Written by Debbie Ali
It was a warm mid-summer day when we pulled up to our house, and saw luscious green grass, a beautiful Japanese maple tree, and an enchanting craftsman bungalow with a wrap around porch. This was it. This was our new home. It’s so. . .
Don’t move. There are deer on the sidewalk.
My family and I moved from New York City to Haverstraw, NY in 2015, and it was definitely a change, but not in the way I was expecting.
I’ve lived in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but spent most of my years in the largest borough, Queens.
I admit I used to think anything over the Tappan Zee Bridge was “upstate,” but after attending St. Lawrence University in the North Country (Northern NY), which is less than 20 miles away from the Canadian border, I quickly realized that Rockland County is a hop and skip away from the city.
We been in Rockland County for over a year now, and I absolutely love it. The drive in itself is an adventure, from the windy roads through the mountains, to passing a giant quarry, and ending with a glorious view of the Hudson River; definitely different from the jumble of colorful bumper stickers and flashing lights you see during rush hour traffic on the L.I.E or the Cross Bronx Expressway.
Moving to a new place is never easy. You’re leaving behind a familiar environment, along with your own personal landmarks, the ones that make an area seem familiar, and a home feel like home.. Places like the deli you buy fresh bagels from on Sunday mornings, the halal cart down the block where you order combo over rice, the side streets you take to catch the bus if you’re running late, suddenly vanish when you move to a new place. It can leave you feeling paralyzed, especially as a teen or young adult living not yet living on your own.
So, I thought of some things that I could do to in the months before the move to prep myself. When I was away at school, I discovered that one of the best ways to get involved with anything, whether it’s finding a job, meeting up with a friend, or joining a club is to just send them an e-mail. And that’s exactly what I did.
I wanted to do something ‘arsty,’ so I googled around, and found Haverstraw RiverArts, an arts and culture organization within the town. I met with Magda, the coolest cat in town, a few times, and got to help out with the Community Tile Project during the 3rd Annual RiverArts Festival. It was PHENOMENAL.
There have been so many happenings in Rockland County, such as the opening of the Industrial Arts Brewery, Flavors of Haverstraw Food Crawl, and now the up-coming Holidays in Haverstraw! From adventures with RiverArts and Magda, to exploring the area on my own, I’ve started to discover new personal landmarks.
Dutchtown is one of my favorite landmarks; I drive through the area when I’m feeling the need for a creative spark. It feels as if you’re walking into a scene from a Studio Ghibli movie, and no matter what time of day there always seems to be freshly fallen dew drops on the leaves and a feeling of magic floating in the air. The Haverstraw-Ossining ferry is another landmark of mine. A quick yet scenic ride over the Hudson River takes you to the Metro North train to Manhattan.
When driving home, my dad always mentions, “Did you know this is where the widest point on the Hudson is?” Well it is! The river is actually about 3.5 miles wide in Haverstraw. Who knew right? There is so much more to this town than meets the eye.
From Haverstraw once known as the brick making capital of the world, to being Benedict Arnold’s infamous rendezvous spot with the British Major John André, there is so much untapped history in this town that deserved to be better recognized.
One of the toughest yet must fulfilling things we have experienced as a family was changing our pace of life. New York City is fast-paced and a place of convenience. There were a lot of things that we missed like the stores and the subways.
However, we soon realized by moving to Haverstraw, we ended up getting the best of both worlds. We moved to a place where we can still commute to the city for whatever we need maintaining quite an urban vibe Downtown, but also return home to a peaceful mountainscape and mesmerizing sunset reflected on the river.
And don’t forget about the deer walking on the sidewalks.