The Community Benefits of Resurfacing the Saw Mill River in Yonkers

Last December, at a ceremony in Yonkers’s Larkin Plaza, workers brought a river downtown. That is, they brought the Saw Mill River, which had been buried beneath concrete for nearly a century, to the surface.

Yonkers-based Groundwork Hudson Valley (GHV), an urban improvement organization, had worked for years on the multimillion-dollar project, also known as “daylighting,” which aimed to reverse Yonkers’s burial of the river in the 1920s because of flooding and pollution concerns. A park designed to draw foot traffic to the newly uncovered water feature is slated to open shortly.

“This is one of the poorest communities in the city,” says Patricia D. McDow, a former Yonkers city councilwoman. “But once the river’s open, you’ll have retail in what are now abandoned buildings.”