Piermont Village, Rockland County, New York (NY)

Piermont Village

Rockland County, New York

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Piermont Village Hall is located at 478 Piermont Avenue, Piermont NY 10968.
Phone: 845‑359‑1258.

Beginnings [1]

The Village of Piermont enjoys considerable historic distinction for its relationship with the development of the New York & Erie Railroad, which first connected the Hudson River with the distant Dunkirk on the shores of Lake Erie in 1851. The development of Piermont in the mid 19th-century is closely associated with the opening of the Erie Railroad in the 1840s, which for a time had its eastern terminus here. Previously, this small hamlet was known as Tappan Landing, a modest river village which had benefitted from its fortuitous position the Sparkill Creek, one of a limited number of navigable points of entry into this part of lower New York State from the rock strewn shores of the Hudson River. Prior to the construction of the Nyack Turnpike and the advent of steamboat transportation, the Sparkill Creek — or Tappan Slote as it was otherwise known — functioned as an important transportation artery that facilitated the movement of goods and products from regional farms to markets south, down the river, in New York City. As Rockland County historian Frank Green observed, "The construction of the Erie Railroad was an invaluable aid to the growth of this county. From its necessities Piermont was born, and by the communication thus opened, the villages of Blauveltville, Nanuet, Spring Valley and Monsey were rendered possible." Piermont witnessed a considerable growth spurt associated with the railroad which included the construction of related facilities and structures over multiple acres. Perhaps most prominent among those was the 4,000 foot long pier that jutted into the Hudson River, built to facilitate the movement of goods and passengers from boats to the railroad. In its heyday tons of butter and eggs — and in one season 200,000 barrels of flour — passed through Piermont on their way to distant urban markets that had previously been more difficult to access.

The name Piermont was apparently given to this community by Eleazar Lord, among the original promoters of the New York & Erie Railroad in its formative years, and the man who proved instrumental in bringing the railroad's eastern terminus to Piermont. Lord served three separate terms as president of the New York & Erie (he was the first president in 1833) and had accumulated considerable wealth as an insurance entrepreneur and as the founder and first president of the Manhattan Fire Insurance Company. During a European "grand tour" he undertook during 1817 and 1818, he met and befriended the Hudson Valley author Washington Irving, and the two men visited Sir Walter Scott in Scotland at his Gothic Revival castle Abbotsford (1812-15;1819). Like Robert Gilmore of Baltimore — who traveled to Abbotsford and upon his return commissioned the New York City architectural firm of Town & Davis to design for him a Gothic Revival villa, "Glen Ellen," ca. 1832—and also James Fenimore Cooper, who was similarly influenced to design changes to his Cooperstown dwelling, both Irving and Lord were influenced by the visit. While Irving eventually remodeled a Dutch vernacular dwelling into "Sunnyside" in Irvington, Lord set about constructing a monumental Greek Revival villa on Mount Nebo, above Piermont, where he had considerable land holdings. [The name Piermont is reportedly a combination of the words Mont (for Mt Nebo) and Pier (for the 4,000 ft. pier that was built into the Hudson River.] Here he resided until his death in 1871. The villa later passed to A. Blari Thaw of Pittsburgh, who in 1890 commissioned the firm of McKim, Mead & White to render substantial changes; it remains today on a large landscaped parcel, largely reflecting the changes undertaken under the guidance of McKim, Mead & White.

The importance of the Village of Piermont in relation to the New York & Erie Railroad was, however, short-lived, as the terminus of the railroad was later shifted closer to New York City; with it the jobs and economy it had brought were lost. When the new interstate transit regulations were adopted in 1852, the Erie connected to Jersey City, New Jersey, and in 1861 moved its terminus to that location.

  1. William E. Krattinger, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Piermont Railroad Station, Village of Piermont, Rockland County New York, nomination document, 2006, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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