Yonkers Inventors and Patents

Yonkers is home to several Native American tribes, including the Algonquin, Mohegan and Manhattes. Native Americans inhabited the area and built their villages along the Neperah stream, which flows into the Hudson River. In 1609, Henry Hudson named the river “Great River of the Mountains,” and soon fur trading began along the Hudson.


The city of Yonkers is home to many notable inventors. During the 19th century, Edwin H. Armstrong, then 12 years old, invented frequency modulation, a method for broadcasting in which the number of waves per second varied over a wide range of frequencies. This technology led to virtually static-free transmission.

Yonkers was originally a small farm town in the 17th century. Its waterfront was an important stop for stagecoaches and sloops. Once the town grew, several industries sprang up. Grist mills and saw mills multiplied, land development increased, and blacksmith shops emerged. After the American Revolution, the town became home to the first Dutch lawyer, Adrian Van der Donck. In 1861, Yonkers also introduced street lighting and became home to the Yonkers Daily, the first daily newspaper in Westchester County.

The industrial era of Yonkers saw the rise of the railroad industry, which led to a more varied range of occupations. The city’s first train station, opened in 1848, helped the city become a center for manufacturing. Inventors in the city helped make the city more accessible to the rest of the world. One of the first companies to garner international recognition was Otis Elevator, which was named after Otis.

Another local inventor, Dr. Edward H. Yonkers, filed for patents to protect his inventions. The list includes pending patent applications and patents that have already been issued by the USPTO. While patents are an important tool for protecting the intellectual property of a company, they are no guarantee of success. Inventors must remember that they must pay a fee to protect their innovations.

Another famous inventor, William Armstrong, patented a hydraulic elevator in 1846. Soon thereafter, hydraulic elevators replaced steam-powered elevators. These elevators were supported by a heavy piston in a cylinder and were powered by oil or water pressure. Inventor Elisha Otis moved to the city of Yonkers in 1852. While working for the Maize and Burns bedstead company, he was inspired to come up with a mechanical elevator. The firm’s owner, Josiah Maize, needed a hoist device to lift heavy equipment.

Armstrong joined the Radio Club of America in 1895 with his friends. The club, originally called the Junior Wireless Club Ltd., had a great impact on his career. His friends included Reginald A. Fessenden, who later invented the heterodyne principle and patented it. The club also helped Armstrong obtain his Ph.D., and he also taught at Columbia University.


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