Yorktown is a town that lies on the north border in Westchester County, New York, in a suburb approximately 38 miles (61 km) north of midtown Manhattan. The population was 36,081 at the 2010 census.
Yorktown has a rich historical heritage beginning with the earliest known inhabitants—Mohegan, Osceola, Amawalk, Kitchawan, and Mohansic peoples—after which local places were named. Most of Yorktown was part of the Manor of Cortlandt, a Royal Manor established by King William III for the Van Cortlandt family.
The Croton River, which runs through the southern part of Yorktown, was dammed by New York City to provide its first major source of clean and reliable water. The first Croton Dam was located in Yorktown and broke in 1842, causing significant damage to property and major loss of life.
First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown in Crompond on a vintage postcard
During the American Revolution, Yorktown was of strategic importance, with the Pines Bridge crossing guarded by a regiment of Rhode Island troops made up mostly of African Americans, who were massacred at the Davenport House in Croton Heights. A memorial to them was erected at the Presbyterian Church in Crompond, New York. Major John André, a British officer who communicated with Benedict Arnold, ate his final breakfast at the Underhill House on Hanover Street just before his capture and eventual hanging as a spy.
In 1788, the township was officially incorporated as Yorktown, commemorating the decisive Revolutionary War Battle of Yorktown, near Yorktown, Virginia, on October 19, 1781.
Moving north after the battle of Yorktown, the French army camped at the site of today’s French Hill Elementary School, where cannonballs and other relics have been found. Although rumors claim that George Washington passed through Yorktown, no factual records confirm this.
During the town’s bicentennial in 1988, Yorktowners honored their historic heritage, including that of the 19th and 20th centuries, and commemorated their community’s participation in events that led up to the birth and growth of the United States. A Bicentennial Committee reviewed the town’s remaining historic sites and determined which should be preserved as a link between the Yorktown of yesterday and the Yorktown of tomorrow.