Valhalla, New York

Valhalla is an unincorporated hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) located in the town of Mount Pleasant in Westchester County, New York. As of the 2000 census, the hamlet had a total population of 5,379. Its name was inspired by a fan of Richard Wagner and its celebrity status comes from its relationship to the final burial places of famous people.


Brief history of Valhalla

Origin of name

It gained its name when controversy arose over the naming of a United States Post Office in the 19th Century. According to local historians and published work, the wife of a postmaster was a devoted fan of Richard Wagner and she shared the composer's interest in the Norse legends. It was her preference that led to the naming of the area as Valhalla which still maintains its interest in death through its world famous cemetery area.


Valhalla is located at 41°5'14" North, 73°46'28" West (41.087195, -73.774511)Template:GR. According to the United States Census Bureau, the hamlet has a total area of 9.1 km² (3.5 mi²). 6.9 km² (2.7 mi²) of it is land and 2.2 km² (0.9 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 24.15% water.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 5,379 people, 1,847 households, and 1,470 families residing in the hamlet. The population density is 774.9/km² (2,010.6/mi²). There are 1,886 housing units at an average density of 271.7/km² (704.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the hamlet is 95.85% White, 0.76% African American, 0.07% Native American, 2.12% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 0.87% from two or more races. 3.36% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 1,847 households out of which 33.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.2% are married couples living together, 7.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 20.4% are non-families. 16.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.83 and the average family size is 3.20.

In the hamlet the population is spread out with 23.3% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 17.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 41 years. For every 100 females there are 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.6 males.

The median income for a household in the hamlet is $76,003, and the median income for a family is $91,205. Males have a median income of $60,814 versus $38,608 for females. The per capita income for the hamlet is $33,939. 1.7% of the population and 0.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 1.7% of those under the age of 18 and 1.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Kensico Cemetery

Kensico Cemetery is a cemetery founded in 1889 in Valhalla at a time when many New York City cemeteries were becoming full and rural cemeteries were founded near the railroads which served the city. Initially 250 acres (1 kmē), it was expanded to 600 acres (2.4 kmē) in 1905, and reduced to 461 acres (1.9 kmē) in 1912 when a portion was sold to the neighboring Gate of Heaven Cemetery.

This is where the remains are found of Herbert Howard Booth, son of Salvation Army founder William Booth and founder of the Salvation Army Musical Department. Billie Burke who played Glinda, the Good Witch of the North in the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz is also buried there and so is bandleader Tommy Dorsey; CBS-TV News President Fred Friendly; baseball star Lou Gehrig; film star Danny Kaye; pianist and conductor Sergei Rachmaninoff and author Ayn Rand and NBC founder David Sarnoff and many other famous personalities.

Medical centers

It is also the location of Westchester County Medical Center and New York Medical College.

Area link to Norse mythology

Valhalla in Westchester County, New York, gained its name from an association with the words and music of Richard Wagner. The original link was made by the wife of a 19th Century Postmaster who was a fan of Richard Wagner. This occurred at a time when Valhalla lacked a place name of its own. Following this original link between the mythological burial ground of the Vikings and Westchester County, extensive and famous graveyards have developed in the area now known as a postal address of Valhalla, New York.

Because of its association to Norse mythology and Viking legends, the area also became the focus of the novel Valhalla Rising written by Clive Cussler which was published in 2001. Cussler's book featured a sci-fi story about Vikings which is set against the backdrop of nearby Tarrytown and other associated locations of the Hudson River Valley of Westchester County in New York.

Valhalla, New York also became a part of the strange obsession of Mark Guglielmo who grew up in Bedford, Westchester County. He was sentenced in Florida for the murder of his wife which had taken place in that state during 1994. Guglielmo transported her remains in the trunk of his car to Westchester County where he disposed of her dismembered corpse at two different locations near Valhalla. Guglielmo then took a mock Viking sword and helmet which had been made at a Westchester County faire for burial at Peggys Cove in Nova Scotia, Canada. He did this because he believed that Lief Erickson's Vikings had once landed there. This same Viking association between Nova Scotia, Canada and Westchester County, New York was also made by Clive Cussler in his book several years later.

See also

External links



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