Pondfield Road Bronxville's main street
Pondfield Rd. the main street.


Palmer Ave. circle by the train station
'Going to New York' side of the village train station.


Bronx River Lake a popular walk....
Bronx River Lake a popular walking path.


Though it takes up only one square mile in the city of Eastchester, Bronxville has become one of the country’s premier suburban communities. Incorporated as a village in 1898, this stop on the New York and Harlem line, only fifteen miles from Manhattan, began to draw a steady stream of adventurous homeowners by mid nineteenth century.

All who enjoy the beauty of Bronxville today owe a debt of gratitude to William Van Duzer Lawrence, a Canadian who settled in New York in the late nineteenth century. Semi- retired in his prime, Lawrence arrived with a fortune to spend and a desire to build; his vision took root on an 86-acre parcel of land, a mixture of woods, rock, hills and streams which he purchased from James M Prescott in 1889. Lawrence’s wife Sarah, the namesake of Sarah Lawrence College, and his brother in law, a civil engineer who had worked for the illustrious Fredrick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park, both influenced him in his decision to create a community that would house not only businessmen but also artists, for whom he was known to offer rent subsidies; what became known as Lawrence Park would include not just luxurious mansions but apartments and smaller architecturally designed cottages.

Lawrence chose to replace the grid pattern of New York’s teeming city streets with lovely winding lanes that strung together beautiful and unique homes, all within walking distance of the central village and train. He worked closely with William Bates, a fine architect who left his mark on many of the showplace homes. Other equally talented architects followed. In walking or driving around the village, one cannot help but note the pleasing result of their respect for harmonious scale, quality materials and careful attention to detail.

This wonderfully self–contained and pedestrian-friendly community was built around churches, school, hospital, train station and shops. It is also home to a number of fine restaurants, bookstores, art galleries, a movie theatre, and a coffee house or two, but in many ways it has remained remarkably unchanged for over 100 years. A short half-hour to the heart of New York City, this model suburb, with its open spaces and top-rated schools, is still a magnet to the Manhattan professionals wanting the best of both worlds for their families.

For more information on Bronxville’s history, I recommend BUILDING A SUBURBAN VILLAGE, produced in 1998 to celebrate the village’s centennial. (Available at Womrath’s Bookstore on Pondfield Road, Bronxville’s main commercial avenue. Edited by Eloise L. Morgan and Bob Marshall, with much historical research provided by Mary Means Huber, this stunning hardbound book was a true community effort, with contributions from many local residents.