Hawthorne, New York
Hawthorne is a quiet, mostly residential hamlet in the Town of Mount Pleasant, Westchester County, NY. The community's basic character is of small homes close together. Of the seven square miles of land in the district, a full two miles is dedicated land - hospitals, parks and schools - that cannot be built on. Shopping in Hawthorne is restricted to a small collection of shops around the train station. Most residents go to Thornwood for supermarket shopping, and to White Plains malls for serious shopping.
For local dining, there are Tino's, an Italian restaurant that has been operated by the same family since 1952, Nightingales' Country Bistro, the Hawthorne Inn Restaurant and Nightclub for barbequed ribs and Gordo's for steak and seafood. The main entertainment attraction is the Saw Mill Multiplex Cinemas on Saw Mill River Road, about a mile from the hamlet's center.
The Hawthorne area is home to many large employers, almost all on the very commercial Columbus Avenue. Some of the biggest are I.B.M., A.T. & T., NYNEX and Ciba-Geigy.
Farmed since Colonial times, it got its start as a separate community in the late 1800's when Louis Smadbeck, a New York City real estate speculator, started buying farms and dividing them into 25- by 100-foot lots. He called his development Sherman Park and launched a promotional campaign aimed at German-Americans in Manhattan's Yorkville neighborhood. Today's Hawthorne however is predominantly Italian and Irish; it has lost its early German influx.
In 1901, Sister Mary Alphonsa, who founded a branch of the Dominicans, raised $28,000 to buy from the French Dominican Fathers a 60-room house on nine acres. Her order, now informally known as the Hawthorne Dominicans, converted the hilltop estate into the Rosary Hill home for the care of terminally ill cancer patients, which currently has about 50 patients.
Rosary Hill is a landmark in the community today, but when it first opened, neighbors were alarmed. Sister Alphonsa tried to convince them that cancer was not contagious. However, everytime there were problems with the hospital's septic system, there was a huge public outcry. As a show of support, a local newspaper reporter started a drive that led in 1901 to naming the expanding community Hawthorne, in honor of Sister Alphonsa, the daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne.