Nanuet is a hamlet of almost 19,000 residents in the town of Clarkstown in the center of Rockland County New York. The community is centered between Spring Valley to the west, Pearl River to the south, West Nyack to the east, and New City to the north. Considered a suburb of New York City, the commute by car to Midtown Manhattan is 27 miles via Palisades Interstate Parkway, or the Garden State Parkway, or Interstate-87 to Saw Mill River Parkway to Route NY-9 and takes about an hour. To get to Midtown by train takes about an hour and a half from the Nanuet train station via the New Jersey Transit Pascack Valley Line into Penn Station.
When a suburban New York City hamlet, with as large a population as Nanuet’s and in such proximity to Manhattan, has few headlines and even fewer sensational stories datelined: Nanuet, New York over its recorded history, that is good news.
The hamlet’s first big historical moment came in 1856, when, in homage to its original founders, James De Clark suggested the name of the hamlet be changed from Clarkstown to Nanuet after the First Nations Munsee tribal chief, Nannawitt. Quite the real estate dealer, Chief Nannawitt sold tribal lands to the colonists, including the Wawayanda Patent, a 150,000-acre parcel of land granted by the governor of colonial New York and New Jersey to John Bridges and 11 of his associates in 1703. After settling a few lawsuits among the landholders, the site that would become the hamlet of Nanuet was finally ready for development and occupation in 1713.
Nanuet’s second big historical moment came in 1869, when The New York New Jersey Railroad reached Nanuet. About 80 years later, the New York State Thruway (I-87 and I-287), Palisades Parkway, and the Tappan Zee Bridge (now officially renamed The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, though most people still refer to it as the Tappan Zee) all opened, making Nanuet more accessible. With the railroad and the highway, came people. And with people come businesses, shops, and services.
Perhaps Nanuet’s third big historical moment came with the opening of the Nanuet Mall in 1969—100 years after the railroad came through and 14 years after the thruways. The mall grew to 900,000 square feet with a collection of 120 outdoor shops at the intersection of New York State Route 59 and Middletown Road. The Nanuet Mall thrived for 30 years, until the nearby Palisades Center opened. In 2013, the Simon Malls organization bought the nearly empty and decaying mall, re-tenanted and rebuilt the shops, and reopened in 2013 on the same site with a new name: The Shops at Nanuet.
Nanuet has been rated one of the best places to live in New York by Niche, a national research team of data scientists, engineers, and parents, who evaluate school, real estate, cost of living, population demographics, and crime statistics of cities throughout the United States.
The demographic breakdown of Nanuet shows a community evenly divided among all but one age group at 13 to 15 percent of the total population, making the community great for everyone from families to retirees. The exception and smallest population segment, the 18- to 24-year-old set, represents only 6 percent and is indicative of rather subdued nightlife entertainment—or vice versa—a lack of nightlife entertainment curtails that age group from staying or settling in Nanuet.
But the schools are exceptional. The Nanuet Union Free School District, which serves the approximately 2,250 public school students of Nanuet, oversees two elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school, all within the hamlet. In 2018, the National School Boards Association Magna Award was awarded to the Nanuet Public Schools in recognition of its Outdoor Education Center.
Typically, the larger the community the more diverse, socio-economically and geo-politically. And Nanuet is just that. The median home value of US$382,000 in Nanuet is notably less compared to that of the neighboring bedroom communities of Manhattan commuters that dot Rockland and Westchester counties.
The high-luxury range in Nanuet tops out at about US$800,000, with large older 4- to 5-bedroom homes in brick Tudor and Colonial styles on half-acre or larger lots on Pascack Road and newer homes on smaller lots on Lowney Way. Most homes in the US$400,000 to $500,000 range have at least 4 bedrooms so, it seems, money goes a bit farther for larger families and lifestyles in Nanuet.
Going out to dinner is the main nightlife activity in Nanuet—and there are plenty of good restaurants to satisfy any kind of culinary craving. The business district of the hamlet centers around Main Street and Route 59 and the best eateries do too.
The Communal Kitchen on Main Street serves up generous American fare. Food Evolution on Chestnut Ridge Road is for salads and burgers, while Roost on Main Street offers Mediterranean and Greek dishes. Also on Main Street is Jacqueline’s on Main, featuring tapas and wines. There is Vietnamese cuisine at The Vietnam Grill on Main Street or Mexican at El Bandido on Route 59. The list goes on, up and down Main Street, from Kosher to the Lobster Roll Food Truck to Asian fusion at Grub.
If it’s a quiet lifestyle you’re after—after a long day in Manhattan—Nanuet may be the place to live. It’s so unassuming, a search of famous people from Nanuet, or living there now, revealed none. It might be just the place to finish that best-seller or write a hit song or a Broadway play, or paint a masterpiece, or simply enjoy the quietude and leave celebrity to everyone else.
17 percent of residents hold a Master of Arts degree or higher
27 percent of residents hold a 4-year college degree