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During the 20th century, the rural character of Westchester would transform into the suburban county known today.The Bronx River Parkway, completed in 1925, was the first modern, multi-lane limited-access roadway in North America.The Croton Dam and Aqueduct was begun in 1837 and completed in 1842; now a National Historic Landmark, the Croton Aqueduct is considered one of the great engineering achievements of the 19th century.In the 1840s, the first railroads were built in Westchester, and included the New York and Harlem Railroad, the Hudson River Railroad, and the New York and New Haven Railroad.Several different tribes occupied the area, including The Manhattans, and the Weckquaesgeek and Siwanoy bands of the Wappinger in the south, and Tankiteke, Sintsink and Kitchawank Wappinger in the north.The first European explorers to visit the Westchester area were Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524 and Henry Hudson in 1609.
By 1775, Westchester was the richest and most populous county in the colony of New York.It shares its southern boundary with New York City and its northern border with Putnam County. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 500 square miles (1,300 km), Pelham Bay Park is the largest of New York City's parks, forming a substantial buffer between suburban Westchester and the urban Bronx, while Van Cortlandt Park to the west acts as a similar buffer.It is bordered on the west side by the Hudson River and on the east side by the Long Island Sound and Fairfield County, Connecticut. Westchester's Long Island Sound shore is generally rocky, interspersed with tidal mud flats, marshes and wetlands, as well as several natural and artificially-maintained sand beaches.In 1798, the first federal census recorded a population of 24,000 for the county.Two developments in the first half of the 19th century – the construction of the first Croton Dam and Aqueduct, and the coming of the railroad – had enormous impacts on the growth of Westchester.