BRONXVILLE | WESTCHESTER SNAPSHOTS
Our latest snapshot takes us to the village of Bronxville, located just 15 miles north of Manhattan and part of the town of Eastchester..
Welcome back to Westchester Snapshots, a series dedicated to the county of Westchester, NY. A collaboration with The Westchester Living Team at Compass, here you can find an in depth look into the villages and towns that make up Westchester County, right outside of New York City.
In thinking about how I would best research the village of Bronxville, without a doubt I knew just who I would go to: my old friend Laura, from my hometown in CT, who used to live in Bronxville before her family moved to CT in 3rd grade. Like so many Bronxville residents who spent their childhood – or part of their childhood there – Laura moved back to the village to raise her own family there.
That is a very common thing, I am told by Laura, for people to move back to Bronxville after spending their initial years of adulthood in the big city or further afar. Once the kids come along, they want to head back to this idyllic village and be able to offer their kids all the amazing experiences and joys of childhood they were able to have as children themselves.
What makes Bronxville so idyllic? First of all, just as it is with Larchmont, Mamaroneck and Pelham, it’s a speedy train commute to the city. At 27 minutes, you can’t get faster than that. One of the main reasons people move to Bronxville is for its proximity to New York. But there is so much more to the village than its enviable location – there is its people, its excellent school system, its well laid-out downtown, its beautiful architecture, its small town, yet sophisticated vibe, its overall feeling that everyone is looking out for you and your kids. There is a comfort factor to Bronxville that makes families want to move there and be a part of a solid community in which kids will grow up knowing their neighbors, their shop vendors, their local deli.
Laura describes this comfort factor in regards to her own life in Bronxville. She lives on a cul-de-sac (of which there are many), where her three young kids play with the neighbors’ kids on any given day. Houses are near each other, but not on top of each other, making privacy a thing to be had, but at the same time an environment in which kids can just walk out the door and find instant play dates. They band together, bikes in tow, and trek around from backyard to backyard, play set to play set, kitchens to kitchens. Laura says she always has extra food on the table because someone will always inevitably show up for dinner, perhaps a little muddy, but hungry nonetheless.
And even when there’s not extra food on the table, or the opposite – neighbors will come together. Laura tells the classic story of how one Thanksgiving she needed an extra oven to cook the turkey and needed more gravy (in fact, I think she didn’t have any gravy at all!), so she asked one neighbor to use one of their ovens and the other neighbor for some gravy. Both neighbors welcomed her with open arms and so she and her brother, who was in town visiting, set out to take care of business. They went to pick up the extra gravy, and got so enwrapped in the neighbors’ Thanksgiving festivities, hanging out with their relatives over drinks, they didn’t return to her house for another hour! Thank god for grandparents! It is stories like these, she says, in which Bronxville really does feel like a village, where everyone is looking out for each other, and where everyone comes together.
As for the actual town part of Bronxville, it echoes this sense of community in its well laid-out downtown, complete with village hall, school, library, fire station, movie theatre, churches, even its own Lawrence Hospital (recently merged with New York-Presbyterian), shops and restaurants, and homes just a stone’s throw away. Bronxville is just 1 square mile, but it packs a lot into that mile, making it easy to walk from place to place. And it’s beautiful. I will say of all the towns in Westchester, Bronxville is one of the most visually appealing. There are a variety of styles of architecture, including Colonial, Tudor, French Normandy and more, and all well preserved. Bronxville is known for its architecture, and it’s easy to see why – the houses, the apartment buildings, the Bronxville School, the town buildings – all of it is historical and beautiful in what can only be a charming New England kind of way.
Pondfield Road is the main road in Bronxville and takes you through Village Hall, the Bronxville Public Library, the Bronxville High School (important to note it is the front of all three schools, as all three schools are connected), and into town. There are a couple sections to town, but Pondfield is essentially its main street, with lots of shops, restaurants, hair salons and bakeries. I think the thing that has always struck me about Bronxville (I have both friends and relatives who live there) is its small-town, yet sophisticated feel. Bronxville may be a small village in some respects, but it offers a lot.
If you’re entertaining, you have excellent cheeses to choose from at Dobbs and Bishop cheese shop, catering from Scarborough Fair, and dessert from Tops Bakery. For a girls day, head to the excellent Continental hair salon, and do some shopping at stores like Silkroad, Mano e Mano, Blue Mercury and Silverspoon for that precious kids’ christening or birthday gift. Womrath Bookshop is a fabulous bookstore, with a homey, main street kind of feel. And when you’re hungry from all the shopping, Scalini Osteria, Underhills Crossing or Sammy’s Downtown are all good options for lunch.
Downtown Bronxville is sprinkled with restaurants and eateries, some fast and casual, and some more upscale like the ones mentioned above. Lange’s Deli is an institution and is never without a line; this is where all the elementary kids like to come, as once you’re in 6th grade you can walk into town during lunch. Pete’s Tavern is another popular spot for younger kids – every Tuesday night kids eat free which is a great perk. There is Wild Ginger for Asian fare, Coals pizza, Chantilly patisserie, Bistro 143, Park Place Bagels, and for amazing take-out, try Ladle of Love. Looking for a drinks night out locale? Head to Kraft Bistro or Ernie’s Wine Bar + EATS. Also, there are fun and trendy restaurants in nearby Eastchester and Tuckahoe as well, something residents like to stress – the three towns are so close to one another that the other two have become a great resource for Bronxville.
As for where the kids of Bronxville like to hang out (besides Lange’s), you can always find them at Candy Rox and Starbucks. So funny how Starbucks has become a kids’ hang-out – it’s the same thing in my hometown! For younger children there are a few playgrounds in town, including right at the Bronxville School in town, and the Sagamore playground. One of the great features of Bronxville is its interconnected schools, and location right in the heart of town. It has amazing (and recently renovated) playing fields and at all hours of the day you can see kids of all ages out there practicing sports, running around the track, playing on the swings.
In terms of kids’ organized activities, Laura says that one of the wonderful things about Bronxville is that it is home to two colleges, Sarah Lawrence and Concordia. In addition to being colleges, they offer a wide range of programming for both adults and kids, including music classes, tennis (Concordia is known for its tennis), sports and arts programs. Bronxville Ballet is right in town, and of course there are all the rec and travel sports teams, some of them taking place right at the Bronxville School. For some activities, however, Bronxville residents head to the towns of Eastchester and Tuckahoe, nearby and accessible.
Bronxville is home to public tennis courts as well as paddle courts, and the very trendy SoulCycle. Yes, Bronxville has SoulCycle! And then of course there is Pure Barre, just as popular. There are also two private clubs in town – the Bronxville Field Club (tennis and pool) and the Siwanoy Country Club (golf, tennis and pool). So within the 1 square mile that is Bronxville, between all the activities and the dining and shopping, there is quite a lot going on in this small village.
Bronxville is happening, but it is also tight-knit, as evidenced in its annual festivities. The Memorial Day Parade is a huge affair, where the whole village comes together to celebrate. There are food trucks, bouncy castles, pie contests, a dog show, you name it they probably have it. It’s very nostalgic 50’s feeling, and a big part of Bronxville life. There is the popular Halloween parade, starting at the school and continuing through town, with all the vendors handing out candy. And then come Christmastime the Reformed Church of Bronxville opens its doors to all with caroling and a real life nativity scene.
The draw of Bronxville is that there is a strong sense of communal life to the village, yet with a sophisticated vibe. It’s like having a small village and a slice of city life all in one. And with an excellent school system, it is no wonder people love living in this town just 15 miles outside of New York City.