Rockland County is the southernmost county on the west side of the Hudson River in the U.S. state of New York, part of the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county’s population, as of the 2010 United States Census, was 311,687, increasing by 5.5% to a 2017 Census estimate of 328,868, making it the third-most densely populated county outside New York City within New York State (after Nassau and neighboring Westchester counties, respectively). The county seat is New City. Rockland County is a suburb of New York City that borders the boroughs about 9 miles northwest of the city at their closest points, and is accessible via the New York State Thruway, after 10 exits. The name derives from “rocky land”, as the area has been aptly described.
Rockland County lies just north of the New Jersey-New York border, west of Westchester County (across the Hudson River), and south of Orange County. Its east border is formed by the Tappan Zee portion of the Hudson River. The county’s terrain ranges from 1,283′ (391m) ASL on Rockhouse Mountain (northwest of Lake Welch) to approaching sea level along the Hudson River. According to the US Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 199.34 sqmi (516 km²), of which 173.55 sqmi (449.49 km²) is land and 25.79 sqmi (66.80 km²) (13%) is water. It is the state’s smallest county outside the five boroughs of New York City.
Approximately 30% of Rockland County is devoted to parkland, belonging to either the five towns, incorporated villages, the state, or the county. These parks provide walking and hiking trails, ballfields, dog runs, historic sites, ponds, streams, salt marshes, and equestrian trails. Some popular state parks include Bear Mountain State Park on the northernmost tip of the county, Harriman State Park also along the county’s northern boundary, and Nyack Beach State Park along the Hudson River, with trails connecting to Rockland Lake State Park. The county hosts numerous public and private golf courses, with the towns of Orangetown, Ramapo, Stony Point, and Haverstraw all operating public golf courses within their towns. The Palisades Interstate Park Commission operates two golf courses in Rockland Lake State Park. Notable private courses in the county include Paramount Country Club, Manhattan Woods Golf Course (designed by PGA great Gary Player), and Rockland Country Club (Sparkill).
Overlooking Rockland County with NYC skyline in far background
Pine Meadow Lake in Harriman State Park
Haverstraw along the Hudson River
As of the 2000 United States Census. there were 286,753 people, 92,675 households, and 70,989 families in the county. The population density was 1,652/sqmi (638/km²). There were 94,973 housing units at an average density of 547/sqmi (211/km²). However, residents live closer together than the census numbers indicate, as 30% of the county is reserved as parkland. 9% of residents reported speaking Spanish at home, 5% Yiddish, 3% French-based creole, 1.5% Italian, 1.3% Tagalog, 1.3% Hebrew, 1.2% French, and 1% Russian. Other languages spoken at home by at least 1000 people include Malayalam, Korean, Chinese, German, and Polish.
There were 92,675 households out of which 38% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63% were married couples living together, 10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23% were non-families. 19% of households were made up of individuals and 8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3 and the average family size was 3.5.
The county population contained 28% under the age of 18, 8% from 18 to 24, 28% from 25 to 44, 24.30% from 45 to 64, and 12% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 women there were 95 men. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there were 91 men.
The median income for a household in the county was $68,000 and the median income for a family was $80,000. Males had a median income of $58,000 versus $39,000 for females. The per capita income for the county was $28,000. The mean, or average, income for a family in Rockland County is $73,500 according to the 2004 census. About 6% of families and 10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14% of those under age 18 and 8% of those age 65 or over.