Bronxville: College Town USA

Bronxville is not usually considered a college town among Sarah Lawrence students.

Grace Shun '17 depicts a Sarah Lawrence student's experience in Bronxville.

Grace Shun '17 depicts a Sarah Lawrence student's experience in Bronxville.

"It seems like a small town that has a college in it, as opposed to an actual college town," says Katie Cheeseman ’16.

“I go to the movie theater a lot," says Aili Arnell ’14.

Often Bronxville seems like the place students walk past to get to the Metro North, as there does not seem to be much entertainment.  The movie theater, next to the restaurants, seems to be the only form of entertainment in Bronxville for most Sarah Lawrence students.

A college town is a town where a nearby school permeates the social and economic presence, often with a fun community geared towards the nearby college students. While Bronxville does have a fair number of businesses with college discounts, it is nothing to brag about. Most of them are only ten percent off. College towns also often showcase the nearby college culture in some way.

"It seems like a family town really. We're not really intermixed with the actual town," says Amaris Smith ’17.

"Bronxville is a fairly conservative community, and Sarah Lawrence is a fairly liberal college," says Judith Schwartzstein, Director of Public Affairs at Sarah Lawrence.

 "It doesn't have restaurants per se that fit a college budget or things like that so it's a town that I really enjoy being in but I wouldn't exactly say it's meant for Sarah Lawrence," Says Ali Weinstein ’17.

Places like Lawrence Hospital or Lawrence Park were founded by the same man who founded Sarah Lawrence, William Van Duzer Lawrence.

"There are a lot of historical ties between the founder's family and the village of Bronxville," says Schwartzstein.

William, a pharmaceutical mogul, was extremely wealthy and heavily influenced the Bronxville community. In 1890, William Lawrence purchased an 86 acre farm. Part of it would later become Lawrence Park. Lawrence Hospital was established in 1909 after William Lawrence's son, Dudley, almost died on the way to a hospital in New York City. Today, the Lawrence Hospital is still used by the college. Health Services has a nurse practitioner with privileges to the hospital, and Annie Galloway is a doctor who is usually informed when a Sarah Lawrence student is admitted into the hospital.

Despite Lawrence's heavy influence on Bronxville, a dividing, "town and gown" relationship quickly formed between the residents of Bronxville and the students of Sarah Lawrence.

In May 1929, when Sarah Lawrence College wanted to buy two buildings to expand further into Lawrence Park. The Lawrence Park community protested, claiming that the college girls were too noisy. They said the silence had been abolished by late parties, noisy ukeleles, too many automobiles, and 'petting parties' (making out) on the streets.

"They play jazz all hours of the day and night," one of the neighbors had complained.

The two buildings, assumed to be Warren and Perkins, were bought by Sarah Lawrence, which irritated the neighbors.

Sarah Lawrence is technically in Yonkers, not Bronxville. However, the Sarah Lawrence address is listed as 1 Mead Way, Bronxville, NY 10708. Many faculty and students believe think this is because Sarah Lawrence detests association with Yonkers.

The Yonkers Chamber of Commerce asked the school in 1958 to have "Yonkers, N.Y.," in their address instead of "Bronxville," criticizing the school of going out of its way to create the illusion it was Bronxville, even though the college is within the limits of Yonkers.

Harold Taylor, the president of Sarah Lawrence from 1945 to 1959, explained to the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce that the reason was to save time and money for the Post Office employees, since the mail is received in Bronxville. 

Sarah Lawrence still, however, shows signs of being in Yonkers.

"All our municipal services is in Yonkers," says Schwartzstein.

Sarah Lawrence still follows Yonkers ordinances as well. In 1999, the Avalon Bay Communities business in Bronxville leased four apartments to 24 Sarah Lawrence students. Residents and village officials were apprehensive. They never suspected that any of the apartments would turn into a Sarah Lawrence dorm. It was stressed that the housing was a very short-term solution, and the students would likely be moved back on campus by next semester.

Two years later, in June of 2001, Hill House was bought by Sarah Lawrence, alleviating the overcrowding issue into Bronxville.

While Bronxville doesn't seem like a stereotypical college town, over the last few years, Sarah Lawrence has tried to strengthen the relationship with Bronxville. A program started a few years ago called, "Bronxville is a college town," which was a college discount program. SLC students often frequent Bronxville cafes or restaurants. CVS and Swizzles Frozen Yogurt even accept 1Cards. Bronxville bulletin boards are occasionally plastered with advertisements for PAC performers and with things such as Sarah Lawrence's InTouch magazine.

 "This is a vehicle for relaying news about our community externally," says Schwartzstein.

Two offices of Advancement and Alumni relations will also soon be moving off campus and into Bronxville.

"The mayor of Bronxville and many of the businesses in Bronxville are very happy to see this happen," says Schwartzstein. "We have many supporters of the college who are Bronxville residents, including some of our trustees. We have lots of people who do come to our events and are happy to be in the Sarah Lawrence area.”

by Joseph McFarland '16

art by Grace Shun '17


SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.