When you think of Bedford Hills, do you think of racing up a steep staircase to make the 7:21 a.m. train to Grand Central? Or do you think of a place called home, that is wholesome and safe, with down-to-earth residents?
This history of the hamlet reflects both identities. In 1910, Bedford Station, a bucolic area of Upstate New York not too far from New York City, was a rural community, with farmers selling apples from their orchards, milk from their cows, and other products.
Freight trains brought those products New York and to other cities. Trains were the lifeline of the community, and the depot where commerce took place was aptly called Bedford Station. But by the turn of the 20th Century, people were coming to Bedford Station to live while they worked in the city. In 1910, the hamlet moved into the modern age, and its name was changed from Bedford Station to Bedford Hills.
To commemorate that name change, Bedford Hills—a unique and charming hamlet in Northern Westchester—will celebrate its Centennial May 14-15 with an array of fun family-friendly events and programs.
The weekend will kick off on the evening of Friday, May 14, with a reception to open the Bedford Hills Historical Museum's new exhibit, Then & Now, with an art exhibition from Bedford Hills' school children and a display of important local photographs and papers. The museum is at 321 Bedford Road (Route 117).
"Bedford Station got its name in 1847 when the railroad came through," said John Stockbridge, historian for the Town of Bedford. "In 1910, a number of well-connected residents thought the name Bedford Hills was more representative. They pushed for the name change and it was changed on April 1, 1910."
The celebration is part party, and part history lesson, Stockbridge said. "The idea of it being a centennial is more of a catalyst of a Bedford hills celebration. We will have a lot of things going on and some people will pick up some history along the way, which is always a good thing."
Saturday, May 15, will feature a number of events around Depot Plaza and the hamlet's historical district. The streets will be closed off for performances by local singers, musicians and dancers; a student art exhibit; a pie-baking contest and local area vendors. The festivities will also include a historical walking tour and a children's scavenger hunt. The Bedford Community Theater will be singing songs from the musical The Music Man.
The centennial celebration is being led by Mitch Horn and Elin Sullivan, in conjunction with the Bedford Hills Historical Museum.
Their hope is that local residents from all nearby communities will come "All Aboard" for the Centennial, to enjoy the unique history of Bedford Hills, where the train has, and continues to be, an integral part of the community's identity.