Skip to main content

“aux Barricades!”—tuxedo Park Hangs On, Sort Of

April 2023
1min read

As Frank Kintrea noted in his article on Tuxedo Park in the August/September, 1978, issue, that once-posh enclave of the very, very rich has lately been struggling to maintain what the Tuxedo Park Association has called a “creative tension” between the exclusivity of the past and the rampant democratization that threatens it on nearly every side. However creative the tension may be, author Kintrea wrote, “there seems no place for Tuxedo Park to go socially except down.”

That may be, but Tuxedo Park nevertheless has managed to retain more than a ghostly image of its traditional privacy, as reader Julian H. Salomon of Suffern, New York, reminds us: “Should any of your readers be inspired to visit Tuxedo Park … they will find that while the fence may have come down, the ‘imposing gateway’ pictured on page 72 of the article still firmly stands and that the police who guard it will firmly bar their way. That’s because the Park is the only incorporated village in the country to which the general public may be denied free entry.”

This remarkable state of affairs, it seems, came about in 1952 when the residents of Tuxedo Park—after being governed solely by the town’s Association since 1886—decided to incorporate themselves as a village according to the laws of New York State in order to receive certain tax benefits and other appurtenances of the latter twentieth century. Ordinarily, incorporation would have meant a municipality open to anyone who cared to wander through, but when a New York Times reporter asked an Association spokesman if the action would bring any changes to the essentially private nature of the town, he replied, “None.” He was right, for in approving the incorporation, state officials also allowed the Tuxedo Park Association to retain a privately owned, fifteen-hundred-foot-wide strip of land that completely encircled the “public” town—a sort of early DMZ, or demunicipalized zone. Anyone who wants to get into Tuxedo Park, therefore, must breach a genteel barricade, perhaps the last vestige of true Privilege left in a town that once was the living definition of the term.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "April/May 1979"

Authored by: Michal Mcmahon

How the Philadelphia waterworks became a potent symbol of our lost belief that nature and technology could live together in harmony

Authored by: Kenneth S. Davis

Had Franklin D. Roosevelt not been so conservative, we might have had national health insurance forty years ago

Authored by: Charlton Ogburn

He was the first Englishman to give a detailed description of the North American wilderness. Was it a pack of lies?

Authored by: T. H. Watkins

Maligned and misunderstood throughout much of their history, the Penitentes of the American Southwest have nevertheless given their people a sense of community and spiritual security. But for how much longer?

Authored by: Frances W. Saunders

Wilson's letters to Mary were frequent and intimate, but it would have been political suicide to marry a divorcee by the post-Victorian standards of the time

Authored by: Natalie Crouter

During three harrowing years as a prisoner of the Japanese, an American woman secretly kept an extraordinary journal of suffering, hope, ingenuity, and human endurance

Authored by: William C. Franz

A ponderous memorial to a people who refused to vanish

Featured Articles

The world’s most prominent actress risked her career by standing up to one of Hollywood’s mega-studios, proving that behind the beauty was also a very savvy businesswoman. 

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.