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The downtown area also houses significant local businesses and non-profits, and serves as a major retail hub for Yonkers and the northwest Bronx.

The city is home to several attractions, including the Hudson River Museum; Saw Mill River daylighting, wherein a parking lot was removed to uncover a river; Science Barge; Sherwood House; and Yonkers Raceway, a harness racing track that has renovated its grounds and clubhouse and added legalized video slot machine gambling in 2006 in a "racino" called Empire City.

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.

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.

For its first two hundred years, Yonkers was a small farming town with an active industrial waterfront.

Yonkers's later growth rested largely on developing industry.

Frederick was a wealthy Dutchman who by the time of his death had amassed an enormous estate, which encompassed the entire modern City of Yonkers, as well as several other Hudson River towns.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.In 1983, the Otis Elevator Factory finally closed its doors.With the loss of jobs in the city itself, Yonkers became primarily a residential city, and some neighborhoods, such as Crestwood and Park Hill, became popular with wealthy New Yorkers who wished to live outside Manhattan without giving up urban conveniences.