Here's why people love living in North Salem

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Sisters Helen Vail and Marianne Collins grew up on Peach Lake. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

The normally quiet streets of Croton Falls were transformed into a lively block party Saturday as locals and visitors turned out to experience North Salem’s thriving arts culture during the 2nd Annual North Salem Arts & Food Festival. The Festival showcased the many and varied artists and artisans, organizations, and food and beverage purveyors who call North Salem home.

During the Festival, the North Salem Post asked guests who visited the publication’s office in Croton Falls to share what they think makes North Salem special. Below are their answers, lightly edited for length and clarity.

Warren Lucas (North Salem Town Supervisor)

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

Croton Falls is on its way back and art is an important part of that with Railyard Arts Studio, Lift Trucks Gallery and other artists in the community. Art is really the expression of human creative skill and imagination. Croton Falls has some wonderful assets and the Town Board is working to leverage them to make Croton Falls a model for small community redevelopment. The Arts & Food Festival is just one link but a special link in our ongoing vision of Croton Falls.


Jennifer and Leah Barnett (North Salem mother & daughter)

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

Jennifer: I think North Salem is beautiful, and that’s what I love about it.
Leah (age 9): I like that in the fall the leaves change colors and it looks very pretty.


Eric and Pam Pooley (North Salem husband & wife)

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

Eric: Like a lot of people, we were drawn here for the natural beauty and rural character of the place when we discovered it in 1995. But now we’re seeing the people who live here with new platforms for creativity. It feels like things are taking off in Croton Falls.

Pam: North Salem really is kind of an outlier town. Its rural nature is certainly distinctive. The preservation ethos runs through everything, as well as the support of the arts. It’s like a trifecta.

Also…I do think there’s something unusual about North Salem and a lot of radiant energy comes from the Balanced Rock. I think a lot of creative people are drawn here, and I think the rock has some sort of eternal energy.


Keith Holden and Cathy Welker  (South Salem husband and wife)

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

Keith: When I met Cathy, she introduced me to Martha’s Vineyard, her favorite place in the world. North Salem is the only other place that has that same physical beauty - the natural beauty and the fact that while it’s a fairly exclusive suburb, it doesn’t come across that way. I think it's nice to just now be discovering this arts community that seems to be entrenched but blossoming.

Cathy: We love the physical beauty and the low-key vibe. When you get up in the morning and want to do something and don’t want to encounter a lot of crowds, you can always find something. We go to Baxter Preserve a lot with our dogs. And we love going to Hayfields on Sunday mornings.


Helen Vail and Marianne Collins (Peach Lake residents and sisters)

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

Helen: I live on Peach Lake and when I open my eyes every morning, I look straight out and I see the lake, I see boats, I see birds, and I’m happy. I like it during every season. Here, it’s like we are always on vacation.

Marianne: There are 173 families in Vails Grove. You can just walk out to your car in your PJs and wave to a neighbor and the kids can go out and play, ride bikes, walk to their friends. I can walk down the road and get in a kayak on the lake. I love our Peach Lake community.


Tom Christopher (artist, owner Lift Trucks Gallery and Hygrade Market)

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

I used to work at Disneyland. I would dress up like a pirate and do portraits in New Orleans Square. Croton Falls reminds me of Disneyland's Main Street, USA. There’s a train running through town, and these old buildings. It’s great!


Jean Morley (artist, Peach Lake resident)

Photo by Sarah Gayden

The first thing that comes to mind is the community; it has always been very welcoming. And I love living on Peach Lake. We live in such a beautiful place. I’ve lived here for almost 40 years and I have no thought of ever leaving.


Max Tucci (author, podcast host, producer) 

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

I think in North Salem we have the coolest neighbors. It's like a curiosity cabinet of the coolest people.


Kate Eminger (creative director, SPACE on Ryder Farm)

Photo by Sarah Gayden

My favorite thing about North Salem is that there is creative inspiration anywhere you go. Naturally, anywhere you look around here, there is beauty that can be inspiring. But the people and the storytelling I've also found to be really rich. It’s a lovely well of creativity.


Elizabeth Almeyda (joint master, Goldens Bridge Hounds)

Photo by Sarah Gayden

I love North Salem because it is rural. It's the most rural place within 60 miles of New York City. I ride horses every day, so I love the fact that it's a horsey community. When I ride, I see so many different animals - deer, hawks, chipmunks, foxes, coyotes….I love the whole character of the town.


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Michael Toscano and Susan Polese (Croton Falls husband and wife)

Michael: We’ve been living here for almost 30 years. We love the fact that our neighbors have horses and yet we are only one hour away from Manhattan.

Susan: I love that it is open space and very country-like. But there’s this arts enclave with an art center right down the road and what’s going to be a senior center and a theater (at 3 Owens Road in Croton Falls).

Edris Scherer (North Salem resident and former board member, Ruth Keeler Memorial Library)

One of my top things is the fabulous library we have in town. I have been volunteering with them for over 25 years. I was on the Library board for 20 years or so. The staff has made the library better and better. Each year it’s like the best it’s been.

Keith Backer (North Salem resident)

I love how rural North Salem is and how urban it can be at the same time. The proximity to New York City lets you enjoy everything that an urban environment has to offer and then go home to a more serene, rural environment in just a short train ride or drive.

Jeanine DiBart (North Salem resident and owner, Katonah Playcare)

North Salem is the perfect intersection of rural beauty, laid-back charm, cultural immersion, and strong community. Raising a family here and giving them everything North Salem has to experience has been such a gift.


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