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  • Writer's pictureDoug Foster

Tarrytown's Lighthouse

A lighthouse of many names, the Tarrytown lighthouse, Kingsland Point Lighthouse, is now officially the 1883 Lighthouse at Sleepy Hollow. A lot has changed around the lighthouse since it was built.

The US Congress authorized the structure in 1847, but the project was delayed for many reasons, much of which was the cost of purchasing the land, which was a profitable vineyard at the time. In the end, it was decided to locate it a quarter mile off shore of Kingsland Point.

The lighthouse arrived, by barge, in “kit” form and was assembled from anchored vessels and scaffolding. The first keeper was Captain Joseph Ackerman. For the next 78 years, the lighthouse would have twelve keepers.

Today the lighthouse is just a few feet from shore and connected by a pedestrian bridge. The gap from a quarter mile was closed from a century of filling in over 100 acres of the river. Up until the mid 19th century there was a harbor called Slapershaven, which is Dutch for Sleepy Harbor.

In the mid 19th century, part of the harbor was filled in to build the railroad track to connect NYC with Albany. In 1899, John Brisben Walker began to fill in the area to site his factory for Stanley Steam Car Company. After he went out of business the site was taken over as a factory to build Maxwell-Briscoe cars.

The site was later acquired by Chevrolet in 1915, which was acquired by General Motors in 1918. The last vehicles were second generation mini-vans, which did not sell well, and GM closed the plant in 1996. A few months later residents of the Village of North Tarrytown voted to change the name to Sleepy Hollow.

When the Tappan Zee bridge was built in 1955, with its navigational lights, the lighthouse was no longer needed. It was deactivated and slated for demolition and removal. In 1969, Westchester County accepted the lighthouse and made it part of its park system.

In 1983, on its one hundredth birthday, it was reopened for visits. Today visitors can walk up to the lighthouse but inside tours are only provided by appointment for groups.

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