Poe in Westchester
by Henry John Steiner
Historian of Sleepy Hollow
Few of us realize that a great American author, Edgar Allan Poe, once lived in Westchester County. Well, he sort of did. We can assert this because the Bronx was once the southern part of Westchester. The Bronx was part of the county at the time of Westchester’s founding, in 1683. The area remained the southern part of Westchester until the creation of Greater New York City in the years 1874 and 1898. So, for 191 years (at a minimum) the Bronx was within the county of Westchester. For as long as Poe lived in the Bronx, he lived in Westchester County.
Good—we got that out of the way…
The part of the Bronx in which Poe resided was Fordham Village, one of the eleven villages in the now extinct township of West Farms. The present-day Grand Concourse runs north-south, through the Fordham Village of old, and the humble farmhouse or cottage which Poe rented stood on the west side of where the Concourse runs today. The little Poe house was subsequently relocated to the east side of the boulevard in the early twentieth century. It stands within a small public park, named Poe Park, and the historic house functions as a tiny museum with a street address of 2640 Grand Concourse.
Poe had settled in Manhattan in 1844. He then moved to the Fordham cottage in the spring of 1846 in the company of his wife, Virginia Clemm Poe, and his mother-in-law (who was also Poe’s aunt), Maria Poe Clemm. The New York and Harlem Railroad had only recently become the first line to connect New York City and Westchester County, and service to Fordham had opened in 1841. It is likely that Poe took advantage of this link to the publishers of lower Manhattan. Occasionally Poe would be visited by messengers carrying proofs of his writing from printing houses in New York.