Mount Vernon, New York, in Westchester County is just north of the Bronx, the northernmost borough of New York City, but is still considered an inner suburb of the city—as opposed to the leafy hamlets, villages, and towns that populate the rest of the Westchester County. The south side of Mount Vernon is closer to the Bronx in geography as well as look and feel and much more urban than the northern part of the city, which is largely residential. Mount Vernon’s civic and commercial district is in the southern part of the city too.
While the city of over 68,500 residents is named for the plantation in the state of Virginia where George Washington spent much of his life, he was never a resident of New York’s Mount Vernon. But some other notable people were, including David Chase, screenwriter; Denzel Washington, actor; Michael O’Keefe, actor; Al Skinner, basketball player and coach; Ken Singleton, baseball player; Art Carney, actor; Dick Clark, master of many ceremonies and creator of TV’s American Bandstand in the late 1950s; E. B. White, writer, essayist, and author of Charlotte’s Web, among other beloved books; and Heavy D, the rapper.
Mount Vernon got its name from the Industrial Home Association, an early organization founded to find an alternative to high New York City rents by purchasing home sites on the banks of the Hutchinson and Bronx Rivers. The year: 1850. Before that, in 1776, the site was famous as the scene of several battles during the Revolutionary War. St. Paul’s Church, built in 1763, and dedicated as a National Historic Site in 1943, was used as a military hospital during the war. And before that, it was known for being the site where Anne Hutchinson, who was banished from the nearby Massachusetts Bay Colony for challenging the male clergy’s belief in moral precepts rather than individual thought, was killed by the Siwanoy tribe in 1643.
The city is the eighth largest in the state of New York and third largest in Westchester County. Over the past few decades, Mount Vernon has transformed from a small suburb of local businesses and more easily affordable suburban homes to a regional center of commerce. Its industries include jewelry manufacturing, namely Michael Anthony Jewelers, automatic fire sprinklers, and packaging. Part of the Hutchinson River was dredged to enable its use as a seaport.
It’s a sizable enough city to be served by its own school district—the Mount Vernon City School District—with 20 public schools, including 13 elementary schools, one school for grades K–8, one STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) school for all grades, two middle schools, and three high schools, accommodating a total of 8,000 students. Good thing, since the highest demographic in the city, about 21 percent, is school age, with the rest of the population almost evenly divided at 13 percent to 15 percent for every nine-year age group up to 65 and older.
It costs less to live in Mount Vernon than Manhattan, 30 minutes south, or Bronxville, on the city’s northern border. The median home price is about US$356,000 in Mount Vernon. Prices of real estate rise farther from the city center and farther north, where a stone and clapboard Colonial four-bedroom home, designed by the architect Peter Rhynas, on Rhynas Drive is just under US$1 million compared to a five-bedroom home on Franklin Avenue for under US$450,000 or a three-bedroom ranch-style home on Oakland Avenue. The Huntswood and Estate Manor/Aubyn Estates sections along the border of Bronxville and Mount Vernon are the most affluent neighborhoods of the city.
While the city’s north side is almost purely residential, the south side, along Gramatan Avenue and Fourth Avenue is its shopping district; nearby is the Petrillo Plaza transit hub and the city’s municipal buildings. There are two parks within the city—Willson’s Woods Park, with a wave pool and water slides and an English Tudor-style bathhouse and Hunt’s Woods, a county-owned nature preserve with hiking trails and nature walks.
For fun! For the wine and beer lovers, there is Valley Shine Distillery and Ristretto Coffee Lounge and Wine Bar. For foodies, there is The Rachawadee Thai Café, The Shambala Bakery and Bistro for breakfast, and Pacioni’s Italian Restaurant for pasta, to name a few. For those who cook, there is the Mount Vernon Farmer’s Market, and for chocoholics, Forte Artisan Chocolates. For readers, there is Easton’s Books. And not to overlook the shoppers, there is Calico Creations, Lost in the Groove, and the Red Door Antique Mall. Many of these attractions and more are centrally located in downtown, too.
Mount Vernon is easy to get to from Manhattan. The city has three Metro-North Railroad stations. Fleetwood and Mount Vernon West train stations are on the Harlem Line, with commutes of about 40 minutes into Midtown. Mount Vernon East is on the New Haven Line and gets to Grand Central Terminal in about half an hour.
Mount Vernon may have less cachet than the hamlets and villages and towns deeper into Westchester County, but it has the convenience of proximity to Manhattan and the comfort that comes with good schools and activities for children and an affordable lifestyle for families and retirees.
11 percent of residents hold a Master of Arts degree or higher
29 percent of residents hold a 4-year college degree
Mount Vernon is known as the most diverse city in Westchester County