The Town of Somers is in the north central part of Westchester County. It is about 32.5 square miles in size comprised of the hamlets of Amawalk, Baldwin Place, Granite Springs, Lincolndale, Shenorock and Somers and as of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 18,346. Somers is primarily a residential community known for being the "cradle of the American circus".
History: The town now known as Somers was originally occupied by Kitchawanks, part of the Mohegan tribe, who called the land Amapaugh, meaning “fresh water fish.” This land was located in the eastern segment of an 83,000-acre tract that King William III of England granted to Stephanus Van Cortlandt of New York City in 1697. The part of Van Cortlandt Manor that ultimately became Somers and Yorktown was known as the Middle District, or Hanover. Settlement in the Somers area began after Van Cortlandt’s death in 1700 and the final partition of his estate in 1734. Early European settlers included tenants and freeholders from neighboring areas, among them English, Dutch, French Huguenots and Quakers. It wasn’t until March 7, 1788, when the first town meeting was held at an inn, owned by Benjamin Green, that the town named Stephentown was established. However, there already existed a Stephentown in Renssealaer County. The resulting confusion, particularly in mail delivery, lead to a change in the name to Somerstown and in 1808 to the Town of Somers. The town was named as a tribute to Captain Richard Somers , a naval captain from New Jersey who died in combat during the Tripolitan War.
Somers Elephant: Hachaliah’s Elephant…
In 1804 a farmer and cattle merchant named Hachaliah Bailey acquired an African Elephant he named “Old Bet,” and she was one of the first elephants to come to America. Although Bailey had planned to use the elephant for heavy-duty work on the farm, the throngs of people who came to Somers to see the elephant gave him an inspiration and he began exhibiting her throughout the northeast. His success attracted numerous partners and rivals from local families, who joined in the business of importing and exhibiting exotic animals. The resulting thriving menagerie business paralleled the development of the circus in America, and by the 1830’s the two forms of popular entertainment merged to form the basis of the modern American circus. In fact, the majority of early 19th century circus proprietors came from Somers and neighboring towns in northern Westchester and Putnam counties. This has led to Somers being titled “The Cradle of the American Circus.”
Old Bet died on tour in 1827. Bailey later erected the Elephant Hotel in Somers in honor of Old Bet, and it was purchased by the town in 1927. It is a town landmark and was recently dedicated a National Historic Landmark . The elephant remains a symbol of the town to this day
Government: The Town Board is comprised of an elected Supervisor serving a two year term and four elected councilmen each serving four year terms. The Town Board controls Town finances, acquisition of real property, the Town budget, salary negotiations, legislation and policy. With the exception of elected officials, the Town Board also appoints all employees as well as members of boards serving the Town such as the Planning Board, Architectural Review Advisory Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Board, and Parks and Recreation Board.
Post Office : The hamlets of Amawalk, Baldwin Place, Granite Springs, Lincolndale, Shenorock and Somers each have their own zip code and post office.
Schools: The residents of the town of Somers are served by the Somers Central School District . Also in Somers is John F Kennedy High School which is the New York Diocesan High School for northern Westchester.
Transportation: The Metro-North Commuter Railroad stations at Goldens Bridge and Purdys provides service to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan with an average commute time to of slightly over an hour to Manhattan. As Somers is easily accessible to interstate 684, the commute to New York by passenger vehicle is approximately between 50 minutes and 1 hour.
Business: Somers has a robust business community with a large shopping area located at routes 100 & 202 in the Town Shopping Center and is served by the Somers Chamber of Commerce . The Town of Somers grew rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s, with new housing developments after IBM and Pepsi built large corporate facilities within the town.
Communities and locations in Somers
- Amawalk Reservoir -- A reservoir in the north part of the town adjacent to US-202 and NY-118.
- Granite Springs a hamlet in Somers
- Green Briar
- Heritage Hills Somers, large Somers condos townhouse development with its own golf course
- Horton Estates -- A living community by the Amawalk Reservoir.
- Lake Lincolndale -- A hamlet north of Lincondale, near the north county line.
- Lincolndale -- A hamlet by the intersection of US-202 and NY-138.
- Shenorock -- A hamlet near the north county line by NY-118.
- Somers -- The hamlet of Somers.
- Whitehall Corners
Where Is Somers?
The Town of Somers is located in the most central location in northern Westchester County NY bordered on the north by Putnam County and in Westchester County on the east by the Town of Yorktown, on the west by the Town of North Salem & the Town of Lewisboro and on the south by the Town of Bedford and the Town of New Castle.