Tarrytown, N.Y.: A ‘Quiet and Idyllic’ Place With Notable Diversity

Art comes up often in descriptions of Tarrytown, the Westchester County village that poses prominently from its woodsy slope above the Hudson River.

Some compare the lively business district along Main Street to a Norman Rockwell painting. Indeed, the street’s huddle of antique brick buildings, with coffee shops and hardware stores, recalls the kind of small-town America that so beguiled the artist. Others say that the way Tarrytown’s tightly packed houses seem to nuzzle one another, as they might in a story about neighborliness, makes the place feel like a giant movie set.

Either way, the streets are laid out with a flair for the dramatic. Coming from the east, along Neperan Road, visitors weave past tree-lined Tarrytown Lakes, then pass some of the village’s finest Victorian houses before arriving at the big reveal: the glittering river, framed by hills to the west.

“You definitely get the Hudson River School vibe around here,” said Harrison Squires, referring to the art movement known for its romanticized landscapes. “You get why all those guys were painting these scenes.”

Mr. Squires, 32, a lawyer, moved to Tarrytown with his family in August from a one-bedroom co-op on the Upper West Side. But unlike some recent arrivals, they were not fleeing Covid-19. Mr. Squires and his wife Amy Mittelman, 35, also a lawyer, came for more conventional reasons — the extra legroom — after the arrival of their infant daughter. Their new four-bedroom, three-bathroom colonial-style house, which cost $1.2 million, is more comfortable.

Tarrytown — unlike other river villages where the family looked at properties, including Hastings-on-Hudson and Dobbs Ferry — also had a notable racial and socioeconomic mix, especially considering its three-square-mile size, Mr. Squires said, echoing a sentiment voiced by other residents.

“There’s a sizable Black and Latino community, and there are also a lot of blue-collar folks,” said Ian Murphy, 38, a resident who works in the fashion industry. “There’s a little bit of everything.”

That diversity inspired Mr. Murphy and his wife, Dahlia Bouari, 37, a kindergarten teacher, to leave a one-bedroom rental in Park Slope, with their infant son, for a three-bedroom house in Tarrytown that cost $949,000.

“There is just a real quaintness here,” said Mr. Murphy, whose family moved in late September. “It’s not as stuffy as other Westchester towns.”

The village, which sits in the northwest corner of the town of Greenburgh, can feel old-fashioned — about a third of the houses were built before 1939, according to census data — but there are also modern elements, like Hudson Harbor, an upscale, multiblock condominium complex that now hugs the river after a decade of development. Occupying land that once housed an asphalt plant and a soy sauce factory, the nearly complete complex has delivered 219 condos, including single-floor and townhouse units, since 2010. (Another 56 units are in next-door Sleepy Hollow, where a General Motors plant once stood.)

While the development’s glass, stone and brick facades and its ribbons of parks win praise, the main attraction may be its front-and-center view of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge (which replaced the Tappan Zee), whose lights change hue with the holidays like the Empire State Building in Manhattan, about 26 miles south.

“It’s such an architectural piece of work,” said Gary Connolly, 53, an executive with the county realtors’ association, who bought a three-bedroom unit in Tarrytown for $1.5 million in 2018, after renting in White Plains for years. He shares the home with his husband, Rodnei Connolly, 47, a digital-marketing executive, and a pair of golden retrievers who bound about on the unit’s stone terrace.

“Tarrytown,” he said, “is such a quiet and idyllic place.”

Despite its small size — the village currently has a population of less than 12,000, according to recent census data — Tarrytown turns up in some well-known books, including “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the Washington Irving story about the put-upon teacher Ichabod Crane. The village, he wrote, is “in the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee.”

Irving seems to have sold himself on the place: He spent his last decades at Sunnyside, a gabled Dutch farmhouse that is now a national landmark.

Tarrytown achieved fame more than a century ago as Millionaires’ Colony, named for the captains of industry who built no-expenses-spared estates on its rolling hills. Modern versions are still going up, especially near Wilson Park, which had rural roads until a few years ago. But most of the Gilded Age real estate survives in other forms.

Carrollcliffe, the 45-room turreted estate of Howard Carroll, onetime Washington correspondent for The New York Times, is now Castle Hotel & Spa, with Carrollwood, a 208-unit 1980s condo complex, tucked behind the estate’s stone walls.

For the most part, the higher the elevation, the pricier the house — although Warehouse on Washington, a new condo project in a former warehouse, is betting on strong demand for its three loft-style units on a closer-to-sea-level block.

The something-for-everyone housing stock also includes prewar co-ops, like Broadway Arms, and postwar co-ops, like Ridgecroft Estates. But the real prizes are the 19th-century single-family houses, with slate roofs, deep porches and skinny towers, in Second Empire and Italianate designs, on the upslope east of North and South Broadway.

Tarrytown’s residents are nearly as varied as the housing. Those who identify as white make up 59 percent of the population, while 24 percent identify as Latino, 7 percent as Asian and 6 percent as Black, according to census data.

On Sept. 20, there were 24 houses, co-ops and condos for sale, at an average list price of $1.49 million, according to data from Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. The least expensive was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit at the Tappan Manour condominiums, a 1950s-era red-brick complex, listed for $199,000. The most expensive, at $9 million, was a six-bedroom, Norman-style stone mansion built in 1926 on more than five acres in Greystone on Hudson, a 23-property gated community that was formerly a Gilded Age estate, a military school, and a day camp. The work-in-progress Greystone development, which sold its first house in 2016, has four available sites left, said Andy Todd, the developer.

Village-wide, prices have skyrocketed. This year, through Sept. 19, 38 single-family houses sold at an average price of $1.14 million, according to the Sotheby’s data. During the same period in 2019, before the pandemic, 46 houses sold at an average of $820,000. That’s a 39 percent jump.

Co-op sales, too, have been strong. This year, according to Sotheby’s, 19 units have sold at an average of $224,000, compared with 18 in 2019, at an average of $189,000. Condos have been steadier, with 44 sales this year at an average of $653,000, versus 42 sales in 2019 at $667,000.

“It’s been crazy, but the market is starting to normalize,” said Francie Malina, an agent with Compass. “We’re back to regular buyers who need to commute to the city, not those looking to get out for good.”

The mood on Main Street seems to be welcoming around the clock, with coffee drinkers catching rays in the daytime and music fans heading to shows at night, although traffic can be a concern. Tarrytown Music Hall, a Queen Anne-style landmark that has operated continuously since opening in 1885 as vaudeville hall, is a destination. Acts have included Melissa Etheridge, Levon Helm and Jeff Tweedy. (Its first live concert since the pandemic began was in June, with the violinist Joshua Bell, said Bjorn Olsson, the theater’s executive director.)

A lower-profile option is Jazz Forum, one of the few clubs dedicated to jazz in Westchester. The four-year-old, 90-seat performance space, which has a Brazilian focus, sells tickets for an average of $30, plus a $10 minimum spent on cocktails like caipirinhas.

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