Living in Port Chester: Things to Do and See in Port Chester, Westchester County, New York

Port Chester, Westchester County, New York—Gateway to New England

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Where Is Port Chester?

Part of the historic town of Rye in Westchester County, New York, Port Chester is a 2.4-square-mile suburban village bordered by Rye Brook, the city of Rye, and Greenwich, Connecticut. Midtown Manhattan is just 45 minutes car journey via Interstate 95 and 287, or 50 minutes by Metro North Railroad train from Port Chester station into Grand Central Terminal. Westchester County Airport is 15 minutes’ drive. Port Chester’s nine neighborhoods include Downtown, The Bowery (South Main Street/Grace Church Street from the square to Midland Avenue), Edgeland, Purdy's Grove, Brooksville, Tower Hill, Colonial Ridge, Alden Estate, and Washington Park.

What is the History of Port Chester?

The first English settlers arrived in what is now Port Chester from Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1660 and settled on Manursing Island. The area was later dubbed “Saw Pit” due to the saw pit that was built on the banks of the Byram River. Along with shipbuilding, the area was known for farming and trading. In 1837, the town was officially renamed Port Chester (after the town of Chester, England, the birthplace of many early settlers) and incorporated as a village in 1868. Back then, it took a day to travel to New York City. That all changed in 1879, with the launch of the Port Chester Transportation Company. A steamboat service ferried passengers between New York City and Port Chester three times a week. A trolley line and then a bus line cut the journey time even further, establishing Port Chester as a commuter town. In the mid-19th century major railroads brought decline to agriculture and shipbuilding in Port Chester Harbor. The village began to transform from a port and trade hub to a center for manufacturing. By the mid-20th century, Port Chester was a major industrial town.

The Capitol Theatre vaudeville playhouse arrived in 1926, putting Port Chester on the map. It was designed by Thomas Lamb, the architect of the original Madison Square Garden. In the late Sixties, “The Cap” was reimagined as a psychedelic performance space, featuring rock and roll legends such as Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, and the Grateful Dead. After falling into decline in the 1980s, The Capitol Theatre reopened in 2012 as Westchester’s premier rock music venue. The village’s other claims to fame are the Port Chester High School Marching Band, which made appearances in the movies Spider-Man 3 and Miracle on 34th Street; and past residents, such as American television personality Ed Sullivan; playwright, screenwriter, and librettist Terrence McNally; professional baseball player Colin Moran; and jazz guitarist John Abercrombie.

What to Do and See in Port Chester?

The Thomas Lamb-designed Capitol Theatre is the cultural heart of downtown. Another building listed on the National Register of Historic Places is Port Chester Post Office. Constructed in 1933, its lobby is adorned four large murals and nine smaller lunettes designed by artist Domenico Mortellito. The Clay Art Center, a nationally recognized non-profit center for the advancement and practice of the ceramic arts, offers studio exhibition space and educational opportunities for children and adults.

Family entertainment is second to none: There are six parks in Port Chester (Abendroth Park, Columbus Park, Edgewood Park, Lyon Park, Veterans Memorial Park, and Joseph Curtis Recreation Park). Port Chester Yacht Club is situated on 2.4 acres with 220 feet of waterfront on Byram River and Port Chester Harbor. The Waterfront at Port Chester mall has a multiplex cinema, national retail chains, restaurants, and cafés. There’s also an amphitheater and public plazas at Liberty Square and along the waterfront. The town is close to Long Island Sound beaches and several state parks. Another draw is Playland Amusement Park—a national historic landmark which boasts the oldest rollercoaster on East Coast, “The Dragon," as well as miniature golf, arcades, shooting galleries, boat rentals, and an ice rink.

Where to Eat in Port Chester

Dubbed “the Brooklyn of Westchester,” Port Chester is a foodie’s paradise with an eclectic mix of world cuisine. Argana Restaurant & Bar is a traditional Moroccan restaurant offering couscous and tajine, craft cocktails, and an authentic hookah experience. The family-owned and operated Panka Bistro serves up Peruvian dishes passed down from generation to generation. Saltaire Oyster Bar & Fish House offers seasonal fish dishes and a raw bar in a relaxed dining room and oyster lounge. Sonora Restaurant offers elevated Latin cuisine by celebrity chef Rafael Palomino.

What Schools Are in Port Chester, New York?

Port Chester is served by the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District. The village has six grade schools (Port Chester High School, Port Chester Middle School, John F. Kennedy Elementary, King Street Elementary, Thomas Edison Elementary, and Park Avenue Elementary) and a pre-kindergarten. There are several private schools in the area: Rye High School, one of the nation’s top-ranked schools; Rye Country Day School, a co-educational prep school for pre-K to 12th grade students; and School of the Holy Child, an all-girls Catholic school for grades 5 to 12.

How Many People Live in Port Chester?

The population of Port Chester is approximately 28,967.

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