Newburgh Is a Hub for History and Culture in Orange County

Courtesy of Orange County Tourism

Located along the Hudson River, Newburgh plays host to an abundance of restaurants, shops, and historic sites.

One of the oldest cities in the state, Newburgh has a rich history. Home to Washington’s Headquarters during the final years of the American Revolution, the city has been called “the birthplace of the republic.” In the 19th and 20th centuries, Newburgh’s prime location on the Hudson River attracted many businesses, transforming it into a booming industrial hub.

Newburgh is a town in Orange county
Adobe Stock / Hank + Tank

But by the mid-1900s, Newburgh lost most of its manufacturing—companies headed south for cheaper production and many residents lost their jobs. The economic shock led to a period of decline and violence that continued into the early 2000s. Today, however, the 3.81-square-mile city is on the rise.

On NeighborhoodScout’s 2013 list of most dangerous cities in the U.S., Newburgh ranked No. 9. On this year’s list—it was absent. Yet people still wonder about safety. According to Jill Marie Rothschild, executive director at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, the city’s difficulty shaking the negative label despite a falling crime rate may be due to its diverse population. “Cities are historically where marginalized communities live due to the availability of transportation, social services, and affordable housing, which makes Newburgh a prime target for racist biases,” she says.

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Newburgh water
Courtesy of Orange County Tourism

Rothschild adds that since 1999, the downtown area has improved dramatically. Community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Newburgh Community Land Bank, and Safe Harbors of the Hudson continue to restore and rebuild blocks that were abandoned and falling apart.

The Culture

Newburgh is a true melting pot: Of its population of just under 29,000, 55.3 percent identify as Hispanic, 37.2 percent as white, 22.3 percent as Black, 1 percent as Native American, and 1 percent as Asian. Stroll any downtown street, and you’ll find businesses that reflect a variety of heritages, such as Broadway’s La Marqueta Meat & Produce, Fish & Chikzz, Cocina Caribeña, El Salvadoreño, and 845 Halal.

The same can be said about the arts scene. A prime example is the annual Newburgh Illuminated Festival in June, an all-day event that celebrates the “diversity and dynamism” of the city with music, street performances, and more.

Family Life

Real estate agents have noted an influx of NYC transplants. “There are more people being priced out of other areas in the Hudson Valley, and Newburgh’s affordability and proximity to Beacon’s Metro North station makes it an attractive option,” says Bryan Dale, an associate real estate broker with eXp Realty. At press time, the average price for a single-family Newburgh home was $281,198 versus $664,814 in Beacon.

Children attend the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, which earned an overall “B” rating on “Anyone considering moving here must know that it’s full of both the challenges and the benefits of urban living. Raising a family takes community and resources, and [Newburgh has] plenty of both,” says Rothschild.

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These resources include organizations like Newburgh Armory Unity Center, We Are Newburgh, and Blacc Vanilla Community Foundation, which all support the education and empowerment of the city’s youth. “You see a lot of kindness here, and locals wanting each other to be successful,” says Alexa Rosales, an ENL teacher and lifelong Newburgh resident.

On The Town

Restoration efforts and innovative newcomers have also brought in a myriad of eateries, shops, and more to the downtown area. Restaurants with river views include Primo Waterfront, specializing in coastal Italian cuisine; Jet Set Tiki Bar, serving Asian-inspired dishes; seafood and Mediterranean spot Blu Pointe; and Pamela’s on the Hudson, which crafts American fare.

Broadway and Liberty streets have great food, too, like New Orleans-inspired Mama Roux and New American restaurant The Wherehouse. While you’re in that section of downtown, you can also stop into stores like Liberty Street Vintage for secondhand clothes, 2 Alices Coffee Lounge for espresso drinks, Field Trip for handcrafted homewares and skincare products, Bread & Batter Bakery for fresh baked goods, and Grow for houseplants.

Newburgh’s ongoing revitalization can almost guarantee that its long era of neglect is old news. Locals are fiercely invested in restoring the city—without gentrifying it—because, as Rothschild explains, “The beauty of the diversity in culture partnered with its scenic views [makes Newburgh] amazing.”

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