A Brief History of Rye, NY


A Brief History of Rye, NY

Sometimes we forget to look back and admire the unique and accomplished histories of our Westchester County, NY towns. Maybe you’re considering building a new custom home and moving into the area. Or perhaps you’re renovating or building an addition on a special property here. Either way, we thought it would be interesting to take a brief look back at the history of Rye.


Rye, NY began as a settlement on Manursing Island in June 1660. Peter Disbrow, Thomas Studewell, and John Coe received the land after entering into a treaty with the Mohegan Indians. John Budd later joined them as they continued to purchase land along Manursing Island. Their combined purchases went on to form settlements in White Plains, Harrison, Mamaroneck, Greenwich, and portions of North Castle.

In 1665, Connecticut decided to merge these settlements and renamed the area Rye, after a small town in East Sussex, England. In 1683, however, residents of the settlement unceremoniously found themselves part of the Province of New York after King Charles II gifted the settlement to his brother, the Duke of York.

In 1695, Rye became part of Connecticut again after a court in New York decided to remove Harrison as part of the settlement. The residents of Rye protested, and in 1700 a royal decree made Rye part of New York once again. This time it would remain.

Over the next two centuries, Rye was a quaint town, but slowly grew. Homes were built in the area that is now known as Milton, and farmland was cleared for growing crops and raising cattle. In addition, docks were built on Long Island Sound as oystering became a significant area occupation. The first signs of industrial growth began as multiple gristmills were built along Blind Brook.

In 1739, the Rye-Oyster Bay ferry started running and provided easier access to the area. Change came again in 1772 when the New York–Boston stagecoach made the town one of its stops. Growth in the area would continue into the 1800s with help from a steamboat service that could carry passengers from New York. Eventually, the New Haven Railroad made it easier for residents of New York City to access the beautiful countryside and quaint Westchester County towns. Residents were also getting a taste of gambling as horse racing began on Rye Beach in an area known as The Flats. As 1904 rolled around, Rye had grown to include two schools, a library, and five churches. The population swelled to 3,500 residents.

The town’s growth moved slowly until the 1920s. It was now the era of commuter trains and parkways. New York residents were flocking to the area to take up residence full time with their families. Rye’s peaceful suburban communities provided a respite from the bustle of the city. Others continued to make the town their summer destination. The 1920s brought Rye’s greatest growth yet, and by 1930 the population swelled to almost 9,000.

Today, Rye continues to embrace both the old and the new. Many of its historic landmarks remain, but there are also present-day facilities giving its population of 15,868 both modern conveniences and a daily reminder of the town’s 300-year history.