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

Thea Vaughn walks a half-mile to the Hastings-on-Hudson Metro-North station every day, downhill in the morning, uphill at night. She doesn’t mind: “I’m a big fan of exercise; it gets the blood going.” Anyone who moves to a River Town knows they have to live with hilly terrain. The 35-minute commute is a big reason she and her husband moved here from Park Slope. “I was very adamant the commute not be long and painful,” says Vaughan, a mother of two young children who owns a photo agency in the City.

Hastings is an old factory village that retains its industrial patina. The waterfront, where copper wire and photographic chemicals were once made, remains largely undeveloped—there are environmental issues—save for Harvest on Hudson and a playground. You can launch a kayak off Kinnally Cove.

Old-school storefronts abut trendy businesses. Small houses once occupied by blue-collar workers now house artists and architects, editors and college professors, not to mention the occasional attorney.

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“Hastings had a reputation for being the Greenwich Village of Westchester, but now they’re calling it the Brooklyn of Westchester,” says Janet Griffin, broker at Houlihan Lawrence in Irvington.

All the Hudson River towns are artsy and liberal, but longtime residents will tell you Hastings is the artiest, the most liberal. It’s certainly the closest to the City, and that’s what drew Vaughn and her husband, Warren Godridge, who does architectural installations. “I resisted leaving the outskirts of the City, but he zeroed in on Hastings for its quality of life, its beauty, proximity to the City, and it’s on the water. All those things were phenomenal.”

In 2012, they closed on their Colonial-style house with a winter river view, fast-tracking the process while Vaughn was still on maternity leave. “It’s fantastic, I just love it. It’s on the prettiest street in town. It’s got a beautiful yard, it’s spacious, and the light is stunning.” That she can see the lights of Manhattan from the hilltops “is huge: I feel that connection to the City.”

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