Rockland County, New York

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Rockland County, New York
County of New York State
County of Rockland
Hook Mountain Nov2015.jpg
View of the Hudson River looking southward from Hook Mountain State Park.
Flag of Rockland County, New York
Seal of Rockland County, New York
Map of New York highlighting Rockland County
Location in the U.S. state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location in the U.S.
Founded 1798
Seat New City
Largest town Ramapo
 • Total 199 sq mi (515 km2)
 • Land 174 sq mi (451 km2)
 • Water 25 sq mi (65 km2), 13%
Population (est.)
 • (2017) 328,868[1]
 • Density 1,890/sq mi (730/km2)
Congressional district 17th
Time zone Eastern: UTC−5/−4
Interactive map of Rockland County, New York

Rockland County is the southernmost county on the west side of the Hudson River in the U.S. state of New York, part of the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county's population, as of the 2010 census, was 311,687, increasing by 5.5% to a 2017 Census estimate of 328,868,[1] making it the third-most densely populated county outside New York City within New York State (after Nassau and neighboring Westchester counties, respectively). The county seat is New City.[2] Rockland County is a suburb of New York City that borders the boroughs about 9 miles northwest of the city at their closest points, and is accessible via the New York State Thruway, after 10 exits. The name derives from "rocky land", as the area has been aptly described.

Rockland County is the smallest county by area in New York State outside New York City. It comprises five towns and nineteen incorporated villages, with numerous unincorporated villages (sixteen) and hamlets. Rockland County is designated as a Preserve America Community, and roughly one-third of the county is parkland. The county has the largest Jewish population per capita of any U.S. county, with 31.4%, or 90,000 residents, being Jewish. Rockland also ranks 9th on the list of highest-income counties by median household income in the United States with $75,306 according to the 2000 census. In 2015, Suffern was named as the best place to start a business in New York by NerdWallet. NerdWallet also included the villages of Haverstraw (73), West Haverstraw (76) and Spring Valley (83) in their report.[3]


Henry Hudson's Halve Maen (Half Moon) on the Hudson River.
The Carson McCullers House in South Nyack.
DeWint House (circa 1700) is the oldest home in Rockland County
Historic Rockland County Courthouse in New City

The area that would become Rockland County was originally inhabited by Algonquian-speaking Aboriginals, including Munsees, or Lenni Lenape.

In 1609, Henry Hudson, thinking he had found the legendary "Northwest Passage", sailed on the Half Moon up the river that would one day bear his name and anchored near the area that is now Haverstraw before continuing to disillusionment north of Albany. The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in the area, around 1675.[4] These settlers, eager to escape "city life", moved from Manhattan to Rockland. A number of unique Dutch-style red sandstone houses still stand, and many place names in the county reveal their Dutch origin. When the Duke of York (who became King James II of England) established the first twelve counties of New York in 1683, present-day Rockland County was part of Orange County, known then as "Orange County South of the Mountains". Orangetown was created at the same time under a royal grant, originally encompassing all of modern Rockland County. Around this time, as the English began to colonize Nyack and Tappan, the Native Americans began to leave Rockland in search of undisturbed land further north.[4]

The natural barrier of the Ramapo Mountains and the size of the county made it difficult to carry out governmental activities. At one point there were twin governments, one on each side of the Ramapo Mountains. For this reason, Rockland split off from Orange in 1798 to form its own county. That same year the county seat was transferred from Tappan to New City, where a new courthouse was built.

Haverstraw was separated from Orangetown in 1719 and became a town in 1788; it included the present-day Clarkstown, Ramapo and Stony Point. Clarkstown and Ramapo became towns in 1791, followed by Stony Point in 1865.

The territory of the Lenape in present-day southern New York, New Jersey and eastern sections of Delaware and Pennsylvania

During the American Revolution, when control of the Hudson River was viewed by the British as strategic to dominating the American territories, Rockland saw skirmishes at Haverstraw, Nyack and Piermont, and significant military engagements at the Battle of Stony Point, where General "Mad" Anthony Wayne earned his nickname. George Washington had headquarters for a time at John Suffern's tavern, the later site of the village of Suffern. British Major John André met with American traitor Benedict Arnold near Stony Point to buy the plans for the fortifications at West Point. André was captured with the plans in Tarrytown on his way back to the British lines; he was brought to Tappan for trial in the Tappan church, found guilty, hanged and buried nearby. Still another important chapter in the story of the Revolution was written on May 5, 1783, when General Washington received Sir Guy Carleton at the DeWint House, where they discussed the terms of the peace treaty. Two days later Washington visited Sir Guy aboard a British war vessel. On this day the King's Navy fired its first salute to the flag of the United States of America.

In the decades following the Revolution, Rockland became popular for its stone and bricks. These products, however, required quarrying in land that many later believed should be set aside as a preserve. Many unsuccessful efforts were made to turn much of the Hudson Highlands on the northern tip of the county into a forest preserve. However, Union Pacific Railroad president E. H. Harriman donated land as well as large sums of money for the purchase of properties in the area of Bear Mountain. Bear Mountain/Harriman State Park became a reality in 1910, and by 1914 it was estimated that more than a million people a year were coming to the park.

Rockland remained semi-rural until the 1950s when the Palisades Interstate Parkway, Tappan Zee Bridge, and other major arteries were built. The idea of suburbia also helped transform the county. The county's population flourished, from 89,276 in 1950 to 265,475 in 1990.

Ramapo Torne in Harriman State Park, part of the Ramapo Mountains.


Overlooking Rockland County with NYC skyline in far background
Haverstraw along the Hudson River

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 199 square miles (520 km2), of which 174 square miles (450 km2) is land and 26 square miles (67 km2) (13%) is water.[5] It is the smallest county in the state outside New York City.

Rockland County lies just north of the New Jersey-New York border, west of Westchester County across the Hudson River, and south of Orange County.

The county's elevations range from 1,283 feet (391 m) atop Rockhouse Mountain to sea level along the Hudson River. Approximately 30% of Rockland County is devoted to parkland, belonging to either the five towns, incorporated villages, the state, or the county. These parks provide walking and hiking trails, ballfields, dog runs, historic sites, ponds, streams, salt marshes, and equestrian trails. Some popular state parks include Bear Mountain State Park on the northernmost tip of the county, Harriman State Park also along the county's northern boundary, and Nyack Beach State Park along the Hudson River, with trails connecting to Rockland Lake State Park. In addition to parks, Rockland is home to numerous public and private golf courses, with the towns of Orangetown, Ramapo, Stony Point, and Haverstraw all operating public golf courses within their towns, offering discounted rates to their respective residents. The Palisades Interstate Park Commission also operates two golf courses in Rockland Lake State Park with sweeping views of the park. Notable private courses in the county include Paramount Country Club, Manhattan Woods Golf Course (designed by PGA great Gary Player), and Rockland Country Club (Sparkill).

Adjacent counties[edit]

Rockland's borders with Putnam and Passaic counties are short, totaling less than one mile (1.6 km).


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2017328,8685.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010, 2017[1]

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 286,753 people, 92,675 households, and 70,989 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,646 people per square mile (636/km²). There were 94,973 housing units at an average density of 545 per square mile (210/km²). However, residents live closer together than the census numbers indicate, as 30% of the county is reserved as parkland. 9% of residents reported speaking Spanish at home, 5% Yiddish, 3% French-based creole, 1.5% Italian, 1.3% Tagalog, 1.3% Hebrew, 1.2% French, and 1% Russian. Other languages spoken at home by at least 1000 people include Malayalam, Korean, Chinese, German, and Polish.

Racial demographics of Rockland according to 2016 U.S. Census Bureau data:[11]
Rockland County Demographics
Race Percentage
White (Whites of non-Hispanic origin: 63.0%)
Hispanics and Latinos (of any race)
American Indian and Alaska Native persons
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander persons

In 2000, there were 92,675 households out of which 38% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63% were married couples living together, 10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23% were non-families. 19% of all households were made up of individuals and 8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3 and the average family size was 3.5.

In the county, the population was spread out with 28% under the age of 18, 8% from 18 to 24, 28% from 25 to 44, 24.30% from 45 to 64, and 12% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 women there were 95 men. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there were 91 men.

The median income for a household in the county was $68,000 and the median income for a family was $80,000. Males had a median income of $58,000 versus $39,000 for females. The per capita income for the county was $28,000. The mean, or average, income for a family in Rockland County is $73,500 according to the 2004 census. About 6% of families and 10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14% of those under age 18 and 8% of those age 65 or over.


Blue ribbon School Logo
Cherry Lane Elementary School

The county is home to several Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award winners, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.

  • In 2000–2001, Liberty Elementary School in Valley Cottage (semi-finalists in 2004)
  • In 2007, Strawtown Elementary School in West Nyack
  • In 2008 & 2014, Franklin Avenue Elementary School in Pearl River
  • In 2009, George W. Miller Elementary School in Nanuet
  • In 2011, Pearl River Middle School in Pearl River
  • In 2013, Cherry Lane Elementary School in Suffern
  • In 2016, Nanuet Senior High School In Nanuet

Colleges and universities[edit]

The county is home to several colleges and universities, including Nyack College, St. Thomas Aquinas College, Rockland Community College (SUNY), Long Island University, Dominican College, Columbia University's Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, and others.

High schools[edit]

School districts[edit]


The Tappan Zee Bridge crosses the Hudson River between Rockland County and Westchester County

The Tappan Zee Bridge connects South Nyack in Rockland County and Tarrytown in Westchester County across the Hudson River in the Lower Hudson Valley of New York State. Federal and state authorities are currently planning a $4 billion Tappan Zee replacement bridge.[14] President Barack Obama visited Tarrytown in May 2014 to promote the construction of the Tappan Zee replacement bridge, as well as other infrastructure projects ongoing in the United States.

Major highways[edit]

The county is served by several major highways, including Interstate 87/287 (the New York Thruway), opening from Suffern to Yonkers in 1955. The Tappan Zee Bridge also opened the same year, finally connecting Rockland and Westchester, allowing the population in Rockland to grow rapidly over the next several decades. The Palisades Interstate Parkway, built by master planner Robert Moses between 1947 and 1958, connects the county directly to the George Washington Bridge due south. Another vital artery, the Garden State Parkway, opened in 1955, connecting New Jersey to I-87/287.

For further information


Transport of Rockland Hybrid Electric Bus

The Transport of Rockland operates several local bus routes throughout the county, as well as an express bus route to Tarrytown and White Plains in Westchester County. TOR provides connections to other neighborhood bus operations – Minitrans[15] and connections to commuter lines, Rockland Coaches and Short Line providing service to northern New Jersey and New York City.

Transportation map


NJ Transit/Metro-North Railroad operates the Port Jervis Line, which stops at the Suffern Railroad Station and Sloatsburg Station, and the Pascack Valley Line, whose stops include Pearl River, Nanuet, and Spring Valley. in their respective hamlets and village of the same name. Connections on this line are available at Secaucus for service to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan and service to the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The southern terminus of both lines is Hoboken Terminal in New Jersey, where connections can be made to several NJ Transit bus lines, ferries, and PATH trains to New York City.


NY Waterway operates a ferry service between Haverstraw and Ossining in Westchester County for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Commuters are able to take the Transport of Rockland's Ferry Express route to the Haverstraw ferry terminal for service to Metro-North's Hudson Line service to Grand Central Terminal. Ferry service is typically suspended in the colder months when the Hudson River freezes over, and commuters must take shuttle buses across the Tappan Zee Bridge.


Nearby airports include:

Law, government and politics[edit]

United States House of Representatives[edit]

All of Rockland County falls within the 17th Congressional District, along with central and western Westchester County and is represented by Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey.

New York State politicians[edit]

The county of Rockland is represented in the New York State Senate by David Carlucci (D) of the 38th district and William Larkin (R) of the 39th district.[16][17]

Rockland County Assemblymen & Women
NYS Assembly
Kenneth Zebrowski, Jr.
96th District
Ellen C. Jaffee
97th District

County politicians[edit]

The head of Rockland County is the county executive, Ed Day, a Republican first elected in 2013, and was re-elected to a second term in 2017. The previous county executive was Republican C. Scott Vanderhoef, who was re-elected in 2009 to his fifth four-year term. Day is the third county executive in Rockland history, with Vanderhoef having defeated the incumbent, John T. Grant (D), in 1993. Prior to 1985, Rockland County did not have a county executive. County Executive Day was sworn in for his second term on January 1, 2018.

The county is divided into 17 single-member Elected Officials. There are 10 Democrats and 7 Republicans. The Chairman of the Legislature is Toney L. Earl. The other legislators are - as of the November 2016 elections:

Legislative District Maps

Rockland County District Legislatures
District Legislator Party Area Represented
Douglas J. Jobson Republican Stony Point
Michael M. Grant Democrat West Haverstraw
Jay Hood Jr. Democrat Haverstraw
Ilan S. Schoenberger Democrat Wesley Hills
Lon M. Hofstein Minority Leader Republican New City
Alden H. Wolfe Deputy Majority Leader Democrat Suffern
Philip Soskin Democrat Monsey
Toney L. Earl Chairman Democrat Hillcrest
Christopher J. Carey Republican Bardonia
Harriet D. Cornell Democrat West Nyack
Laurie A. Santulli Republican Congers
Charles J. Falciglia Republican Airmont
Aron B. Wieder Democrat Monsey
Aney Paul Majority Leader Democrat Nanuet
Patrick J. Moroney Republican Pearl River
Vince D. Tyer Deputy Minority Leader Republican Pearl River
Nancy Low-Hogan, Ph.D. Vice Chairwoman Democrat South Nyack

Town governments[edit]

The five towns of Rockland County are led by Town Supervisors and Town Boards. The villages encompassed in the towns are led by Mayors and Village Trustees.
As of the November 2017 elections, the town supervisors are:

Rockland County Town Supervisors
George A. Hoehmann
Howard T. Phillips, Jr.
Christopher Day
Michael Specht
Stony Point
Jim Monaghan

County courts[edit]

There are three types of general trial courts in Rockland County: the New York Supreme Court, the County Court and the Justice Courts. The Supreme Court is the trial level court of the New York State Unified Court System, which presents some confusion as the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeals in the federal system as well as in most states (the Court of Appeals is the highest court in New York State). The Supreme Court has broad authority over all categories of cases, both civil and criminal. Generally the Supreme Court in Rockland County hears civil cases involving claims in excess of $25,000. While the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over criminal cases in most counties this is handled by the County Courts. In Rockland however, the Supreme Court does exercise jurisdiction over some criminal cases.

The County Court is inferior to the Supreme Court and is authorized to hear all criminal cases that have occurred in the county as well as limited jurisdiction over civil cases. The County Court handles felony cases exclusively and shares jurisdiction with the town and village justice courts on misdemeanor cases and other minor offenses and violations. The County Court's jurisdiction on civil cases is limited to those involving less than $25,000.

Each of the towns and fifteen of the villages have Justice Courts. These courts mostly hear routine traffic ticket cases, especially from the New York State Thruway and the Palisades Interstate Parkway. They also handle drunk driving charges, lower-level criminal misdemeanor matters, and they will occasionally perform arraignment on felonies (most felony proceedings are heard in County Court). These courts generally handle the highest volume of cases, which, considering the population density and highways in the county, is not surprising.

National politics[edit]

Presidential elections results[18]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 45.1% 60,911 51.3% 69,342 3.6% 4,834
2012 46.1% 57,428 52.8% 65,793 1.1% 1,424
2008 46.7% 61,752 52.6% 69,543 0.7% 898
2004 49.6% 65,130 48.9% 64,191 1.5% 1,910
2000 39.5% 48,441 56.7% 69,530 3.8% 4,619
1996 36.0% 40,395 56.2% 63,127 7.8% 8,719
1992 40.7% 49,608 46.6% 56,759 12.7% 15,464
1988 56.8% 63,825 42.4% 47,634 0.8% 842
1984 60.9% 70,020 38.9% 44,687 0.3% 311
1980 56.3% 59,068 33.6% 35,277 10.1% 10,648
1976 51.3% 52,087 47.9% 48,673 0.8% 780
1972 64.3% 64,753 35.5% 35,771 0.2% 196
1968 49.1% 40,880 44.4% 36,948 6.6% 5,479
1964 36.2% 26,187 63.7% 46,173 0.1% 82
1960 54.8% 33,107 45.0% 27,178 0.2% 113
1956 71.0% 34,049 29.0% 13,881 0.0% 0
1952 64.4% 27,657 35.1% 15,084 0.5% 212
1948 57.8% 20,661 36.6% 13,066 5.6% 2,001
1944 59.0% 19,471 40.7% 13,437 0.3% 91
1940 56.8% 20,040 42.2% 14,897 1.0% 362
1936 48.6% 15,583 49.5% 15,876 2.0% 631
1932 49.9% 13,963 47.7% 13,347 2.4% 672
1928 60.3% 15,732 37.5% 9,769 2.2% 571
1924 60.9% 11,915 28.8% 5,640 10.3% 2,004
1920 66.1% 11,169 29.9% 5,057 4.0% 671
1916 52.2% 5,041 46.3% 4,469 1.5% 149
1912 24.6% 2,221 46.9% 4,241 28.6% 2,586
1908 52.6% 4,857 42.7% 3,937 4.7% 433
1904 49.0% 4,283 48.6% 4,246 2.4% 213
1900 50.2% 4,187 48.2% 4,021 1.7% 139
1896 57.0% 4,336 39.4% 3,002 3.6% 276
1892 41.0% 2,909 53.4% 3,789 5.6% 395
1888 41.8% 3,013 54.7% 3,939 3.5% 251
1884 40.3% 2,593 57.4% 3,697 2.3% 151

Like most of the Hudson Valley, Rockland County historically voted Republican. Between 1892 and 1992, Rockland County only voted Democratic three times–Lyndon B. Johnson's landslide victory of 1964, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's landslide victory in 1936 (in which it was the only New York City suburb to vote Democratic), and Woodrow Wilson's first campaign in 1912. Rockland shifted Democratic in 1992, and has since only voted Republican once, in 2004 for George W. Bush; however, Bush only won that contest by less than 1,000 votes. Despite this shift, national elections have remained close in Rockland County as compared to neighboring Westchester County, which has witnessed dependable double-digit Democratic victories since the 1990s.


Provident Bank Park, home of Rockland Boulders



According to, which integrates data from different sources including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2002, Rockland County ranked among the worst 10% in the United States in terms of air releases.[19] Recent EPA statistics show that a total of 66 facilities active today in Rockland County are currently regulated.[20] In Scorecard's list of Top 10 polluters from 2002, the Lovett generating station, located in Tompkins Cove, is the top polluter, releasing 1,523,339 pounds of toxic emissions into the air.[21] Two studies, one in 2000 and the other in 2004, were issued by the Clean Air Task Force to study the impacts of power plant emissions in the United States. Data specific for Rockland county shows that a total of $2,150,800 was paid in compensation for numerous illnesses caused by power plant pollution, including asthma attacks, heart attacks and death.[22] Prior to 2014 the Lovett generating station was closed and dismantled. It no longer exists.

Solar field[edit]

Clarkstown is building a first-of-its-kind in New York State, a 2.3-megawatt solar system consisting of about 4,300 panels on top of a closed, highly regulated, flat shadeless 13-acre section of the former garbage landfill in West Nyack which will generate 3 million kilowatt-hours – enough power to supply about 200 homes, that will cover about one-third of the electric needs of the Town of Clarkstown government. The Clarkstown solar field project is at the maximum size that is currently allowed by New York State. Of the 1,200 installations in Orange and Rockland system, 450, or 32 percent, are in Rockland County and will save taxpayers as much as $4 million over 30 years by reducing the amount of the town’s annual electric bill – which is about $2 million and produce 10 percent of all the electricity that O&R gets through solar power. This project was scheduled to be on line by the fall of 2014.[23]


County map, with town and village boundaries

Paul W. Adler, the chairperson of the Rockland County's Jewish Community Relations Council, said in a 1997 New York Times article that "There are two reasons villages get formed in Rockland. One is to keep the Hasidim out and the other is to keep the Hasidim in."[24]

There are five towns in Rockland County. The most populous is Ramapo, with 126,595 people, while the least populous is Stony Point, with 15,059 people, according to the 2010 US Census.

In 2015, ValuePenguin ranked the Towns of Clarkstown(119), Haverstraw(102), Orangetown(72), Ramapo(55) and Stony Point(52) as the Safest Places in New York with population of over 5,000 and other criteria. The villages of Spring Valley (169) and Suffern (42) also made the list. Ramapo ranked 7th place among big cities - population of over 20 thousand.[25]

There are nineteen incorporated villages in Rockland County, twelve of which are located at least partially in the town of Ramapo, and none of which are in Stony Point. There are seventeen Census-designated places and seven Hamlets within the five towns of Rockland County.

Towns (5)[edit]

Washington Avenue Soldier's Monument located in Downtown Suffern, New York, in the Town of Ramapo.

Villages (19)[edit]

Census-designated places (17)[edit]

Hamlets (7)[edit]

Defunct communities (10)[edit]

Points of interest[edit]

Educational and cultural[edit]

Commercial and entertainment[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "QuickFacts Rockland County, New York". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. ^ Best Places to Start a Business in New York
  4. ^ a b "County of Rockland, New York :: Home". Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  5. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on May 19, 2014. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  8. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  11. ^ "Rockland County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Retrieved 2018-02-17.
  12. ^ 2015 Academic Indicators
  13. ^ Outdoor Education Center
  14. ^ Khurram Saeed and Theresa Juva-Brown (2012-12-17). "It's official: State picks builder for new Tappan Zee Bridge". Copyright © 2012 All rights reserved. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
  15. ^ "Minitrans". Archived from the original on May 15, 2016. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  16. ^> 38th District
  17. ^> 39th District
  18. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  19. ^ "Rockland County's general pollution report card". 2003-10-28. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  20. ^ "Envirofacts Rockland county data sheet". 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  21. ^ "Scorecard's Top ten polluters". Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  22. ^ "Clean Air Task Force interactive map". January 1, 1979. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  23. ^ "Clarkstown Turns Old Landfill Into Solar Energy Field". 2014-07-08.
  24. ^ Berger, Joseph. "Growing Pains for a Rural Hasidic Enclave." The New York Times. January 13, 1997.
  25. ^ New Report Ranks Safest Places in New York

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°09′N 74°02′W / 41.15°N 74.03°W / 41.15; -74.03