Suffern, NY is a village in the town of Ramapo in Rockland County. It’s population of about 10,000 hasn’t changed much over the past decade, but more and more people who commute to Manhattan are discovering the advantages of living here. Suffern is a two square mile village with a bustling main street and a wide variety of restaurants and retail shop. Sufferns retains much of village charm while being a relatively safe, convenient place to live, in verdant Rockland County. There are two things many residents find most advantageous about living in Suffern: commuting and the economy of life in a small town that’s still close to New York City.
Suffern’s railroad station is a stop on the Port Jervis Line railroad, only 30 miles to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan with a stop at the Path station in Hoboken. This means that commuters can get into and out of the city without traffic, tolls or parking in about an hour. Time enough to read, get some work done or just relax before and after a day at the office. Parking is available at the station, which is located at the southern end of Suffern’s downtown.
The other reason for Suffern’s popularity is its affordability. New Jersey is just minutes away, where shoppers pay no sales tax on clothes and large shops are plentiful. New Yorkers also go to New Jersey to buy gasoline because unlike New York, New Jersey has no 20-cent per gallon gas tax. According to statistics about Rockland County real estate, the median sale price for a single-family home at the end of 2011 was $323,000, down 18 percent, from $369,000 a year earlier. The price of condos in Suffern has also dropped — to $127,000 as of September 2012, from $190,000 at year end of 2011. The median price of a condo in the third quarter of 2009 was $215,000. Suffern has a wide variety of condo sizes, from one-bedrooms to multi-bedroom luxury condominiums.
The village is named for John Suffern, an Irish settler who built a home in the early 1770s at what is now the intersection of Washington and Lafayette Avenues in downtown Suffern. The streets are named for Revolutionary War heroes General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. According to an early history of Rockland County, they both encamped in the area during the war. After the war, John Suffern, an area farmer, teacher and store owner, became Rockland’s first county judge.
Suffern grew throughtout the 19th century, partly because it was on the main highway through the western Hudson Highlands. Suffern was a hub for stage coach traffic traveling on the busy Albany Suffern, NYPost Road between upstate New York and New York City.
In 1841 the Erie Railroad became the first railroad in Rockland County, and built a station in Suffern. In 1897, what was to become the Avon cosmetics company established a factory in Suffern as the California Perfume Company. The factory still operates in Suffern today.
After WWII, Suffern became a tough factory town, and not one that would provide an inviting atmosphere to families looking for a place to settle down. Part of the problem was rooted in the town’s easy access for New Jersey teenagers taking advantage of New York’s 18-year-old drinking age. When New York raised the drinking age to 21, traffic from New Jersey diminished significantly, and Suffern began a period of regrowth.
In the ensuing years, Suffern has successfully added housing and kept a healthy retail community while holding down serious crime and urban problems. It continues to have a coziness that harkens back to simpler times. Suffern, NY may not have the hustle and bustle of Manhattan’s busy lifestyle, but it’s a very affordable place to live, and a convenient commute to that hustle and bustle which lies just down the line.
The Ramapo Central School District provides public education for primary and secondary Suffern NYschool children. It has five elementary (K-5) schools, a middle school and high-school. Also available is Green Meadow Waldorf School(GMWS), an independent Waldorf school located in Chestnut Ridge, Rockland County, New York. It offers parent and child classes, and nursery/kindergarten through 12th grades. The school is accredited by both the New York State Association of Independent Schools and the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America.
Rockland Community College is a two-year college in the State University of New York system, located in hamlet of Viola within the Village of Suffern from the Town of Ramapo in Rockland County, New York. The college offers 48 programs and offers both certificates and associates degrees. Additionally, students can earn other degrees, including Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in the arts and sciences, technology, and health professions while attending classes at Rockland through articulation programs with four-year schools.
THINGS TO DO
While many residents drive to New Jersey to save on gas and clothing, many prefer the convenience and variety offered by Rockland County’s Palisades Center Shopping Mall, just a few miles to the east on the New York State Thruway When it was built in the 1990’s the Palisades Mall was the second largest such center in the nation, second only to Bloomington, Minnesota’s Mall of America.
Shopping is also popular in Paramus, NJ on Highway 17’s storied shopping district. For three miles (5 km) north of Route 4, well over a hundred retail stores and several large shopping malls line the route in the borough of Paramus.
Suffern residents need not leave town for multi-media entertainment. On the north end of the Suffern, NYSuffern business district is the Lafayette Theater, a 1924 vaudeville theater now showing first run motion pictures in its 800 seat auditorium. The old theater has been restored, preserving much of its original Beaux Arte style decor. It is also notable for housing the Ben Hall Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre organ, which is still played several times a week before the theater’s Big Screen Classics shows.
Residents can also find plenty of restaurants to suit their tastes. Suffern offers dining from high-end Italian at Marcello’s Ristorante, continental cuisine a Ravi, and upscale Mexican at Ole Ole, to name a few.
Outdoor activities are easy to find near Suffern. Hiking in the Ramapo mountains is popular year around. Another resource is Bear Mountain State Park, which offers hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails, ski jumps and an outdoor ice-skating rink. Also, in Bergen County, there is the 300-acre Ramapo River Reserve.
The town of Ramapo has several parks with tennis courts, swimming pools and children’s recreation. The town also supports Spook Rock Golf Course, an 18 hole public course which has had the distinction of being named one of the top 100 public golf courses in the nation throughout the 1990’s by Golf Digest magazine. Private courses nearby include Minisceongo in Pomona, Manhattan Woods, and the New York Country Club, which recently opened to the public.
Suffern station serves both local and express trains, operated by New Jersey Transit to Hoboken Terminal with connecting service at Secaucus Junction to New York’s Pennsylvania Station. Most New Jersey Transit Main Line trains terminate at Suffern; Metro-North Railroad-supported Port Jervis Line trains continue into Orange County to Port Jervis. Transport of Rockland buses serve Suffern.
U.S. Route 202, New York State Route 59, Interstate 287, and Interstate 87, also known as the New York State Thruway, go through Suffern.