Putnam County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 99,710. The county seat is Carmel. Putnam County formed in 1812 from Dutchess County and is named for Israel Putnam, a hero in the French and Indian War and a general in the American Revolutionary War.
Putnam County is included in the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is located in the lower Hudson River Valley. Midtown Manhattan is around a one-hour drive, and Grand Central Terminal is approximately 1 hour, 20 minute train ride from the county.
It is one of the most affluent counties in America, ranked 7th by median household income, and 47th by per-capita income, according to the 2012 American Community Survey and 2000 United States Census, respectively.
In 1609, a Native American people called the Wappinger inhabited the east bank of the Hudson River. They farmed, hunted, and fished throughout their range, often encountering Dutch traders, from whom they obtained goods such as alcohol and firearms.
The colonial Province of New York and the Connecticut Colony negotiated an agreement on November 28, 1683, establishing their border as 20 miles (32 km) east of the Hudson River, north to Massachusetts. Dutchess county was then established as one of New York's twelve counties. It included all of today's Putnam County and two towns in the present Columbia county. Until 1713, Dutchess was administered by Ulster county.
In 1691, a group of Dutch traders purchased a tract of land from the Wappingers spanning from Hudson to the Connecticut border. Six years later they sold it to wealthy Dutch-American merchant Adolphus Philipse, who then obtained a Royal sanction for a "Highland Patent" (later to be known as the Philipse Patent) that encompassed most of today's Putnam County. Unknown at that time was a veer in the river's path to the northwest at the Hudson Highlands, resulting in a dispute over a roughly 2 mile wide section of border between northern Westchester and then-Dutchess counties and the Connecticut Colonly that came to be known as "The Oblong".
In 1737, the New York Colonial Assembly designated the Philipse Patent as the South Precinct of Dutchess County, and the Philipses began leasing farms to immigrants from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Long Island and lower Westchester. After Adolph Philipse's death, the Patent was divided in 1754 into nine lots granted to three heirs: Mary Philipse, Philip Philipse, and Susannah Philipse Robinson. During the French and Indian War, many of the Wappingers went to Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Putnam was slow to be settled compared to other parts of the Hudson Valley, for two reasons. Firstly, it was privately owned and settlement was limited to tenent farmers willing to pay a portion of their earnings to Phillipse. Secondly, it was mostly hilly and rocky and unattractive to farmers looking for tillable cropland, and therefore was limited to dairy farming and wood cutting. The first non-tenent settlers in the county were along its eastern edge, due to an ambiguous border with Connecticut, which attracted farmers from New England, who presumed that the disputed area was not owned by Phillipse.
An early settler was the Hayt family, which built a farm called The Elm in 1720. Jacob Haviland settled in the Oblong in 1731 in what became known as Haviland Hollow. The first village in the county was Fredericksburg, now the hamlet of Patterson.
During the Revolution, the Philipses stayed loyal to the Crown and were stripped of their lands. The Philipse Patent was sold along with the rest of their holdings. The dispute over The Oblong was resolved in the aftermath of the war, with the heavily settled tract being incorporated as the first of two versions of the Town of Southeast. Also resolved was "The Gore", a lowland area near Fishkill Creek above the Hudson Highlands along the northern border of the Phillipse patent. Being geographically similar to the Livingston and Beekman patents it abutted, The Gore was ceded to Dutchess county.
Due to the increasing population of the Southern Precinct of Dutchess County and the great distance of its communities from its county seat, Poughkeepsie, Putnam was split from Dutchess in 1812 and created its own county. Putnam was also able to function as a separate county because of the easy transportation provided by the Hudson River. Boats transporting goods traveled up the Hudson to ports, mainly at Peekskill, where it was brought out Peekskill Hollow Rd. into Putnam County, or goods were unloaded in Putnam County itself at Cold Spring. Problems arose when the river froze in the winter, which resulted in little food or goods being brought to the county. The Philipstown Turnpike was created in 1815 as a toll road from Cold Spring to Connecticut. The wagons that traveled the road would transport produce from eastern Putnam County and iron ore from the mines. The route of the turnpike can roughly be traced today: Rt 301 from Cold Spring to Farmers Mills Road, to White Pond Road to Pecksville, then Holmes Rd to Patterson, then Quaker Hill Rd to Connecticut. Transportation improved again with the advent of the railroad, namely the Harlem Line, which was built in the 1840s, connecting Putnam by rail to New York City. There were originally four stations on the Harlem line in Putnam County: Brewster, Dykemans, Towners, and Patterson. Today only the Brewster and Patterson stops remain, with a new one added in modern times called Southeast.
Putnam County played an important role in the Civil War. One third of the county's men between the ages of 15 and 55 served in the military at the time of the war. During the post-Civil War years, industry and agriculture suffered losses. Iron, which was produced in the Highland Mountains, could be found elsewhere. Agriculture was also affected greatly. The increasing need for drinking water in New York City led the city to search the Hudson Valley for water. In Putnam County, much of the farmland were flooded to create reservoirs. The abandoning of farms, the creation of reservoirs, and the preservation of the remaining open land resulted in scenic lands that drew large amounts of tourism from New York City.
By the 20th century, improved roads brought vacationers from New York City, which led to creation of the Taconic State Parkway during the Great Depression. This brought more vacationers, which were attracted to the scenic land and the inexpensive hotels, inns, and summer houses. Putnam County's population doubled during the summer months.
After World War II, Putnam County became an exurb of New York City. Rapid development occurred as Putnam County evolved into a bedroom community. However, the protection of Putnam county's reservoirs inherently limited development, as much of the land in the county is close to wetlands or reservoirs. Since World War II, the county has seen the development of the Taconic State Parkway as well as several state routes.
Governmental operations in Putnam County are outlined in the County Charter which was approved by the voters of the County in November 1977. It is administered by a County Executive and a 9-member County Legislature. The current County Executive is Mary Ellen Odell. Odell won a special election for the office in November 2011 following her defeat for such office by then-state Senator Vincent L. Leibell. Leibell pleaded guilty to two federal felony charges in 2010. Following a plea agreement with the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Leibell resigned his state Senate seat and did not assume the office of County Executive on January 1, 2011. The county executive is elected in a countywide vote. Each member of the County Legislature is elected from a district.
Prior to the Charter form of government, the County's affairs were managed by a six-member Board of Supervisors (one Supervisor from each town in the County).
The County has had five County Executives:
|David D. Bruen||Democratic||January 1, 1979 – December 31, 1986|
|Peter C. Alexanderson||Republican||January 1, 1987 – December 31, 1990|
|Robert J. Bondi||Republican||January 1, 1991 – December 31, 2010|
|Paul J. Eldridge||Independent||January 1, 2011 – November 11, 2011|
|MaryEllen Odell||Republican||November 11, 2011 – present|
The 9 members of the County Legislature are all Republicans:
County Legislators are elected for three-year terms, and since 2011 are limited to four three-year terms in office. Legislative terms are staggered so that one-third of the legislative terms end every year.
|Robert J. Bondi||Republican||1980–1981|
|Raymond M. Maguire||Republican||1982–1983|
|Kevin L. Wright||Republican||1984–1985|
|Joseph G. Hickey||Republican||1986–1989|
|William R. Bell||Republican||1994–1996|
|Michael K. Semo, Jr.||Republican||1998|
|Robert J. Pozzi||Republican||2001–2002|
|Robert McGuigan, Jr.||Republican||2003–2005|
|Daniel G. Birmingham||Republican||2006–2007|
|Vincent M. Tamagna||Republican||2010–2011|
|Mary F. Conklin||Republican||2012|
|Richard T. Othmer, Jr.||Republican||2013|
|Carl L. Albano||Republican||2014–2015|
There are three types of general trial courts in Putnam County: the New York Supreme Court, the County Court and the Justice Courts. The Supreme Court is the trial level court of the New York State Unified Court System, which presents some confusion as the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeals in the federal system as well as in most states, whereas the Court of Appeals is the highest court in New York. The Supreme Court has broad authority over all categories of cases, both civil and criminal. Generally the Supreme Court in Putnam hears civil cases involving claims in excess of $25,000. While the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over criminal cases in most counties this is handled by the County Courts. In Putnam however, the Supreme Court does exercise jurisdiction over some criminal cases.
The County Court is authorized to hear all criminal cases that have occurred in the county as well as limited jurisdiction over civil cases. The County Court handles felony cases exclusively and shares jurisdiction with the town and village justice courts on misdemeanor cases and other minor offenses and violations. The County Court's jurisdiction on civil cases is limited to those involving less than $25,000.
The Historic Putnam County Courthouse is located in the town of Carmel. Built in 1814 in Greek Revival style, it is the second oldest working courthouse in New York, second to the one in Johnstown. Portico and pillars were added to the structure in the 1840s. It was recently extensively remodeled to preserve the structure and adapt it for use as the Surrogate's Court.
The New Putnam County Courthouse opened on January 2, 2008. It was constructed at a cost of $22.8 million. Jury assembly, court clerks and a public law library are located on the first floor. The second floor includes a Family Court and hearing room. On all floors are judges' chambers, jury deliberation rooms, prisoner cells and conference rooms. The third floor has two courtrooms for the County Court. The Supreme Court and a law library occupy the fourth floor.
The towns of Carmel and Kent, as well as the villages of Brewster and Cold Spring, have their own police departments. Primary law enforcement services for the rest of Putnam County are provided by the New York State Police and the Putnam County Sheriff's Department.
The current sheriff, Donald B. Smith, was elected in 2002. The Sheriff's Department includes a Civil Bureau, patrol division, a marine unit, a motorcycle unit, a school resource unit, and a narcotics enforcement unit.
|2016||55.7% 27,024||39.9% 19,366||4.5% 2,173|
|2012||54.3% 24,083||44.0% 19,512||1.7% 750|
|2008||53.2% 25,145||45.8% 21,613||1.0% 486|
|2004||55.8% 26,356||41.4% 19,575||2.8% 1,330|
|2000||51.6% 21,853||43.7% 18,522||4.7% 1,997|
|1996||45.4% 17,452||42.1% 16,173||12.5% 4,813|
In the House of Representatives, Putnam County is located in the 18th congressional district and has been represented by Democratic United States Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney since 2012, when Maloney unseated Republican Congresswoman Nan Hayworth.
On a state level, Putnam County has generally voted for the Democratic candidates. In 2004, when Democratic United States Senator Chuck Schumer ran for re-election, he won Putnam County with 58% of the vote, while his Republican opponent, Howard Mills, received only 35%. In 2006, Eliot Spitzer, the Democratic nominee for Governor, won the county with 58% of the vote, and the Republican nominee, John Faso, won 39%. Senator Hillary Clinton, running for re-election in 2006, also won the county with 51%, defeating John Spencer, the Republican nominee, who won 45% of the vote. In 2010, Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic nominee for Governor, defeated Republican nominee Carl Paladino with 51% of the vote.
However, at the presidential level, Putnam County votes solidly for Republican presidential candidates. Since 1892, the only Democratic presidential nominees to carry Putnam County have been Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
Putnam County is situated in the lower Hudson Valley in the southeastern part of New York, between the Hudson River on its west and the New York-Connecticut border on its east. Putnam is southeast of Newburgh, and it is north of White Plains. Depending on precise location within the county, road travel distance to New York City ranges between 45 miles (72 km) and 65 miles (105 km).
The terrain of the county is generally hilly. The region of the county nearest the Hudson River is especially so, and is part of the Hudson Highlands. The highest point in Putnam County is Scofield Ridge, with four summits at approximately 1,540 feet (469 m) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level along the Hudson. The Hudson River, named for Henry Hudson, has provided transportation of goods from New York City, north to the Hudson Valley, throughout history. Between the hills and glacial moraine, Putnam County's valleys contain numerous wetlands (including part of the Great Swamp), creeks, ponds, lakes (including the 583 acre Lake Mahopac), and reservoirs.
Putnam County is known for its many reservoirs, part of the New York City Watershed System. Some of the larger include Bog Brook in Southeast; Croton Falls Reservoir in Carmel and Southeast; Diverting Reservoir in Southeast; East Branch in Brewster; Middle Branch Reservoir in Southeast; West Branch in Kent and Carmel, and Boyds Corner Reservoir in Kent.
The climate of Putnam County is humid continental, as is most of New York. In the winter, bouts of cold, dry air arrive from Canada, and interior sections of North America. In the summer, the Gulf Stream brings hot, moist, humid air to the county. Extratropical storms often affect the county; in the winter, Nor'easters bring heavy snow and rain, and sometimes high wind. In the summer and fall, back door cold fronts move in from the north and bring thunderstorms, sometimes severe. Putnam County receives on average 36 inches of snowfall a year.
|Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures For Carmel, New York on the top and average monthly precipitation in inches on the lower section.|
|U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census of 2000, there were 95,745 people, 32,703 households, and 25,181 families residing in the county. The population density was 414 people per square mile (160/km²). There were 35,030 housing units at an average density of 152 per square mile (58/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 93.9% White, 1.6% Black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 1.2% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.7% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. 6.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 31.0% were of Italian, 21.1% Irish and 9.7% German ancestry according to Census 2000. 87.5% spoke English, 5.2% Spanish and 3.2% Italian as their first language. As of 2005 the population was estimated to be 86% non-Hispanic whites. African-Americans were now 2.6% of the population. 0.2% of the population was Native Americans. 1.9% was Asian. 9.2% of the population was Hispanic or Latino, representing a significant change in the ethnic make up of the county's population.
In 2000 there were 32,703 households out of which 38.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.4% were married couples living together, 8.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.0% were non-families. 18.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.86 and the average family size was 3.27. In the county, the population was spread out with 26.5% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 32.1% from 25 to 44, 25.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 99.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.3 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $72,279, and the median income for a family was $82,197(these figures had risen to $84,306 and $95,145 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $53,295 versus $38,390 for females. The per capita income for the county was $30,127. About 2.7% of families and 4.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.5% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 65 or over.
The county has six public school districts: Brewster, Carmel, Garrison, Haldane, Mahopac, and Putnam Valley. Mahopac is the largest school district in Putnam County, educating more than 5,000 students in four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school (1600 students).
The library system consists of eight libraries; the Brewster Public Library in Brewster; the Kent Public Library in Kent; the Reed Memorial Library in Carmel; the Julia L. Butterfield Memorial Library in Cold Spring; the Alice Curtis Desmond and Hamilton Fish Library in Garrison; the Mahopac Public Library in Mahopac; the Patterson Library in Patterson and the Putnam Valley Free Library in Putnam Valley.
In 2011 an article titled "Regions Aging Schools Crumble as Finances Falter" by Cathey O'Donnell and Gary Stern was featured in a local newspaper, The Journal News, which is well known throughout the Lower Hudson Valley of Westchester County. The article was about several old school buildings within the region that were in a current state of disrepair, how much it would cost to fix them and which if any might need to be demolished. The article is quoted as saying,"...school inspection reports obtained by The Journal News that show one in three buildings in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam's 54 school districts received unsatisfactory ratings this year."
Unlike all other counties in southeastern New York, Putnam contains the campus of no college, university, or other institution of higher education.
The main hospital which serves eastern Putnam County is the Putnam Hospital Center, located in Carmel. Western Putnam County is mainly served by hospitals in Dutchess or Westchester counties.
Putnam has two interstate highways. The east-west Interstate 84 comes in from the north near Ludingtonville, and connects to the southbound Interstate 684 in Southeast toward the Connecticut border. The Taconic State Parkway, another high-speed through road, runs north-south through central Putnam. US 9 runs north-south in the western part of the county, paralleled by NY 9D along the Hudson River. NY 22 runs north-south in the eastern part of the county. NY 301 runs east-west from Cold Spring to Carmel. The short NY 403 connects 9 and 9D near Garrison. Three of the region's major east-west routes traverse the eastern half of the county. NY 52 enters alongside I-84 from Dutchess County, to end at US 6 south of Carmel. East of Brewster, US 6 joins US 202 and the routes leave the county and state concurrently aside the interstate.
The county's highway and facilities department maintains a number of county roads and performs snow and ice control on portions of the following numbered highways within the county: U.S. Route 6 from Westchester County line to the NY 22/U.S. Route 202 concurrency; NY 6N for the entire duration within Putnam; NY 9D from NY 301 to the Dutchess County line; NY 52 from its southern terminus to NY 311; NY 164 for its entire duration, and NY 301 for its entire duration.
The county also has several passenger trains that travel through the county. The Harlem Line and the Hudson Line of the Metro-North Railroad run north-south in Putnam. The Harlem Line makes stops at Brewster, Southeast, and Patterson. The Hudson Line makes stops at Manitou, Garrison, Cold Spring, and Breakneck Ridge. A connection to Amtrak can be made to the south at Croton-Harmon in upper Westchester County or to the north at Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County, both on the Hudson Line. Grand Central Terminal is roughly a one-hour train ride.
Until May 1958, a third commuter line (nicknamed "Old Put") operating between the Bronx and Brewster served the region. With no direct connection to Grand Central Terminal (a transfer was required in the Bronx), ridership on the line was weak compared to its counterparts. Freight service was also scant, and the line was eventually abandoned in waves between 1962 and 1980. The former railbed now serves as the South County Trailway, North County Trailway, and Putnam County Trailway rail trails.
In contrast to all surrounding counties, Putnam has no airport.
Points of interest include Chuang Yen Monastery, located in Kent and home to the largest Buddha statue in the Western Hemisphere as well as the only library in the United States specializing in Buddhist history; Clarence Fahnestock State Park, a 14,000 acres (57 km2) state park named for Clarence Fahnestock containing 15 kilometers of trails for walking and hiking; Donald J. Trump State Park, a 436-acre (1.76 km2) state park located in Putnam and Westchester counties; and Thunder Ridge Ski Area, a small ski resort located in Patterson with 30 trails and 3 lifts.
The Journal News serves the region known as the Lower Hudson Valley, which comprises Westchester County, Rockland County, and Putnam County. The Journal News is owned by Gannett Company, Inc. Before Gannett merged its local dailies into the Journal News Putnam County was served by an edition of the Reporter Dispatch.
Putnam County newsreaders were served for generations by the Putnam County News and Recorder, which had formerly been an independently owned newspaper dedicated exclusively to local affairs. The oversized broadsheet – measuring seventeen by twenty inches – was first published in Cold Spring as The Recorder in 1866. In July 2008, the local ownership sold the paper to Roger Ailes, chairman of Fox News, who named his wife Elizabeth as the new publisher. The paper has since altered its editorial content substantially, creating an enduring local controversy.
In 2009 the Ailes family also purchased the Putnam County Courier when it was shut down by Journal Register Co. (the first issue after publication resumed listed Roger Ailes as owner and chairman but Elizabeth has since been identified as the owner).The Courier was established as the Putnam County Democrat in 1841. Under Ailes ownership the Courier's Carmel office has closed and in 2013 the paper was reduced from broadsheet to Berliner (format).The News and Recorder remains a full broadsheet with a 17-inch-wide front page. The two newspapers share an editor and many stories appear in both.
Two other weeklies are the Putnam County Times (historically Times & Republican) and Putnam County Press,virtually identical except that the former is distributed free. Both have been owned since 1958 by Don Hall. Hall and Roger Ailes,though both Republicans,are bitter rivals.After long deriding Ailes as a part-time resident,when Ailes faced harassment allegations leading to his ouster from Fox News,his Putnam County connection was used to make his troubles front-page news in the Times and Press week after week though the papers as a rule concern only in-county news.
Douglas Cunningham, editor-in-chief of the Courier and News & Recorder since 2011, purchased the two papers in December 2016 and became publisher.
There are six towns and three incorporated villages in Putnam County. There are no cities:
Carmel is the county seat of Putnam County, with a population of 34,300. The town of Carmel includes the hamlets of Carmel, Carmel Hills, Field Corners, Hopkins Corners, Mahopac, Mahopac Falls, Secor Corners, Tilly Foster, and West Mahopac. Carmel is along the southern border of Putnam County. Carmel is known for its historic courthouse and high school, which serves grades 9–12. Carmel was taken from Frederickstown, a town which encompassed the present towns of Kent, Patterson, and Carmel, in 1795.
Kent is a town located along the northern border of Putnam with a population of 14,000. Kent contains the hamlets of Lake Carmel, Kent Corners, Kent Hills, and Luddingtonville. Kent was the last remaining section of Frederickstown, after the towns of Carmel and Patterson were divided off in 1795. Frederickstown had been founded in 1788.
Patterson is a town located in the northeast area of Putnam County with a population of 12,000. Patterson, originally named Franklin, was divided from the former town of Frederickstown, in 1795. Patterson contains the hamlets of Patterson, Barnum Corners, Camp Brady, Fields Corners, Haines Corners, Haviland Hollow, Putnam Lake, Steinbeck Corners, Towners, and West Patterson.
Philipstown is a town located along the western end of Putnam County with a population of 10,000. Philipstown contains the villages and hamlets of Cold Spring, Forsonville, Garrison, Garrison Four Corners, Glenclyffe, Manitou, McKeel Corners, Nelsonville, North Highland, Storm King, and the north side of Continental Village. It was founded in 1788. West Point (in Orange County) is located across the Hudson River from the village of Cold Spring.
There are 3 stations on the Metro North Railroad Hudson line: One In Garrison, one in Cold Spring and a third in Manitou, which has limited train service. There are two public libraries in Philipstown. The Desmond-Fish Library in Garrison, New York and the Julia L. Butterfield Library in Cold Spring. Surprise Lake Camp is in Cold Spring, New York
Southeast is a town located in the southeastern corner of Putnam County, with a population of 18,000. It was founded in 1788 as one of the three original towns in what would later become Putnam County. Its shape changed greatly in 1795, when it lost its northern half to Patterson and gained a great amount on its western side. It is the second largest town in Putnam County, second only to Carmel. Southeast is located at the crossroads of Interstate highways 684 and 84, and State Routes 22 and 312 and US Highways 6 and 202. Metro-North Railroad's Harlem Line has two stops that service the area, at Brewster Village and Southeast Station (formerly Brewster North) off Route 312. Southeast contains the village of Brewster, and the hamlets of Brewster Hill, Brewster Heights, Deans Corners, Deforest Corners, Drewville Heights, Dykemans, Milltown, Peach Lake, Sears Corners, and Sodom.
Putnam Valley is a town located on the southern border of Putnam County with a population of 11,000. Putnam Valley contains the hamlets of Adams Corners, Christian Corners, Gilbert Corners, Lake Peekskill, Oscawana Corners, Putnam Valley, Tompkins Corners, Sunnybrook. Putnam Valley was created in 1835 as the Town Of Quincy, taking its current name the following year. The town was created by splitting off from Phillipstown. Putnam Valley is also home to the Clarence Fahnestock State Park, which covers much of Putnam County, and some of Dutchess County.
Cold Spring is an incorporated village surrounded by the Town of Phillipstown and the village of Nelsonville.
Nelsonville is an incorporated village surrounded by the Town of Phillipstown and the village of Cold Spring.
Brewster is an incorporated village within the Town of Southeast.
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