Streams

Your Anecdotal Census: Westchester County

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tarrytown Lighthouse (Nrbelex/flickr)

Lisa Keller, associate professor of history at SUNY Purchase, talks about the demographic changes she's seen in the last ten years.  Then Teresita Wisell, associate dean of the Gateway Center at Westchester Community College discusses immigrant communities in Westchester.  Later, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino talks about how demographic changes have influenced politics and policy over the last ten years.

Guests:

Rob Astorino, Lisa Keller and Teresita Wisell

Comments [32]

Owen from Oakland, CA

"How would you like the team to be the Ossining Caucasians?" God, I love this man.

Jun. 26 2010 01:22 AM
T from Mamaroneck

As someone who grew up in Westchester, and have appreciated the communities as great places to live and raise a family, now that I have my own family, it is very hard to afford to remain here because of high prices of housing and taxes. I am really struggling to remain near the rest of my family. I own an apartment, and feel that's the best I'm going to get. Either I stay for the community and deal with a small, less personal space than what I grew up with, or leave for a bigger living space and not reap the benefits of the community I like so much. Now that my daughter is in school, I have realized that the benefit of such a great school system is immeasurable. So my choice for now is to remain, as hard as it is, because I value our surroundings more than I value a great big house.

Jun. 22 2010 04:43 PM
BKM from Eastchester (Westchester County)

There have been real changes in my town over the last 10 years. Eastchester was a town of older Italian-Americans, many retired blue collar workers who raised their families here. We hear Italian spoken on the street all the time. But that is changing- as the retired folks pass away or move, families are moving in for the school systems. The new families tend to be very professional, often two earner parents, and many are Asian-American. While we have always had a significant Japanese population, the new families are more likely to be Korean, Indian, or Chinese. The school system is bursting at the seams because of the influx of kids, there are tensions between the "traditional" Italian-American residents and the newcomers, and the schools are ill-set up for families without a stay at home mom. The town is definitely becoming more affluent, too.

Jun. 22 2010 01:15 PM
BKM from Eastchester (Westchester County)

There have been real changes in my town over the last 10 years. Eastchester was a town of older Italian-Americans, many retired blue collar workers who raised their families here. We hear Italian spoken on the street all the time. But that is changing- as the retired folks pass away or move, families are moving in for the school systems. The new families tend to be very professional, often two earner parents, and many are Asian-American. While we have always had a significant Japanese population, the new families are more likely to be Korean, Indian, or Chinese. The school system is bursting at the seams because of the influx of kids, there are tensions between the "traditional" Italian-American residents and the newcomers, and the schools are ill-set up for families without a stay at home mom. The town is definitely becoming more affluent, too.

Jun. 22 2010 01:14 PM
Alan U from A Tale of Two Cities

1. Wow, interesting show. Making a city more diverse doesn't mean it has to be made poor. Somehow we've equated the two. The problem is that wealthy minorities (Blacks, Asians, Latinos) tend to not come to Westchester. Wealthy Blacks are in places like Chicago/Atlanta, wealthy Asians in San Francisco/Bay Area, and so on, and so forth. For whatever reason, New York (and its suburbs) tends to repel these affluent non-White groups such that we end up thinking that all minorities are an urban blight... and we get wary whenever we hear diversity/integration.

Jun. 22 2010 01:00 PM
Katherine from Manhattan

After graduating college two years ago I moved to the Woodlawn/Yonkers area - where rent was cheap, and the metro-north was close by. I was excited to explore Westchester County, as I always imagined it to be such a beautiful and historic part of NY.

I was disappointed by much of the County. Scarsdale could have been Anywheresville, USA. There is no fluidity between the style of houses. It's like everyone got their hands on a lot and decided to build THEIR EXACT DREAM HOME, regardless of what the feel of the neighborhood was. So, the end result is a hodgepodge of grandiose villas and vinyl siding. completely void of any charm. sagging telephone wires and expensive strip malls. yuck.

Bronxville, Tarrytown, Larchmont, Pelham, parts of Yonkers (!) /New Rochelle and a handful of others, however, delivered what I was hoping for. Quaint, historic, and charming. Absolute gems.

I don't know if I could ever afford to live in Westchester, or that I would ever want to, but parts of it are really something so see!

Jun. 22 2010 12:20 PM
antonio from park slope

I agree Mike. I remember a friend of mine out in Hicksville had a relative who was doing insane overtime in his last couple of years of his town job (police, firefighter etc.) to reap higher pension benefits...

We get rid of that, consolidate all the services and school administrators and everything would be peachy...

Jun. 22 2010 12:00 PM
Liz from Larchmont

I have lived in Larchmont for 10 years and am dismayed by the empty store fronts in the area of the town close to the train station since the recession. There is less and less reason to walk into that part of town which in turn has a knock-on effect on the existing businesses. The landlords need to take a hard look. Mamaroneck appears to be thriving and other towns/villages in the area seem to be less affected.

Jun. 22 2010 11:59 AM
Westchester resident from Westchester

Westchester County really needs to promote it's housing stock. There is no need to have over 200 +++ one bedrooms on the market in the City of Yonkers which run under $80,000. Prices are the same as the late 80's.

Jun. 22 2010 11:57 AM
Connie from Westchester

I agree that probably the type of person who would choose to live in a McMansion is not be a WNYC listener.but then I should not make that assumption or judgement. I don't know who would want to live in one but I believe in freedom of choice. However, I think one has an obligation consider the impact of one's choices upon the community's character, environmentally and esthetically. (In contrast to the previous negative comment about this discussion, I find it facinating) I have seen many agressive, "upwardly mobile" people move to Lewisboro, where I live. Lots more Mercedes cars (still) and Hummers (up until recently) .

Jun. 22 2010 11:54 AM
Mike

Why do teh suburbs have a ton of school districts? Why don't they get rid of all them and roll them into one county wide school district? Also, why not do the same for police and fire?

Jun. 22 2010 11:51 AM
Jan Ruotolo from Scarborough

Greatest change in my 57 years in the county is increased traffic. I moved from the city, way back when, to Ardsley. It got so congested I moved north to Scarborough. And now the congestion is moving north at a rapid rate. Important planning goes into any trip to avoid rush hours and heavily congested areas. Learning the back roads is a survival skill.

Jun. 22 2010 11:47 AM
Maggie from Croton-on-Hudson,NY

Ethnic populations: The active attempt to keep minority populations out. Croton-on-Hudson has consistently voted to keep out affordable housing. Attempts to rezone the Harmon business district to allow mixed-use property and provide rental housing was recently overturned. Though not said publicly, the reason people don't want rental housing is because they don't want the kind of people who rent e.g., ethnic minorities and lower income white residents. There's very little rental housing in Croton. Unless one can afford a half million dollar house on an 1/8th of an acre. one is out of luck.

Jun. 22 2010 11:43 AM
antonio from park slope

"Our last caller was actually the head of the Pat Buchanan for president of new Rochelle."

Jun. 22 2010 11:40 AM
Edward from NJ

Karen, Did I say anything about Chappaqua? Show me a status town that doesn't have great schools and services. That's what makes them status towns. I was suggesting that many people do buy in Scarsdale for the Scarsdale brand, and those same people might like to have a super-big house to complete that package. That's not everyone, and clearly, that's not you.

Jun. 22 2010 11:39 AM
gene from NYC

Rachael--

I agree, but lawns aren't just hard, useless work. They are repositories of pesticides and various dangerous chemicals leaching into waterways.

Jun. 22 2010 11:32 AM
gene from NYC

I agree with Karen--NO ONE needs a 5,000-foot house. Do you realize how much upkeep that is? (My sis has a 4,000-footer) What a headache!

Give me a small house with a _small_ lawn (gives more room for low-upkeep indigenous growth--and a garden).

I've had a lot of experience with the elderly, and guess what--we're all most likely to end up in a little one-bedroom, with just a very few personal items anyway.

Jun. 22 2010 11:27 AM
JP from NJ

Mcmansions are hardly new. Go outside of any big city in America and you will see huge Victorian houses that are on very small plots of land that used to be one family homes. Although they are aesthetically more pleasing then today’s architecture, they were just as hated by common folk of their day and just as inefficient and a waist of space as today. Although I doubt people will be trying to preserve Mcmansions of today 100 years from now….

Jun. 22 2010 11:24 AM
antonio from park slope

My biggest problem with mcmansions is that usually these go hand in hand with sprawl. No sidewalks, little to no planning for mass transit..

Hey guys at the Brian Lehrer show; you should have a show about the most walkable, transit friendly, anti sprawl community. Something that would make RIchard Florida smile!

Jun. 22 2010 11:23 AM
Rachael from brooklyn

Admitting to living in a McMansion is like admitting to being a hipster. Most hipsters don't think they are hipsters and most people living in a McMansion don't think they live in one.

As far as a lawn is concerned. A lawn is a great deal of work. Reducing a lawn cuts down on expense and back breaking lawn care work.

Jun. 22 2010 11:22 AM
Krista from Queens

Maybe the McMansions, with their big rooms and small yards, are perfect for everyone who is plugged in all day!

Jun. 22 2010 11:21 AM
Karen from Westchester

Edward:

Scarsdale, Edgemont, Chappaqua and the like are not merely "status" communities. People move to such communities for the fantastic public school systems, many activities for families and kids and easy commute to the City. We needed a good public school for our son, who had a learning disability. NYC schools were over-crowded and did not have an appropriate program for him. We researched schools, not status or income levels, found the best school and moved to that community. He had totally free, top-quality services and is now in college. I have no regrets.

Jun. 22 2010 11:21 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Excuse me? Trees on your property are "nothing"? That's the attitude I have a problem with.

Jun. 22 2010 11:20 AM
Lauren from Brooklyn

Extending the metaphor of fast food, is it really that McMansions are popular, or is it that it is economically more efficient, like fast food, for builders to build a high volume of variations on a theme than to build unique homes? And just like fast food franchises, these are the product that's available in this particular socioeconomic group, irrespective of what's "good" for them or their community?

Jun. 22 2010 11:19 AM
Karen from Westchester

To the caller who praised new homes: you can build a new home without building a McMansion. Nobody needs a 5000 square foot house unless that somebody has eight kids (one of my friends has eight kids).

Jun. 22 2010 11:17 AM
Siouxie921 from Bronx

I'm embarrassed to admit my brother builds McMansions for a living. $20 million dollar homes for the rich and famous in the Hamptons.

I love the physician who's on the phone. She's so busy that she's on speaker phone.

Jun. 22 2010 11:16 AM
Jeff

Really, Brian...really? This is what you have to offer on your show today. I've been a listener to your show for as long as you have been at the station, and this has to be one of the worst shows ever. Tedious, boring..."Call up and defend your McMansion. Dear God. Time to switch over to sports talk radio, I guess.

Jun. 22 2010 11:15 AM
Edward from NJ

If people are shelling out for the status of living in Scarsdale, maybe they want to have an over-the-top house to go with it.

Jun. 22 2010 11:15 AM
sheelah

i am going to stereotype here and say that i suspect that people who live in mcmansions aren't wnyc listeners, as we are a more progressive group. i would think that mcmansion dwellers are conservatives who are less concerned with their impact on their community and surrounding area.

Jun. 22 2010 11:15 AM
Karen from Westchester

I live in Chappaqua. The area in which I live is divided into 1.5 to 2 acre plots, and the town has controlled McMansions by limiting the square footage/acreage ratio on new construction. Nonetheless, one Mickey-M slipped through before the new rules were passed.

My house is a 1965 colonial, not huge (3100 square feet) but gracious. My husband, a general contractor, tells me that we who hate McMs will have our revenge, because most of the ugly brutes are poorly constructed -- hit-and-miss grouting in the bathrooms, for example, or plastic doors and molding -- and will soon begin to cost their owners much in damage control (moldy bathrooms) and remodeling.

Serves them right. And by the way, these are the same greedy jerks who ruined the Hamptons, which used to be beautiful farming communities. A moldy bathroom on all of them!

Jun. 22 2010 11:13 AM

my dog NEEDS his own bedroom because he snores!

Jun. 22 2010 11:08 AM
Bro_Chris from Yonkers, New York

For the past 15 years I've lived on Warburton Avenue in Yonkers. What has surprised me most is how little the neighborhood has changed in that time. It is a low-income, urban neighborhood, overwhelmingly African-American, with an average household income of about $14,000. The biggest change? In 2000 about 1/4 of the housing was abandoned. Today most of those buildings have been rehabilitated and only three buildings I can think of are vacant.

Jun. 22 2010 06:32 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.