Our latest Westchester Snapshots series is all about what it is like living in Pelham, NY. This article is part of a collaborative series with Westchester Living. Additional articles include Life in Larchmont and Mamaroneck Living.
Living in Pelham, NY
Pelham, NY lies just outside of New York City in the most southern part of Westchester County, and happens to be the oldest town in the county. It is also the smallest town, at only 2 ½ square miles. With a small town ease and close proximity to the city, it is no wonder many New Yorkers move to this suburb to settle down and start a family – it feels, in many ways, just like another neighborhood in New York.
Pelham is made up of two sections, Pelham Village and Pelham Manor. The village is where the downtown is so to speak, with restaurants, shops, and one of Pelham’s most important attributes – its central train station, smack in the middle of the town. Pelham Manor is a bit further south and abuts the Long Island Sound, with the homes generally occupying larger plots of land. There is some debate as to which area is more desirable, but as I read somewhere, a resident said the village has the train station, and the manor has the water. Enough said!
Communal Life in Pelham
In a lot of ways Pelham feels just like an extension of the city, where the train station could in fact be a subway stop. The commute is about half an hour, which is as fast a ride you can hope for coming from the suburbs. And the train station, located front and center in the middle of the village, makes it easy for residents to walk to, coming and going from all directions. Homes surround the downtown, and with the town contained at 2 ½ miles, it truly is a place in which many people can walk from point A to point B, or from home to station.
Being the oldest town in the county, Pelham was founded in the pre-automobile era, with the design of the village based on walkability. Not only can parents walk to the train, but kids can walk to school as well. There are no school buses in this town. Pelham prides itself on this, and the sense of community felt by all. Walking down the main street (Fifth Avenue north of the train station, and Wolfs Lane south of the station), mom and pop shops dot the street – there are not a lot of chains. Some of the storefronts look right out of the 50’s (Wise Hardware, Pelham Bakery, Richards Passport, for example), lending the town that time-has-not-stopped feel that so many other places have lost with the passing of the years.
But, of course, trendier places have popped up, adding some modernity to the town. Jordan Hall, Cantina Lobos, Bangkok City, and J Café are all restaurants with a hip vibe and good food. At Rockwell’s you can grab a burger and watch a comedy show, not something you see every day! The popular Sergio’s is good Italian to head to as well. If you’re in the mood for a more classic Italian ambiance and traditional meal, La Fontanella offers upscale Italian. Not modern, however – this is where to go for that old-school Pelham feel, with white tablecloths and all.
In Pelham Manor, the Four Corners (the intersection of Boston Post Road and Pelhamdale Avenue) is home to 4 Corners pizzeria, a popular pizza joint that a friend of mine originally from Pelham still says is her favorite restaurant today. There is the Bakery at Four Corners as well as Lenny’s bagel shop.
The Arts in Pelham
Pelham can’t be written about without including the venerable Picture House Regional Film Center, formerly known as the Pelham Picture House. The oldest continuously running movie theatre in Westchester, it was set to be taken down in 2001, when a group of people established the Pelham Picture House Preservation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the theater. Today it serves as a movie theater and cultural and educational center, and is a major pillar of community in the town.
The Pelham Art Center is another highly revered arts institution. Established in 1970, it has exhibition galleries as well as classes for both children and adults. There is also the Pelham Children’s Theater, a non-profit communal space where children learn about, and practice theater. Community and the arts is an important component to life in Pelham, and a reason for why it attracts so many families from New York City.
Family and Kids Life in Pelham
The Pelham Public School System is another draw for families. The 4 elementary, middle and high schools are excellent and some of the county’s finest. Pelham is a family-oriented town, and this is no more obvious than it is in its schools. Additional hot spots for kids’ activities, apart from the above, include Kinetic Sports, Spotlight gymnastics, and of course, the Pelham Public Library. Children can also enjoy picturesque parks throughout town, including Woodland Park, near the train station, and Shore Park, on the Long Island Sound. Both have good playgrounds, and at Shore Park you can enjoy scenic views of the water.
Adjacent to Shore Park is the New York Athletic Club, a beautiful piece of property overlooking the sound with a large pool and tennis courts, among other activities. There is also the Pelham Country Club, which includes golf. Both require membership, yet they are great outlets for people wanting to enjoy sports and outdoor activity right in town.
Pelham offers a slice of New York life in its 2 ½ square miles, and a sense of community so deeply tied to the town since it came into being. To many, it feels just like a tight-knit neighborhood out of the big city.