As the COVID crisis continued in the United States, the Hudson Valley of New York started to reopen in June 2020. This offered me the opportunity to get out of New York City and take a road trip. It was a wonderful chance to visit some of the small towns that I haven’t been to in a while, and to see how they have fared through this time.
My goal was to avoid the New York State Thruway, so I stayed on the eastern side of the Hudson, driving north along route NY-9 and its off-shoots. My first stop was in the Hamlet of Garrison. Garrison sits across the river from West Point, and is named after Isaac Garrison, who ran a ferry that crossed the Hudson at this point. Today it has a population of approximately 4300 people and is home to the Boscobel historic mansion. My target was the its beautiful train station. Not the relatively new Metro-North station, but the historic stone station, built in 1892. It is a beautiful Italianate Gothic building that, today serves as the Phillipstown Depot Theater. The depot and the surrounding buildings served as the town of Yonkers in the movie “Hello Dolly.”
Continuing up route NY-9D, my next stop was Cold Spring (pop. 2300). The town was founded in 1846 as a place for workers at the nearby West Point Foundry to live. It sits on a hill side that slopes down to the Hudson River. I have been visiting Cold Spring for many years. Its Main Street stretches from NY-9D to the river and is lined with restaurants, boutiques and antique stores and co-ops.
A walk along Main Street is a really nice way to window shop for knick-knacks, find some modern fashions, or have a tasty lunch or snack. If you take the pedestrian tunnel under the Metro-North tracks, you get to the Cold Spring Pier, where there is a great view of Storm King Mountain, and West Point, across the Hudson. Most of the shops in Cold Spring were open on a recent Sunday, and the town has devised an interesting way to help people maintain personal distancing on Main Street. They have designated the north sidewalk for people walking westbound (toward the river) and the south sidewalk for those walking east.
My final stop was the city of Hudson. This area was home to members of the Mahican peoples for hundreds of years, and Europeans settled the area in 1662. The city marks the northernmost point of Henry Hudson’s exploration of the river that today bears his name. In the 1700’s Hudson was the home to whaling fleets and had become an active port, bringing goods all of the way upstate. It developed in to a factory town in the 1800’s and had a population of over 12,000 at its peak in 1930. By the 1960’s industry in the Hudson Valley was in a period of decline, and Hudson hit a rough patch. Today it is undergoing a period of revival as a tourist destination, artist colony and bedroom community for Albany. Its old factory buildings offer space for studios and its low real estate prices and rent make it a place for bargain seekers to live.
Warren Street is the main shopping and dining area of the city. It has a wide variety of stores and restaurants. On Sundays they have turned the street into a semi-pedestrian mall. Restaurants had tables set up in the street, and car traffic was severely limited. It is a great place to walk around, window shop and grab a bite to eat. Hudson has also developed its waterfront. The Henry Hudson Riverfront Park offers a place to sit and enjoy the view, go for a canoe or kayak trip or enjoy a picnic. The park sits across from The Middle Ground Flats, a large island in the river. It also offers a view of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, built is 1874, which sits in the middle of the Hudson and gave warning about the Middle Ground Flats to ships traveling the river.
A drive up the Hudson Valley is a great way to spend a day, or two. There are plenty of places to stop, shop and eat.
Nuts and Bolts
Garrison NY - 45 miles north of NYC. Take NY-9D to Upper Station Road. Turn west and head to Garrison Landing.
Cold Spring. - 50 miles north of NYC. Take NY-9D and turn west onto Main Street.
Hudson - 110 miles north of NYC. Take NY-9G into the center of town. 9G becomes Columbia Street, which runs parallel to Warren Street through town.