First inhabited by the Weckquaesgeek Indians, the Hudson River Valley was claimed for Holland by Henry Hudson in 1609 and settled by the Dutch in the early 1620s.
England gained control of the region in 1664 and joined it to its existing colony of New York. In 1693, a Dutchman who had Anglicized his name to Frederick Philipse, was awarded 100,000 acres of land by royal charter, becoming New York's greatest land- owner and wealthiest citizen. The property of this "Lord of the Manor of Philipsburg" extended from Spuyten Duyvil north to the Croton River, and from the Hudson River east to the Bronx River.
During the Revolution, Tarrytown was part of the "Neutral Ground," an area of Westchester County lying between the British lines to the south and the American lines to the north. Without the protection of either army, the people were subjected to fierce raids by both sides. British warships cruised up and down the Hudson, often peppered by shots from the shore, while American sloops carrying troops and supplies dodged the men-o-war. Such was the state of affairs when a momentous incident took place in the little village.
On September 23, 1780, Major John Andre was captured by three local militiamen. In his boot were the stolen plans of West Point Andre was carrying to the British for traitor Benedict Arnold. Many historians consider this capture to be a major turning point of the Revolution.
Tarrytown flourished as an active river port in the post-war period. After the Hudson River Railroad opened in 1849, river traffic slowed and various manufacturing enterprises sprang up. Marking this growth, the village incorporated in 1870. It was as a distinguished residential community, however, that Tarrytown truly gained eminence.
By the turn of the century, palatial mansions dotted the hills overlooking the Hudson. The socio-economic changes following WW II altered this aspect of the community, as clusters of single- family homes replaced large estates. Construction of the New York State Thruway and Tappan Zee Bridge accelerated the growth of Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow, with new residents flocking to this desirable community.
Incorporated as an entity separate from Tarrytown in 1874, the village (then known as North Tarrytown) was once part of the huge tract of land owned by Frederick Philipse of PHILIPSBURG MANOR. THE OLD DUTCH CHURCH built by Philipse still stands on Route 9, After the American Revolution, the land was confiscated from the Philipses because of their British sympathies during the War.
The village was then called Beekmantown after the new owners of Philipsburg and farming and milling continued for many years on the Manor land. In the late 19th century, the area became home to several major manufacturers, including the famous "Stanley Steamer" automobile factory. General Motors built a huge assembly plant in the village, which at the peak of its operations employed over 4,000 workers; the plant closed in July 1996. Present village plans limit construction on this prime river front area to residential and light commercial buildings and water-related enterprises such as marinas.
Like Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow has become known as an ideal residential area, and the careful development of this site will serve to enhance that image. The village officially changed its name from North Tarrytown to Sleepy Hollow in 1996.
The Historical Society Museum
Be sure to visit the Historical Society of the Tarrytowns' Museum, home to an extensive collection of area research and memorabilia dating from the 1600s to the present day.
Of special interest is a wealth of materials related to the capture of British spy, Major Andre. There are also Native American artifacts, military items from every war since the American Revolution, toys, clothing, jewelry, old books, maps, manuscripts, newspapers, photos, and even the results of an archaeological dig.
Historical Society Museum
1 Grove Street, Tarrytown
Open Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat 2-4pm