As of 2006 the school had about 800 students, including Japanese citizens and Japanese Americans, at locations in Westchester County and Long Island.[16]

Music in Port Chester

Music is very popular in the village of Port Chester's schools. The Port Chester High School Marching Band has performed at Giants Stadium, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Orange Bowl Parade as well as other large events; the band also participated in several feature films including the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street (during the opening parade scene) and Spider-Man 3. Port Chester Public schools boast award winning vocal groups at the middle and high school levels, and musical instruction begins at the elementary school level.

The Capitol Theatre has been host to a number of popular musical acts in Port Chester and is considered a musical landmark. Music fans from around the country travel to Port Chester for a live music experience at the historic theatre, which is known to have hosted such acts as Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, Phish, Bob Dylan, My Morning Jacket, Lauryn Hill, and Willie Nelson among many others.

Gulliver's Fire

On June 30, 1974 an infamous nightclub fire killed 24 young men and women. The fire at Gulliver's was the deadliest dance club fire in the United States in more than a generation—the Coconut Grove fire in Boston in 1942 had killed 491 and the Happy Land fire in the Bronx in 1990 was to kill 87—and it called attention to the dangers of herding young people into windowless underground rooms without smoke alarms, sprinklers, fire-resistant walls or limits on occupancy. Desipite the tragedy of Gulliver's, comprehensive New York State Fire Code reform would not be seen until he 1980s.[17] Fire Code Enforcement continues to be a top priority in Port Chester to this day.[18]

Legal challenges to Port Chester's electoral system

Village Hall

To enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the United States Department of Justice brought a lawsuit in 2006 to compel the village government to change from an allegedly racially discriminatory at-large electoral system to one that was district-based. This lawsuit would halt the scheduled March 2007 elections until the village develops an acceptable plan. In its December 15, 2006 complaint the Justice Department alleged that, "the current at-large system for electing members of the Port Chester Board of Trustees results in Hispanic citizens having less opportunity than white citizens to participate in the political process and to elect candidates of their choice to the Port Chester Board of Trustees." (United States v. Village of Port Chester 6 Civil 15173) Local Latino activist Cesar Ruiz, NYS Assemblyman Peter Rivera and Angelo Falcón, President of the National Institute for Latino Policy held a news conference on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday (January 15, 2007) to display support for the Justice Department's lawsuit and the need to reform the village's electoral system.

The Village Board of Trustees passed a resolution on December 4, 2006, expressing its disagreement with the Department of Justice's decision that the village must reform its election system, claiming that the problem was not discrimination but rather "apathy" in the Hispanic community. Federal authorities believed that the village's "at large" voting system denied Hispanics representation on the board of trustees and the board of education. According to Reuters, "All voters in town elect each board member, whereas dividing the town into six electoral districts would give Hispanics a majority in at least one of them because they are largely concentrated in one area of town, the suit said." Although Latinos make up 46 percent of Port Chester's population, no Latinos had ever been elected to their Board of Trustees or local school board.

On March 2, 2007, federal court judge Stephen C. Robinson ruled in favor of the Department of Justice and placed an injunction on the March trustee elections scheduled to take place. This ruling did not affect the mayoral election, but it was expected to result in Port Chester being broken down into election districts. Instead, village officials came up with an alternative plan to address the problem by using cumulative voting. This plan was approved by the federal judge on November 6, 2009.[19]

Redevelopment area controversy

In 1999, the Village of Port Chester established a "redevelopment area" and relegated regulatory authority within that area to private developer Gregory Wasser (from G&S Port Chester, LLC), including power to condemn private property.[20][21] The decision has spawned several lawsuits, including Brody v. Village of Port Chester,[22] and Didden v. Village of Port Chester.[23][24][25]

Notable residents and natives

Sister cities

Port Chester is twinned with:

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Port Chester village, New York". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Local Government Handbook – Village Government: Historical Development" (PDF) (5th ed.). New York State Department of State. 2008. pp. PDF page 72. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  4. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  7. ^ Berger, Joseph (2010-07-22). "Enjoying a Mix of Latin Cultures and Local History". The New York Times. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Hagey, Keach. "JEWISH SCHOOL GAINS ITS OWN PLACE." Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. September 18, 2006. 6A. Retrieved on January 10, 2012.
  15. ^ "ウエストチェスター校 " (Archive). Japanese Weekend School of New York. Retrieved on July 8, 2013.
  16. ^ Matsuda, Akiko. "Learning their mother tongue." The Journal News. August 16, 2006. p. A1. Retrieved on July 8, 2013. "Atsushi Kaizuka, assistant principal of the Japanese Weekend School of New York, which serves about 800 Japanese or Japanese American students at its Westchester and Long Island schools, said Matthews' attempt seemed to be an uphill battle. "
  17. ^ Berger, Joseph (July 1, 1999). "25 Years Later, Disco Fire Haunts Its Survivors". The New York Times. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Fitzgerald, Jim (November 6, 2009). "US judge selects cumulative voting to protect Hispanics' rights in NY village's elections". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  20. ^ Forbes Magazine, "The Taking of Port Chester", accessed 2009-07-17.
  21. ^ Detroit Free Press, "Eroding constitutional limits on governmental takings", accessed 2009-07-17.
  22. ^ Brody v. Village of Port Chester, 345 F.3d 103 (2d Cir. 2003)
  23. ^ Didden v. The Village of Port Chester (Summary Order), 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals (April 05, 2006). Accessed 2009-07-17.
  24. ^, "N.Y. Eminent Domain Fight Appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court", accessed 2009-07-17.
  25. ^, accessed 2009-07-17.

External links

  • Village of Port Chester official website
  • Town of Rye official website
  • Port Chester Public Schools
  • Port Chester Fire Department
  • Your Port Chester Snapshot (community website)
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