Peekskill, New York

Peekskill is a small city on the eastern bank of the Hudson river, about 35 miles north of Manhattan. It sits at the southern end of the Hudson Highlands, a dramatic and captivating section of the river that has inspired generations of artists going back to the founding of Thomas Cole's Hudson River School in 1825. Peekskill was a strategically important industrial center in the 19th and early 20th centuries and figured prominently in the American Revolutionary War. Today, it is home to a vibrant and diverse arts community.

Peekskill was first settled by Dutch colonists as early as the 1680's. From that small beginning, it has grown into an ethnically and culturally diverse community of about 24,000 residents. The name Peekskill is derived from the surname of Jan Peeck, an early resident of New Amsterdam, and the Dutch word kill - "creek" or "stream". Thus, "Peekskill" means "Peek's creek".

Peekskill's commuters can reach Grand Central Terminal in about one hour on Metro-North's scenic Hudson Division rail line. Five miles northwest, the Bear Mountain Bridge (which was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was completed in 1924) provides access to Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, U.S. Route 9W, Palisades Interstate Parkway and the New York State Thruway.

Prominent Peekskill People

  • Peekskill is the birthplace to former New York State Governor George Pataki, serving 1994 through 2006. He was also a former Peekskill mayor, State assemblyman and senator.
  • Former Mayor Richard Jackson was the first African-American mayor in New York State. The first woman mayor of Peekskill was Frances Gibbs.
  • Another native, Chauncey M. Depew expanded the New York Central Railroad into Nebraska as its company president.
  • Cornelius Pugsley was Congressman and preservationist whose name is still attached to a national preservation award for public parks.
  • William Nelson was a colleague of Abraham Lincoln, leading to President-elect Lincoln's brief 1861 stop at the village of Peekskill on the way to his inauguration in Washington D.C.
  • Influential Civil War era minister Henry Ward Beecher's 30 year association with Peekskill started in the 1850s as a summer resident. He completed his impressive family mansion on East main Street in 1878.
  • Rev. Beecher's neighbor, Moses S. Beach was responsible for initiating the Associated Press (AP) while publisher of the New York SUN newspaper. A local shopping center bears the Beach name.
  • Contemporary novelist T.C. Boyle (b.1948) is a former Peekskill resident whose books draw international attention.
  • Controversial Hollywood actors Mel Gibson and Paul Reubens were born at the local hospital and spent their younger years in this area.
  • Actor Stanley Tucci also hails from the city.
  • Hugely successful basketball stars Elton Brand and Hilton Armstrong are Peekskill High School graduates.
  • Former P.H.S. graduate Hayward Burns was once editor of the Harvard Law Review and helped draft the constitution for South Africa.
  • While working for IBM in 1957, native John Leslie conceived the idea that a computer could prepare a tax return.
  • St. Mary's, former Peekskill private girls' school (attended by Haitian First Lady Michèle Bennett, among others) was apparently the inspirational setting for the TV series The Facts of Life.