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New Square, New York

שיכון סקווירא
Location in Rockland County and the state of New York.
Location in Rockland County and the state of New York.
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Coordinates: 41°8′23″N 74°1′42″W / 41.13972°N 74.02833°W / 41.13972; -74.02833
Country United States
State New York
County Rockland
Incorporated November 6, 1961
 • Total 0.37 sq mi (0.95 km2)
 • Land 0.37 sq mi (0.95 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
492 ft (150 m)
 • Total 9,679
 • Density 26,200/sq mi (10,190/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 845
FIPS code 36-50705
GNIS feature ID 0971939

New Square (Yiddish: שיכון סקווירא) is an all-Hasidic village in the town of Ramapo, Rockland County, New York, United States. It is located north of Hillcrest, east of Viola, south of New Hempstead, and west of New City. As of the 2020 United States census, it had a population of 9,679. Its inhabitants are predominantly members of the Skverer Hasidic movement who seek to maintain a Hasidic lifestyle disconnected from the secular world. It is the poorest town (measured by median income) in New York, and the eighth poorest in the United States. It also has the highest poverty rate, at 64.4%.


New Square is named after the Ukrainian town Skvyra, where the Skverer Hasidim originated. The founders intended to name the settlement New Skvir, but a typist's error anglicized the name. New Square was established in 1954, when the Zemach David Corporation, representing Skverer Grand Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Twersky, purchased a 130-acre (0.53 km2) dairy farm near Spring Valley, New York, in the town of Ramapo. At that time, the Skverer community lived in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn in New York City. Construction began in 1956, and the first four families moved to New Square in December 1956. In 1958 the settlement had 68 houses.

The development of New Square was obstructed by Ramapo's zoning regulations, which forbade the construction of multi-family houses and the use of basements for shops and stores. Multiple families sharing single-family houses said that they belonged to extended families, and businesses in private homes had to be secret. In 1959, the community asked for a building permit to expand its synagogue, located in the basement of a Cape Cod-style house. The Ramapo town attorney requested condemnation of the entire New Square community, claiming that it threatened sewage lines. In response, the community requested incorporation as a village, but Ramapo town officials refused to allow it. In 1961, a New York state court ruled in favor of New Square, and in July New Square incorporated.

After incorporating, New Square set its own zoning and building codes, legalizing the existing houses and the liens disappeared. Lots were sold, and new houses were built. The basement businesses could trade openly, and new businesses were founded, including a watch assembly plant and a cap manufacturer. Three knitting mills and a used car lot opened, but most men continued to go to work in New York City. A Kollel was opened in 1963. In 1968, Grand Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Twersky died; he was succeeded as Grand Rabbi by his son David Twersky.

In New Square's first mayoral election in 1961, Mates Friesel was chosen unopposed. Friesel was reelected every two years, until his death in 2015.


The community in New Square is made up exclusively of Hasidic Jews, mostly from the Skverer Hasidic movement, who wish to maintain a Hasidic lifestyle while keeping outside influences to a minimum. The predominant language spoken in New Square is Yiddish.

People typically marry around 18 to 20 years of age. Girls finish high school at around age 17 and then marry. Custom dictates that women who marry men from other Hasidic communities leave New Square. Some women who left New Square settled in the Borough Park community in Brooklyn and the Monsey community in Ramapo, where the community is not as tightly knit. Men who marry women from outside of the community are encouraged to leave New Square. This is due to a shortage of space, thus new housing is granted to couples of which both members are from the community.

In 2005 the community's rabbinical court ruled that women should not operate cars. In a 2003 article Lisa W. Foderaro of The New York Times described New Square as "extremely insular" and said that the community's residents do not own televisions or radios.


New Square is located at 41°8′23″N 74°1′42″W / 41.13972°N 74.02833°W / 41.13972; -74.02833 (41.139745, -74.028197).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 0.4 square mile (0.9 km²), all land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1970 1,156
1980 1,750 51.4%
1990 2,605 48.9%
2000 4,624 77.5%
2010 6,944 50.2%
2020 9,679 39.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

In 1963, the settlement had 85 families and a total of 620 inhabitants. By 1967, this increased to 126 families and 812 total residents. The community celebrated ten marriages in 1967. In 1970, the village had 1,156 inhabitants, with 57% of the population under the age of 18.

The village had around one hundred births each year from 1971 to 1986. By that year, the village had 140 one-, two-, and three-family houses, a 45-unit low-rent apartment complex, 2,100 people, and 450 families, with an average of 7 to 8 children per family. During the late 1970s, the Town of Ramapo denied New Square's attempt to annex land. Six years later, in March 1982, New Square gained the legal right to annex 95 acres (380,000 m2) of land.

New Square's population increased 77.5% between 1990 and 2000. In 2005, the village contained approximately 7,830 residents; 1,350 families, with 5.8 persons per family. Robert Zeliger of Rockland Magazine described New Square in 2007 as "a densely packed haven where Hasidic residents live largely by their own customs and laws". In November 2008, a new water tower serving New Square and the hamlet of Hillcrest opened, increasing residents' water pressure.

As of the census of 2000, there were 4,624 people, 820 households, and 786 families residing in the village. The population density was 12,811.8 people per square mile (4,959.3/km2). There were 838 housing units, at an average density of 2,321.9 per square mile (898.8/km2). The racial make-up of the village was 96.95% White, 1.64% African American, 0.89% Asian, and 0.52% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.41% of the population. 87.26% speak Yiddish at home, 7.68% English, and 4.11% Hebrew.

There were 820 households, out of which 77.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 92.6% were married couples living together, 2.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 4.1% were non-families. 3.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 3.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 5.64, and the average family size was 5.81.

In the village, the population was spread out, with 60.5% under the age of 18, 13.9% from 18 to 24, 15.9% from 25 to 44, 7.1% from 45 to 64, and 2.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 14 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.7 males. The median income for a household in the village was $21,172, and the median income for a family was $21,758. Males had a median income of $35,871, versus $21,389 for females. The per capita income for the village was $6,585. About 58.0% of families and 58.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 60.9% of those under age 18 and 36.2% of those age 65 or over.

A 2007 report stated that each year, one half of the women between ages 18 and 25 gave birth.

Kiryas Square

Due to population growth in New Square, the Skver Hasidim had plans to expand to a new village named Kiryas Square in the town of Spring Glen, New York but plans were later canceled.


Young women, prior to entering marriage, and before they have children, work as teachers, secretaries, and bookkeepers, or they work in the New Square shopping center as cashiers and clerks. Some of the women, after having children, work as bookkeepers in their homes. Young men work as teachers, bus drivers, deliverymen, and store clerks. Some work as computer programmers, or as craftsmen and entrepreneurs in the diamond industry. Many study in the kollel, a yeshiva for married men, and receive stipends to support their families.

In 1970, the village had the lowest per-capita income in New York State. In 1963, four persons received welfare due to illness. One dozen people received welfare in 1975. In 1992, the village administrator said that in 1975, about two thirds of the families received food stamps and Medicaid.

According to the 2000 census, the median income for a household in the village was $12,162, and the median income for a family was $12,208. Males had a median income of $21,696, versus $29,375 for females. The per capita income for the village was $5,237. About 67.0% of families and 72.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 77.3% of those under age 18 and 14.7% of those age 65 or over.

2007 and 2008 reports from the State of New York stated that 89.8% of the village consisted of low-income and moderate-income residents.

as of 2018, New Square is by far the poorest town in New York, with a median annual household income of $21,773, which is nearly $5,000 below that of Kiryas Joel, the next poorest town in the state, and only about a third of the median income across the state as a whole.

Not only is it the poorest town in New York state, but New Square also has the highest poverty and SNAP (food stamps) recipiency rates of any town in the United States. Some 70.0% of New Square residents live in poverty, and 77.1% of area households rely on SNAP benefits to afford food. In comparison, 15.1% of Americans live below the poverty line, and 13.0% of households nationwide receive SNAP benefits.


Although the town is within the East Ramapo Central School District, all children of New Square attend the local private Jewish pre-K-12 schools, Avir Yaakov Boys School (Yeshiva Avir Yakov Boys' School) and Avir Yaakov Girls School.

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