North Salem is somewhat of an equestrian's dreamland.
The town's farming history paved the way for plenty of
open spaces and a rural setting, attractions that draw residents
who enjoy the serenity and strive to maintain North Salem's
country qualities.With old churches and barns converted
into houses lining the windy roads, horse-crossing
signs are nearly as necessary as stop signs.

 

Lean, strong horses can be seen grazing on the lush lawns of horse farms or behind fences close to the road, and are as common a sight in North Salem as squirrels or deer.Its hamlets of Purdys, Croton Falls, Salem Center, and North Salem have small shopping areas amid open roads and horse farms, offering things like produce and haircuts, a handful of restaurants and small stores. For a grocery store or busy shopping area, residents have to drive to a neighboring town, which isn't difficult, with its close proximity to Connecticut and Putnam County.The 23.4-square-mile town has its own school system with nearly 1,450 students, from kindergarten through 12th grade.Its library recently underwent a large-scale renovation and expansion, growing from about 3,400 square feet to about 5,700 square feet, and now houses a children's room.

North Salem's history, dating back to 1731, resonates through the small town, which has a population of about 5,200.Delancey Hall, one of the three buildings that comprise Town Hall, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Driving along Route 116, also known as Titicus Road, one can view historical sites and structures, such as The Cable Barn, circa 1869, and Balanced Rock, a 60-ton mound of granite that rests on five smaller rocks. The rock does not match the make-up of typical rocks found in the area, so its placement remains a mystery. It is thought to have been left there during the glacial period.

Antique shops can be spotted along the town's
roads as well, among the houses and sprawling
landscapes.

Route 116 is one of Westchester's most
historic roads, having been marked as an
escape route for George Washington
and Benedict Arnold.

Hardscrabble Road is so-called because
to get to the nearby Tompkins family farm,
which straddled the road, it was a "hard scrabble,"
said Dick Yakman, North Salem's town historian.

The eccentric characters that have come through
the town over the years remain alive through storytelling, such as the hermit Sara Bishop, who supposedly lived in a cave and eventually froze to death there. In her spirit, people generally like to keep to themselves around town, Yakman says.

The town has become a get-away for the rich
and famous, including New York City
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, David Letterman,
Alan Menken, Stanley Tucci and others.

But it takes a long time to become a true North Salemite
— paying taxes and bringing wealth to the community
isn't enough, says Yakman.

To earn their stripes, residents have to get involved
and give something back to the community, he said.