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New Rochelle: Arts City

New Rochelle: Arts City

Barbara Davis, City Historian

In 1906, half a century after the first steam engine barreled through town, New Rochelle served as the centerpiece for the hit musical Forty five Minutes from Broadway. Although the lyrics poked fun at the rural folk supposedly living in the town, the newly-incorporated city was rapidly developing into one of the most sought-after suburban communities. New Rochelle's proximity to the Sound had resulted in a booming resort trade by the late 1800s. Wealthy Manhattanites flocked to its shores for recreation. Many liked the place so much they stayed for good. Each tide of immigration transformed New Rochelle's population. Just after the turn of the 19th century the community experienced its greatest growth, including the development of the Wykagyl residential and business section-the result of the short-lived New York Westchester-Boston Railroad.

So, it is not surprising that New Rochelle became the home to a lion's share of prominent individuals from nearly every field. What is notable, however, is how the community attracted and nurtured a great many individuals responsible for shaping the cultural and artistic fabric of America. Beginning soon after the Civil War, artists, musicians, playwrights, cartoonists, and dramatists began staking roots here. By the 1920s headlines called the place "Greenwich Village without the Greenwich." Through the 20th century, friends and colleagues who were comic strip artists, radio broadcasters, television personalities, chose New Rochelle for their homes.

Signs of the Past


The ten signs that mark the boundaries between New Rochelle’s neighbors – Pelham, Larchmont, Eastchester and Scarsdale – were created as a project of the New Rochelle Art Association in the 1920s. Famous artists who lived in New Rochelle were commissioned to design a sign welcoming visitors and retelling part of the Queen City’s history. Norman Rockwell, Remington Schuyler, Cole Phillips, Frederick Dana March, Edward Penfield, Clare Briggs, Robert Robertson, James R. Marsh, Laurence M. Loeb and George T. Tobin all contributed their creativity and ingenuity to this artistic endeavor. The New Rochelle Council on the Arts salutes these great artists and supports the effort to continue their legacy.

For more information about how you can help maintain these historic signs, contact Mickie Fosina of the Historic Sign Renovation Association, P.O. Box 1243, New Rochelle, NY 10802, tel. # 914-235-4565.

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“City Limits” by Frederick Dana Marsh. Silhouette of the ship “La Rochelle.” Sign located on Shore Road at the Pelham Manor line. “Rich in History” by Norman Rockwell. Shows American Troops on their way to the Battle of White Plains. Sign located on Eastchester Road at New Rochelle Road.
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“The Home Town” by Robert Robertson. Shows a landscape and mansion. Sign located at Lincoln Avenue and the Pelham line. “Passing of the British under Lord Howe, Oct. 18, 1776” by Cole Phillips. Depicts British troops leaving New York under the command of General Howe. Sign located at Wilmot Road, near North Avenue near Eastchester Border.
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“City of Homes, Churches and Schools” by Laurence M. Loeb. Sign located at Quaker Ridge Road and Weaver Street. “Founded by the Huguenots – 1688” by Remington Schuyler. Shows the Siwanoy Indians returning from a hunting expedition with a deer slung from a pole. Sign located on the Boston Post Road at the Larchmont line.
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“17 Miles to New York” by Edward Penfield. Depicts a Colonial Coach and Four passing through New Rochelle on its way to Boston, MA. Sign is located on the Boston Post Road at the Pelham Manor line. “Settled in 1688 by the Huguenots of New Rochelle” by James R. Marsh. Depicts a ship with a Huguenot church nearby. Sign located at Wilmot Road in Heathcote at the Scarsdale Village Limits.