About Yonkers

With its easy access to New York City, Westchester, the Hudson Valley and Connecticut; attractive rents; and significant support from city-sponsored revitalization efforts, Yonkers is poised for growth.

In December 2010, the City of Yonkers took a big step in its downtown revitalization with the "daylighting" – or uncovering – of a portion of the Saw Mill River, which had been buried beneath the pavement of Larkin Plaza since the 1920's. The project is creating an exciting new four-acre public space in the center of downtown Yonkers to be called Larkin Plaza Park. In addition to its aesthetic value, the daylighting project is creating jobs, providing economic benefits and clean water improvements for both the Saw Mill and Hudson Rivers.

In that same month, another piece of the Yonkers economic development plan came to fruition when Lord & Taylor announced it would open its first new store in over a decade at the Ridge Hill mixed-use complex being developed in Yonkers by Forest City Ratner Companies. The 80,000 square-foot Lord & Taylor will anchor the retail component of the 1.3-million-square-foot development. Ridge Hill is one of the largest mixed-use projects in the country, encompassing 80 acres.

Additionally, biotech firm ContraFect Corporation started construction on a new 15,000 square-foot headquarters at i-Park on Hudson. ContraFect signed a 15-year lease on December 10th.

"We're making Yonkers a destination for business and pleasure," said Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone. "The city and the Y-Enterprise Business Center are located less than 30 minutes from Midtown Manhattan by train, making access to New York City faster and easier than it is for many companies that are based in the five boroughs. The future holds unlimited possibilities for our city."

Business & Enterprise
From the time that Adriaen Van der Donck built the first saw mill in the New World, Yonkers has been a hub of industry. Its four and a half miles of Hudson River waterfront and quick access to Manhattan help explain why it's attractive to so many successful businesses.

The inventions and innovations that have emerged from Yonkers make up a Who's Who of American enterprise, from Bakelite to FM radio to Otis Elevators and more.

In the past decade, Yonkers has been focused on helping business succeed with its' many tools including tax designated areas and an industrial development agency and urban renewal agency. Downtown Yonkers is designated as a Federal Empowerment Zone and a N.Y. State excelsior zone which means companies located in the city receive enormous tax breaks. The Yonkers Industrial Development Agency (YIDA) can assist new businesses by providing mortgage and sales tax exemptions, payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), and bonds for the tax exempt financing of real estate and/or equipment investments. The Yonkers Community Development Agency, the City's urban renewal agency, is another tool that can assist businesses seeking to make major investments in Yonkers downtown.

The revitalization of the downtown and waterfront business districts includes a major overhaul of the train station, the reconstruction of roads and infrastructure and the private development of office and residential projects. The result is a place where innovative, creative companies and individuals will feel comfortable and thrive, but with lower rents.

Emerging companies have a new home in Yonkers, and the growth has only just begun.

Adriaen Van der Donck, founder of Yonkers, built the first saw mill in the New World. The first elevator safety devices (which eventually made modern skyscrapers possible) were invented in 1854 by Elisha Graves Otis. Rudolph Eickmeyer's mechanical inventions in 1854 so modernized the hat industry in that Yonkers became its leading center. The first street lighting in the country was introduced in Yonkers in 1861. The first elevated mass-transit system in the world was invented in 1867 by Yonkers resident Charles T. Harvey and financially backed by a group of Yonkers Investors. Carpet manufacturing was revolutionized with the invention of the Axminster "1858" and Moquette "1877" looms. The synthetic plastic "Bakelite" was invented by Leo H. Baekeland in 1906. FM radio broadcasting was invented by Edwin H. Armstrong in 1912. The first practical dynamo was invented and produced in Yonkers, as was the first practical electric motor. (source: CityofYonkers.com)

History
Did you know that the first game of golf in the United States was played in Yonkers? But let's go back to the beginning.

About 20 years after Peter Minuit bought Manhattan, Adriaen Van der Donck received a grant of land from the Dutch East India Company at the junction of the Hudson River and Nepperhan Creek, where he built the New World's first saw mill. Yonkers started as a city of business and has stayed that way since the 1640s. Yonkers has been open for business for 400 years.

Yonkers' strategic location fostered its development into a major trading center and its early settlers (including Native Americans, English and Dutch) created a diverse community. Yonkers was a small farm town in the 1700's but many businesses soon began to emerge: the saw mills and grist mills multiplied, land development increased, and blacksmith shops, taverns, and general stores came into being.

A stone mill (possibly the city's first industrial site) was built in the early 19th Century in the Tuckahoe area of Yonkers. It was used as a cotton factory until 1852 when the Hodgman Rubber Company bought it, and thus began yet another industry. Yonkers has been the home of innovators such as Elisha Otis, who created the first safety elevator – the invention that made skyscrapers possible -- and a center for carpet and hat manufacture. The sugar industry was centered in Yonkers starting in the 1880s, and Domino Sugar is still located in the city. And in 1867, the first elevated mass transit system in the world was created in Yonkers.

A bustling crossroads, Yonkers grew to become the fourth largest city in New York State. For businesses, the ability to call on workers from Westchester County, of which Yonkers is the largest city, is an enormous asset, as is the proximity to New York City, and its mass transit connections throughout the region.

More to Know About Yonkers
The first game of golf in the United States was played in 1888 near Lake Avenue on North Broadway. Samuel Tilden, former Governor of New York State and resident of Yonkers was the first Presidential Candidate to win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote (1876). Adriaen Van der Donck, founder of Yonkers, was the first lawyer in New Netherlands. Yonkers was the first city to be incorporated in Westchester County in 1872.

Downtown & Waterfront
Buildings long vacant are turning into residential lofts, emerging company headquarters and new retail shops much as SoHo developed in Manhattan. Hudson Park, for example, has two buildings with 266 residential rental apartments with gorgeous views of Manhattan and the Palisades. Residents and visitors to the area can stroll through Esplanade Park and Sculpture Meadow on the Hudson, reflect at the September 11th Memorial Garden, and stop at the Riverfront Library. New dining spots and ample parking add to the feel of comfortable sophistication accented by such events as summer jazz sponsored by the Downtown BID. The common thread in this blending of mixed-usages is public access to the river for relaxation, recreation and education for the citizens of Yonkers.

Ridge Hill
Lord & Taylor announced it would open its first new store in over a decade at the Ridge Hill mixed-use complex being developed in Yonkers by Forest City Ratner Companies. The 80,000 square-foot Lord & Taylor will anchor the retail component of the 1.3-million-square-foot development. Ridge Hill is one of the largest mixed-use projects in the country, encompassing 80 acres.