Learning About New York Part VIII

Hudson, a city, and county seat of Columbia county, is on the east bank of Hudson River, at the head of ship navigation, 29 miles south from Albany and 116 from New York. It is finely situated on an elevation above the river, the western part of which is a bold cliff or promontory sixty feet high. The principal part of the city is built on a street one mile long, extending, in a straight line, from the foot of Prospect Hill to the promenade on the extremity of the cliff. The promenade at the western extremity, and fronting the principal street, commands a beautiful view of the river, the village of Athens opposite, the country beyond, and the lofty Catskill mountains in the distance.

Hudson is both a commercial and manufacturing place. Formerly it was extensively engaged in the West India trade, and also in the whale fisheries. It enjoys superior advantages for manufacturing, as the streams in the vicinity afford good water power. The city contains a fine court house, a lunatic asylum, and several seminaries of learning. Population about 7,000.

"Hudson was founded in 1783, by enterprising men of property from Rhode Island and Nantucket, of the names of Jenkins, Paddock, Barnard, Coffin, Thurston, Greene, Minturn, Lawrence, and others, in all thirty persons. About twenty of this company, in the early part of 1783, sailed up the Hudson to find some navigable situation on which to commence a new settlement. They selected and purchased the site on which the city now stands, which at that time was occupied as a farm, with a single store-house on the bank of the river. In the fall of this year two families arrived and commenced a settlement. In the spring of 1784, the other proprietors arrived, bringing with them several vessels; they were soon followed other emigrants from the eastward. Between the spring of 1784 and that of 1786, there were 150 dwelling-houses erected, besides wharves, warehouses, shops, barns, etc., and several works connected with manufactures, and the population had increased to 1,500 persons. In 1795, Mr. Ashbel Stoddard removed from Connecticut, established a printing office, and issued a weekly paper, the "Hudson Gazette."

Hudson was incorporated a city in 1785. At this period about twenty-five vessels were owned in the place, which were mostly employed in the West India trade; a few were engaged in the whale and seal fishery, which was carried on with considerable success, and Hudson rapidly increased in wealth and population. During the revolutionary struggle in France, and the long protracted war in Europe, such was the demand for neutral vessels, and such the high prices of freight, that the vessels owned here were engaged in the carrying trade. This trade was not long enjoyed, for British orders in council and French decrees swept many of them from their owners. Other losses followed by shipwreck, and the embargo, non-intercourse, and the war which succeeded, almost finished the prosperity of Hudson. The city was a port of entry till 1815. The immense losses at sea produced much embarrassment and many failures, and kept the place in a state of depression for a considerable period."

About twelve miles north of the city of Hudson, and five miles east of the river, is the village of Kinderhook, noted as the birth-place of Martin Van Buren, president of the United States from 1837 to 1841. The engraving shows the house in which he was born. It was at the time occupied by his father, Abraham Van Buren, as a tavern. Originally it had a gable roof, with two attic windows in the Dutch style, and the small building on the right stood in the rear, and was used as a kitchen.

Birth-Place of Martin Van Buren.

Newburg, the semi-capital of Orange county, is situated on the steep acclivity of a hill, rising from the river to the height feet, making a fine appearance when seen from the river. It was originally settled by the Palatines, from Germany, about the year 1710. It is 8 miles above West Point, 84 south from Albany, and 61 from New York. Gostien, the other half shire town, is about twenty miles distant. Fishkill is on the opposite bank.

Newburg is a place of considerable trade, and the adjacent country is noted for its fine dairies. It contains five banks, several seminaries of learning, and about 12,000 inhabitants. Gen. Washington had his headquarters in this place during the winter of 1782--3, at which period the celebrated "Newburg Letters" were written. The old stone house in the south part of the place (in full view of West Point) where he resided is still in good preservation. Water works, erected at an expense of $96,000, supply the town with abundance of water.

Poughkeepsie, City and capital of Dutchess county, is the largest place between New York and Albany, and by the river is 73 miles from New York and 70 from Albany. The central part of the place is nearly a mile back from the river, on an elevated plain 200 feet above the water. The Hudson River Railroad passes through a deep cut a short distance back from the Hudson.

Poughkeepsie is a thriving place, having a rich back country, and quite a variety of manufactories. The Poughkeepsie Collegiate building is a fine structure, modeled after the Parthenon at Athens. There are also four seminaries for young ladies, the National Law School, the Dutchess Academy, four or five banks, seventeen churches, and about 15,000 inhabitants.

Poughkeepsie was founded by a number of Dutch families about the year 1700. Its name is said to have been derived from the Indian word Apokeepsing, signifying safe harbor. Being situated about half way between New York and Albany, it occasionally became, in the early periods of its history, the place of legislative deliberation. The convention which met to deliberate on the Federal Constitution met in this place in 1788.

Catskill village, on the west side of the Hudson, was incorporated in 1806. It is the seat of justice for Greene county, and is principally built in the deep valley of the Catskill, near its junction with the Hudson. It is 33 miles from Albany, 6 from Hudson, and 111 from New York. Population about 4,000.

The celebrated Catskill Mountain House is about twelve miles from this place. The hotel is situated on an elevation 2,212 feet above the level of the Hudson, which gives to the atmosphere a refreshing coolness during the sultry heat of summer. A little to the west of the Mountain House are two ponds, the outlets of which unite and proceed, by falls and rapids, in a deep ravine to the plains below. The first fall is 180 feet perpendicular. By a circuitous path, the traveler can pass down and go under the rock, where is presented a singular and interesting sight. For the distance of sixty miles, on a clear day, the landscape is distinctly visible from the Mountain House, showing the picturesque Hudson, its moving vessels, cities and villages. The vision extends from the Hudson Highlands to the Green Mountains.

Kingston is in Ulster county, on an elevated plain on the west side of the Hudson, three miles west of the river. This was one of the three earliest Dutch settlements in New York, having commenced in 1616, New York and Albany only preceding it. Previous to the revolution, it was one of the most important places in New York. In October, 1777, the British destroyed the whole village, leaving but one house standing. The first constitution of New York was adopted here by the legislature, who held several of their earliest sessions in the place. The village is thriving, and has about 4,000 inhabitants.

West Point, the site of the U. S. Military Academy, is 8 miles south of Newburg, 94 from Albany, and 51 from New York. It is on the right bank of the Hudson, opposite Garrison Station, on the Hudson River Railroad, where the river makes an angle forming the point from which it derives its name. The natural strength of the place led to its selection for a fortress during the revolution, and Fort Putnam, erected at that period, is situated on an elevation, called Mt. Independence, 568 feet above the water. The approach from the river on the east is interrupted by a nearly perpendicular, rocky bank or wall, while on the west and south-west the place is defended by a rampart of high, precipitous and rugged, mountainous cliffs, towering upward from 500 to 1,500 feet. The same causes that render West Point so strong as a military position make it superior, in point of scenery, to almost any other in the country. Standing on the parade ground and looking northward, the pass of the river through the highlands presents a picturesque scene of unsurpassed magnificence and beauty.

The Military Academy was established here in 1802. It is situated on a plain 157 feet above tide-water, and covers an area of about a mile in circuit. The buildings are 2 stone barracks, one for military exercises in the winter, 275 feet long, an observatory, chapel, hospital, mess hall, 17 separate buildings for the officers, several work-shops and store-rooms, cavalry stables, a magazine, laboratory, soldiers' barracks, a store, and about 25 dwellings for families connected with the establishment.

The Military Academy is wholly supported by the general government. The education is gratuitous, so far as money is concerned, but each cadet must give eight years service to the government, unless sooner released. The corps of cadets can not exceed 250 at any one time, and the candidates for admission must not be under 14 nor over 21 years of age. The corps spend three months of each year in encampment. The course of study is full and thorough in the mathematics and all that pertains to the military art, and embraces 4 years. The course of study, discipline and examination in this institution is considered very severe, and a portion of those only who commence here are enabled to graduate. The cadets are appointed one from each congressional district; beside these are a few others who are taken from the country at large.

(Continue Part IX)


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Learning About New York State Part VIII
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Our whole country; or, The past and present of the United States, historical and descriptive. In two volumes By John Warner Barber ... and Henry Howe ...Cincinnati, H. Howe, 1861.
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