Nine years later, still loving our town!

By Caitlin Kelly

I wrote this post in 2012…and so lucky it all holds true, still.

I’ve updated it a bit to reflect a few changes.

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 in NYC — or even in Toronto — like the one I bought, with a stunning and unobstructed tree-top view of the Hudson River, with a pool and tennis court. The building is red brick, from 1965, and not the least bit pretty. But the landscaping is and the location and the views.

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.

Some reasons why I’m so happy here:

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 five-minute drive from home is a large reservoir with otters, ducks, swans, cormorants, egrets and turtles basking in the sun. You can lounge on a bench, skate in the coldest winters 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. Soon re-opening, I hope!

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, recently and attractively renovated.

Horsefeathers

A local indie since the 80s, 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.

Coffee Labs

Our local coffee shop, with live music and great cappuccinos. Also Muddy Waters, a second coffee shop.

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, a Greek-owned florist and a car wash owned and run by an immigrant from Colombia. Hassan, who runs Mint, is from Morocco.

What do you most appreciate about where you live?

9 thoughts on “Nine years later, still loving our town!

  1. I like that there’s always something new to do or discover here. In Columbus, we’ve got many different neighborhoods full of charm, such as German Village and the Victorian Village; shopping centers like the Short North and Easton Town Center (though I refuse to drive to the latter); an interactive museum based on what might happen if dreams were to come to life; a world-class ballet company (my family and I are so excited to be going back for their new season); a Japanese marketplace with three different restaurants, a bakery, a supermarket and a department store; one of the biggest art festivals in the Midwest, and one of the biggest Pride festivals in the region too; several great universities, including my alma mater Ohio State; and so much more!
    Heck, most of my chapter of the Horror Writers Association is based in Columbus, and we grow all the time. And our population is growing too. We’ve gone from 16th to 15th biggest city in the nation and we may continue to grow. Who knows where we’ll be in 5-10 years?
    Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

  2. it sounds like a lovely place to live for many reasons. here, I really value the diverse population, the access to many cultural experiences and differing points of view, the beauty of the parks, and the charming shops and restaurants sprinkled throughout.

    1. Your place has always sounded great!

      It’s so interesting to hear about lovely spots when so much of the country is broiling, getting hit by hurricanes/tornadoes or politically or religiously toxic.

  3. Jan Jasper

    Caitlin, where you live sounds wonderful. Being on a high floor, those views – that’s hugely important. Being able to see the river, the sky… and Manhattan. And your town has many charming spots which I’ll have to visit someday. It’s ironic that you landed in Tarrytown due to your ex’s medical residency – so, one good thing came out of that marriage.
    It sounds like a great compromise in that it’s close to NYC but affordable and, though your place is small, you have clean air and the sky and river. Manhattan has a rather awful quality of life, and I say this as someone who lived there and loved it for quite a few years. I don’t need to enumerate the advantages. But NYC residents pay a high price, and I don’t mean just in dollars, to live there. I really think unless one has the means to have a 2nd home out of the city, it’s pretty unbearable after a while.
    I live in a town in central New Jersey that is sorely lacking in the sort of amenities you describe. What it does have is a ton of historic houses at affordable prices and lots of trees and gardens. And friendly, politically progressive neighbors.

    1. I like the sound of your town as well!

      Tarrytown has some gorgeous old homes but they tend to be huge/$$$$$ or sub-divided into apartments. Many of the homes are 1950s-70s and not attractive. and small with very small lots. I wouldn’t want one.

      I’ve never really wanted to live in Manhattan — I lived in Toronto, Montreal and Paris and we tend to take urban/European/Canadian vacations to have our fill of urban life and density and excitement. My husband is not a fan of the city so I go in alone most of the time — haircut soon and the Medici show at the Met.

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