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Greenburgh isn't a place; it's a state of mind
Fact: Greenburgh happens to be the largest town in Westchester County and recently celebrated its 225th anniversary.
Weird fact: Greenburgh residents never use Greenburgh as an address. So if you want to go to Greenburgh Town Hall, remember to set your GPS for White Plains.
But try to get to Greenburgh? Forget about it.
“I don’t think any place is as complicated as Greenburgh,” said town historian Frank Jazzo. “It certainly confuses people who live here or are trying to find a destination.”
Originally, residents in this 30-square-mile town had a Greenburgh post office address. But that started to change in the 20th century, Jazzo said.
Oh, sure, there was once a Greenburgh post office. That was many moons ago. Over time, various neighborhoods within the town incorporated themselves as separate villages with their own postal districts, fire and police departments and mayors.
“When they incorporate, they form their own boundaries,” Jazzo said.
Now, six incorporated villages are located within Greenburgh, he said. The first to break away was Tarrytown in 1870, followed by Irvington in 1872, Dobbs Ferry in 1873, Hastings in 1879, Ardsley in 1896 and Elmsford in 1950.
Anything outside of the incorporated villages is referred to as unincorporated Greenburgh.
Today, half of the town's 90,000 residents live in the villages, said Town Supervisor Paul Feiner. As for the other half, they live in unincorporated Greenburgh, scattered through the hamlets of Edgemont, Fairview, Hartsdale and Fairview, he added.
“Edgemont people like telling people that they live in Scarsdale because it conveys a high-end wealthy area, whereas Greenburgh is much more diverse and not as wealthy,” Feiner said.
So ask Greenburgh residents along the Hudson River and they will say they live in one of the rivertowns like Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Ardsley or Tarrytown. Going inland, you will hear Greenburgh residents talk about their homes and favorite shopping spots in places like Elmsford, Scarsdale and Hartsdale – or maybe even Valhalla and White Plains.
Doing the reporting for this blog post was helped me personally. After a decade of living in Hastings, I finally understand why I’m paying school taxes to Hastings Village and property taxes to the Town of Greenburgh.
I also understand why, when I would go pay those taxes in person at Town Hall, my GPS had trouble telling me where to go. This is actually the only place in all of Greenburgh that uses a Greenburgh mailing address. But trying telling that to the GPS -- which is why, even on the town's website, Town Hall's address is listed as 177 Hillside Ave. in White Plains.
And when I’m shopping on Central Avenue, I might refer to the ShopRite at the Midway Shopping Center as being in Scarsdale, but now I know that’s part of Greenburgh, too.
It’s all part of being in a Greenburgh state of mind.