Jul 25, 2014
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Architectural Tattoos in New Rochelle

Old buildings enjoy new identities while retaining remnants of a former life.

For most of the 18th century, New Rochelle was a small agricultural community, a village where farming provided the major source of work, income, and sustenance.

By the 1900s, however, an influx of foreign immigrants to New York City and the addition of two commuter railroads prompted an exodus of many families from NYC to outlying areas and an increased population in New Rochelle and corresponding communities. With larger populations and easy access to the metropolitan area came a rise in commerce and industry.

Over the ensuing years, New Rochelle has been home to a variety of businesses and industries, including film, manufacturing, banking and building. Although some have long been forgotten and replaced by others, their buildings demolished, their history gone, others still maintain a presence in our city.

That presence—albeit inconspicuous—is marked and remembered by what can be described as architectural tattoos left behind in name and, oftentimes, date etched in stone high above the hustle and bustle of the city.

Thus, in various locations around the city, remnants of a prior time, when New Rochelle was a hub of commercial activity, are still visible. Some newer buildings have continued the practice with naming buildings and displaying their names in similar fashion.

Writers note: Many thanks to Barbara Davis, City of New Rochelle Historian and community relations coordinator who provided invaluable caption information for this piece. Davis is the author of Images of America NEW ROCHELLE, with royalties from the sale of the book going to NRPL’s local history collection. Additional thanks to the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District, without which many of the improvements made on these historical buildings would not have been made possible.

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