Rye is a coastal city in Westchester County, New York, United States, located near New York City and within the New York City metropolitan area. It is separate from the Town of Rye, which has more land area than the city.[3] The City of Rye, formerly the Village of Rye, was part of the Town until it received its charter as a city in 1942, making it the youngest city in the State of New York. Its population density for its 5.85 square miles of land is roughly 2,729.76/sq mi.[4]

Rye, New York
City of Rye
Jay Estate is the childhood home of American Founding Father John Jay.
Jay Estate is the childhood home of American Founding Father John Jay.
Official seal of Rye, New York
Location in Westchester County and the state of New York
Location in Westchester County and the state of New York
Interactive map of Rye
Coordinates: 40°58′52″N 73°41′02″W / 40.98111°N 73.68389°W / 40.98111; -73.68389
Country United States
State New York
Incorporated (as a village)1904[1]
Reincorporated (as a city)1942[1]
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorJosh Cohn (D)
 • City managerGreg Usry
 • City council
Members' List
 • Total20.02 sq mi (51.86 km2)
 • Land5.85 sq mi (15.16 km2)
 • Water14.17 sq mi (36.70 km2)
 • Total16,592
 • Density2,834.79/sq mi (1,094.60/km2)
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code914
FIPS code36-64309

Rye is notable for its waterfront which covers 60 percent of the city's six square miles and is governed by a waterfront act instituted in 1991.[5][6][7][8] Located in the city are two National Historic Landmarks: the Boston Post Road Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 1993; its centerpiece is the Jay Estate, the childhood home of John Jay, a Founding Father and the first Chief Justice of the United States.

Playland, a historic amusement park designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987 is also located in Rye. Playland features one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the Northeast, the Dragon Coaster.

History Edit

Rye Beach, early 20th century

Rye was once a part of Fairfield County, Connecticut, belonging to the Sachem Ponus, of the Ponus Wekuwuhm, Canaan Parish, and was probably named for that chieftain, "Peningoe Neck".[9]

It was founded in 1660 by three men: Thomas Studwell, Peter Disbrow and John Coe. Later landowners included John Budd and family.[10][11]

During the 19th and early 20th centuries it was a haven for wealthy Manhattanites who traveled by coach or boat to escape the city heat. Its location on Long Island Sound and numerous beaches also appealed to visitors with more moderate means who gravitated for short stays at cottages and waterfront hotels.

It has an extraordinary inventory of buildings with architectural distinction that help visually articulate specific neighborhoods and districts.[11]

Planning and zoning Edit

Planning and zoning oversight is vested in several branches of the Rye government including several volunteer staffed committees like the Planning Commission, the Architectural Review Board, the Sustainability Committee, the Conservation Committee and the Landmarks Committee to name a few.[12]

Master plan (1985) Edit

The City's current Master Plan guides the planning process. Also known as a Comprehensive plan, it was authored 37 years ago with an expectation that it would be updated again in 2000. Attempts to revise the 1985 document with community input as recommended in NY State's Statute on Comprehensive Planning[13] were made in 2016 and 2017.[14] The review, which was aimed to reflect current conditions of growth and forecast future changes, was not completed. As of 2018,[15] Rye lagged behind almost all of the 43 municipalities in Westchester County in updating this "serious document".[16]

Failure to modernize the 1985 Master Plan on that schedule has produced concerns from residents about the lack of community consensus, lack of informed and coordinated regulation of development and the subsequent impacts including increased flooding and a higher than expected volume of teardowns. Other concerns include threats to historical resources, cultural resources, natural resources, sensitive coastal and environmental areas and numerous other negative repercussions on neighborhood character.[17][18] Previous Master Plans for Rye were created in 1929, 1945, and in 1963.

Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (1991) Edit

Rye is a coastal community with numerous sensitive wetlands and watercourses.[19] In 1991, the City of Rye adopted a comprehensive plan to further regulate land and water usage to protect and preserve these fragile resources.[8]

Sustainability plan (2013) Edit

In 2010, spurred by disastrous flooding events in 2007 and other environmental concerns, the Rye Sustainability Committee (RSC) was formed and tasked with creating a plan to inform best environmental and land stewardship practices for the city. A sustainability plan was formally adopted in December 2013 [20]

Neighborhoods Edit

Many of Rye's unique neighborhoods are defined in the 1985 Master Plan.[11] Many have historic significance and their preservation was signaled as important for enhancing Rye's character. They include:

Proposed National Register District

  • Soundview Park
  • Church Row

Local or National Register Significance

  • Dogwood/Upper Dogwood Lane
  • Grace Church Street Area
  • Milton Harbor
  • Kirby Mill
  • Post Road Old Cottage District
  • Central Business District
  • Dublin (West Rye)[21]
  • Greenhaven
  • Indian Village
  • Loudon Woods[22]
  • Rye Town Park
  • Hix Park

Geography Edit

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.0 square miles (52 km2), of which 5.9 sq mi (15 km2) is land and 14.2 sq mi (37 km2) is water.[3]

Rye is "situated in the eastern part of central Westchester County on Long Island Sound. The western border of the City generally parallels Beaver Swamp Brook, while the eastern border is formed by Milton Harbor and the Sound. Blind Brook traverses the City from the northwest corner of Rye to Milton Harbor at the southern end."[11]

Rock and wetlands Edit

Rye High football field flooded in 2011

The geology and hydrology of Rye is characterized by a significant quantity of rock, marshes and wetlands [5] which makes the city both desirably scenic but also challenging for developers.

Rye's bedrock is predominantly constituted of Fordham gneiss and Harrison diorite also known as Byram Black granite.[23]

According to Rye's 1985 Master Plan, "Rye contains a variety of environmentally significant areas. Numerous tidal and freshwater wetlands are found near the waterfront and brooks. The Milton Harbor area (including the Marshlands Conservancy and Rye Golf Club), Disbrow Park and the Manursing area contain the most extensive wetlands in the City. In addition, substantial areas near the Sound, Milton Harbor, Blind Brook and Beaver Swamp Brook are within the 100 year flood hazard area, and thus subject to potential flooding."[5] According to the City of Rye, "Considerable acreage of these important natural resources has been lost or impaired by draining, dredging, filling, excavating, building, polluting and other acts inconsistent with the natural uses of such areas. Remaining wetlands are in jeopardy of being lost, despoiled or impaired by such acts contrary to the public safety and welfare." As a result, the City has charged itself with the responsibility of "preventing the despoilation and destruction of wetlands and watercourses while taking into account varying ecological, economic, recreational and aesthetic values. Activities that may damage wetlands or watercourses should be located on upland sites in such a manner as not to degrade these systems."[24]

In 2017, Rye resident and then New York State Senator George Latimer noted that wetlands maps for the area have not been updated in over 20 years [25]

Flooding Edit

Flooding has long been an issue in Rye as in other coastal towns with water coming in from Long Island Sound. The Blind Brook watershed is also a source of that flooding with significant deluges recorded in the neighborhood of Indian Village after four days of rain in October 1975.[26]

Three major weather events in just five years produced catastrophic damage in the town.

  • Following major flooding in March 2007, the April 2007 nor'easter six weeks later left some homes in Rye with over five feet of floodwater.[27][28]
  • In 2011, the after effects of Hurricane Irene in August and Hurricane Maria in September included swelling of Blind Brook and submersion of private and commercial properties including the Rye Nature Center, Indian Village, the Rye High football field, businesses on Purchase Street and homes on Milton and Highland Roads.[29]
  • Storm surges from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 resulted in evacuations of many coastal residences and facilities including the Milton firehouse.[30]

The City's response to these recurring hazards was to apply for funding through the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program. Rye received $3,000,000 to safeguard the city against future flooding threats, upgrade its infrastructure for resiliency, identify stormwater mitigation solutions, and protect historic buildings and natural wetlands.[31][32]

Starting on September 1, 2021, Rye experienced another substantial flooding event. The storm lasted two days and caused significant damage to municipal facilities, businesses and residences.[33] Areas around Indian Village and other sections of the city that had previously flooded during Hurricane Irene were under 8–9 feet of water. Other areas around the town normally not affected by flooding were also affected. Prior to the flooding event, Rye had undergone approximately five inches of rainfall[34] from Hurricane Henri.[35] Two weeks later, the remnants Hurricane Ida dropped another 8–9 inches of rain in the area within a 12-hour period.[36][37] Hurricane Ida remnants caused flooding in Rye nearly 10 years to the day from Hurricane Irene.

Archaeological significance and notable indigenous sites Edit

As of 2010, seventy-five percent of the acreage in Rye or the equivalent of 3,954 acres had been determined to be archaeologically sensitive with many Indigenous and First Nations contact sites.[38][39][40] At least two villages have been determined to have existed, one on Manursing Island and the other on today's Milton Point.[41]

The presence of Indigenous people's activities has been noted in numerous locations where implements and bones were unearthed, including an "ancient Indian burial ground, site of the present Playland Casino" [42] together with discoveries of artifacts along the shoreline,[43] pottery, skeletons and relics along Milton Road,[44][45] Disbrow Park [46] and throughout today's Boston Post Road Historic District including Marshlands Conservancy.

The presence of Indigenous people in Rye was more recently documented in a 2012 Phase IA archaeological investigation commissioned by Westchester County in connection with the construction of a bike path along the Playland Parkway in Rye. Within just one mile of the project site, the report noted a dozen archeologically sensitive areas. The publication included supporting data from files in the repositories of NYOPRHP and the NY State Museum; it further highlighted the existence of shell middens, evidence of camp sites and at least two burial grounds. One of these documented sites included the Blind Brook.[47] Additional findings have been made at the Jay Estate in archaeological digs conducted by Dr. Eugene Boesch[48] and submitted to the NY State Cultural Resource Information System (CRIS).

Demographics Edit

Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[49]

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 16,592 people living in the city. This is representative of approximately 5491 households. 74.8% have a college degree. 15.5% were over the age of 65 and 51.7% were women. 88.2% identified themselves as White alone. 1.3% identified as Black or African American alone. 6.7% identified as Hispanic or Latino. 5.6% identified as Asian alone. [50]

Economy Edit

Rye is home to:

Arts and culture Edit

Lectures, concerts, exhibits and classes Edit

  • Jay Heritage Center
  • Rye Arts Center
  • Rye Free Reading Room
  • Rye Historical Society
  • Wainwright House (1928)(5 acres) – Historic estate with gardens and central building commissioned by US Congressman J. Mayhew Wainwright. In 1951, the property was re-imagined as a religious center "for research and training in the laws of God for Human Conduct."[51] It was donated by Mrs. Philip King Condict to the Layman's Movement for a Christian World, an ecumenical organization serving New York men in business, banking and the law.[52][53] Complaints about departure from its core mission of “inspiring greater understanding through body, mind, spirit and community” have mired the "nonsectarian spiritual and educational center" in controversy repeatedly since 1996 when the organization's $2.2 million endowment was completely depleted.[54][55]
Memorial Day Parade, Rye, NY Boys Scouts

Largest annual community events Edit

  • Rye Little League Parade (April)
  • American Legion Memorial Day Parade (May)
  • Rye Sidewalk Sale (July)
  • Jay Day (September)
  • Rye Harrison Football Game (October)
  • Rye Window Painting (October)
  • Rye Turkey Trot (November)
  • Mistletoe Magic (December)

Service and Volunteer Organizations Edit

  • American Legion Post 128 [56]
  • Rye City Lions [57]

Historic sites Edit

Of the more than 2600 National Historic Landmark (NHL) sites in the country, Rye has two: the Boston Post Road Historic District [58] and Playland Amusement Park [11]

Boston Post Road Historic District (Rye, New York) (NRHP listing 1982) (NPS designation 1994) Edit

Historic Jay Gardens - Sensory Room and Reflecting Pool

Includes 5 historically significant parcels; much of the land was originally the ancestral home of American Founding Father John Jay. It is where he grew up and where he is buried.

  • Jay Estate – 23 acre park with gardens operated by the Jay Heritage Center.[59][60] Restoration of the Jay Mansion (1838) overlooking Long Island Sound was an official project of the Save America's Treasures Program. The Jay Mansion is the oldest National Historic Landmark (NHL) structure in New York State with a geothermal heating and cooling system and the first in Westchester County to have such an energy efficient system. Member site of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.[61] It is also listed on Westchester County's African American Heritage Trail.[62] Other historic buildings at the estate include a 1760s farmhouse, 1907 Zebra House and Carriage House, late 1800s Ice House and a 1917 Tennis House.
  • Lounsbury (1836–38)
  • Marshlands Conservancy (dates back to Indigenous peoples era; part of original Jay Estate – partitioned in 1966)
  • Whitby Castle (Rye Golf Club)(1852–54)
  • The Jay Cemetery (established 1805)

Rye Playland (NRHP listing 1980)(NPS designation 1987) Edit

The wooden Dragon Coaster is a signature component of Playland Amusement Park, a National Historic Landmark that dates back to 1927.

This 279-acre theme park is owned and operated by Westchester County and includes rides, games, an indoor skating rink or Ice Casino, beach, a boardwalk, and concession stands. It is one of only two amusement parks in the country with National Historic Landmark status, the other one being Kennywood in Pennsylvania. It has been a popular destination since it first opened in 1928. Its wooden roller coaster, the Dragon Coaster, built in 1929, is one of the last roller coaster rides built by engineer Frederick Church that is still operating.[63] The Derby Racer, also built by Church, is one of only three rides of its kind remaining in the world. Glenn Close's and Ellen Latzen's characters ride the roller coaster in the 1980s thriller film, Fatal Attraction. Airplane Coaster, Church's most acclaimed coaster, was removed in 1957.[64] Playland is also the setting for several key scenes in the 1988 comedy film Big, starring Tom Hanks

Sites on the National Register of Historic Places Edit

Rye Post Office dedicated to Caroline O'Day

Of the more than 88,000 sites in the country that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), Rye has 8.[11]

Local landmarks Edit

  • Haines-Robinson House (1867), 556 Milton Road
  • Jay Estate (formerly known as the Alansten District), 210 Boston Post Road
  • Stillman Residence (1915), 235 Boston Post Road
  • Village Green, Purchase Street

Additional historic resources Edit

Of note are two 200 plus year old milestones labeled 24 and 25 on the Boston Post Road, oldest thoroughfare in the United States.[citation needed] The concept of mile markers to measure the distance from New York City was originated in 1763 by Benjamin Franklin during his term as Postmaster General. These sandstone markers likely date from 1802 when the Westchester Turnpike was configured.

Rye is also home to a rare 1938 WPA mural by realist Guy Pene du Bois which is located within the city's Post Office lobby and titled John Jay at His Home.[67]

Rye is home to two of the 16 sites on the African American Heritage Trail of Westchester County- The Rye African-American Cemetery and the Jay Estate.[68]

Cemeteries and burial grounds Edit

  • Greenwood Union Cemetery – originally known as Union Cemetery; founded in 1837
  • Guion Cemetery
  • Milton Cemetery – oldest recorded burial is 1708
  • Rye African-American Cemetery – established in 1860[69]
  • St. Mary's Cemetery – earliest burial 1854
  • Playland Ice Casino – site of Native American burying ground [70][71][72]
  • Unnamed African American Cemetery between Apawamis and Grace Church Street with burials prior to 1860[69]
  • Unnamed African American Cemetery near Old Boston Post Road and Playland Parkway with burials prior to 1860[69]

Churches and synagogues Edit

Christ's Church clock tower Rye

Parks and recreation Edit

Jay Meadow, Rye, NY

Parks and nature reserves Edit

Rye has over 454 acres of green open space with multiple types of usage from active to passive recreation including walking, hiking, bird-watching and dog walking.[11] It is also a significant coastal community. In 1991, the City of Rye authored a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) to provide clear guidance for addressing future water conservation and preservation issues [5]

  • Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary (179 acres) established in 1985.
  • Jay Estate (23 acres) – opened as a park in 1992; site of 1917 Palmer Indoor Tennis Court currently undergoing restoration for public use. Dogs on leash allowed.
  • Marshlands Conservancy (137 acres/147 with tidal lands), originally called the Devereux Reservation, opened as nature preserve in 1966. No dogs allowed.
  • Rye Nature Center (47 acres) acquired by city in 1956 and opened in 1957.
  • Rye Nursery Park (6.74 acres) – acquired "for wetland restoration and park uses" [73] and deemed as "crucial land in the Long Island Sound Estuary" in 2001 following a recommendation by the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the Long Island Sound with the help of $3.1 million from the NY State and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund CWSRF administered by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and NY State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC);[74] also supported by the Westchester Land Trust and approved for $1.6 million in funding from The Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act.[75][76][77]
  • Rye Town Park (62 acres) – opened as a park in 1909 and jointly owned with the Town of Rye. Walking, dog friendly during appropriate seasonal hours. Recipient of multiple grants to fund ADA compliance including $300,000 grant from the State Office of Parks and Recreation [78]

Private and public clubs Edit

Rye has numerous private country clubs, many of which were formed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The combined acreage of these clubs affords members and guests over 993 acres of recreation.[79]

  • American Yacht Club (New York) (1883) (12 acres+) – sailing, tennis, paddle
  • The Apawamis Club (1890) (120 acres) – golf, squash, tennis, paddle, swimming
  • The Coveleigh Club (1933) (13 acres) – tennis, swimming, beach, bocce
  • Manursing Island Club (1912) (65 acres) – tennis, swimming, beach
  • Rye Golf Club (1921) (126 acres) (formerly known as Rye Country Club [80] and Ryewood) – golf, swimming
  • Shenorock Shore Club (1945) (former site of defunct Milton Point Casino) (12+ acres)- tennis, swimming, beach
  • Westchester Country Club (1922) (Main Club: 583 acres; Beach Club:62 acres; 645 Total acres) – golf, tennis, squash, paddle, swimming, beach

Recreation facilities Edit

Access to recreation in Rye is plentiful with numerous public, private and shared sports facilities from tennis, to ice hockey to boating.

Rye recreation facilities (79 acres total) (city owned and operated) Edit

  • Damiano Recreation Center (1.5 acres)
  • Disbrow Park (51 acres) – 4 tennis courts, baseball – 12 acres dedicated as a park in 1930 with acreage added in 1931 by Mayor John Motley Morehead [81][82] Includes a former city landfill.
  • Gagliardo Park (2.5 acres)
  • Rye Nursery Park – (6.74 acres) natural grass soccer and lacrosse fields
  • Rye Recreation Park (17 acres) – tennis courts, soccer fields

Other recreation facilities owned by city Edit

  • Rye Boat Basin/Marina – boating
  • Rye Golf Club (126 acres) – golf, swimming; course designed by Devereux Emmet in 1921 [83]
  • Rye High School – football, tennis, track; the Rye High School sports teams are named the Garnets.
  • Osborn School
  • Midland School
  • Milton School

Recreation facilities not owned by city Edit

  • Playland Ice Casino – skating, hockey
  • Row America Rye – rowing
  • Rye Country Day School – skating, hockey; the Rye Country Day teams are named the Wildcats.
  • Rye YMCA – swimming, fitness
  • School of the Holy Child (18 acres)
  • Tide Mill Yacht Basin

Education Edit

Nursery school programs Edit

  • Rye Presbyterian
  • Christ's Church
  • Community Synagogue of Rye

Public schools Edit

Most of the city is in the Rye City School District.[84] Rye is served by three public elementary schools: Osborn, Milton, and Midland.

Rye Middle School and Rye High School are part of the same campus, and the two buildings connect.

The Greenhaven and The Preserve at Rye neighborhoods of the City of Rye[citation needed] are served by the Rye Neck School District.[84] Rye Neck High School and Middle School are on one campus also located partially in the City of Rye.

Rye High School has been named a Gold Medal school and the 61st-best high school in the U.S., ninth-best in New York state, and best in New York state if test-in schools are disregarded, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2013 "Best High Schools". The annual Rye-Harrison football game has been played for more than 80 years and is a top high school football rivalry in Westchester County.

Rye schools were recently ranked #18 in New York State with "A" ratings in all aspects except diversity.[85]

Private schools Edit

Media Edit

Cable Edit

  • Rye TV

Newspapers and print Edit

  • The Rye Record – The Rye Record has been Rye's community paper for 22 years. [88]
  • The Rye Chronicle
  • Rye Rising
  • The Rye City Review

Website only and blogs Edit

Infrastructure Edit

Transportation Edit

The Rye 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 Rye on routes 13 and 61 with additional seasonal service to Rye Playland on routes 75 and 91.

Rye Fire House on Locust (1907)

Police department Edit

The City of Rye police department has 36 sworn-in officers police officers and about six auxiliary police officers. They operate a fleet of Ford Crown Victorias, Chevrolet Tahoes, and one military-surplus truck used for emergency services. There is also one Toyota Prius for parking enforcement. The Rye Auxiliary Police is an all-volunteer force that provides assistance when needed. The Westchester County Police also patrols several areas of Rye, such as Playland Park, and The Marshlands. New York State Police patrols Interstate 95 and 287 while the MTA Police patrols the Rye Train station and property within the Metro North right-of-way.

Fire department Edit

The City of Rye Fire Department is a combination department consisting of 100 volunteer firefighters (only 20 active) and 21 career firefighters of which 4–5 are on duty at all times. The department has two fire stations and man three engines, two ladders, two utility units, and two command vehicles. The Rye Fire Department responds to approximately 1,000 emergency calls annually and does not respond to medical calls.

Emergency medical services Edit

Emergency medical service is provided by Port Chester-Rye-Rye Brook EMS at the Advanced Life Support Level (ALS). They are a combination agency with 50 members (30 paid EMTs, 15 paramedics and five volunteers). They operate up to five ALS ambulances and three paramedic flycars from their station in Port Chester and responds to over 5,000 calls a year between Port Chester, Rye and Rye Brook.

Notable people Edit

In popular culture Edit

  • The 1995 music video for Mariah Carey's Fantasy featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard was shot at Rye Playland.[96]
  • In the television series Mad Men, Rye is the home of Henry and Betty Francis and Betty's three children from her previous marriage to Don Draper. The Francis family lives there from 1965 to 1970.[citation needed]
  • One of the early scenes from the 1988 movie "Big" was shot at Rye Playland.
  • Several episodes of Season 3 of Apple TV's show Dickinson about the poet Emily Dickinson were filmed at the Jay Heritage Center in 2021.[97]
  • The Vampire Weekend song "Finger Back" (2013) references the town.
  • Rye is mentioned in the song American Pie, by Don McLean: "good old boys were drinkin' whiskey in Rye".[98]
  • In the book series "The Destroyer" by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, the headquarters of CURE is inside Folcroft Sanitarium in Rye, New York.

References Edit

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