White Plains may be one of Westchesters six cities, but with its soaring skyscrapers, first-rate restaurants and world-class shopping, it is by far the most metropolitan area in the county.
The city is a destination for people looking for a variety of things, including those who need to do government business. White Plains is the Westchester County seat and home to the countys courthouse and office building. There has long been a Federal Courthouse there, with a new one opening in 1998.
The White Plains Public Safety Building, which houses the citys courthouse, police and fire departments, rounds out the White Plains civil office buildings. The city has a professional fire department and sizeable police department, which has adopted COMPSTAT, a concept pioneered by the New York City Police Department to track crime and assign officers to neighborhoods experiencing spikes in criminal activity.
White Plains is home to about 57,000 residents, though during the day its population swells to 250,000.
Some of those who have called White Plains home have well-known names, including 1968 Olympic gold medal winner Larry James, Rent creator Jonathan Larson, National Football League Hall of Famer Art Monk and Hasidic Jewish reggae musician Matisyahu, who began life as Matt Miller and belonged to Bet Am Shalom, a White Plains synagogue.
The city has five elementary schools and parents participate in what is called the Controlled Parents' Choice Program. Rather than assigning children to a school by neighborhood, parents tour different schools the year before kindergarten and decide on a facility. Almost all parents get their first choice. Parents also select which of White Plains middle schools their child will attend. White Plains has one public high school and each year the school produces graduates who attend top tier colleges and universities around the United States, Canada and Europe.
Some White Plains graduates attend one of several colleges located within the citys borders. Fordham University, Pace University Law School and Graduate School, Mercy College, College of Westchester and Berkeley College all have campuses in White Plains.
White Plains has a local business improvement district in its downtown. Many neighborhood associations dot the landscape and plant their own ornamental gardens. There is a local Rotary Club, where many of the citys movers and shakers get together. Every local, county and New York State politician manages to find time to stop at the influential Womans Club of White Plains, which was created by 15 women in 1904 as The Fortnightly Literary Club and later became the well-respected organization it is today.
However, White Plains is not without its controversies. Mayor Tom Roach was recently voted into office after a special election. His predecessor, Adam Bradley, resigned after being found guilty on domestic violence charges. Roach had been president of the Common Council, a six member elected board that governs the city. In White Plains the mayor chairs the board and has a vote on matters before it.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.