Welcome to the History of Yonkers Project - Embarking on an Historical Investigation

  • Possible themes and essential questions and corresponding videos  (This is not an inclusive list of possible pathways. In fact, it is possible to develop a theme that is not listed below.)

    Many, if not all, of these themes are interdisciplinary.

     Transportation (How has transportation transformed the lives of the people of Yonkers?

    • What is the history of transportation in Yonkers? (This is a great time line project)
    • How has transportation changed how people live?
    • What is the story of water in Yonkers? What has changed? What has stayed the same? What impact has water had on people and what impact have people had on water?
    • What is the purpose of the aqueduct and why was it built in Yonkers? Is the purpose the same today?
    • What is daylighting and what changes have occurred to the environment?
    • What happened to the ferries in Yonkers? Where were people going and why?
    • How did water use change during the period of Industrialization?
    • How has the train system changed? Where is the subway system today?
    • How did Thomas Cornell impact the planning of the city?
    • Which form of transportation has had the greatest impact on Yonkers and how?

     Art (This can encompass music and literature)

    • How does art tell the story of the city and people of Yonkers?
    • Is art transformative?
    • How can art reflect change?
    • What purposes do art and music serve?
    • Where can art be found?
    • How does art convey meaning? What does it say about Yonkers?
    • How does art reflect the diversity of the city?
    • What can we learn about the people, culture, or events through art in the city?
    • What historical information can be learned through the postcards of Yonkers?
    • Who creates art and for what reason?


    • Why is place important?
    • How do maps, globes, charts help us to understand our community? How can they show point of view?
    • How can maps be used to show change over time?
    • How can a map indicate what is important in a community?
    • How can maps of Yonkers show change over time?
    • If you were to create a map of Yonkers (or part of it) to show what was important, what would it look like?
    • How have the boundaries or landforms of Yonkers changed over time?
    • What resources are produced in Yonkers? Is it the same today as it was in the past?
    • How does the geography of Yonkers impact the people? How have people impacted the geography?

     How has Yonkers Changed Over Time (overview video)

    • Who are some heroes/heroines of Yonkers? Do we have heroes today?
    • What are the stories behind some of our buildings and structures?
    • What do the monuments tell us about history and what is important in a community?
    • How has downtown changed?
    • How have the veterans impacted Yonkers? Why did they go to war?
    • How have politicians impacted the city over time? Who has done the most for city?
    • How has the waterfront changed?
    • Is Yonkers moving forward or is it going backward?


    • Can education transform a community?
    • What is worth standing up for?
    • How has education changed… or remained the same in Yonkers?
    • Is there a significance to the themed names of schools over the years?
    • Why did the federal government commission murals in the 1930s in the schools?
    • Why did some schools thrive and others fail to survive?
    • What was school like for earlier generations in our city?
    • What is the history of your school?

     Introductory Video

    • Why is it important to study (local) history?
    • Has Yonkers changed or has it essentially remained the same?
    • Who founded Yonkers and why? What were some of the ideals of the founder?
    • How have various people contributed to the history?
    • What is the history of the Native Americans (American Indians) in Yonkers?
    • What is the history of civil rights and women’s rights in Yonkers?
    • What is the political structure of the city and has it changed over time?
    • What are some important traditions and celebrations in Yonkers and have these always existed?
    • What is the reputation of Yonkers? Does it deserve this reputation?

     Community Service and Immigration  (“Tomorrow People” video and lyrics by Ziggy Marley)

    • Who are some trailblazers that have made a positive change in Yonkers?
    • Who are the social leaders in the community and what has been their impact?
    • How has the population of Yonkers changed over time?
    • Who are the people of “tomorrow”?
    • How has immigration impacted Yonkers over time?
    • In what ways has immigration changed over the decades?
    • How can you make a difference in your community?
  • Introductory Vocabulary

    Context: The multiple lenses (ways) we can look at an event in history to fully understand it. Context includes the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How questions.

    Geographic Reasoning: Looking at place and time to understand movements, events, people, ideas in history.

    Historian: Someone who studies the past in order to find meaning that applies to today.

    Historical Inquiry: Delving into the past through researching a big question and working towards finding solutions or answers.

    Historical Reasoning:  Historical reasoning seeks to find patterns, comparisons, and how events, movements, ideas, etc. have changed over time to finds ways to apply the lessons of yesterday to today.

    History: The study of past events, people, places, issues and ideas and their relationships to the here and now.

    Patterns: Repeating events or similarities in events that can be found across time and place.

    Timeline: Provides points in time that can be used to trace the development of a place, a person’s life, an invention, movement, or idea. Timelines in history can show  he effects and changes that have occurred as well as what was happening in society at the time.

    Transformation: A change from one state to another.

  • Length of Time of the Unit: The length of time is determined by you. A unit may be two weeks of study or significantly longer, particularly depending on the depth of the study. Interdisciplinary projects may be longer as they include other content areas and their standards. 


    Available Resources:  There are many resources available through the YPS Division of Social Studies (x8272), our schools and local communities. Library media specialists and research librarians can assist with sources and methods of research; museum educators can provide works that are both historical and current; there are many community and district personnel who may serve as sources of information, particularly if they lived through a change and were eye witnesses. Several classroom resources may provide context including Discovery Education and the Social Studies curriculum.

  • We hope you decide to embark on this important historical journey. There are many resources available to classrooms including: materials, classroom assistance, short videos, curriculum guides and lessons, organizers, photographs, speakers and field trip opportunities. Field trips designed to support these projects exist and are funded through grants. This is a fun project and also one that is meaningful for students because it brings the diverse history of where they live to life. Please contact Dawn Bartz, YPS Director of Social Studies, for assistance. dbartz@yonkerspublicschools.org