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  • Mamaroneck Observer

One Village - Two Towns

Here’s a little history to help explain it. It is also important to note that New York State law requires that all Villages are located within a town. You cannot be in a village without also living in a town.

Which Came First?

Towns came first. In fact, the organization of the Town of Rye can be traced back to 1665 -- preceding our nation and state. European settlers landed in what is now Rye, “purchased” land from the Native Americans and started farming. Good land and prosperous settlers led to more people, trade, and shops and so on and so forth.

Originally, the Town of Rye contained what is now known as Rye Brook, Port Chester, the City of Rye and Rye Neck, the portion of the Village of Mamaroneck on “that side” of the Mamaroneck River. There have been a few changes over time. The biggest one was the cessation of the City of Rye in 1942. Their action separated the Rye Neck section of the Village of Mamaroneck from the remainder of the Town of Rye.

One little known fact is that years ago the Mamaroneck River was “moved” in Columbus Park so there is a very small section of the Town of Rye now on the “other side” of the Mamaroneck River.

Town of Mamaroneck

The Town of Mamaroneck organized itself in 1788. In its earliest days, the population was centered in the region now located in the Village of Mamaroneck. In 1888, however, things changed with the arrival of the railroad. Wealthy residents of New York City were now able to travel more easily, and Mamaroneck became a summer haven for people who could afford to escape the summer heat and oppression of the city streets. They also created a demand for more services – both public and private. Homes needed to be built and there was good stone right here. Skilled laborers came for the work and many also settled in the area, creating even greater demand for local services such as police and fire protection.

As more and more people arrived, village centers began to grow, and the people formed local governments closer in proximity to them to meet the growing demand for essential services.

The Village of Mamaroneck’s Turbulent Beginning

The formation of the Village of Mamaroneck did not go smoothly. The two population centers – informally known as the village of Mamaroneck and the village of Rye Neck – grew up side by side but had their differences along with their similarities. People shopped, worshipped, socialized, and recreated together but clung to their roots. In 1890, a committee was formed to work through the legal requirements and build support among the people in Rye Neck who were against incorporation.

After five years of work by the committee, a vote was taken on November 12, 1895. The tally was 414 for incorporation and 227 against. Rye Neck voters split 51% for and 49% against. The legal papers were filed on November 16th (the official date of incorporation) and four days later a court challenge was filed on the grounds of fraudulent votes.

In April 1896 the court determined that the vote was valid, and the Village of Mamaroneck was officially incorporated.A close look at our village seal sums up this history. The result of a contest and designed by a young girl, the seal depicts two women joining hands across a river. The two women represent the informal villages of Mamaroneck and Rye Neck and a close look at the river will yield a familiar bridge over the Mamaroneck River.

A version of this article originally appears in the Soundview News, a Hometown Media publication, in May 2009


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