Headless Horseman Blog

About historic Sleepy Hollow and its environs…

Tag: High Bridge

Poe in Westchester

Poe in Westchester

by Henry John Steiner

Historian of Sleepy Hollow

Poe in 1848

Poe in 1848

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…

Poe Park map

Poe Park map

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 cottage front wide

Poe cottage front wide

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. 

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“Target Man”—John B. Jervis

By Henry John Steiner

Historian of Sleepy Hollow

High Bridge, the oldest remaining Harlem River crossing , designed by John B. Jervis

High Bridge, the oldest remaining Harlem River crossing , designed by John B. Jervis

John Bloomfield Jervis was one of the great American civil engineers of the nineteenth century.  Late in that century, many of his achievements had been eclipsed by even grander designs than the seemingly indelible marks he left on the American landscape—particularly in the State of New York. Yet, perhaps Jervis’s greatest success was himself.  He was a man whose mind, ambition, and character allowed him to rise from cart driver to the grandest of civic “architects.”  He changed the path of his own career from what might have been a life of menial, physical labor in upstate New York, to that of a “masterbuilder” of the early United States.  His works were instrumental to making New York State “the Empire State.”

Sleepy Hollow Viaduct of the Old Croton Aqueduct

Sleepy Hollow Viaduct of the Old Croton Aqueduct

As we walk the terrain of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown today, we encounter the great products of Jervis’s skill and imagination.  There is no doubt that his productions transformed this community in many fundamental ways.  The Hudson River Railroad is just one imposing example—still significant and still in operation after 170 years.

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