Gracious living among history, charm & grand homes
The town dates to 1680 when a group of New England Puritans bought 3 square miles of land in present-day Bedford Village from local Indians in return for coats, blankets, cloth and "wampum," according to the town's Web site —
Bedford still has country lanes and dirt roads that wind through the town's three hamlets — Bedford Hills, Bedford Village and Katonah. Bedford Village is located in the eastern part of the town's 39 square miles, and the hamlet is home to the Village Green — a grassy expanse near an old graveyard and rows of historic buildings in the small shopping district.
To the west of Bedford Village is Bedford Hills, the seat of town government.
The Town House also is the site of a museum established to honor the hamlet's history. The first train from New York City stopped in Bedford Hills in 1847, and farmers used the hamlet's depot to ship milk and produce to the city, according to local historian Jaap Ketting. The station now is a departure spot for Manhattan-bound commuters.
Just north of Bedford Hills is Katonah, where there's upscale shopping along Katonah Avenue, and Victorian homes line shaded boulevards running through the middle of the hamlet. Over the past year, a public controversy erupted when trees along Bedford Road were wrapped in multicolored cotton rope as part of a public art project meant to honor the 50th anniversary of the Katonah Art Museum.
Katonah has been in its present location for more than 100 years. The hamlet once was located a half-mile north, but in the late 19th century, homes had to be moved to the present location to make room for the Croton Reservoir, part of the water supply for New York City and Westchester.
Among the town's more notable residents have been actor Chevy Chase and singer Mariah Carey. Martha Stewart bought a 153-acre estate in the Cantitoe Corners neighborhood in 2000.
Town officials in 2005 renewed plans to keep setting aside tax money to preserve open space, and Bedford has been buying parcels that neighbors want protected.
In 2004, the town bought the 33.5-acre Leatherman's Ridge, a wooded tract overlooking downtown Bedford Hills. The property, located off Dwight Lane, is named for the Leatherman, a leather-clad hermit who wandered the area in the 1800s, according to local lore.
In June 2005, the town purchased the 9.4-acre Zema property, a wooded area at Whitlockville and Anderson roads in Katonah.
(Original publication: October 30, 2005)

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