Commentary

Ode and Farewell to Tarrytown

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October 4, 2019

by Amir Goren – 

I’m feeling rather bittersweet about leaving my beloved adopted home of Tarrytown. I’ve now lived here for nearly a decade, imbibing the cozy historic-village architecture and “rustic chic” and accessible hills, roads, bridges, and parks of the rivertowns and Westchester more broadly. As a fairly agnostic individual, I’ve adopted and enjoyed the Tarrytowns’ embrace of Halloween, with our earnest passion bordering on irreverent in Halloween’s overshadowing more traditional holidays. I’ve also enjoyed the occasional parades and the bite-sized farmers market in the middle of fairytale Patriots Park, with its arching stone bridges and tall, defiant trees that give me comfort, nestled as I am beneath their majesty a little farther down the slope that defines most of our quaint town.  And how I love our hills! Difficult as they are to climb, they provide thrilling vistas onto the town and river, while elevating, separating, and framing the Tarrytown Lakes in such a way that when you’re up there, you can momentarily forget you’re near civilization at all. And that humble stretch of road on Altamont gives me the feeling I’m in California or Europe, looking down over old church steeples and the motley assortment of buildings below. The sunsets across the river, with fiery accompanying clouds, are frequently breathtaking… and this can be surprising given the absence of a distant, unobscured horizon. Neperan Park has provided many a meditative pause to witness these sunsets and reflect on the history and beauty of the area (and the privilege–and expense–of living here).  And then there are the hidden gems of trails for walking, running, and mountain biking, all around the lakes and up behind the Hackley School and Glenville Woods, making for very satisfying local adventures.

I’m going to miss the character of the town, from its fancy mini-mansions to its historic storefront buildings to the more working-class parts of town that, in unison, define the special essence of Tarrytown. I remember the moment I first knew I wanted to live here, staring down Main Street from the intersection with North Washington toward the river, really digging the local character. And of course, the density and diversity of inhabitants also make Tarrytown rich and interesting and not just another manufactured place for one kind of people. I even love the compassion, thoughtfulness, and seeming accessibility embodied by our town supervisor, Paul Feiner (with whom I’ve exchanged a couple of emails), and various local and state leaders.

Our neighbors helped make my wife and me feel at home right away when we chose to move into our cozy street, just close enough to be able to wander out onto the sidewalk for a casual conversation or a request for help, while still maintaining some privacy across our postage-stamp yards and gardens. For such a small area, Tarrytown packs a satisfying punch of places to see, not to mention places to eat and drink and shop for a variety of things that are often of surprisingly good quality.

I’m realizing I can say all this about not just Tarrytown, because for years I’ve been enamored of all the immediate surroundings here, for example marveling at how I’m in easy running distance from the maze of carriage roads intersecting magical meadows, farms, and woods all around Rockefeller Preserve and the grand overlook of Rockwood Hall. I am grateful to the Rockefellers for preserving and sharing this treasure trove of nature with the public. In my time here, I’ve had a chance to witness the entire dismantling and demolition of one impressive old bridge across the Tappan Zee and to marvel at the construction and completion of an impressive and artfully designed new one. I regret that I haven’t been able to linger long enough to ride my bike across the soon-to-be-open bridge path. Locals may take it for granted, but we’re really lucky to be located right above I-287, with quick and easy access to all points north into the country and east along the coast, without having to contend with more typical metropolitan-area traffic congestion. And of course, there’s the ever-convenient express train stop, which is mostly wasted on me since I’m no longer commuting into the city, but which nevertheless provided breathtaking river views for a good chunk of my commutes when I did.

I’ve never fallen for a place to live the way I’ve fallen for Tarrytown and Westchester. Ultimately, rising property taxes combined with the loss of tax breaks, a new job in Pennsylvania, and a baby on the way, have conspired to nudge my wife and me to leave here. I can only hope I’ll come to love our new home even 80% as much as our current one, and I hope to return, at least as a tourist. I hope the locals and new arrivals to this small town continue to care for it and appreciate the unique combination of lush nature, cozy village life, and close proximity to all needs and wants that Tarrytown offers.

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