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Sleepy Hollow

December 7, 2009

In lieu of another hungover Sunday in bed, last week Catie, Topper and I rolled out of the city to visit Sleepy Hollow, a tiny town in the Hudson River Valley right at the base of the Tappan Zee bridge. In addition to being the site of the Rockefellers’ Kyuit and former home to the General Motors assembly plant, it’s also the site of Washington Irving’s classic American short  story  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. En zee.

In Sleepy Hollow, every street sign is orange with a headless horseman logo on top, and every business precedes its function with the town name:  The Sleepy Hollow Veterinary Clinic, The The Sleepy Hollow Middle/ High School, The Sleepy Hollow Coffee Shop, The Sleepy Hollow Gas Station. In the Old Dutch Cemetery anchors the town, and in addition to less important people like Andrew Carnegie, Walter P. Chrysler, Brooke Astor and Elizabeth Arden, all of the characters in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow are buried there, including the horseman and Johnny Depp.

But here’s the thing–the town of Sleepy Hollow actually didn’t exist, legally, until 1997. Before that, it was the hamlet of Beekmantown, which, due to its status as the worst town name in the history of man, switched to North Tarrytown in 1874. Now, I have two problems with this:

1. Does this mean they changed all of their business names in 1997?

2. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was first published in 1820. Why did it take so long for the town to capitalize on the tourist opportunities afforded by a fairy tale? Forks hosted Twilight tours within the week, people!

Ambiguous name origins aside, Sleepy Hollow and its surrounding area is worth a visit. Tarrytown, which I thought was Sleepy Hollow’s downtown for a good five hours, lies directly south and is packed with fabulous antique stores and galleries. The Rockefeller Estate of Kykuit is also in town, but beware: they close at 2 on Sundays. If you plan poorly, like us, you can end your evening at Blue Hill at Stone Barnes, New York’s famous restaurant that lets you see your chicken before you eat us. Or if you’re classy like us, you can stop at the 24 hour El Dorado diner, just off the side of I-87.

*Side note: For the last two hours, I’ve been struggling in a haze of snot and sinus infections to write a witty, yet relevant, version of this post, and upon publication, I still think I’ve failed. However, I must note that my greatest jolt of inspiration came when I a) signed up for the Urban Dictionary word of the day and b) put on Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter III. Slick as snot on a doorknob, yo!

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