Cities Journal

Top 16 Small Cities In New York

Pearl river-flickr-Sherene
Photo credit: Sherene / Flickr

When most people think of New York, visions of skyscrapers, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty come to mind. However, there are millions of people who live upstate or on Long Island in small, welcoming towns. From the rolling hills of the Hudson Valley to Long Island, there are several quirky New York villages that are well worth a detour away from Manhattan.

These towns offer incredible history that dates back to the colonial era, sites that were important to the American Revolution, and centuries of American ingenuity. Here are 16 of the best small cities in New York

1. Pearl River

An article in “The New York Times” dubbed Pearl River as a spot that wasn’t as trendy as its neighbors and a town great for families. The small community had 15,876 residents as of the 2010 census and its population has remained fairly constant in the past several years. The town has a reputation for welcoming families into its neighborhoods although the real estate does reflect the higher household incomes that exist close to New York City. Real estate website Trulia suggests the median sales price for Pearl River homes in early 2014 was $430,000, which isn’t out of line with the region.

The town of Orangetown in Rockland county counts Pearl River as a part of its overall metropolitan area, but this census-designated area certainly has a life of its own. Interestingly, there is no real consensus on how Pearl River’s name came to be as there are a few theories put forth on the Orangetown Historical Museum & Archives website.

The society suggests that a pair of Irish businessmen came to the area in the late 1600s and started building a small community. The arrival of the railroad in the latter half of the 19th century ensured growth of the area, and some hypothesize that the name of Pearl River came from the need for the town to sound welcoming.

In fact, Pearl River was dubbed “The Town of Friendly People” in the 1930s by a marketing team who wanted to encourage tourism. However, marketing teams wouldn’t need to try that hard to get people to like the area, given its pleasant populace and the nice weather. The Weather Channel suggests that temperatures in the summer reach the mid-80s and that the winter brings temperatures close to the freezing point. Definitely a nice spread of different seasons, but not a frigid or incredibly warm area.

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