broadsideblog

Twenty reasons I love where I live

In beauty, cities, culture, design, domestic life, immigration, life, urban life, US on July 4, 2012 at 12:03 am
Looking Down Main Street Tarrytown (cropped)

Looking Down Main Street Tarrytown (cropped) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Home again, after a month away.

Feels good!

I was born in Vancouver, Canada; moved at the age of two to London, England for three years; grew up in Toronto and also lived twice in Montreal, in rural New Hampshire, Cuernavaca, Mexico and — since 1989 — in Tarrytown, NY, a town of about 10,000, founded in 1648, that’s 25 miles north of Manhattan, whose lights we can see from our street.

As an ambitious writer, I wanted to be close to New York City and have ready access to its publishers, agents, editors and fellow writers.

I could never have afforded an apartment like the one I bought, with a stunning and unobstructed tree-top view of the Hudson River, with a pool and tennis court, in the city.

So here I am, all these years later. Before this, I typically moved every few years. Between 1982 and 1989, I changed cities three times and countries (Canada, France, U.S.) as well. Enough!

Forbes, a major American business magazine, recently named my adopted town one of the 10 prettiest in the U.S.

Here are 20 reasons this feels like home:

The Hudson River

This is the view from our apartment balcony. Tarrytown sits on the river’s eastern bank, and the river is easily accessible, for boating, or a picnic, bike ride or walk by the water. Sunsets are spectacular and the ever-changing skies mesmerizing.

The reservoir

A ten-minute drive from my home is a large reservoir with otters, ducks, swans, cormorants, egrets and turtles basking in the sun. You can lounge on a bench, skate there in winter and safely walk around it in all seasons.

Mint

This great gourmet store and cafe is a treasure, filled with delicious treats offered by owner Hassan Jarane, who I also profiled in “Malled”, my book about retail. (You can see our funky street lamps in the window reflection.)

The Tarrytown Music Hall

Built in 1885 as a vaudeville hall, this 843-seat  theatre hosts a wide range of concerts, mostly rock and folk. I saw British singer Richard Thompson there last year playing a two-hour solo set, and my fellow Canadian Bruce Cockburn. I can bop down on a Friday afternoon and snag a ticket for $25.

Phelps Hospital

Yes, seriously. Having had four surgeries there and having been too many times to their emergency department, (broken finger, my husband’s concussion, a bad fall), I know it well. Small, friendly, well-run. It’s a little weird to like a hospital, but I’m really glad it’s a 10-minute drive from our door to theirs.

Bellas

Our local diner, and one of three. Big booths, perfect for spreading out my newspaper and settling in for a while.

Horsefeathers

Great burgers and the best Caesar salad I’ve eaten anywhere.

The Warner Library

Its magnificent carved bronze doors come from an estate in Florence. Built of Vermont limestone with tall ceilings, enormous windows and a lovely quiet elegance, its reading rooms are airy and filled with light. It opened in 1929, a gift to the community from a local businessman, Mr. Warner.

Easy access to Manhattan

It’s a 38-minute train ride or 30 to 40 minute drive by car. I love being able to spend a day in the city — as we all refer to it — and come home broke, weary and happy. I can be at the Met Museum or see a Broadway show or just stroll Soho without stressing over the cost of airfare or hotel. Living in Manhattan is terrifyingly expensive and the air here is always about 10 to 15 degrees cooler and fresher.

The Rockefeller State Park Preserve

Yes, those Rockefellers, one of the wealthiest founding families of the nation. They donated this  750-acre piece of land, open to everyone, whose gently rolling hills, forests and lake feel like you’ve escaped to Devon or Vermont but only a 10-minute drive from my home. The lake is 22 acres and 180 species of birds have been seen there.

They shoot movies here!

Thanks to its small, low-scale downtown with a well-preserved set of Victorian or earlier buildings, Tarrytown offers a perfect streetscape for period films, often set in the 1940s or 1950s. I missed seeing Keanu Reeves and Julia Roberts when they were here, (“Mona Lisa Smile” was partly filmed here), but almost saw Matt Damon when they were shooting “The Good Shepherd”, one of my favorite movies. If you watch it, a scene where he is to meet his sweetie outside a theater — that’s really the Tarrytown Music Hall!

Goldberg Hardware

Greg’s great-grandfather founded the place and he lives upstairs. It’s extremely rare now to find a third or fourth-generation merchant still doing business and thriving, even with a Home Depot not far away. Also mentioned in “Malled.”

Philipsburg Manor

It’s fairly astonishing, in a relatively very young country like the United States, to drive past 18th. century history. A beautiful white stone house, mill and mill pond remain in town from this era. Here’s a bit of the history.

The Old Dutch Church

Built in 1697, it’s the second-oldest church — and still in use — in New York State. It’s technically in Sleepy Hollow (which is the old North Tarrytown.)

The EF Language School

Young students come from all over the world to this Swedish school’s Tarrytown campus to study English. It adds a seriously cosmopolitan flavor to our small town to overhear French, German, Italian, Swedish and Japanese spoken on our main street.

My accountant, Zambelletti, and my dentist Zegarelli

They keep me financially and dentally healthy. I love that both start and end with the same initials. Great guys, too!

Coffee Labs

Our local coffee shop, with live music and great cappuccinos.

Silver Tips

Americans are not the world’s biggest tea drinkers, but this lovely tea room does a booming business.

A diverse population

With a median income of $80,000, we’ve got both enormous Victorian mansions and three-family apartment houses. (Westchester county has towns nearby so wealthy their median income is more than $200,000. People like Martha Stewart and Glenn Close live out here.) But Tarrytown has remained blessedly down-to-earth, even as its Mini-Cooper count and yummy-mummy numbers have risen rapidly in recent years. We have Korean nail salons, Hispanic grocers, two Greek-owned restaurants, two Brazilian restaurants, a Greek-owned florist and a car wash owned and run by an immigrant from Colombia. Hassan, who runs Mint, is from Morocco.

The Castle

Yup, we even have a real castle, on the hill right beside our apartment building. Built between 1897 and 1910 by a former Civil War general, it’s now a Relais and Chateaux hotel with a gorgeously intimate bar, a lovely garden and great restaurant. And it does have stone walls and turrets! We nestle into its curved window seat at the bar on a winter’s afternoon and feel like we’ve jetted to Normandy.

Here’s a blog post from Mathurini, an artist in England, with three reasons why she loves her home.

What do you most appreciate about the town, city or area where you live?

  1. I find myself loving your town and I’ve never set foot in the place. Caeser salad is an excellent benchmarker for a restaurant I find … thank you :-)

  2. And I meant ‘Caesar’ ;-)

  3. I think this time of year I love your town more than mine. It’s 105 degrees here today…

    I’m visiting NYC later this summer, and I only wish I had more time to explore quaint towns like yours!

    • 105…..ouch.

      NYC will be be fun but hot and humid. Be sure to carry a bottle of cold water with you and allow time to sit still and just relax. The city is fun but extra-exhausting in the summer.

      • Thanks for the tips! This will be my first time to the City.

      • You’ll have so much fun! NYC is exhausting, intriguing, and filled with quiet lovely spots. Be sure to get OUT of midtown as soon as humanly possible, as it’s filled with sweaty, lost, overwhelmed tourists. Head to the quiet, elegant West Village and spend a perfect day there. Check out my archives as I recently did a whole blog post on what to do in NYC.

  4. Love this post, I feel inspired to write one about where I live now!

  5. I am in love with your town. You’ve painted such a beautiful picture!

    • Thanks! I was surprised how easy it was to come up with all the things I enjoy. Of all the places I’ve (yet) lived, even including Paris, it has the best combination of high/low, elegant/funky, history and natural beauty.

  6. I love this post, it shows so many different points of interest in one place.. it looks so charming. I want to live here! Love it!

    • It’s an interesting exercise to stop and think about all the things one might love (or not!) about their home. I grew up in Toronto and love bits of it, but am not sure I could come up with 20 reasons I love(d) it. The cost of housing there is astronomical, which is deeply off-putting to me.

  7. Well, this is a refreshing turn of affairs for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I don’t like about where I live, but I’m game. It’s a good idea to emphasize the positive, as the old song and recent newspaper articles attest.
    1. Rainbows. We have open sky here, and I’ve seen several, including 2 doubles.
    2. The Albany Institute of History and Art, which is a small, but jammed and grand museum. Recently viewed an astounding collection of Netsuke, as well as examples of Victorian jewelry and hair ornaments made of woven human hair.

  8. Hmmmmmm. Glad you found two….but two’s not a lot. :-(

    I feel lucky that I like this place so much — but that was also after the trial-and-error of Montreal (hideous winters, limited work opps., crummy public services and sky-high taxes) and rural NH (lonely beyond my worst nightmares, no work opps, politcally oppressive, culturally dull and no friends).

    I would be very cautious about where we move next. I didn’t even include climate — which is now problematic with global warning. The weather here in NY (as in many places) is very different from when I arrived.

  9. Yes, a wonderful post. Somehow, for some reason, I got butterflies in my stomach when I was reading it. Perhaps that’s partly due to the fact that I love small rural communities (I live in one, too), but I think it’s because it’s obvious that you love your town so much. Place is extraordinary, isn’t it. I’ve been thinking about it for years, decades even, and I love it when other people love places as much as I do. Thanks so much. PS I too have been inspired to write a post about my own town.

    • I look forward to reading yours!

      Oddly, ours is really much more suburban than rural — we can see NYC from our street, 25 miles south — but does not feel it.

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