Q: Wikipedia says that Manhattan’s Broadway and Westchester’s Rivertown Broadway are actually the same boulevard. Is this true, and what made
officials decide to create such an ambitious, far-reaching roadway?
—Katie O’Leary, Tarrytown
A: Broadway was originally a trail forged by indigenous Manhattanites to cross the island. The trail was named Heere Wegh by the Dutch, who also expanded the street and colloquially called it Breedeweg or “Broad Road,” which is most likely the origin of our English translation.
In 1811, Governor Morris commissioned the planning of the city, and the grid pattern we know so well today was developed. Broadway was left as a diagonal anomaly that cut across six north-south streets, making room for public spaces like Union Square, Madison Square, Herald Square, Times Square, Columbus Circle, and Verdi Square. But does it extend into Westchester or even beyond?
Most say Broadway runs 18 miles, extending all the way to Sleepy Hollow and Phelps Way, where it becomes Route 9. There are a few stops and starts, and it gets pretty winding, but even if you scroll through a MapQuest rendering, you can pretty easily see it extends from Lower Manhattan well into Westchester.
Meanwhile, Broadway and Route 9 are the same road in many spots, and Route 9 goes almost to the Canadian border, though no one really claims it is still Broadway at that point. Route 9’s origin is in the Albany Post Road, which is thought to have been established by the Dutch in the 1660s as a postal road between Albany and New Amsterdam. Benjamin Franklin added distance markers to the road sometime after he was named Joint Postmaster General in 1753, and, as you may already know, there are still markers throughout Westchester, noting the distance from Albany to City Hall in New York.
The Dogs of War
Q: I went with my friend when he had his cat buried at Hartsdale Pet Cemetery. While I was there, I went by a memorial for war dogs. How did that come about?
—Brianna Gutierrez, Scarsdale
A: Founded in 1896, the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is the oldest pet cemetery in the US, and it is on the National Register of Historic Places. Recently, pop singer Mariah Carey’s dog, Clarence, found his eternal resting place there.
After World War I, in 1923, the War Dog Memorial was made to pay tribute to the thousands of dogs that served in “The War to End All Wars.” The US did not have dogs in WWI but did use French and British canines, many of which lost their lives in battle. It is believed that as many as a million dogs were killed in WWI. By World War II, the US Army employed 12,000 dogs, and they played an important role in Pacific Theater battles.
The memorial recognizes the service of canines in the time of war. The dog in the statue is looking off in the distance, to symbolize its commitment to vigilance, while its paw rests on a dented Army helmet, signifying the rescue of a wounded soldier.
Sirius, the only canine officer who died during the World Trade Center tragedy, is also buried in Hartsdale Pet Cemetery.
Whatever Floats Your Yacht
Q: I was asking someone about the islands off of Pelham, and I was told that one of them is Huckleberry Island and that it is owned by the Huckleberry Indians. Is this true, and what can you tell me about it?
—Bill Dykstra, Pelham
A: Don’t expect to see a Huckleberry Island casino anytime soon, for a couple of reasons: First, it’s barely 10 acres, filled with brush, and its rocky shoreline makes it difficult to develop in any ambitious way.
More important, the Huckleberry Indians aren’t a Native American tribe but rather a collection of rich, white yachtsman from the New York Athletic Club. In 1893, the NYAC bought the island, and every summer the “Indians” would sail out there and have a good ’ol time doing whatever it is that rich, white yachtsmen did back then.
Today, the Huckleberry Indians are an incorporated, nonprofit, social club that hosts an annual dinner and various yachting events from the Travers Island NYAC location in Pelham Manor. There is still a “Chief,” “A Number One Indian,” and “Papooses” of the club, and apparently the membership still thinks it’s okay to use anachronistic, outdated, and perhaps even racially insensitive terms for their good-time yacht club.
The island has environmental importance, though. Large numbers of colonial birds, like night herons, herring gulls, and black-backed gulls, make their homes there. Huckleberry Island is listed in the National Audubon Society’s 2002 Open Space Conservation Plan, under the Westchester Marine Corridor Project.
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