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Located about 45 miles from New York City in northeastern Westchester County, the peaceful hamlet of Katonah, NY, in the town of Bedford attracts residents who love country and village life but don't want to be too far from the city. The Katonah Village Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Famous proponent of the country life Martha Stewart has an estate here, as do lifestyle outfitter Ralph Lauren and philanthropist George Soros. This affluent hamlet places an unusually high premium on retaining its individuality. Chain stores are traditionally rejected and locally-owned shops -- Starbucks was nixed in favor of local coffee shops like Perks and Noka Joe -- that reflect the unique flavor carefully cultivated by residents and business leaders are encouraged instead. This identity -- fostered by community members and punctuated by turn-of-the-century homes and a charming downtown district -- may be among the reasons for the hamlet's seven percent population growth in the past decade. Tiny galleries and elegant shops line Katonah Avenue, and the feeling here is creative and casual. The Caramoor International Music Festival, which hosts the Orchestra of St. Luke's, is held annually. The healing arts -- Yoga, massage and counseling, to name a few -- have found a home here as well. With the train station in the heart of the village, Katonah is a wonderful day trip destination or an easy daily commute community.

With New York City and Long Island Sound to the south, Putnam County on the north and Connecticut to the east, Westchester County holds the distinction of being the world's first large-scale suburb. Major interstate highways constructed during the 1950s and '60s and the construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge encouraged major corporations to build their headquarters here. A sweet spot for commuters traveling by car or by the Metro-North Commuter Railroad, today's Westchester is one of the nation's most affluent counties and the location of many of New York City's most desirable suburban communities.

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