Small-town feel encourages meandering
A stroll along the Bronx River, a taste of light frozen yogurt, and a cup of coffee and conversation are among the small-town pleasures anyone can find in Eastchester and its villages.
And those who live there are treated to a rare opportunity; they enjoy the five swimming pools and the 18-hole golf course of a former private country club. The 116 acres, now called Lake Isle Park, was purchased by the town in 1980.
Boxed by the cities of Yonkers, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, with Scarsdale to the north, Eastchester is a crossroads.
Its center sometimes is seen as the intersection of Route 22 and Mill Road, a junction much more suited to car traffic than to walking and shopping.
But the town has taken steps to evoke a more old-fashioned feel to its street, and it has its share of pleasures for those who stop. There are culinary specialties, such as the fresh fish at the Eastchester Fish Gourmet Clam Bar & Restaurant, and the hamburgers at the Piper's Kilt, both on Route 22, or White Plains Road.
Sweet Tooth on Garth Road — a short but walkable street that crosses into Scarsdale — has a following for its light frozen yogurt.
It's easier to meander around the town's villages, Bronxville and Tuckahoe.
Bronxville's Pondfield Road features both an independent bookstore, Womrath Book Shop, and an independent coffee house, Slave to the Grind, which always is buzzing with conversation on weekend nights.
A three-screen movie theater around the block, facing the train station, blends blockbusters with independent and foreign films.
Tuckahoe has two business areas for walking, one each near the Tuckahoe and Crestwood train stations.
From those areas, it is easy to find entrances to the paths along the Bronx River.
Lord & Taylor has long stood as an anchor of a major shopping center along Route 22.
A Borders Books & Music and Cafe now ties up the south end of that center and offers a unique amenity — a sunken outdoor area lined with stone and bricks where book lovers who buy the coffee and chai tea latte at the store's coffee bar can pass a pleasant afternoon, secluded (for the most part) from the parking lot above.
Among the widely varying places to live is Bronxville's historic Lawrence Park section, developed in the 1890s with brick sidewalks and winding streets.
Marble quarried in Tuckahoe in the early 19th century brought fame to the community. The coveted stone was used on the walls of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, the General Post Office in Washington and other buildings.
Eastchester's claim to historical fame comes from its role in the creation of the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press.
The boast stems from the trial of John Peter Zenger, who wrote about election irregularities at St. Paul's Church, angering then-Gov. William Cosby and members of his administration.
Zenger was arrested and jailed in 1734 and tried for seditious libel.
He was vindicated, helping establish freedom of the press from government censorship.
The church, a National Historic Site, is in a former section of the town that now is part of Mount Vernon.
Still, a mural of the trial adorns the wall outside the Town Council's meeting room in Town Hall.

By KEN VALENTI
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: October 30, 2005)
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