Location within the U.S. state of New York
New York's location within the U.S.
|Largest CDP||New City|
|• Total||199.34 sq mi (516.3 km2)|
|• Land||173.55 sq mi (449.5 km2)|
|• Water||25.79 sq mi (66.8 km2) 13%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||1,895/sq mi (732/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
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 United States Census, was 311,687, increasing by 5.5% to a 2017 Census estimate of 328,868, 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. 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 nearly a third of the county's area 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.
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. 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.
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.
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 terms of a 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 when Harriman's widow donated his lands to the state, and by 1914 it was estimated that more than a million people a year were coming to the park. After World War I, Rockland county became the most important sausage making hub in the state of New York.
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.
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. Its east border is formed by the Tappan Zee portion of the Hudson River. The county's terrain ranges from 1,283' (391m) ASL on Rockhouse Mountain (northwest of Lake Welch) to approaching sea level along the Hudson River. According to the US Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 199.34 sqmi (516 km²), of which 173.55 sqmi (449.49 km²) is land and 25.79 sqmi (66.80 km²) (13%) is water. It is the state's smallest county outside the five boroughs of New York City.
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. The county hosts numerous public and private golf courses, with the towns of Orangetown, Ramapo, Stony Point, and Haverstraw all operating public golf courses within their towns. The Palisades Interstate Park Commission operates two golf courses in Rockland Lake State 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).
|US Decennial Census|
1990-2000 2010, 2017
As of the 2000 United States Census. there were 286,753 people, 92,675 households, and 70,989 families in the county. The population density was 1,652/sqmi (638/km²). There were 94,973 housing units at an average density of 547/sqmi (211/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.
|Rockland County Demographics|
|Racial demographics of Rockland according to 2016 US Census Bureau data:|
|White (Whites of non-Hispanic origin: 63.0%)||77.5%|
|Hispanics and Latinos (of any race)||17.6%|
|American Indian and Alaska Native persons||0.5%|
|Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander persons||0.1%|
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 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.
The county population contained 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.
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, and Columbia University's Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory.
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. The old bridge was replaced with a new span in 2017.
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 opened the same year, connecting Rockland and Westchester, allowing Rockland County's population to grow rapidly. The Palisades Interstate Parkway, a project of master planner Robert Moses and built between 1947 and 1958, connects the county directly to the George Washington Bridge due south. The Garden State Parkway opened in 1955, connecting New Jersey to I-87/287.
For further information
The Transport of Rockland operates several local bus routes throughout the county, as well as the express bus Hudson Link routes to city centers and train stations in Tarrytown and White Plains in Westchester County. TOR provides connections to other neighborhood bus operations – Minitrans and connections to private commuter lines, Rockland Coaches and Short Line providing service to northern New Jersey and New York City.
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 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:
|Rockland County Assemblymen & Women|
|Kenneth Zebrowski, Jr.|
|Ellen C. Jaffee|
Rockland County government is led by County Executive. Republican Ed Day was first elected in 2013 and re-elected 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.
|Rockland County District Legislatures|
|Douglas J. Jobson||Republican||Stony Point|
|Michael M. Grant||Democrat||West Haverstraw|
|Jay Hood Jr.||Democrat||Haverstraw|
|Itamar Yeger||Democrat||Wesley Hills|
|Lon M. Hofstein Minority Leader||Republican||New City|
|Alden H. Wolfe Deputy Majority Leader||Democrat||Suffern|
|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|
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|
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 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, which 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 occasionally perform arraignment on felonies (most felony proceedings are heard in County Court). These courts generally handle the highest volume of cases.
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.
According to Scorecard.org, 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. Recent EPA statistics show that a total of 66 presently active Rockland County facilities are currently regulated. In Scorecard's list of Top 10 polluters from 2002, the Lovett generating station in Tompkins Cove is the top polluter, releasing 1,523,339 pounds of toxic emissions. Studies were released in 2000 and in 2004 by the Clean Air Task Force to study the impacts of power plant emissions in the United States. This data 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. Prior to 2014 the Lovett generating station was closed and dismantled.
In 2014, Clarkstown created a first-of-its-kind in New York State 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. The unit is sized to generate 3 million kilowatt-hours annually – enough power to supply about 200 homes, that provides 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. The installation was projected to 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. The project was installed in summer 2014, coming online in October.
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."
In 2015, ValuePenguin ranked the towns of Suffern (42), Stony Point (52), Ramapo (55), Orangetown (72), Haverstraw (102), Clarkstown (119), and Spring Valley (169), as the Safest Places in New York with population of over 5,000 and other criteria. Ramapo also ranked 7th among cities with population >20,000 persons.
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.