Identity Crisis : Understanding
Yonkers as Both City and Suburb
Railroads and Businessmen Catalyze Economic Growth
Yonkers: The Virtuous Suburb
Yonkers Incorporates As A Village
Yonkers Is Divided Into Wards
Yonkers: The City
Yonkers: The City-Suburb
yonkers : The city-suburb
In essence, Yonkers demonstrates that cultural identity is not easily reconstructed nor forgotten despite the manipulation of language. Furthermore, the case of Yonkers is a case of mistaken, lost, and confused identity. Whereas Yonkers began as an agrarian farmland, slowly developed as an industrial center, and finally became a city of Westchester, it seemingly never stopped understanding itself as a suburb. Despite the various policies enacted and charters amended, Yonkers still thinks of itself as the quaint Suburb sheltered from the city and written about in publications. Such a reality is corroborated by the numerous residents of Yonkers who believe they are living in “the country” or in “the suburb.” Consequently, Yonkers raises a perplexing and enigmatic question: how do we categorize a geographical entity that is legally considered a city since 1872, but culturally understood as a suburb since the 1850s?
In keeping with Aristotle’s notion that virtue is the ideal median between two polarized opposites, a solution can be reached. As previously mentioned, Yonkers, during the 1850s, understood itself as the median between the absolutely industrial city and the absolutely agrarian country. Thus, Yonkers understood itself as “virtue,” the median within a binary. Furthermore, identity issues began to arise when Yonkers lost its place within the center of the binary and became resituated at one of the polarized ends i.e. at “the city.” With this resituating of Yonkers, however, comes a resituating of the binary itself. Whereas the first two polarized ends of the binary consisted of “the country” vs. “the city,” the new polarized ends of the binary must now shift to “The Suburb” vs. “The City” because those are now the relevant extremes. Yonkers cannot fully exist as “the suburb” because it is a city, but it cannot fully exist as “the city” because of its suburban identity.
Appropriately, Yonkers finds itself suspended between the two polarized ends of a new binary, although the suspended median space remains undefined. It logically follows that this suspended median space between “city” and “suburb” is the space of a “city-suburb,” and this is now the space where Yonkers resides. Such an ambiguous median correlates to the ambiguous identity of Yonkers.
In conclusion, some residents understand Yonkers as a city, while others understand it as the suburbs. Provided with Yonkers’ history, it becomes clear that neither of these conceptions are wrong, rather they are both relevant and applicable to understanding this geographical entity. Therefore, when defining Yonkers, it suffices to categorize it as a “city-suburb,” since Yonkers is understood as both a “city” and a “suburb.”
 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. (New York: Clarendon Press, 2006), 23