WHITE PLAINS, a village and the county-seat of Westchester county, New York, U.S.A., about 12 m. N. of New York City on the Bronx river, about midway between the Hudson river and Long Island Sound. Pop. (1890) 4508; (1900) 7899, of whom 1679 were foreign-born and 269 were negroes; (1910 census) 26,425. The village is served by the New York Central & Hudson River railway, and is connected by electric lines with New York City, and with Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Tarrytown and Mamaroneck. White Plains is a beautiful residential suburb stretching over a considerable area of rolling tree-clad hills and picturesque stretches of meadow lands in the valley of the Bronx and Mamaroneck rivers. Near the village are Silver, Kensico and Rye lakes. Among the public buildings and the institutions here are a fine Public Library building, a town hall, an armoury, the Westchester county court house and county jail, several private schools, the White Plains Hospital, St Agnes Hospital, the Presbyterian Convalescents' Sanitarium, the New York Orthopaedic Hospital, Muldoon's Hygienic Institute and Bloomingdale Hospital for the Insane (1821). In White Plains are the grounds of the Century Country Club, the Knollwood Golf and Country Club and the Westchester County Fair Association. There are some prosperous farms and market gardens.
When the Dutch first settled Manhattan, the central portion of what is now Westchester county was the granary for part of the Mahican tribe; it was called Quarropas by the Indians. To the early traders here the region was known as " the White Plains " from the groves of white balsam which covered it. The first organized settlement (November 1683) was by a party of Connecticut Puritans, who had settled at Rye in what was then disputed territory between New York and Connecticut; they moved westward in a body and took up lands the title to which they bought from the Indians. The heirs of John Richbell claimed that White Plains was comprised in a tract extending N. from the Mamaroneck river granted to him by the Dutch and confirmed by the English, and the controversy between these heirs and the settlers from Rye was only settled in 1722 by the grant to Joseph Budd and sixteen other settlers of a royal patent under which the freeholders chose their local officers and managed their own affairs. In 1759 White Plains succeeded Westchester as the county-seat of Westchester county. In the early summer of 1776 the Third Provincial Congress, having adjourned from New York City, met here in the old court house on South Broadway the site is now occupied by an armoury and is marked by a monument (1910). From the steps of this building the Declaration of Independence, brought from Philadelphia, was officially read for the first time in New York on the nth of July 1776. Here Congress adopted formally the name " Convention of Representatives of the State of New York," and from this dates the existence of New York as a state. After the British under Lord Howe had effected a landing at Throg's Neck on Long Island Sound, Washington withdrew (October) all his forces from the North end of Manhattan Island except the garrison of Fort Washington, and (21st October) concentrated his army near White Plains. His right rested on the Bronx river here, and there was a small force in rude earthworks on Chatterton's Hill on the W. bank. This point Howe attacked (October 28th), his troops advancing in two columns 4000 strong, the British under General Alexander Leslie, the Hessians under Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rail. General Alexander McDougall, in command of the American right wing, reinforced the troops on the hill, making the number of the defenders about 1600. The attack was stubbornly resisted for some time, after which the Americans retreated in good order across the river. The British had sustained such a severe loss (about 250) that no attempt was made to follow the Americans, who carried their dead and wounded, some 125 in number, away with them. Washington's forces retired three days later to North Castle township, where they occupied a stronger position. The old Miller House, which still stands in North White Plains, was occupied at intervals by Washington as his headquarters before the battle and again in the summer of 1778. In 1779 a Continental force under Aaron Burr was stationed here for some months, and in 1781 (July) White Plains was occupied by parts of Lauzun's and Rochambeau's French force. In 1866 White Plains received a village charter, which it still retains in spite of its large population.
See F. Shonnard and W. W. Spooner, History of Westchester County (N.Y., 1900), and J. T. Scharf, History of Westchester County (2 vols., ibid., 1886).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)