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Aside from being a manufacturing center, Yonkers also played a key role in the development of entertainment in the United States.

In 1888, Scottish-born John Reid founded the first golf course in the United States, St. Bakelite, the first completely synthetic plastic, was invented in Yonkers circa 1906 by Leo Baekeland, and manufactured there until the late 1920s.

This grant was purchased in July 1645 by Adriaen van der Donck, the first lawyer in North America.

Van der Donck was known locally as the Jonkheer or Jonker (etymologically, "young gentleman," derivation of old Dutch jong (young) and heer ("lord"); in effect, "Esquire"), a word from which the name "Yonkers" is directly derived.

Van der Donck built a saw mill near where the Nepperhan Creek met the Hudson; the Nepperhan is now also known as the Saw Mill River. His wife, Mary Doughty, was taken captive and ransomed later.

Near the site of van der Donck's mill is Philipse Manor Hall, a Colonial-era manor house which today serves as a museum and archive, offering many glimpses into life before the American Revolution.

Yonkers was also the headquarters of the Waring Hat Company, at the time the nation's largest hat manufacturer.

It relocated to larger quarters (now the Yonkers Public Library) in the 1880s.Around the same time, the Alexander Smith and Sons Carpet Company (in the Saw Mill River Valley) expanded to 45 buildings, 800 looms, and over 4,000 workers and was known as one of the premier carpet producing centers in the world.The community was incorporated as a village in the northern part of the Town of Yonkers in 1854 and as a city in 1872.Philipse's great-grandson, Frederick Philipse III, was a prominent Loyalist during the American Revolution, who, because of his political leanings, was forced to flee to England.All the lands that belonged to the Philipse family were confiscated and sold.