Browse Exhibits (4 total)

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Artists of Clarkstown

This exhibit, Artists of Clarkstown, features some notable citizens of the town who have contributed to the local, national, and international art scenes. Clarkstown’s location in the lower Hudson Valley leaves the town rich in history and art. Artists involved in the Hudson River School movement could find themselves in the area, and would become an extension of New York City’s creative culture with the quietness of the country. Many of the urban transplants settled on South Mountain Road in New City, creating a haven for artistic expression. Whether they were native to Clarkstown, New York, or even the United States, these artists play an important role in the town’s local history.


A Study of Trap Rock

John Henry Hill, A Study of Trap Rock (Buttermilk Falls), 1863. Oil on canvas, 50.8x61cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Civil War and Clarkstown

Clarkstown and the Civil War is an exhibit of items related to the war and the citizens of Clarkstown.  In 1860 the population of Clarkstown was approximately 4,000 out of a total of 22,492 for Rockland County as a whole.  It was a rural community with many small and large farms.  As a whole, the County was skeptical of the war effort and Clarkstown was no exception. Yet over 80 residents served their country and by the end of the war 15 of those men had made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their life in service for their country.


Elizabeth "Pat" Ryan Digital Scrapbook

Elizabeth “Pat” Ryan was born in 1923 at Women’s Hospital in Manhattan and grew up in Pomona, where her father, Dr. William J. Ryan, was superintendent of the Summit Park Sanatorium. She graduated from St. Joseph’s Parochial School in Spring Valley in 1936 and went on to attend Marymount Academy, a private boarding school in Tarrytown, graduating in 1940.

Ryan started swimming at age 5 in small lakes and pools around Rockland County. At age 9 she joined the renowned Women’s Swimming Association (WSA) in New York City to develop her swimming talent. One pool where she swam regularly was the Monterey Pool in Bardonia. Under the guidance of WSA Coach Lou B. de Handley – who also coached Gloria Callen of Nyack and other champions – Ryan improved rapidly. In June 1936, at age 13, she won the 440-yard Junior National title at Jones Beach, N.Y. Her meteoric rise through the swimming ranks received a major boost a few weeks later, when she competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Astoria, N.Y. Ryan finished sixth in the finals of the 100-meter freestyle sprint race to earn the final qualifying berth for the Olympic Games in Berlin.

At age 13, she was the youngest athlete on the U.S. team in the Berlin Olympics.

In the Olympic Games, she swam on the U.S. 400-meter freestyle relay team. In the elimination heats, the U.S. won its heat with a team of Elizabeth Ryan, Bernice Lapp, Mavis Freeman and Olive McKean. They defeated teams from Great Britain, Canada, Hungary and Austria. In the finals, the U.S. finished third for the bronze medal, with Katherine Rawls (the Olympic Trials winner) replacing Ryan as the leadoff leg. Holland won the gold medal in an Olympic record time of 4:36.0, followed by Germany (4:36.8) and the U.S. (4:40.2).

Ryan received a bronze medal as a member of the relay. She is the only athlete from Rockland County to earn a medal at the Olympic Games. After returning from the Olympics, Ryan won both the New York State and Metropolitan A.A.U.100-yard freestyle swims in indoor and outdoor competition. She also anchored a 300-yard medley relay team that set the American short-course (indoor) record. One of her teammates on that three-person relay was Gloria Callen, a Rockland Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

In September 1937, at age 14, Ryan won the U.S. senior national 100-meter freestyle title at the A.A.U. outdoor championships in San Francisco, setting a meet-record time of 1:08 over a 100-meter straightaway course. Her time was only 1.2 seconds off the American record at that time.

In 1938 she successfully defended her indoor and outdoor titles in the New York State and Metropolitan A.A.U. championships, and went on to win the Metropolitan titles in 1939 and 1940 for a run of four consecutive championships. Still in her prime, Ryan was favored to make the 1940 Olympic team before the Games were cancelled due to World War II. She retired from Elizabeth “Pat” Ryan competitive swimming while still at the peak of her fame. She was in demand for many years afterward, however, and made many charitable appearances while accepting no money and preserving her amateur status. One such event was a 1944 swimming meet in Burlington, Vt., organized by Burlington Daily News editor John Donahue, a fellow Rockland County native and a 1938 Pearl River High School graduate.

At the Burlington meet, Ryan served as honorary chairman and chief judge of the event, joined in judging duties by her younger sisters, Helen and Marita. Elizabeth and Helen (an accomplished swimmer herself) also performed a demonstration of freestyle and backstroke as well as synchronized swimming.

Ryan lived in Queens for many years and never married. She died in 1998 at age 75 from complications of a muscular disease.

This digital exhibit chronicles her career swimming career, with a special emphasis on the 1936 Olympic Games, through photos, letters, and newspaper articles.

Use the menu on the left hand side of the page to navigate between the different sections of the exhibit.

Biographical information courtesy of the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame

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Immigrant Groups in Clarkstown

Many different immigrant groups have come to Clarkstown over the course of the town's history. Dutch and German immigrants arrived in the colonial period, and many Russians and Norwegians came after World War II. Some Haitian immigrants made their way to Clarkstown in the middle of the 20th century while others came during the latter part of the century when many Indian immigrants were also settling in the area. Each group has made positive contributions to the town's development, and they have all succeeded in assimilating to life in the U.S. while still preserving elements of the cultures of their ancestral homelands.