Rockland County, New York
Learn more about Rockland County, New York
|Rockland County, New York|
| Image:Map of New York highlighting Rockland County.svg|
Location in the state of New York
516 km² (199 mi²)
451 km² (174 mi²)
65 km² (25 mi²), 12.60%
Rockland County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York, 16 miles north-northwest of New York City. As of 2000, the population was 286,753. It is part of the New York Metropolitan Area. The county seat is New City. The name comes from "rocky land," an early description of the area given by settlers. Largely suburban in nature, Rockland is New York's southernmost county west of the Hudson River.
Locals are annoyed by term "Upstate" as a significant percentage of residents work in the city.
In 1609, Henry Hudson, thinking he had found the legendary "Northwest Passage", sailed up the river that would one day bear his name and anchored near the area that is now Haverstraw before continuing to disillusionment at Albany.
The area was originally settled by the Dutch, and a number of unique Dutch-style red sandstone houses still stand, and many placenames in the county reveal their Dutch origin.
When the Duke of York (who became King James II of England) established the first twelve counties New York in 1683, present-day Rockland County was part of Orange County. Orangetown was created at the same time, originally encompassing all of modern Rockland County. Haverstraw was separated from Orangetown in 1719 and became a town in 1788; it included the present-day Clarkstown, Ramapo and Stony Point. Clarkstown and Ramapo became towns in 1791, followed by Stony Point in 1865. Rockland County was split from Orange County in 1798.
During the American Revolution, when the control of the Hudson River was viewed by the British as strategic to dominating the American territories, Rockland saw skirmishes at Haverstraw, Nyack and Piermont, and significant military engagements at the Battle of Stony Point, where General "Mad" Anthony Wayne earned his nickname. George Washington was headquartered for a time at John Suffern's tavern, later site of Suffern.
British Major John André, met with American traitor Benedict Arnold near Stony Point to buy the plans for the fortifications at West Point. André was captured with the plans in Tarrytown on his way back to the British lines; he brought to Tappan for trial in the Tappan church, found guilty, hanged and buried nearby.
The American Industrial Revolution was supplied, in part, from forests and iron mines in Rockland county. Resource utilization extracted a heavy toll on the region, especially lumbering and agriculture, since the poor, thin soils on hillsides were easily depleted. By the early 1900s development along the lower Hudson River had begun to destroy much of the area's natural beauty.
Many unsuccessful efforts were made to turn much of the Hudson Highlands into a forest preserve. However, when the State of New York tried to relocate Sing Sing Prison to Bear Mountain in 1909, some of the wealthy businessmen who had made homes in the area, led by Union Pacific Railroad president E. H. Harriman, donated land as well as large sums of money for the purchase of properties in the area of Bear Mountain. Bear Mountain/Harriman State Park became a reality in 1910, and by 1914 it was estimated that than a million people a year were coming to the park.
 County Executive
The county executive is C. Scott Vanderhoef (R), who was re-elected in 2005 to his fourth four-year term. He is the second county executive in Rockland history, having defeated the incumbent, John Grant (D), in 1993. Vanderhoef ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2006. Prior to 1985, Rockland County did not have a county executive.
 County Legislature
Rockland is divided into 17 single-member legislative districts. The Chairwoman of the Legislature is Harriet Cornell (D). The other legislators are: Gerold Bierker (R-C), William Darden (D), Edwin Day (R), Theodore Dusanenko (R), David Fried (D), Michael Grant (D), Ellen Jaffee (D), Douglas Jobson (R), John Murphy (R), Patrick Moroney (R), V.J. Pradhan (D), Roman Rodriguez (D), Ilan Schoenberger (D), Philip Soskin (D), and Alden Wolfe (D).
 County Courts
There are three types of general trial courts in Rockland County: the New York Supreme Court, the County Court and the Justice Courts. The Supreme Court is the trial level court of the New York State Unified Court System, which presents some confusion as the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeals in the federal system as well as in most states (the Court of Appeals is the highest court in New York State). The Supreme Court has broad authority over all categories of cases, both civil and criminal. Generally the Supreme Court in Rockland County hears civil cases involving claims in excess of $25,000. While the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over criminal cases in most counties this is handled by the County Courts. In Rockland however, the Supreme Court does exercise jurisdiction over some criminal cases.
The County Court is inferior to the Supreme Court and is authorized to hear all criminal cases that have occured in the county as well as limited jurisdiction over civil cases. The County Court handles felony cases exclusively and shares jurisdiction with the town and village justice courts on midemeanor cases and other minor offenses and violations. The County Court's jurisdiction on civil cases is limited to those involving less than $25,000.
Each of the towns and fifteen of the villages have Justice Courts. These courts mostly hear routine traffic ticket cases, especially from the New York State Thruway and the Palisades Interstate Parkway. They also handle drunk driving charges, lower-level criminal misdemeanor matters, and they will occasionally perform arraignment on felonies (most felony proceedings are heard in County Court). These courts generally handle the highest volume of cases, which, considering the population density and highways in the county, is not surprising.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 516 km² (199 mi²). 451 km² (174 mi²) of it is land and 65 km² (25 mi²) of it (12.60%) is water. Approximately 30% of Rockland County is parkland.
The highest elevation in the county is Rockhouse Mountain, at 391 m (1,283 feet). However, nearby Jackie Jones Mountain also has a summit above 390 m (1,280 feet) whose exact elevation is not known and may well be higher.
The lowest elevation is sea level along the Hudson River.
Rockland is the smallest county in New York outside of New York City.
 Adjacent counties
- Orange County (northwest/north)
- Putnam County, across the Hudson River (northeast)
- Westchester County, across the Hudson River (east)
- Bergen County, New Jersey (south)
- Passaic County, New Jersey (west)
Rockland's borders with Putnam and Passaic counties are short, totalling little more than one mile.
As of the census² of 2000, there were 286,753 people, 92,675 households, and 70,989 families residing in the county. The population density was 636/km² (1,646/mi²). There were 94,973 housing units at an average density of 210/km² (545/mi²). However, Rocklanders live closer together than the census numbers indicate, as 30 percent of the county is reserved as parkland. The racial makeup of the county was 76.91% White, 10.98% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 5.52% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 3.78% from other races, and 2.51% from two or more races. 10.18% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 9.17% reported speaking Spanish at home, 4.96% Yiddish, 4.33% French or a French-based creole, 1.45% Italian, 1.30% Tagalog, 1.25% Hebrew, and 1.01% Russian. Other languages spoken at home by at least 1000 people include Malayalam, Korean, Chinese, German, and Polish.
There were 92,675 households out of which 37.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.80% were married couples living together, 10.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.40% were non-families. 19.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.01 and the average family size was 3.47.
In the county the population was spread out with 28.00% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 28.00% from 25 to 44, 24.30% from 45 to 64, and 11.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 95.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $75,306, and the median income for a family was $86,624. Males had a median income of $58,214 versus $43,955 for females. The per capita income for the county was $31,680. The mean, or average, income for a family in Rockland County is $102,542 according to the 2004 census. About 6.30% of families and 9.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.30% of those under age 18 and 7.60% of those age 65 or over.
 Communities in Rockland
There are five towns in Rockland County:
- Clarkstown (Pop. 82,082)
- Haverstraw (Pop. 33,811)
- Orangetown (Pop. 47,711)
- Ramapo (Pop. 108,905)
- Stony Point (Pop. 14,244)
 Incorporated villages
There are nineteen incorporated villages in Rockland County, twelve of which are located at least partially in the town of Ramapo:
- Airmont (Town of Ramapo)
- Chestnut Ridge (Ramapo)
- Grand View-on-Hudson (Orangetown)
- Haverstraw (Haverstraw)
- Hillburn (Ramapo)
- Kaser (Ramapo)
- Montebello (Ramapo)
- New Hempstead (Ramapo)
- New Square (Ramapo)
- Nyack (Orangetown/Clarkstown)
- Piermont (Orangetown)
- Pomona (Haverstraw/Ramapo)
- Sloatsburg (Ramapo)
- South Nyack (Orangetown)
- Spring Valley (Ramapo/Clarkstown)
- Suffern (Ramapo)
- Upper Nyack (Clarkstown)
- Wesley Hills (Ramapo)
- West Haverstraw (Haverstraw)
There are no villages in the town of Stony Point.
 Unincorporated hamlets
Rockland County has a number of unincorporated hamlets, including:
- Bardonia (Town of Clarkstown)
- Blauvelt (Orangetown)
- Central Nyack (Clarkstown)
- Congers (Clarkstown)
- Garnerville (Haverstraw)
- Grassy Point (Stony Point)
- Hillcrest (Ramapo)
- Jones Point (Stony Point)
- Ladentown (Ramapo)
- Monsey (Ramapo)
- Mount Ivy (Haverstraw)
- Nanuet (Clarkstown)
- New City (Clarkstown)
- Orangeburg (Orangetown)
- Palisades (Orangetown)
- Pearl River (Orangetown)
- Sparkill (Orangetown)
- Stony Point (Stony Point)
- Tappan (Orangetown)
- Thiells (Haverstraw)
- Tomkins Cove (Stony Point)
- Valley Cottage (Clarkstown)
- Viola (Ramapo)
- West Nyack (Clarkstown)
 Historical settlements
- Doodletown (Town of Stony Point) in Harriman State Park is now a ghost town.
 Communities of significant population
According to the 2000 census, these nine Rockland communities have a population exceeding 10,000 people:
- New City, a hamlet of 34,088
- Spring Valley, a village of 25,464
- Nanuet, a hamlet of 16,707
- Pearl River, a hamlet of 15,553
- Monsey, a hamlet of 14,504
- Stony Point, a hamlet of 11,744
- Suffern, a village of 11,006)
- West Haverstraw, a village of 10,295
- Haverstraw, a village of 10,117
 Twin/Sister cities
Additionally, the town of Ramapo is twinned with a number of cities.
 External links
- Rockland County official website
- Rockland History
- Rockland County Page at Hudson Valley Directory
- Rockland County elected officials
- Early history summary of Rockland County
- Library Association of Rockland County Digital Collections
- The Internets Dining Guide to Rockland County
- Traffic Courts in Rockland County