New Rochelle

New Rochelle is a city in Westchester County, New York, United States, in the southeastern portion of the state. The town was settled by refugee Huguenots (French Protestants) in 1688 who were fleeing Catholic pogroms in France. Many of the settlers were artisans and craftsmen from the city of La Rochelle, France, thus influencing the choice of the name of "New Rochelle".


By 1900 New Rochelle had a population of 14,720. Throughout the city, farms, estates, and wooded homesteads were bought up by realty and development companies.  Planned residential neighborhoods such as Rochelle Park, one of the first planned communities in the country, soon spread across the city, earning New Rochelle the sobriquet "City of Homes”.  In 1909, Edwin Thanhouser established Thanhouser Film Corporation. Thanhouser's Million Dollar Mystery was one of the first serial motion pictures. In 1923, New Rochelle resident Anna Jones became the first African-American woman to be admitted to the New York State Bar.

 

Poet and resident James J. Montague captured the image of New Rochelle in his 1926 poem "Queen City of the Sound”.

 

No stern and rock bound coast is here,

But, peaceful and at ease

The quiet sea lies blue and clear

Beside the spreading trees.

Afar from din of marts and mills

A happy people dwell

Among the placid, green clad hills

Of lovely New Rochelle

When Nature, seeking upon men

To cast a magic spell,

She looked the world around – and then

She fashioned New Rochelle.

— James J. Montague

 

In 1930, New Rochelle recorded a population of 54,000, up from 36,213 only ten years earlier. During the 1930s, New Rochelle was the wealthiest city per capita in New York state and the third wealthiest in the country.

Map of New Rochelle, 1918
New Rochelle Fire Department, 1908