In 1906, half a century after the first steam engine barreled through town, New Rochelle served as the centerpiece for the hit musical Forty five Minutes from Broadway. Although the lyrics poked fun at the rural folk supposedly living in the town, the newly-incorporated city was rapidly developing into one of the most sought-after suburban communities. New Rochelle’s proximity to the Sound had resulted in a booming resort trade by the late 1800s. Wealthy Manhattanites flocked to its shores for recreation. Many liked the place so much they stayed for good. Each tide of immigration transformed New Rochelle’s population. Just after the turn of the 19th century the community experienced its greatest growth, including the development of the Wykagyl residential and business section-the result of the short-lived New York Westchester-Boston Railroad.
So, it is not surprising that New Rochelle became the home to a lion’s share of prominent individuals from nearly every field. What is notable, however, is how the community attracted and nurtured a great many individuals responsible for shaping the cultural and artistic fabric of America. Beginning soon after the Civil War, artists, musicians, playwrights, cartoonists, and dramatists began staking roots here. By the 1920s headlines called the place “Greenwich Village without the Greenwich.” Through the 20th century, friends and colleagues who were comic strip artists, radio broadcasters, television personalities, chose New Rochelle for their homes.