A Brief History of New City
New City and Rockland County both came to be formed in 1798 when Rockland County was split from Orange County. With the formation of the new county of Rockland, there was a need for a county seat of government. The central location of New City appears to have been a convenient compromise since travel in 1798 was slow and difficult and the existing large towns were not centrally located.
Throughout its history New City's primary business has been as a home to governments of Rockland County and the town of Clarkstown. It has also been a locale for retail trade catering to what was largely an agricultural area.
Over the years it did have some manufacturing on a very limited scale; a shoe factory, a box factory and an apron factory, all of which were small in scope. Grist mill ponds still remain along some of our streams, one is just west of the county courthouse.
Apparently the founding fathers envisioned a new city, hence the new name. Cram's 1904 Atlas of the World gives New City a population of 407 -- evidence that the city growth was very slow until after World War II when the New York State Thruway and Palisades Parkway opened the area to New York City.
Some of our street names reflect our history. Cavalry Drive and Squadron Boulevard was once the location for the summer encampment of the former squadron cavalry of New York City. This area, then the location of Verdin Farm, is now the home of the New City Garden Apartments, Bradley's shopping center and the New City Library.
The J. E. Vanderbilt lumber company still uses the former train station of the railroad spur from Nanuet to New City for storing lumber. Our volunteer fire company is located on Maple Avenue at approximately the same spot it was when it was first formed in 1888. Some of the attractions of the old New City are long gone due to the changes brought about by the suburbanization of the area. The old county fairgrounds and
racetrack were located where today the realigned Route 304 passes to the north of the Congers Road intersection. Our present courthouse is in its third reincarnation and is scheduled to get its fourth make over. Stately old homes along Main Street have been supplanted by shopping centers or made over into shops and offices. The rural New City era ended after the conclusion of World War II. Since then, development has dramatically increased. However, there still remains the county's first historic park know as "Dutch Garden," located south of the county courthouse.
The Dutch Garden is a small unique park located south of Rockland County Courthouse. It was built about 1934 by Italian artisans and, according to many architectural critics, possesses unique patterned brickwork. The Garden was designed by a prominent landscape designer of the day -- Mary Mowbray-Clark. The brick structures were executed by master mason, Biagio Gugliuzzo. The Garden, at one time considered one of the finest of its kind, was honored as the 1934 Garden of the Year by Better Homes and Gardens magazine, beating out 1500 other entries. In 1991, the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation and Historic Preservation named Dutch Garden to the State Historic Register. The Garden features a brick Tea House covered by terra cotta tile hip rod. Its walls bear fifty different tradesmen representing the brick manufacturing industry that one thrived in nearby Haverstraw. A brick Gazebo, serpentine brick walls, brick Bandstand surrounded by silver cedars, an Arbor constructed of brick pillars and timber joists are some of the decorative elements which, along with its shrubs and flowers, make Dutch Garden an oasis in busy downtown Main Street.
-- New City Chamber of Commerce