Stretching 315 miles north from New York Harbor to its source in the Adirondacks, the majestic Hudson River became a major trade artery with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, which connected it to the Great Lakes at Buffalo. But patterns of commerce changed and by the early 20th century the Hudson Valley had fallen into decline. Fortunately, the past few years have seen a renewal spurred by relatively inexpensive real estate, a revived agricultural base and the appeal of the river itself, now cleansed of industrial pollution.
Typical of this revival is the small city of Hudson, which lies 125 miles north of Manhattan and is located at the “head of navigation,” the farthest place on the river to which sizable ships could once sail. In recent years, Hudson has found a new identity as a weekend retreat for New Yorkers, drawn by the scenic grandeur that once inspired the Hudson River school of landscape painters. (Both Thomas Cole’s Federal-style house, Cedar Grove, and Frederic Church’s Orientalist mansion, Olana, are located approximately 5 miles to the south of town.) Antiques shops and restaurants have opened, and Hudson now even has a summer music festival.
Visitors also come to see displays of contemporary art and sculpture at the Dia:Beacon and the Storm King Art Center near New Windsor. More traditional attractions include the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt (and presidential library) at Hyde Park, the nearby Vanderbilt Mansion, the Rockefeller Mansion, Kykuit (Dutch for “outlook”) at Sleepy Hollow and the United States Military Academy at West Point.