Like Southfields, its immediate neighbor to the south, Arden's 19th-century history is closely tied to the iron mining and refining industry. Arden's Greenwood Furnace was built in 1810, and later acquired by the Parrott brothers, who supplied the Union Army with cannons and the well-known Parrott Rifle during the Civil War. In 1886, as iron production in the area was winding down, the Parrott holdings of several thousand acres were purchased by E. H. Harriman, whose wealth had been gained during the railroad boom in the mid 1800's. Harriman turned much of the acreage into a large commercial dairy farm, Arden Farms, which employed many people from surrounding communities. Arden Farms was a major supplier of milk and milk products to the New York market for more than 80 years, until it ceased dairy operations in 1972.
The Harriman family donated land to Palisades Interstate Park and to New York State for the construction of the Thruway in the 1950's. An Arden Farms building, located near the Greenwood-Parrott furnace just east of the Thruway, is the headquarters of the Orange County Historical Society, and St. John's church, built by the Harrimans, is still used for occasional services.