The town that is now called Eastchester began settlement in 1664 when ten families migrated from Fairfield, Connecticut. Thomas Pell, who at that time also owned the territory that is now New Rochelle and Pelham granted a deed to the group to "settle down at Hutchinsons'," where the home of Anne Hutchinson had stood some twenty years before. The ten original families were shortly joined by another twenty-six.
Laws for the region were established the following year, in 1665, under an agreement called the "Eastchester Covenant." The convenant was a rare document for this period. It contained twenty-six provisions such items as: education of children, disposition and upkeep of property, support of a minister, etc.
Confirmation of their 1664 patent was granted by Governor Richard Nicolls in 1666 after the occupation of the area by the British. A controversy arose in 1700 when the settlers signed a deed with the Indians. The tract of land involved was known as "Long Reach" because of its odd geographical makeup. The sites included are the present Bronxville, Tuckahoe, and a section of northwest Mount Vernon. The dispute over the ownership of the land involved the towns of New Rochelle, Westchester and the Pell Family. When a decision was reached in favor of Eastchester, Britain's Queen Anne granted a second patent in the year 1708.
Eastchester was a farming community at the outbreak of the Revolution. Although no major battles were fought here, as the heart of the neutral ground it saw constant fighting for over 13 years, being harrassed by both sides as well as by the cowboys and skinners (the guerrillas of the day). Eastchester's rural makeup began to change with the coming of the railroad in the 1840's. Three hundred-seventy acres of land were incorporated at the village of Mount Vernon in 1853 by a group of New York businessmen; the village of Bronxville was incorporated in 1898; and the village of Tuckahoe in 1903. Today, Eastchester is bound by Scarsdale on the north, New Rochelle on the east, Yonkers on the west, and Mount Vernon on the south, The town covers approximately five square miles, including Bronxville and Tuckahoe.
(source: Town of Eastchester website - www.eastchester.org)
Constructed in 1894, Reservoir No.1 (now called Lake Innisfree) straddles the Eastchester/New Rochelle line and was initially a water supply source for lower Westchester County. No longer used as an active reservoir, the lake provides outdoor recreation for the people who live in the homes, townhouses, and apartments on the lake's perimeter. It is the only inland body of water in lower Westchester County that is used for swimming and boating. When the Hutchinson River Parkway was reconstructed around 1988, a horse trail with two new bridges was built between the parkway and the dam of the reservoir. Equestrians can now ride their horses along the edge of the reservoir. The last undeveloped tract of land along the perimeter of the lake contains the Townhouses at Lake Isle which were constructed in the mid 1980s.
The "Lake Isle of Innisfree" is a poem written by William Butler Yeats. It was contained in a collection of his poetry titled The Rose published in 1893
Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evenings full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
In 1930, Interlaken Realty bought the entire tract of land, which encompassed the parcels we know today as the Vernon Hills Shopping Center (with Lord & Taylor as its anchor store), Lake Isle Country Club, Lake Isle Estates, Interlaken Gardens, and the Townhouses at Lake Isle together with 34 acres of land on Wilmot Road. This area was largely wooded and crisscrossed by bridle paths.
In 1939, construction began on the property between California and White Plains (Post) Roads for garden-style apartments that today accommodate 517 families.
Built in 1939-1940 and converted to a cooperative in 1972, Interlaken Gardens is centrally located in Westchester County between the Hutchinson River Parkway and Bronx River Parkway and is walking distance to the Crestwood Train Station. Our 49 acre community is home to 517 families who enjoy the private beach on Lake Innisfree. Lifeguards and floating docks make your swim experience both delightful and safe. Residents can also fish from the docks, as well as their boats. Boat rack rental space is available for an annual fee. Gasoline powered engines are not permitted.
Eastchester's richest gifts to its residents are the many opportunities it offers for sports and other recreational pursuits.
The Town has nine major parks and several mini-parks, including Mill Road Park on one-quarter of an acre, with a Victorian-style gazebo and benches, picnic tables and a small grassy play area.
At the other end of the spectrum in terms of size and things to do is Lake Isle Country Club, which, besides five swimming pools, has an 18-hole golf course and six tennis courts. It is open to all residents of Bronxville, Tuckahoe and the unincorporated section of Eastchester for an annual fee.
Each summer, the Town also operates three-day camps for children age five through ninth grade.
The newly constructed Handl Field in the northern section of Eastchester boasts several sports fields, bleachers, lighted scoreboard, a field house, and lights for evening play. Parkway Oval, a 14-acre park in the village of Tuckahoe, has baseball and softball fields, soccer fields, an all-purpose play field and a basketball court. The park, which is run by the town, sits alongside a county-owned jogging and bicycle path along the Bronx River.
For those seeking a less-physical type of recreation, retail shopping opportunities abound in Eastchester, particularly in the Vernon Hills Shopping Center. The outdoor mall is anchored by a branch of Lord & Taylor, and has several other well-known chains as tenants, such as Brooks Brothers, The Gap, Talbots, American Eagle Outfitters and Banana Republic. Across White Plains (Post) Road, a smaller strip mall has Eastern Mountain Sports, Jos. A. Bank and The Fresh Market.
Nightlife is not Eastchester's calling card, although several local dining spots - among them Ciao!, Mickey Spillane's, Piper's Kilt, Fig & Olive, Jackie's Bistro, Burrata, Polpetina, East Bamboo and Casa Brusco offer delicious food in comfortable settings.
The Eastchester Union Free School District, which serves students living in the unincorporated area of town, has an enrollment of 2,680 students in three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school.
The district offers a full-day kindergarten for its youngest students (along with formal computer instruction at that level), foreign language instruction that begins in sixth grade, and gifted and talented programs for all levels.
Neither the Bronxville nor Tuckahoe public school districts, which are smaller than Eastchester's, have programs for gifted and talented students outside the regular classroom.
The school district has Westchester County's highest combined percentage of students scoring the maximum in state English and math achievement tests.
Metro-North's Harlem line stops in several places that are convenient for Eastchester residents, with one stop in downtown Scarsdale and another in the Crestwood section of Yonkers. Service from the Crestwood station to Grand Central Terminal on a weekday morning express train takes about 32 minutes.
(photos: from the book commemorating the 300th Anniversary of Eastchester, 1664-1964)
1930: Mill Road overpass and Reservoir #1
1931: The Hutchinson River Parkway surrounded by what would become Lake Isle Estates, Interlaken Owners, Inc. and the Townhouses at Lake Isle.
Circa 1960: Mill Road, facing Michael Frey Drive. Bill of Rights Plaza.
Circa 1960: Mill Road - Bill of Rights Plaza.
Date unknown: Lord & Taylor