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White Plains City


White Plains City Hall is located at 255 Main Street, White Plains NY 10601; phone: 914-422-1227.

Beginnings [†]

First settled by Europeans during the seventeenth century, White Plains during the eighteenth century was the commercial and governmental focus for largely agricultural, inland Westchester County. The first courthouse, erected in 1759 on South Broadway (the White Plains Post Road), was the site where the Declaration of Independence was read publicly on July 11, 1776, to the community. Burned in November of that year by an American soldier during the series of military maneuvers which had produced the Battle of White Plains, the courthouse was not replaced for another decade.

For decades a prosperous commercial center through which cattle herds passed south along the Post Road to New York City, White Plains was linked to the city by rail lines during the 1840's. In 1848, historian Robert Bolton observed that the village contained "700 inhabitants, 150 dwelling houses, a courthouse, jail, county clerk's office, and surrogate's office..."[1] Growth expedited by the railroad soon resulted in a shift of business activity away from the old village center to Railroad Avenue, now known as Main Street.

By 1856, the county government determined that the old courthouse in White Plains no longer met the community's needs and accepted from Charles Purdy the gift of a parcel of land on Railroad Avenue. The new courthouse, completed in 1857 according to a design by local architect Abraham Hatfield at a cost of $120,000, "was, no doubt, the town's most impressive building in size, form, and materials."[2]

The City of White Plains is located approximately 25 miles north of New York City and boasts itself today as "one of the top suburban office and retail centers in the nation."

Endnotes

[1]Robert Bolton, History of Westchester County. (New York: Charles F. Roper, 1881), quoted in Carole Rifkind's "The Courthouse in White Plains," The Westchester Historian, L (Winter, 1974), p.7.

[2]Ibid., p.8.

Beebe, Lynn A, New York State Division for Historic Preservation, Westchester County Courthouse Complex, nomination document, 1975, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places.

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