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About Katonah

Old Katonah

Katonah, in Bedford Township, began in pre-Revolutionary days as a row of pioneer homes along Cherry Street, the old Muscota Path of the Indians. They settle Bedford Village in 1680. By 1812 some of the families were moving down to the Cross River, just above its entrance into the Croton, where Wood & Whitlock had set up a mill, and Whitlockville came into being. This was a thriving village in 1847 when the railroad pushed its tracks north and attracted business a scant mile to the east of the village, where in 1852 the new hamlet's name was changed to Katonah in honor of the Indian chief from whom the town's land had been bought.

Here the community began to boom. Before this, its people had been almost entirely farmers,with some engaging in domestic manufacturing. Now they could send perishable produce to New York. Dairying grew enormously: in the 1880's two car loads of milk were being shipped daily. Livestock for the city slaughter-houses mooed in pens at the railroad station. The grist mill in Whitlockville had become an iron foundry and was now transformed into an optical factory. A silk mill in Katonah was weaving ribbons. Commercial shirt making in the home moved every woman to demand a sewing-machine. A more enjoyable employment for the house-wife was the entertaining of summer boarders. Even the well-to-do took them, and season after season the countryside came alive with cycling parties, croquet games, hay rides, fishing, hunting, horse-racing, and boating.

New Katonah

Alas, New York City's thirst put an end to all this. The New Croton Dam would flood the two busy villages, but instead of the inhabitants dispersing, they picked up their houses in 1895 and began to move over the Cross River beyond reach of the reservoir to come, where carefully planned streets had been laid out. Here they started modern Katonah, planted trees, built churches and stores and more dwellings. They decided now, however, to become more of a residential community. Deeds to the new lots carried restrictive covenants ruling out every "dangerous noxious noisy or offensive trade employment or establishment whatsoever." In 1897 the first train stopped at the transplanted station in New Katonah and from then on, the village's character took on a new look. Milk shipments dwindled as farms were sold for "summer places". More and more moved out from the city to live the year round in this region of lakes and woods, meadows and rolling hills, yet within easy reach of the metropolis. The 312 inhabitants that Whitlockville and Old Katonah had in 1865 have grown to more than 5,000 today, and still the village has kept its identity as a close-knot community. Its towns folk work for its welfare through all manner of civic organizations. They support fine schools and the best public library in a wide area.
The hamlet's cultural attractions, including the Katonah Museum of Art and Caramoor Center for Music an the Arts, and John Jay Homestead continue to bring visitors from far and near, making Katonah a satisfying place to live and conduct business. They represent a remarkable cross-section of the arts, the professions, business and industry, a vast array of home-owners. They have found Katonah a satisfying place to live.

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