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Bordered by the Hudson River on the west and Putnam County to the north, the town of Cortlandt is characterized by a rural landscape, with many wooded hills, streams, and wetlands. Cortlandt Manor is one of many hamlets within the town of Cortlandt—in addition to Montrose, Verplanck, Crugers, Crompond, part of Mohegan Lake, and the incorporated villages of Croton and Buchanan. The name comes from the Van Cortlandt family, who began purchasing land in the area in 1677.

Residents enjoy shopping at the Cortlandt Town Center, which features a Wal-Mart, movie theater, and several clothing stores. Cortlandt is also home to several health institutions, including the Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortlandt Manor and the FDR Veterans Administration Hospital in Montrose.