Follow Ichabod Crane around Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, and learn the haunts of the Headless Horseman
Visitors to "Sleepy Hollow Country," as Washington Irving called the area, can explore a number of historic locations related to "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and Irving himself. Most of the following listings are all within a few minutes drive of the Old Dutch Burying Ground. If you don't mind a little walking, you can easily trace Ichabod Crane's famous ride up the Albany Post Road (now Route 9, Broadway).
Site of the Elizabeth Van Tassel house (Mott House)
There is no way around this, so we may as well be frank: the location of the Van Tassel homestead in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a sticky proposition. Van Tassels had long populated the area by the time Washington Irving wrote "The Legend," so there is reasonable latitude in which to speculate whom, if any, may have been the models for Baltus Van Tassel and his coquettish daughter Katrina. Historian Edgar Mayhew Bacon, in his 1898 book Chronicles of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow (Bacon was also prescient; it would be another 98 years before the village of North Tarrytown changed its name to Sleepy Hollow), attaches Katrina Van Tassel to the Elizabeth Van Tassel house, a tavern before and during the Revolutionary War.Bacon notes that Irving was a frequent visitor at this old house "especially during the time that his [Irving's] sister boarded there with the Mott family."
The former Elizabeth Van Tassel house was located at what is now the northeast corner of Hamilton Place and North Broadway in Tarrytown. The Landmark Condominium building is presently on the site. From there, walk north about 0.3 mile on Route 9 (North Broadway) to the André captors' monument in Patriots Park, the spot where Ichabod was met by the headless horseman.
Patriots Park and the Andre Captors' Monument
The marshy area where Ichabod first encountered the headless horseman has long since been drained, but its stream still flows through a park shared by the villages of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. A monument marks the spot where, on September 23, 1780, John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart captured British spy John André and exposed Benedict Arnold's treasonous attempt to turn over West Point to the British. At that same location Ichabod, too, met a fateful sentry. Today, beware of sport utility vehicles of large dimensions rushing along Broadway. The park and monument are located on the west side of Route 9 (Broadway) at the border between Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown.
From here you can, if you wish, approximate Ichabod's flight by galloping frantically along Broadway until you reach the Old Dutch Church, about 0.6 mile.
Headless Horseman Bridge, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Before it was straightened, the Albany post road came down from the north past the church as it does now, but then it curved along the south side of the church before turning toward the Pocantico. The precise location of the old, timber bridge where Ichabod was unseated by a pumpkin is lost to time but it would have been located east of the current Route 9 bridge inside what is now Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
.While we are sorry you can't dash across the original, you are welcome to visit the cemetery's own bridge across the Pocantico. It is about 0.3 mile inside the cemetery's south gate. The bridge's rough-hewn boards clatter like hoofbeats under the wheels of infrequent automobiles. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, 540 North Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
Old Dutch Church & Burying Ground
"It stands on a knoll, surrounded by locust-trees and lofty elms, from among which its decent, whitewashed walls shine modestly forth, like Christian purity.... To look upon its grass-grown yard, where the sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the dead might rest in peace."__The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
On that note of foreboding, Washington Irving introduced the Old Dutch Church and burying ground to the world in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Who can forget the terrifying encounter in the churchyard between the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane? Ichabod, a schoolteacher, sang with the choir in the church gallery. Wrote Irving, "There are peculiar quavers still to be heard in that church, and which may even be heard half a mile off, to the opposite side of the mill-pond." Ichabod hoped to make a good match for himself with Katrina Van Tassel, daughter of a wealthy farmer.
Ichabod's hopes were dashed when Bram Bones, a competitor for Katrina's affections, played a practical joke on the superstitious school teacher. On the terrifying night ride that ensued, the unfortunate Ichabod sought refuge in the yard of the Old Dutch Church, not the adjacent Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which had not been established at the time Irving wrote the Legend. The two-acre burying ground is of course the purported haunt of a certain headless Hessian.
Self-guided walking tours available at the church will lead you through the church and burying ground. The church is open to visitors on weekend afternoons from june through October, and for worship services at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings from June-September.
Just a few minutes' walk from the Old Dutch Church is Philipsburg Manor. It is a restoration of the 17th century Dutch manor beside whose millpond Ichabod Crane strolled with fair companions.
The Philipses' manor house and gristmill are part of the museum, staffed by guides who bring to life the stories of the Philipse family and the enslaved community.This historic property was a thriving milling and trading center in the first half of the 1700s. Both it and the Old Dutch Church were built by Frederick Philipse, the richest man in New York at his death in 1702.
Philipse got his start as a shrewd young Dutch immigrant who went to work as a carpenter for the Dutch West Indies Company. He quickly worked his way up, helped along by marriage to Margaret Hardenbroek, a widow who owned her own fur-trading ships. Philipse bought large tracts of land, and eventually owned 90,000 acres of Westchester County, including 22 miles of Hudson River frontage. When the British government granted his lands "manor" status, Philipse became the first lord of Philipsburg Manor. Route 9, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
Washington Irving's Grave
Washington Irving's grave is not in the Burying Ground that he made famous; rather, his body lies in the adjacent Sleepy Hollow Cemetery that he helped to promote in his later years. The grave is located at the south end of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, overlooking the grounds of the Old DutchChurch. A path through the burying ground leads up the hill to the north of the church, guiding visitors to a narrow road; Irving's grave is across the road and a few steps to the right.
Other famous people buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery include Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, William Rockefeller and Elizabeth Arden. Pick up a free map of the grounds at the cemetery office located about 1/4 mile north of the Old Dutch Church on Route 9 (North Broadway). Though Sleepy Hollow Cemetery surrounds the Old Dutch Burying Ground on three sides, it is not affiliated with the Old Dutch Burying Ground or the church.Visitors should be aware that the parking area adjacent to the church belongs to the cemetery, and that the gates are closed and locked at 4:30 p.m. For more information on Sleepy Hollow Cemetery or to arrange group tours of its grounds, contact: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, 540 North Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591, tel. 914-631-0081
Washington Irving’s meticulously restored home is filled with the author's possessions, including his writing desk and books. Originally a Dutch farmer’s house, Sunnyside is now a property of the non-profit Historic Hudson Valley and open for tours. Seasonal events are offered, such as candlelight tours at Christmas. Located on West Sunnyside Lane, off Route 9 (South Broadway), about 3-1/2 miles south of the Old Dutch Church.West Sunnyside Lane, Tarrytown, NY 10591, 914-631-8200
Christ Episcopal Church
Washington Irving followed the Rev. Dr. William Creighton here from Zion Episcopal Church. Irving was a vestryman, warden, Sunday School teacher, and regular parishioner at Christ Church until his death in 1859. The ivy on the church walls is from cuttings taken at Irving's home. 43 South Broadway, Tarrytown, NY, 914-631-2074
Zion Episcopal Church
Founded in 1833. Irving worshipped here prior to his association with Christ Episcopal Church. 55 Cedar Street, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522, 914-693-9320
Rockefeller State Park Preserve
If the original route of Ichabod's flight from the headless horseman is now too populated for your taste, step back in time courtesy of the Rockefeller family. To the east of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, across the Old Croton Aqueduct, Rockefeller State Park Preserve encompasses dense forest, rolling pastures, and miles of unpaved carriage roads. In the gathering gloom of some overcast autumn afternoon, you might just hear hoofbeats approaching from behind. But don't panic—the state park allows equestrian access to some trails. If you wish to make your own horseback ride through Sleepy Hollow, there is horse trailer parking at the park's main entrance on Route 117. There is pedestrian access to the park from the Old Croton Aqueduct and Old Sleepy Hollow Road. Route 117, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591 914-631-1470
The namesake for Irving's hapless schoolmaster is buried in a churchyard in Staten Island. Legend has it that Irving knew Crane from service during the War of 1812. Irving seems to have picked up only the name, not the character, of the Staten Islander. The character may have been based in part upon the career of Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Youngs, a resident of the Tarrytown area. After the revolution, Youngs became a schoolteacher, went on to study law, and was elected to state office—roughly the career path of the fictitious Ichabod Crane. Youngs was originally buried in the churchyard of Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow—the setting for "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"—but was transferred to Ossining in 1851 when administrators of the new Dale Cemetery wanted a notable citizen to grace their new burying ground.
Asbury Methodist Cemetery, 2000 Richmond Avenue (corner of Amsterdam Place), Staten Island, NY: The marble Crane monument is located at the back of the section to the left of the church. Dale Cemetery, Ossining: The Youngs monument can be difficult to find among the cemetery's 40 acres without a map. If the office is open, purchase a copy of their guide book. 104 Havell Street, Ossining, NY, 10562, 914-941-1155
Hudson Valley Writers' Center
Jump start your own writing career in the same locale that inspired Washington Irving. The Hudson Valley Writers' Center offers classes, workshops, and readings by emerging and established writers in the restored Philipse Manor train station. 300 Riverside Drive, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591, 914-332-5953
The headless horseman is not the only frightful phantom to grace the area. Fans of the 1960s television series Dark Shadows will recall that Lyndhurst in Tarrytown served as the Collinwood estate in the feature-length film House of Dark Shadows (1970). Sleepy Hollow Cemetery's receiving vault (inset image) made a cameo in the same film as the Collins family mausoleum. Lyndhurst, one of America's finest Gothic Revival mansions, is within walking distance of Washington Irving's Sunnyside by way of the Old Croton Aqueduct walking trail. Lyndhurst, 635 South Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591, 914-631-4481
__By Jim Logan