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Dutch settlers began arriving in the 1620s, followed by settlers from England in the 1640s.
Westchester County was one of the original twelve counties of the Province of New York, created by an act of the New York General Assembly in 1683.
With the need for homes expanding after World War II, multistory apartment houses appeared in the urbanized areas of the county, while the market for single-family houses continued to expand. Major interstate highways were constructed in Westchester during the 1950s and 1960s.
At the time it included present day Bronx County, and abutted then-Dutchess County to the north.
By 1775, Westchester was the richest and most populous county in the colony of New York.
Municipal and County owned parks provide access to beaches, nature preserves and passive and active waterfront recreational facilities.
Several large harbors lie along the shore including Milton Harbor in Rye, Mamaroneck Harbor, Larchmont Harbor, and Echo Bay, and the upper and lower harbors in southern New Rochelle. Army's Fort Slocum, is currently unoccupied but is slated for use as passive parkland; Glen Island, currently a Westchester Parks Department run beach and park, was one of the first amusement parks in the country serving as a summer resort at the turn of the twentieth century; Huckleberry Island is largely undeveloped, and has one of the largest rookeries in western Long Island Sound; Echo Island is owned and used by a private yacht club; Execution Rocks is the site of a 19th-century lighthouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places; Columbia, Pea, and Goose Islands are undeveloped; Clifford, Harrison and Tank Islands are part of the "Five Islands Park" and nature preserve; while Oak and Pine Islands are used as private residences.
A number of islands can be found off the Long Island Sound shore, most of which are located in New Rochelle. The widest section of the Hudson River, at 3.6 miles (6 km), is found between the Westchester and Rockland County shorelines immediately north of Croton Point.