Here are a few fun facts and anecdotes about Ossining. Enjoy!
- Ossining is the oldest incorporated village in Westchester County.
- It used to be that in the Main Street retail buildings, the goods that were sold from the storefronts were manufactured or assembled on the second floor, the help lived in the basements (with window wells cut into the sidewalks in the front like you still often see in NYC), and the business and building owners lived on the top floor.
- Ice boats on the Hudson used to race each other for various titles. As soon as the train tracks were put in along the river, the ice boats raced the trains too. In 1871 a famous boat called the Icicle beat the Chicago Express on its first run from Poughkeepsie to Ossining. The older “skeeters” or stern steerer ice boats could exceed 100 MPH.
- President Chester Arthur had a stone summer house on Havell Street in Ossining.
- Sparta was the primary port in the area in revolutionary times, but the owner of the docks increased his fees for wharfage to the point of extortion, so the sloops started going to Ossining instead. Ossining then rapidly became the primary port town that farmers of northern Westchester used to send their goods to New York City.
- The name Ossining was derived from the Native American name sint sinkt, meaning stony place or stone upon stone.
- The first international mass marketer, Benjamin Brandreth, sold millions of his Brandreth’s Pills in the US, Europe and Asia. His pills, manufactured in Ossining at the Brandreth Pill Factory, were so well known at the time that they were mentioned by Herman Melville in Moby Dick, by Edgar Allen Poe and at least twice in Mark Twain’s work.
- Ossining’s Henry Gourdine was the most famous Hudson River commercial fishermen. He and his crew brought in 1,200 pounds of Shad to Crawbuckie Beach from a single netting one day in the 1930s. He was called a “state treasure” by Governor George Pataki.
- The last merchant and contract sewing shop in Ossining closed in the late 1990s. In the 1950s there were 17.
- Mr. LaLuna, another commercial fisherman of Ossining, once said, “the day the forsythia blooms in my front yard is the day the Shad start running in the river.”
- Peter Falk of Colombo fame grew up in Ossining. He had one eye removed when he was three. During a Little League game, while disputing a call, he pulled his glass eye out of its socket and handed it to the umpire, telling him, ” think you might need this”.
- Ossining’s street fair is the largest in Westchester and as of 2018 has been held for 38 consecutive years.
Do you have any others? If so, please comment below and we could them to the list, with credit to you of course!