R5 Ask Westchester: Crime Scene for Sale

Q: As a way of redeeming yourself, Ask Westchester, for your horrible error in October’s issue, confusing Sunnyside with Shadowbrook, answer this question: Is the property at 379 Mountain Road in Irvington, featured in your November issue, the location where Albert Fish killed his poor young victim Grace Budd back in 1928, or are we to believe the real estate agent that this is not the case?
—Jack Hughes, Irvington

A: Jeez. Dewey didn’t actually defeat Truman either, but people are over it. Anyway, it’s true (we think) the real estate agent did not want people to think the property was the location of one of the most infamous crimes in county history. We can understand why. But listen, if Patrick Raftery, the librarian for the Westchester County Historical Society, says it’s the house, we believe him. And here’s his proof:
Check out the chimneys and the windows. Pretty darned similar. But judge for yourself, Jack (and everyone else). That way, if you’re wrong, we can send you the snarky letters.

Q: Why are so many roads named the same route number—like 100A, 100B, there’s 9, 9A…Why not give them better, different, less confusing names?
—Lucian Prince, via e-mail

A: Oh road questions, how we love thee. Let us count the ways: 1, 2, 2A, 2B, etc. The practice of assigning numbers to U.S. routes and interstates began in the 1920s, explains Sue Stepp of the NYS Department of Transportation. For instance, she says, “Prior to being assigned the moniker ‘Route 66,’ that highway was called many different things depending on what state the road was in—one popular name being ‘Lincoln Highway.’” As for what road received what number, refer back to our answer on interstates in August, 2010. But in a nutshell, odd-numbered interstates and even-numbered routes go north/south, and vice versa.
But why the letters? “Over the course of the ensuing years,” Stepp explains, “much of the reasoning behind the letter system has been lost and/or mythologized. Some letter designations do make sense though.” For example, she notes, “Route 9W is west of the Hudson River, running parallel to Route 9 on the other side.”

Okay Sue, that explains “N,” “S,” “W,” and “E,” but what about the other 22 letters? Stepp has an answer for that, too. “There has been speculation that the following letters were used as indicated: ‘A’ for ‘alternate,’ ‘B’ for ‘business,’ and ‘C’ for ‘city;’ but those designations don’t always seem appropriate. Routes 9 and 17 may be the most vexing, using many different letters of the alphabet.” Her personal theory? “It was done to keep route numbers regional.” Our best guess is along the same lines; namely, that when different roads were combined to make continuous routes, the letters indicated that one section previously held a completely different designation than the next.

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Q: This column is the first thing I turn to when the magazine comes in the mail. My question: On the Bronx River Parkway in White Plains, just before that big S curve, there used to be a big boulder next to the southbound lane and on it was a plaque that commemorated George Washington and his troops crossing the river and waging the Battle of White Plains. But about 10 years ago, there was a renovation of the parkway, and the boulder and the plaque are gone. What happened?
—stevsel, via e-mail

A: Why thank you, stevsel. If only everyone (ahem, Jack Hughes of question one) respected the vast majority of answers we print that are factually correct. And, for this factually correct answer, we turned to David DeLucia, the director of Park Facilities for the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation. The short answer is that the plaque and stone were moved to the large, open-field area at the corner of Battle Avenue and the nearby southbound entrance to the Bronx River Parkway, as this location provides safer public entry. “Prior to the move, one had to pull off on the edge of the Parkway to read the plaque,” DeLucia explains. But the original cannon was actually moved 20 years ago. To where? No one knows. It was stolen and never recovered. What you see now is a reproduction.

Is this Irvington house currently on the market (below) the site of an infamous Albert Fish murder (right)?


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