Scarsdale History

History, more then you may want to know:

Caleb Heathcote purchased the lands that would become Scarsdale at the end of the 17th century and, on March 21, 1701, had them elevated to a royal manor. He named the lands after his ancestral home in Derbyshire, England. The first local census of 1712 counted twelve inhabitants, including seven African-American slaves. When Caleb died in 1721, his daughters inherited the property. The estate was broken up in 1774 and the town was officially founded on March 7, 1788.

The town saw fighting during the American Revolution when the Continental and British armies clashed briefly at what is now the junction of Garden Road and Mamaroneck Road. The British commander, Sir William Howe, lodged at a farmhouse on Garden Road that remains standing. Scarsdale's wartime history formed the basis for James Fenimore Cooper's novel, The Spy, written while the author lived at the Angevine Farm in the present-day Heathcote section of town.


According to the first federal census in 1790, the town's population was 281. By 1840, that number had declined to 255—the vast majority farmers and farm workers. In 1846, the New York and Harlem Railroad connected Scarsdale to New York City, leading to an influx of commuters.

The Arthur Suburban Home Company purchased an 150-acre (0.61 km2) farm in 1891 and converted it into a subdevelopment of one-family dwellings, starting a transformation of the community from rural to suburban. Civil institutions soon appeared: the Heathcote Association (1904), the Town Club (1904), the Scarsdale Women's Club (1918) and the Scarsdale League of Women Voters (1921). Scarsdale High School and Greenacres Elementary School were built in 1917 and the Edgewood Elementary School opened in 1918. The first store in Scarsdale opened on the corner of Popham Road and Garth Road in 1912. By 1915, the population approached 3000. By 1930, that number approached 10,000.

In 1940, German agent Gerhardt Alois Westrick secretly met with American business leaders at his Scarsdale home until public pressure drove his family from the community.


Scarsdale became the subject of national controversy in the 1950s when a "Committee of Ten" led by Otto Dohrenwend alleged "Communist infiltration" in the public schools.[5] A thorough investigation by the town rejected these claims. This same group, known at the Scarsdale Citizens Committee, sued to prevent a benefit for the Freedom Riders from taking place at the public high school in 1963 because some of the performers (Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Pete Seeger) were allegedly "communist sympathizers and subversives."

Another controversy enveloped the town in 1961, when the Scarsdale Country Club, headed by Charles S. McCallister, refused to allow a young man who had converted from Judaism into the Episcopal Church to escort a young woman to her debut at the club. It was the club's policy, at the time, to prohibit Jews from the premises. In response, Rev. George French Kempsell of the Church of Saint James the Less announced that he would ban any supporters of the club's decision from receiving holy communion.The event marked a turning point toward the decline of anti-Semitism in the town.

Scarsdale's public library, which had been housed in historic Wayside Cottage since 1928, moved to its present structure on the White Plains Post Road in 1951.[8] The driving force behind the library was New York City publisher S. Spencer Scott, who raised $100,000 for the project after the village rejected a bond issue to fund the building in 1938. The new library opened with 27,000 books and Sylvia C. Hilton serving as the first librarian.

The last of the town's five elementary schools, Heathcote School, opened in 1954. The $1,000,000 architectural landmark was designed by Perkins & Will of Chicago. Walter B. Cocking, the president of the New York State Committee for the Public Schools, delivered the dedication address.

In 1967, former longtime resident Dean Rusk returned to Scarsdale at the height of the Vietnam War to receive the town's Man of the Year Award and was greeted with a silent protest.

Scarsdale was the subject of a landmark United States Supreme Court decision, ACLU v Scarsdale (1985), that established the so-called "reindeer rule" regarding public nativity scenes and upheld the right of local religious groups to place crèches on public property.


The first official historian of the Village of Scarsdale was Richard Lederer. He was succeeded by Irving J. Sloan. On the death of Sloan in 2009, Eric Rothschild assumed the position of village historian.


The neighborhoods within the village of Scarsdale are:

Arthur Manor (Edgewood Elementary); Berkley in Scarsdale (Edgewood and Fox Meadow Elementary); Bramlee Heights (Fox Meadow Elementary); Colonial Acres (Quaker Ridge Elementary); Drake Edgewood (Edgewood Elementary); East Heathcote (Heathcote Elementary); Fox Meadow (Fox Meadow Elementary); Greenacres (Greenacres Elementary); Murray Hill/Middle Heathcote (Heathcote Elementary); Old Scarsdale (Fox Meadow Elementary); Overhill (Fox Meadow Elementary); Quaker Ridge (Quaker Ridge Elementary); Scarsdale Meadows (Quaker Ridge Elementary); Secor Farms (Quaker Ridge Elementary); Sherbrooke Farms (Heathcote Elementary); West Quaker Ridge (Quaker Ridge Elementary);

School system

The Scarsdale Union Free School District operates five elementary schools in the elementary school districts Edgewood, Fox Meadow, Greenacres, Heathcote and Quaker Ridge made up of parts of the neighborhood associations above, as well as Scarsdale Middle School and Scarsdale High School.

People associated with Scarsdale include:

Television, film, music and radio personalities

   * Bruce Beck, television sportscaster for WNBC-TV.

   * Joan Bennett, Hollywood actress from the 1930s and 40's once owned a home on Chase Road North.

   * Beyoncé and Jay-Z

   * Aaron Brown, former host of CNN'sNewsNight with Aaron Brown once resided in Scarsdale

   * Dorothy Dalton, silent-film actress.

   * Lisa Donovan, (LisaNova) YouTube celebrity and former featured cast member of MadTV, graduated from Scarsdale High School in 1998.

   * L B Fisher, born in Scarsdale and acted on popular shows such as Felicity, ER, Boston Public

   * Will Hawkins, singer-songwriter and playwright attended SHS from 1981 until 1985.

   * Rupert Holmes, composer and writer, once resided in Scarsdale.

   * Al Jolson, 30's film star owned a house on Fenimore Rd. in Scarsdale.

   * Joseph Kaiser, opera, theater, and film actor, grew up in Scarsdale.

   * David Lascher, sitcom actor from such shows as Hey Dude, Blossom, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Beverly Hills, 90210, was born and

      raised in Scarsdale.

   * Susan Lucci, born in Scarsdale and the star of soap TV series All My Children as well as many other notable films and television shows.

   * Linda McCartney, actress, writer, cinematographer, producer, photographer, and wife of Beatles star Paul McCartney, attended Scarsdale

      High School

   * Liza Minnelli, singer and actress, lived in Scarsdale with her mother, Judy Garland and attended Scarsdale High School. She also toured  

      Europe and Israel in an SHS production of The Diary of Anne Frank.

   * Yoko Ono, singer. Her family moved to Scarsdale in the early 1950s; she later joined them from Japan.

   * Bill Pankow, film editor of The Black Dahlia, Assault on Precinct 13, Paid In Full and others.

   * Nina Totenberg, NPR legal correspondent, graduate of Scarsdale High School.


   * Jacob M. Appel, short-story writer ("Creve Coeur"), playwright (Arborophilia), bioethicist. (SHS graduate)

   * James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 14, 1851). His classic book The Spy is set in a Scarsdale historical home, The


   * Eve Ensler, dramatist. Raised in Scarsdale, attended SHS.

   * Gish Jen (pseudonym of Lillian Jen), novelist. Born in Scarsdale, 1956. A thinly disguised version of Scarsdale is a subject of some of her


   * Richard Kostelanetz, writer and artist, graduated from SHS in 1958.

   * Harold Krents (1944–1987), lawyer, whose life story inspired the drama Butterflies Are Free. Author of To Race the Wind. (SHS graduate)

   * Nicholas Kristof, journalist and columnist for the New York Times, and twice the winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Most recent Pulitzer Prize was in        2006 for his columns regarding the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

   * G. Adrienne Lopez, attorney, author and film producer resided with her family in Scarsdale for two decades. Author of To Love, Honor and  

      Betray: The Secret Life of Suburban Housewives. Executive Producer of award-winning film Dirty Laundry (2005).

   * Dan O'Brien, playwright, Dear Boy, The Voyage of the Carcass (1992 SHS Graduate)

   * Bryan Reynolds, critical theorist, playwright, graduated SHS in 1983.

   * Carl Schorske, historian and author of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture with his sister,

      o Florence Wald, former Dean of the Yale School of Nursing and founder of American Hospice

   * Alan Schwarz, reporter for the New York Times and author of The Numbers Game, grew up in Scarsdale and graduated from SHS in 1986.

   * Aaron Sorkin, writer and creator of the TV series Sports Night and The West Wing. Raised in Scarsdale.

   * Sheryl WuDunn, journalist and columnist for the New York Times. She is married to Nicholas D. Kristof, also a columnist for The Times.

   * Andrew Ross Sorkin, Financial columnist for the New York Times and editor of DealBook, an online financial daily report.

   * David Galef, raised in Scarsdale, has written and edited children's books, anthologies of poetry and short fiction, essays, literary criticism.


   * Gerald B. Appel, celebrity physician[citation needed]

   * Herman Tarnower, author of The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet

Sports personalities

   * Benny Feilhaber, (American soccer midfielder) He moved to Scarsdale at the age of six.

   * Joe Garagiola (1926- ) catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and New York Giants. He later became a popula

      broadcaster. He and his wife raised their children in Scarsdale.

   * Paul Heyman, professional wrestling manager and former promoter, best known for his role in Extreme Championship Wrestling.

   * Bill Mazer (1920- ) New York sports talk and talkshow personality. He has resided in Quaker Ridge since the mid 1960's.

   * David Stern, current Commissioner of the National Basketball Association.

   * Hugh White Captain of the 1901 national champion University of Michigan football team, winners of first Rose Bowl (1902), combined score

      for season (550-0). Engineer and businessman. Scarsdale village president.

   * Frank Gifford and Kathy Lee


   * William Glendon, argued the Pentagon Papers case before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of The Washington Post.

   * Mitch Berger, litigation co-chair at Patton Boggs

Political figures

   * Otto Dohrenwend, chairman of the anti-Communist "Committee of Ten" during the 1950s.

   * Daniel Tompkins, 6th Vice President of the United States, born in Scarsdale.

Gangsters and spies

   * Robert Hanssen, Soviet spy, lived at 150 Webster Road in Scarsdale from 1978 until 1981; his children attended IHM. His wife told the FBI

      that he had had dealings with Moscow during that time

   * Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel, gangster and Las Vegas resort builder. He owned a house in Scarsdale from 1929 on; he was increasingly absent

      in later years but his family continued to live there.

   * Ronald "Escalade" Piscina, gangster, a key figure in setting up the Apalachin Meeting for the Mafia in 1957 in Apalachin, NY.

   * Joseph DiNapoli, Italian American mobster

Science, space and technology

   * Frank McDowell Leavitt, early engineer and inventor, patent for manufacturing tin cans, inventor of Bliss-Leavitt torpedo

   * Joseph Capecci, scientist, architect, Dean-CCNY, holder of several US patents critical in the evolution of nuclear weapons, NASA consultant

      during the space race has resided in Scarsdale since 1970.

   * Jeffrey A. Hoffman Ph.D., astronaut. Born in Brooklyn but "considers Scarsdale to be his hometown", see bio at NASA website. (SHS graduate)

   * Brewster Kahle, Internet Pioneer. Founded Wide Area Information Servers, Alexa Internet, Internet Archive.[citation needed]

   * Ivan Sutherland, computer graphics pioneer. (SHS 1955 graduate)[citation needed]Source: 'Bandersnatch 1955', Scarsdale High School,

      Scarsdale NY.

   * Benoît B. Mandelbrot, French mathematician, IBM research scientist and father of fractal geometry.

Scarsdale in popular culture

      This "In popular culture" section may contain minor or trivial references. Please reorganize this content to explain the subject's impact on

      popular culture rather than simply listing appearances, and remove trivial references. (July 2010)


      Dr. Eugene Tarnower was murdered in Purchase, NY by Jean Harris on March 10, 1980. He had his medical practice in Scarsdale

      (The Scarsdale Medical Center). He was a noted cardiologist and author of the Scarsdale Diet.


   * Bugsy - Barry Levinson's 1991 Oscar-winning film features Warren Beatty as gangster Benjamin Siegel, who lived in Scarsdale during the

      1940s. The film opens at Siegel's house in Scarsdale (actually filmed in Hancock Park, Los Angeles), and Scarsdale is mentioned

      numerous times throughout the film. The movie's co-producer Sam Gagnon grew up in Scarsdale.

   * Charlie Wilson's War - Mike Nichols's 2007 film, starring Tom Hanks contains a line regarding the placement of a crèche on city property. A

      constituent from Nacogdoches, Texas who has traveled to DC to press Wilson to take action says: “It’s East Texas. Who are we offending?

      This isn’t Scarsdale, for goodness' sakes.”[citation needed] The line is a reference to an early 1980s Supreme Court case regarding a

      nativity scene in the village center[citation needed]. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin grew up in Scarsdale.

   * Johnny Cool - The 1963 film features Elizabeth Montgomery as a young woman in New York City who grew up in Scarsdale, and considers

      going back for a brief, restful break from her chaotic situation.

   * Seconds - John Frankenheimer's 1966 film, starring Rock Hudson, opens with the central character taking a Metro North train to Scarsdale,

      where he lives with his wife.

   * Wait Until Dark - In Terence Young's 1967 adaptation of Frederick Knott's play, the character Harry Roat (played by Alan Arkin) hails from



   * Late Night With Conan O'Brien - On the thirteenth anniversary of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien", the show is "Bar Mitzvahed" and Scarsdale

      is cited as the home of Temple Emanuel, the fictional temple of the fictional Rabbi Grossman, who performs the Bar Mitzvah ceremony.

   * Seinfeld - Kramer is accidentally rewarded with a Tony Award for the fictional musical "Scarsdale Surprise", supposedly based on the

      Scarsdale Diet doctor murder.

   * Taxi - Tony Danza's character, Tony Banta, attempts to adopt a young boy from a wealthy foster family in Scarsdale in several episodes.

   * Fringe - Plane Crashes in Scarsdale in the beginning of episode "The Transformation". Dan Robins, one of the writers of the show, lives in

      Scarsdale. Original air date: February 3, 2009


   * Guys and Dolls - A Broadway man chides a woman's marital aspirations by saying "You have wished yourself a Scarsdale Galahad, a

      breakfast-eating, Brooks Brothers, type."

   * Rent - The main character, Mark, makes two references to Scarsdale as his hometown. Scarsdale is mentioned within the song "Tango:



   * Jacob M. Appel's "Scouting for the Reaper" is set in Scarsdale.

   * Jane Austen in Scarsdale: or Love, Death and the SATs - by Paula Marantz Cohen

   * Next - Michael Crichton uses Scarsdale in parts of his novel as the residence of an overspending eldery couple

   * See How They Run - James Paterson uses Scarsdale as the setting in his novel.

   * Sleepless In Scarsdale - John Updike uses Scarsdale as the setting for his poem.

   * The Spy - James Fenimore Cooper sets his novel in a house in Scarsdale, "The Locusts".



   * "Hey Nineteen" - Steely Dan mentions Scarsdale in this song

   * "Fo'eva Blunted" - Nine threatens to hit someone with a garbage pail unless they go home to Scarsdale