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Then & Now

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The modern history of the Hudson Valley stretches back four hundred years. It was 1609 when Dutch explorer Henry Hudson first sailed up our mighty river; sadly, there were no cameras back then to record that momentous event. But the popularity of photography during the last century has enabled us to capture for posterity the growth of our picturesque region. In the first half of the 20th century, the region’s waterfront cities — Beacon, Newburgh, Haverstraw, Kingston, and Poughkeepsie among them — thrived, producing everything from cement to bleach. But the advent of the automobile — and the construction of bridges spanning the Hudson — gave rise to suburban sprawl; as manufacturing declined, so did these once-vibrant urban centers. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. While the small towns, farms, and yes, even suburban areas continue to prosper, the revitalization of our small cities is an ongoing process.

We hope you’ll enjoy this journey down memory lane. Of course, in 20 pages we can only touch on a tiny portion of our most recent history; to experience much more of our vital past — and to see where we’re going — browse www.hvmag.com, and be sure to take a peek at our Then & Now complementary image gallery on the last page of this article. Enjoy the trip — and be thankful that the fashions of the ’70s haven’t come back into vogue (at least not yet).

Next: IBM

 

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IBM workers help create materials for World War IIPhotographs courtesy of IBM Archives and International Business Machines Corporation. Unauthorized use not permitted

Ever Onward

Then: IBM first set up shop in the area in 1942, when the company built a plant in Poughkeepsie. During those early years, the site focused on the war effort, producing bombsights, rifles, and engine parts to “Keep ’Em Flying!” (as shown at left). After the war, IBM emerged as the national leader in computer technology, and the Valley reaped the benefits for years to come. The Poughkeepsie plant expanded in 1954, and in 1963, the company built another facility just down Route 9 in East Fishkill. By the mid-1980s, 20 percent of Dutchess County residents were employed by the legendary corporation known for its outstanding benefits. But nothing lasts forever. Economic downturns in the early 1990s and in 2002 resulted in acutely felt layoffs that reverberated throughout the county for years.

International Business Machines building
IBM's Road Runner supercomputer

Now: With approximately 11,600 employees in the region, IBM remains a stellar place to work. And despite the rough economic climate (and some additional layoffs), the company’s future looks bright. Assembly Magazine named the Poughkeepsie plant its “Assembly Plant of the Year 2008” for its leadership in green manufacturing. Earlier this year, the Poughkeepsie plant unveiled the world’s fastest computer — the $133 million Road Runner (above, right), which packs the power of 100,000 laptops.

Next: The Newburgh Waterfront

 

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The Newburgh WaterfrontReprinted with permission from Newburgh by Kevin Barrett

River Renewal

Then: The city of Newburgh has a long — and controversial — history. During the 19th century, Newburgh’s riverside location (halfway between Manhattan and Albany) helped it grow into a transportation and manufacturing powerhouse, with waterfront companies producing everything from bricks to felt hats. By the 1960s, however, the pendulum had swung in the opposite direction. Industries began to relocate to states with cheap labor and lower taxes; as automobiles became less expensive to own, more residents moved from the city to the suburbs. Slowly, Newburgh’s once-vital (and historically significant) waterfront buildings fell into decline, and were eventually demolished as part of an ambitious (and some might argue misguided) urban renewal plan. The complex slated to replace them was never built, a victim of the cash crunch resulting from the 1973 oil crisis.

Newburgh building

Newburgh waterfront and marina as it looks todayPhotograph courtesy of Orange County Tourism

Now: After years of coping with urban blight, Newburgh is once again on the upswing. The Front Street area has been reinvented as a dining and nightlife destination, with a wide variety of upscale restaurants and a marina lining the shore. In October, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the expansion of SUNY Orange’s Newburgh branch campus, which will add classrooms, laboratories, and a library. And plans are moving forward on a waterfront building project set to include residential housing, commercial development, retail stores, and open space areas.

If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.

Next: The Poughkeepsie Regatta

 

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A man announces into a megaphone at a Poughkeepsie regattaPhotographs courtesy of Dutchess County Historical Society

Row Your Boat

Then: Some sports are linked with their most famous locales. Open wheel racing and Indianapolis. Horse racing and Churchill Downs. And once upon a time, the city of Poughkeepsie was synonymous with championship rowing. When Cornell University, Columbia University, and the University of Pennsylvania traveled to the mid-Hudson for the first-ever Intercollegiate Rowing Association championship in 1895, the four-mile “Poughkeepsie Regatta” was born. For decades, the race brought national media attention to the city and drew tens of thousands of spectators. In 1949, however, IRA organizers moved the regatta to a lake in Ohio, where there was no river tide to affect the race’s start dates and times. The event never returned to the Hudson’s waters.

Poughkeepsie Regatta program covers

 

The original Cornell Boathouse is now owned by Marist CollegeCornell boathousePhotograph courtesy of HRRA

Now: Rowing came back to Poughkeepsie in a big way with the opening of the Hudson River Rowing Association Community Boathouse in 2006. The boathouse serves as the home to local high school crew teams and four area rowing associations, as well as a launching ground for community members interested in giving the sport a shot.

Next: (In)Famous Fires

 

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The Windsor Hotel freezes over after being doused with water during its winter firePhotograph courtesy of Dutchess County Historical Society

Fire and Ice

Then: There have been at least four major hotel fires in Poughkeepsie’s history, but perhaps none was stranger than the 1944 Windsor Hotel blaze, seen here. The firefighters’ unsuccessful efforts to hose down the flames resulted in icicles that covered the entire building. Fortunately, the fire produced no casualties. Two hotels that had previously occupied the same spot as the Windsor were also destroyed by fire — the Eastern House in 1853, and the Gregory House some time later.

Now: The city’s premier hotel in 2008 — the Poughkeepsie Grand — has had better luck than some of its predecessors, having been in business, fire-free, since 1986. Today, the city’s fire station is located only a few hundred feet from the Grand.

Next: Hudson River Ice Harvesting

 

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Residents use an ice-cutter on the Hudson RiverReprinted with permission from Highlands by Dr. Randolph Preston Schaffner

Cold Cuts

Then: Believe it or not, the Valley’s harvest used to be most bountiful not in the fall, but the winter. Ice harvesting — the practice of cutting ice from a frozen body of water, moving it to land using picks and tongs, and storing it in an icehouse for later sale — was quite popular (and profitable) during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when homeowners and companies needed ice to refrigerate and freeze food. Harvesting occurred both on the Hudson and on other nearby bodies of water, such as Hessian Lake (above left). Harvesters preferred ice at least seven or eight inches thick. The best batches came early in winter, before January hit. The industry produced three million tons of ice annually in the Valley and employed up to 20,000 workers each year. The emergence of artificial refrigeration in the 1930s and 1940s effectively killed the industry.

Now: More and more people are again relying on Mother Earth — rather than carbon-emitting air conditioners and refrigerators — to cool their homes. Rhinebeck-based Hudson Valley Clean Energy, for example, installs geothermal units on customers’ property, drilling loops 350-500 feet deep that push heat into the ground during the summer and pull it back into the home during the winter.

 

If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.

Next: Newburgh-Beacon Ferry

 

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Reprinted with permission from Kingston by Edwin Millard Ford
with Friends of Historic KingstonKingston FerryThe South Rondout Ferry (shown above, circa 1900) transported passengers across the Rondout Creek. It was piloted by an operator who used a pole to propel the boat; the load limit was two horses and a wagon

Beacon ferry: nowPhotograph by Olivia Abel

Ferry Tales

Then: Through the first half of the 20th century, the Hudson bustled with cross-river ferries between Poughkeepsie and Highland, Kingston and Rhinecliff, and (most famously) Beacon and Newburgh, among other routes. But the construction of the Mid-Hudson (1930), Kingston-Rhinecliff (1957), and Newburgh-Beacon (1963) bridges directly led to the ferries being taken off the river, and was also a death knell to many of these vibrant waterfront communities. Thought to be one of the oldest ferry crossings in the nation, the Newburgh-Beacon ferry ran continuously from 1743 until the day after the new bridge opened in 1963. The postcard below shows the ferry on one of its last runs. However, it’s clear that the gentleman who wrote on the card was more interested in the bridge under construction in the photograph’s background.

Postcards courtesy of Dutchess County Historical Societypostcard and beacon ferry photo

 

 

 

Now: Due in part to the congested parking lots at the Beacon Metro-North station and traffic jams on the bridge, NY Waterway reestablished ferry service between Beacon and Newburgh in 2005. The ferry, which carries approximately 325 people a day, makes the 10-minute trip across the Hudson six times in the morning, and eight times in the evening.

If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.

 

Next: The Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge

 

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building the Poughkeepsie BridgeReprinted with permission from Hudson River Bridges by Kathryn W. Burke

Bridge to the Future

Then: By the late 19th century, with American industrialization in full swing, the need to transport materials across the Hudson was greater than ever. Freightliners hauling Pennsylvania coal and Midwest grain had to trek all the way to Albany to reach New England — almost 100 miles out of the way. The Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, dubbed “The Great Connector,” not only provided a more efficient route, but was (at the time) an engineering marvel: Upon completion in 1888, the one-and-a-quarter-mile steel cantilever span was considered the longest in the world.

In May 1974, after 85 years of service, a fire started on the bridge’s eastern (Poughkeepsie) viaduct, which was most likely caused by sparks from an earlier train. With a chunk of rail warped and the deck destroyed, rail traffic on the bridge ceased.

Firefighters try to douse the Poughkeepsie Bridge the day it catches fire in 1974

 

an illustration of the walkway, to be constructed by October 2009Walkway illustration courtesy of Bergmann Associates

Now: In 1998, after nearly a quarter century of abandonment and changing ownership, the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge was officially acquired by the nonprofit organization Walkway Over the Hudson. With support from the Dyson Foundation, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, local officials, and the community, Walkway has made tremendous progress in converting the structure into a linear public park — and the longest working pedestrian and bicycle pathway in the world. The construction, which began last March, is slated to be completed by fall 2009 — just in time for the state’s Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial celebration.

 

If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.

Next: Bard College

 

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Bard studentsPhotograph © Peter Aaron. Bard College Archives, on-line at www.hrvh.org

Hippie Heaven

Then: Students at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson fully embraced the free-spirited zeitgeist of the 1960s, and Peter Aaron, a class of ’68 graduate with a budding love for photography, was there to catalogue it all. “The kids pretty much looked like the cast of Hair,” Aaron laughs. (He snapped the photo below with a timer, and is pictured seated on the left.) Surprisingly, he says that Bard’s campus — widely regarded as one of the most liberal in the country — wasn’t particularly active when it came to protesting the Vietnam War. “But we were acutely aware of the culture of drugs, sex, and rock ’n roll,” he admits. One controversial campus drug bust — spearheaded by then-Dutchess County assistant district attorney (and future Watergate burglar) G. Gordon Liddy — resulted in the arrest of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, two Bard students who would later form the jazz/rock band Steely Dan. Aaron knew Fagen and Becker, as well as classmate Chevy Chase, who pulled pranks, impersonated friends, and “seemed destined for fame” even then. In fact, Fagen, Becker, and Chase (on drums) performed on stage several times together as the Leather Canary during their time at Bard.

Now: Some things never change: Bard earned this year’s top spot on Princeton Review’s list of marijuana-loving campuses, and was ranked the second most liberal campus in the country in 2005. Rabble-rousers Chase, Fagen, and Becker went on to find mainstream success in their respective careers. Comedian Chase starred on Saturday Night Live and in movies like National Lampoon Family Vacation and Caddyshack; Fagen and Becker have sold more than 30 million albums and won several Grammy awards. Their 1973 single “My Old School” includes the lyrics “California tumbles into the sea/That’ll be the day I go/Back to Annandale.” Against his word, however, Fagen returned to the school in 1984 to receive an honorary doctorate in the arts. As for Aaron, the former physics major is now an architectural photographer based in New York City, and says he remains in touch with Chase to this day.

Next: Vassar College

 

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Vassar ladies in one of the college's loungesPhotographs courtesy of Special Collections, Vassar College Libraries

The Young and the Restless

Then: Although their blueblood backgrounds were easy to discern in the 1950s (left), Vassar students didn’t refrain from participating in the 1960s counterculture. In March 1968, hallucinatory drug advocate and onetime Millbrook resident Timothy Leary (below; top right) waived his usual $1,500 appearance fee to give a lecture at the school entitled “Conflict of Men and the Use of Drugs in Modern Society.” That same year, students protested alleged police brutality during drug raids on Dutchess County colleges. “We’ve got the sheriff surrounded by youth, love, and beauty,” Leary said at the time. “Vassar on the east; Bard, Marist, and Dutchess on the north; and New Paltz on the west, so we ought to win out.” In 1969, Vassar fomented a revolution that was smaller and more peaceful in nature, but — at least locally — equally as astonishing: the famously all-women’s college officially became a coeducational institution. Those members of the class of 1973 were not the first men to call themselves Vassar boys, however: About 170 veterans attended the college on the G.I. Bill after World War II.

Timothy Leary walks from Vassar
Vassar students paticipate in a protest outside the campus
Now: current Vassar students work together on an outdoor project

Now: Vassar College is now 40 percent male. The students are still very politically active, although many of the causes have changed since the ’60s: Amnesty International, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, and the Queer Coalition of Vassar College are three of the student groups currently on campus. Last September, the college invited environmental journalist Elizabeth Kolbert to speak on the perils of global warming, a topic many consider to be today’s most urgent issue.

Next: The Orange County Fair Speedway

 

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Cars race at the orange county speedway in the early 1900sReprinted with permission from Middletown Revisited by Marvin H. Cohen

Ready, Set, Go

Then: Orange County was known for thundering engines long before American Chopper came to town. But when the storied Orange County Fair Speedway opened in 1857, it was horses, not cars, that raced around its oval. Beginning in 1919, when the speedway held its first auto race, the track quickly gained a reputation as one of the busiest and most exciting racing venues in the Northeast.

Photograph courtesy of Orange County SpeedwayNow: Racecars zoom around the speedway

Now: The speedway now hosts five divisions of racing, and holds races at least once a week from April through September. Eastern States Weekend, a nationally recognized three-day marathon of races, takes place every October.

If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.

 

Next: Stewart International Airport

 

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Outside Stewart AirportReprinted with permission from Newburgh by Kevin Barrett

Archie’s Airport

Then: In the early 1930s, sensing an imminent aviation boom, Thomas Archibald “Archie” Stewart convinced his uncle Sam to deed a portion of his land to the city of Newburgh to build an airport. The moniker “Stewart” has appeared as part of this Valley institution’s official title ever since. Beginning in World War II, the Army (and later the Air Force) used the airfield for military purposes; the 52 Americans detained in Iran during the 1979-1981 hostage crisis returned home on a flight that landed at Stewart. In 1990, the airport began offering commercial service.

Stewart airport as it looks todayPhotograph courtesy of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

 

 

 

 

Now: After an eight-year-long, ultimately unsuccessful privatization attempt by the British company National Express Group, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey took control of Stewart in 2007, hoping to make the facility “the fourth New York City airport.” Although Stewart is not yet the commercial success many have wanted it to be — Air Tran suspended service there this fall — the Port Authority hopes to attract more domestic airlines and begin offering flights to Europe in the coming years. They also plan to make Stewart the world’s first carbon negative airport, meaning that it will actually cause a net reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment.

 

If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.

 

Next: Valley Sports

 

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Beacon Bears football teamReprinted with permission from Beacon Revisited by Robert J. Murphy and Denise Doring Van Buren

The Sporting Life

Then: Before the advent of television in the 1950s brought professional sports into American homes, local semiprofessional football teams like the Beacon Bears (left) provided towns with a dose of healthy competition. Originally formed in the mid-1930s, the Bears posted winning seasons from 1947-1949. Playing teams from Connecticut, New Jersey, and neighboring Hudson Valley towns, they often drew crowds in the thousands.

Babe Ruth

Secor Sports Club of Mahopac participates in curlingReprinted with permission from Putnam County by Guy Cheli

Baseball legend Babe Ruth (first photo at right) was a summer fixture on Lake Oscawana in the town of Putnam Valley in the 1920s and ’30s. “The Sultan of Swat” was initially drawn to the summer hot spot because it wasn’t a dry town, an anomaly during Prohibition. Many lake residents recount how the Babe played pickup games in a vacant lot after church and entertained the local, adoring children. It is said that he would often throw empty beer cans from his front porch into the water for the young boys to fetch.

Hudson Valley Renegades Maiko Loyola, #34Photograph of Maiko Loyola courtesy of the Hudson Valley Renegades

Of course, not all local sports were played by professionals. In the 1960s, members of the Secor Sports Club enjoyed games such as curling on frozen Lake Secor, also in Putnam County (above, far right). The club is still active in Mahopac.

Now: Though the Bears disbanded in 1957, Valley sports fans are not without a “home team.” The Hudson Valley Renegades is a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays. Founded in 1994, the team has launched the careers of nearly 50 major league players. The Renegades regularly face off against other minor league squads from throughout the Northeast in a short season that runs from June to September. Home games are played at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls.

 

If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.

 

Next: Bear Mountain State Park

 

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swimmers relax at Bear Mountain's poolPhotographs courtesy of PIPC Archives

Pleasure Park

Then: In one of the state’s earliest efforts at open-space conservation, Bear Mountain State Park was established in 1913 when a group of concerned (and wealthy) New Yorkers — alarmed by plans to relocate Sing Sing Prison to the mountain — purchased the land and donated funds for the park’s creation. Right from the start, the park was (and still is) a favorite spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Camping at Hessian Lake was especially popular among the region’s Boy Scout troops; by the 1930s, swimmers were crowding the site’s pool to get relief from the summer heat (at left). City residents — over 22,000 within the first year — reached the park by taking a steamboat up the Hudson. Winter sports facilities, such as the outdoor skating rink and ski jump, came along in the ’20s. And the first completed section of the Appalachian Trail opened at Bear Mountain in October 1923.

Bear Mountain carousel ride

Now: Installed in 2001, Bear Mountain’s carousel is anything but a run-of-the-mill park ride. Each of the 36 moving figures depicts an animal found in the Valley — there’s a red fox, a river otter, even a skunk. The facade shows historical scenes of the area, including Stony Point Battlefield, the Palisades cliffs, and even the park’s own Bear Mountain Inn (which, after undergoing an extensive restoration, should reopen to the public during the summer of 2009).

Next: Luckey, Platt & Company

 

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Luckey, Platt & Co. Department StorePhotograph courtesy of Dutchess County Historical Society

The Macy’s of the Mid-Hudson

Then: Founded in the 1840s as a small dry-goods retailer, Luckey, Platt & Company Department Store grew to become the Valley’s major shopping destination for much of the 20th century. The store, located in a five-story building on the corner of Main and Academy streets in downtown Poughkeepsie, operated 43 sales departments at its peak, and even hosted a Thanksgiving parade for a few years in the 1950s. But the advent of suburban shopping centers, such as the South Hills Mall in 1974, badly hurt business. The city attempted to restore Luckey Platt to its former glory by closing off three blocks of Main Street to create a traffic-free “Main Mall,” but the company was forced to close its doors for good in 1980.

Photograph courtesy of Frank RobertsLuckey Platt luxury apartments

Now: In 2004, after decades of renovation rumors, U.S. senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton secured $250,000 in federal funding to refurbish the former department store. The building’s new owners plan to house retail shops on the ground floor. Luxury apartments on the top four floors were expected to become available for rent in November. Prices start at $650 for a studio and climb to $1,300 for a two-bedroom.

Next: Kingston City Hall

 

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Kingston City HallReprinted with permission from Kingston by Edwin Millard Ford with Friends of Historic Kingston

City Hall Fights Back

Then: Built in elaborate Victorian Gothic style, Kingston’s City Hall is a proud reminder of the city’s prominent place in Valley commerce during the late 19th century. Conveniently located near the Hudson River, the D&H Canal, and the growing railroad system, Kingston grew to be an important transportation hub by the late 1800s. And the booming sales of locally manufactured items — especially bluestone, brick, and cement — also contributed dollars to its coffers. Like most of the region’s river towns, however, Kingston had its share of economic ups and downs during the 20th century. And City Hall saw hardship, too: A 1927 fire destroyed the original bell tower and distinctive gabled roof. But the building continued to be the seat of local government until 1972, when new offices near the Rondout waterfront were constructed using urban renewal funds.

Photograph by Phyllis McCabeKingston City Hall, at present


Now:
Even though it held a place on the national and state Registers of Historic Places, City Hall was shuttered and left to deteriorate for 20 years. Upon taking office in 1994, Kingston’s late mayor, T.R. Gallo, spearheaded a community-wide effort to return the building to its former grandeur. Six years — and $6.5 million — later, the restoration was completed; today, the building is once again home to Kingston’s municipal government.

If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.

 

Next: Mount Beacon

 

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Baby Show at Mt. Beacon, 1919Reprinted with permission from Beacon Revisited by Robert J. Murphy and Denise Doring Van Buren

Hilltop Hotel

Then: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the building of the 60-room Beacon Crest Hotel atop Dutchess County’s Mount Beacon. Here, silent movies were filmed (including 1909’s The Red Man’s View by D.W. Griffith). Hollywood stars like Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford mixed and mingled, danced and dined with the regular folks who took the incline railway — the steepest in the world when it was built in 1902 — to the summit, which offered unparalleled views of the Valley below. In 1919, the hotel hosted a Beautiful Baby Contest (above left). More than 50 tots and their mothers vied for $30 in prizes. Unfortunately, a fire consumed the hotel under mysterious circumstances in 1927. The railway, however, continued to operate until 1978.

 Photograph courtesy of Scenic HudsonMt. Beacon ruins

Now: All that remains of Mount Beacon’s glory days are a few ruins of the hotel and the railway (at right: the railway’s old wheelhouse). But the mountain today is a popular hiking destination (and still offers those one-of-a-kind views). In the 1990s, Scenic Hudson took over the mountain’s management and installed a new staircase that brings hikers a good way up the slope. Another nonprofit organization is working toward restoring the incline railway.

If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.

 

Next: Tuxedo Park

 

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Mark Twain viewing the street at his summer home in Tuxedo Park
Photograph courtesy of Tuxedo Park Library

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Then: Money has defined the Orange County community of Tuxedo Park since its founding. In 1886, the grandson of tobacco magnate Peter Lorillard (one of America’s first millionaires) commissioned two prominent urban planners to build a getaway for his group of wealthy Manhattan friends. By the turn of the century, Wall Street mavens and literary stars alike (such as Mark Twain, at left, who summered in Tuxedo Park) were calling the village home. Interestingly, the word “tuxedo” — the very symbol of wealth and privilege — originated here in the late 1800s, when Lorillard and the village’s other founding members began wearing what the British called a “dinner jacket” to parties and formal events.

Photograph courtesy of Tuxedo Park Preferred PropertiesTuxedo Park house

Now: Tuxedo Park retains its intimate, exclusive feel to this day. The village is estimated to have a population of just 721, and police at the entrance gate allow only residents and their guests to pass. At $102,056, Tuxedo Park’s median family income is more than twice that of the typical American clan. Originally owned by the Astor family, the 100-plus-year-old hunting lodge shown at right is being sold for $1,750,000 by Tuxedo Park Preferred Properties.

Next: Senior Prom

 

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1977 prom photo
Photograph courtesy of Mark Bolger

The Big Date

Then: Does this scene look familiar? Guys in ruffled shirts and monkey suits, girls in fringed shawls, and everybody with the same haircut? If you went to a high school prom in the 1970s, we can guarantee that you’ve got a photo similar to this one safely stashed somewhere at home. And it’s a good bet that the highlight of that unforgettable night was when you “slow-danced” to “Stairway to Heaven” with your date. Ah, those were the days.

Photograph courtesy of
Clear Channel Radio of the Hudson ValleyMark Bolger, Star 93.3 fm's morning show host

Now: These four fresh-faced teens are on their way to the 1977 Beacon High School Senior Prom. The two ladies in the photo shall remain nameless. The guy on the right, however, is someone you may have heard of — it’s Mark Bolger, popular Star 93.3 morning host (who, we must say, looks outta sight in that leafy patterned white tux). But we think that Rich DiNapoli, Mark’s best friend (both then and now), steals the show in the rusty red suit and aviator glasses. Far out, man!

Next: United States Military Academy at West Point

 

 

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Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower's son, John, and wife Mamie at John's USMA graduationReprinted with permission from Highlands by Dr. Randolph Preston Schaffner.

No Mission Too Great

Then: For two centuries, the United States Military Academy at West Point has been turning out some of the nation’s top leaders: Famous alumni include presidents Ulysses S. Grant (class of 1843) and Dwight D. Eisenhower (class of 1915). However, Eisenhower couldn’t attend his son John’s graduation from the academy on June 6, 1944 — D-Day — because he was in Europe commanding allied forces. But proud mom Mamie was there (left). John soon went off to the war; he also served during the Korean conflict before becoming U.S. ambassador to Belgium.

Photograph courtesy of
United States Military Aacademy
Photo of the newest West Point cadets tossing their hats into the air upon graduating

Now: Today’s cadets are also leaving the academy during wartime. Many of the 970-plus graduates of the class of 2008, all of whom immediately became second lieutenants in the U.S. Army, will see active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.

 

If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.

 

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;
No thank you

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