Best places to live in Westchester in 2013: Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Long before Peekskill tried to lure artists, Croton had the bohemian scene locked up. Artists, actors, and writers flocked here from the City to pass the summer; the scandalous poet Edna St. Vincent Millay owned a house there. Croton was so popular with Communists that Mount Airy was nicknamed Red Hill; John Reed and Max Eastman had  homes there.

Today, Croton is a small, quiet village known more for its wonderful river parks and walkways, and affordable homes. You’re more likely to spot a bald eagle than a Communist, though the village remains a magnet for artists and theatrical people, such as Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, many of whom volunteer with the Croton Teen Theatre. The County-owned Croton Point Park, has a swimming beach (yes, it’s okay to swim in the Hudson, at least most of the time) and a campground, and hosts the popular Clearwater Festival every summer.

Croton is divided into two parts. The lower, Harmon, is across Route 9 from the Croton-Harmon station, where a nonstop express can get you into Grand Central Terminal in 46 minutes. These are smaller homes on smaller lots, popular with young families. Half Moon Bay, a gated townhome community on the Hudson, has easy access to one of the County’s best marinas.

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The highly walkable upper village has a vest-pocket downtown with an old-fashioned streetlight mounted on a post in the middle—one of the few “dummy lights” in the US. The Black Cow, one of the first independent coffeehouses in Westchester, is a social hub. Older homes line the narrow streets, and cedar contemporaries occupy woodsy lots. It’s a small place; the Class of 2012 at Croton-Harmon High School was all of 139 students.

Like its neighbor Ossining, Croton is more affordable than the southern River Towns. “You can get a small home for $300,000 here,” says Cynthia Lippolis, broker at Prudential River Towns Real Estate. “Croton is very eclectic. You can have a $400,000 house next to a $2 million house.” 

While communists may be scarce, Croton remains a beacon for artists. Bonnie Watkins has lived here 34 years in an antique farmhouse in the upper village. “It’s a unique community,” she says. “My friends are all wildly creative people who march to a different beat. We’re not interested in having a state-of-the-art material town.  Those of us who have chosen to live here don’t want money to be front and center.”

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

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