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Where Did Poughkeepsie Get Its Name?

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Explore the hyper-local history behind Poughkeespie’s unique name— along with a few of the 42 potential titles for this Dutchess County city.

The Hudson Valley is known for its natural beauty: the sprawling bucolic countryside, the quaint riverside towns, the historic cities which gave rise to a nation. At each location, each township, given names are rooted deep into the land they are founded upon.

There is a living history which exists to this day that is often unseen or forgotten, buried beneath highway overpasses, tucked behind buildings, or simply obfuscated by disinterested minds. It is important to understand these roots and it is our duty to preserve them.

Fall Kill or “Little Stream of Falls” (Kill meaning creek or water channel in Dutch) flows through the heart of Poughkeepsie, eventually joining the Hudson River at what is now known as the Upper Landing.

This area, a dock founded in 1687 by Robert Sanders and Myndert Harmense, became the hub of commerce for what would eventually become known as the city of Poughkeepsie.

poughkeepsie name

poughkeepsie name

The etymology of this humble city, like the civilization, sprung from this modest stream. The Wappinger tribe which initially inhabited the land named it Uppuqui, meaning “reed covered lodge”, along with ipis meaning “little water”, and ing meaning “place.” This all culminated in Uppuqui-ipis-ing, directly translating to “the reed-covered lodge by the little water place.”

Time evolved this name into Apokeepsing, then Pooghkepesingh…and after 42 different spellings, Poughkeepsie. All the same. All bound to the land and this little water place.

Related: Battle of the Cities: Poughkeepsie, NY vs. Poughkeepsie, AR

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