By Mary Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville
Sep. 30, 2020: Taking perhaps a necessary breather from discussing infrastructure repairs, DPW garage, and Covid prevention, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the wonderfully quirky and unique village we live in to provide a little perspective with a dash of needed humor.
Quite incredibly, the village functioned in its first year of incorporation (1898) with no ordinances. Our very first ordinance, (1899), protected us from public nudity, brothels, saloons, gambling, riots, and profane language, all punishable with fines from $10-$50.
Our subsequent first-generation ordinances prohibited playing ball on Sunday, “hallooing or yelling after dark” and “Gun fire between the setting and rising sun.” - apparently, daytime gun fire was acceptable?! In a bit of high aspirational thinking, fire escapes would be required an all opera houses but churches were exempt.
In 1899, houses could be built with no notice to the village and without regard to size or placement as it wasn’t until 1922 that our first zoning ordinance was enacted. Legend says, village resident and television personality Jack Parr, was responsible for our first fence ordinance. As a result of his extreme penchant for privacy, he erected a high stockade fence on Studio Lane without Planning Board notification. Very soon after, the Trustees enacted height and density rules for Village fences.
As an important aside, forget the police chief’s notifications, two of our early post mistresses were maiden sisters who carefully read everyone’s postcards and magazines, and if they thought the information of urgency, they dispatched local boys to share the messages. Needless to say, they were deemed “authorities on all Village news.”
Just two and a half miles from the Bronx border and 16 from Manhattan, the building of our railroad underpass in 1916 quickly ignited a building boom and transformed the village into a bona fide suburban enclave. By the opening of the Bronx River Parkway in 1925, our 666 acres were truly built out by the end of the 1920s.
With building growth came population growth, and by 1930 the village’s population had more than doubled to 6,387 residents, almost the exact population we have today. However, back then, stores were closed on Wednesday afternoons, and a Home Valet truck patrolled the village. Sporting the slogan, “Would you spare your appearance for fifty cents?” a gentlemen came to the door and ironed your rumpled suit.
Population actually peaked in 1940 at 6,888, and currently, we have a population of 6,395 residents, which represents an increase of 72 persons since the 2010 census. The median age in the village is 41.5 years old, a bit higher than the number registered in 2000 and 2010. Since 1990, the age cohorts of 35 to 44 years old and 45 to 50 have consistently been the largest.
With a total of 2,193 households, nearly 3/4 are categorized as family households with the average household size of 2.8 persons, very much the norm for Westchester County, though our average family size of 3.45 is higher than the county average.
Also on the high-end, vis-à-vis the county average, is the number of Village households of residents living alone and over 65, which constitutes 26.4% of our population.
The overwhelming majority of the village’s housing units (72%) were built before 1939. The only major new construction has been the Avalon (110 units in 2000) and Villa BXV in 2017 (53 units). 83.9% of our housing units are owner occupied. Rental housing units have decreased from 23.3% in 2000 to 16.1% in 2016.
Sixty percent of our residents live in single-family homes and townhouses, while forty percent reside in apartments, co-ops, and condominiums. Twenty percent of the land in the village is tax-exempt. The village has 2,300 home addresses, but over 10,000 people use Bronxville as their postal address.
As per the business district, we have 2,400 parking spaces, including the on street meters as well as the off-street public parking lots. Rents in our central business district are rated comparable to like spaces in White Plains, Scarsdale, and the City of Rye.
With the exception of the Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel in Orange County, Bronxville is the only community that is co-terminous with their school district, and thus the municipality issues both School and Village tax bills.
The village has no County-owned roads and only one State road, Route 22. It is only Route 22 that cannot be repaved or upgraded by the village’s capital plan.
Clearly, we have always been a unique community, and Trustee William Kraft early on envisioned even greater things for us, writing on village stationery that, “In the course of time, we will have one the finest Villages along the line.”
Pictured: Mary Marvin
Photo by A. Warner
Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.