R5 The Travelers Rest Claims Honor of Westchester’s Oldest Continually Operating Restaurant

Q: What is the oldest continually operating restaurant in Westchester? —Anthony Zepf, New City

A: The key phrase in this question is “continually operating.” The Horse & Hound Inn in South Salem is in a building that’s been around since at least 1749, which makes it pretty damn old. The problem is, it hasn’t always been a restaurant. In addition to being a restaurant, it has been a stagecoach stop and a schoolhouse.

The “oldest continually operating restaurant” designation goes to The Travelers Rest, which has been a dining establishment in Ossining since 1876.

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Despite their age, both establishments assure me that they have high freshness standards for their food.

photo by john Bruno turianoQ: There is a sign hanging on a post along Route 9 in Irvington that says, ‘Columbia University News Laboratories.’ Aside the signpost is a rather skinny driveway leading into a forested area, and you can glimpse a building or two back amidst the trees. What goes on there? —Angelo Frilli, White Plains

A: Actually, the N-E-V-I-S (not News) Laboratories is a research center owned and operated by Columbia University. It sits on the 60-acre property that originally belonged to Colonel James Alexander Hamilton, son of Alexander Hamilton, both of whom graduated from Columbia.
Its official info states that:

“The overall goal of the Nevis particle physics program is to address many of the key open issues in our understanding of the fundamental forces and properties of matter. The purpose of high-energy particle physics (as opposed to high-energy nuclear physics) is to understand the properties and states of the basic building blocks of matter. The purpose of high-energy nuclear physics (as opposed to high-energy particle physics) is to understand the properties and states of matter at the high temperatures and pressures created by the collisions of two nuclei.”

So, if you drove down that narrow, forested driveway, would you see eight-foot flourescent squirrels? And would you be confronted by jack-booted men in black SWAT gear holding guns set to “vaporize”?

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No guarantees, but there are some practical applications of this stuff, including medical treatments for cancer, superconducting of wires and cables for magnetic resonance, and even for national security.

I’m not saying they’re building a particle-beam weapon there but that is a real application of the technology. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to honk before turning down the driveway.

And watch out for the squirrels.

Q: I have some glass swizzle sticks with the inscription, “I stole this from Murray’s, On the Bronx River Parkway, Tuckahoe, New York.”
I can assure you I am not associated with this establishment, nor did I steal them. They were given to me by a friend of the family who lived in Scarsdale many years ago. Any info? 
—Sue Murray, Bedford

A: It’s the early ’30s, and you’re bombing your Packard through Westchester looking for a way to blow off some post-Prohibition steam. Okay, Mac, you want a swell spot that’s aces, the cat’s pajamas, the bee’s knees?

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There’s a good chance you’ll end up at Murray Birmbaum’s place in Tuckahoe. The joint was nestled discreetly at 1 Elm Street, but public records show that the location was about the only thing discreet about Murray’s. The neighbors dropped a dime on the gin mill, and before long there was a local ordinance that put a curfew on all the swinging. Murray’s took a powder in 1940, though the building that housed it still stands. So, swizzle away, and know that you might be stirring up more than just the spirits in your rocks glass.

Have a question for “Ask Westchester”? Email edit@westchestermagazine.com. Subject line: ASK WESTCHESTER.

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