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White Plains' History is Long and Rich

The city of White Plains was first settled by the Native American Weckquaeskeck tribe, a member of the Mohican nation, who named the area Quarropas – white marshes. The first Europeans arrived in the late 17th century and either adopted a version of the Native American moniker or named it White Plains after the mist that hung over the marshy land or the white birch trees that proliferated throughout the area.

White Plains is very proud of its place in American history. In the days following the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, the New York State Provisional Congress met in the county courthouse in White Plains. On July 9, 1776 they approved the document and also the creation of the State of New York. Two days later the Declaration was read to the public for the first time in front of the courthouse. That building no longer exists though a plaque at that spot commemorates the event.

The War for Independence was fought in part in the city. General George Washington and his troops were positioned in September and October of 1776 in a hilly region now known as Battle Hill. While Washington and his troops never fought the British there, other Continental forces did. The Americans lost the Battle of White Plains but inflicted heavy casualties against the English, who left White Plains to the American forces in November of that year.

In 1758 White Plains became the Westchester county seat, before there was officially a New York State. White Plains was actually part of nearby Rye and became a village in 1788.

The local high school teams are nicknamed the Tigers and enjoy a solid reputation in both football and basketball. The boys’ teams have sent several players to Division I schools while the girls’ varsity basketball team dominated through much of this decade, winning several championships.

To many outsiders White Plains is known as the city of malls. But even before the advent of malls White Plains was a shopping mecca. Macy’s, Bonwit Teller and B. Altman’s long drew people from the tri-state area in the decades before the first mall opened. The Galleria opened its doors in 1980 and was blamed for the demise of many stores on Mamaroneck Avenue, the main shopping street in the city. The next giant mall to open was The Westchester in 1995. A high end mall with Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus as anchor tenants, it is just off the heavily traveled roadway, Interstate 287. The Westchester is crammed with shoppers year-round. The City Center complex of stores and housing was completed in 2008. Next to it is a Trump building and on the other side and across the street the Ritz Carlton Hotel rises with a top floor restaurant, 42, that has a 360 degree view of everything from New York City to the Hudson River and Long Island.

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