When describing Rosendale, the word “rowdy” doesn’t exactly come to mind. But — perhaps due to Main Street’s depot-town design — when you explore the town you get the feeling that these quiet streets lined with pretty homes weren’t always so tame.
Although the township of Rosendale wasn’t established until 1844, it was the site of a booming cement industry as early as 1825. During the construction of the D&H Canal, natural cement was discovered in the mountains, and cave-mining began soon after. Naturally, this work filled the town with rough-and-tumble miners, and the inevitable industries of booze and brothels. Mining lost steam in the early 1900s, and the town has had about 100 years to redefine itself as “quaint.”
Although the Wild West-of-the-Hudson days are long gone, Rosendale residents still know how to have a good time. Known for hosting street fairs and festivals, the tiny town packs a huge crowd for its unique events. The annual Rosendale Street Festival, for example, is its biggest party, showcasing local musicians and vendors over two days in July. The internationally known Pickle Festival features both local vendors and those from other states (and occasionally from Germany and Japan) vying for the title of best brine. And during the Frozendale community event, shops offer discounts, the theater shows family-friendly films, and art and music abound.
On an ordinary day, Main Street is home to shops that offer everything from antique Tibetan jewelry to electric guitars. There are several eateries, including the Rosendale Café (a laid-back vegetarian restaurant); the Red Brick Tavern (which serves a great French onion soup); and Twisted Foods, which was given a Best of Hudson Valley vote for its fluffy house-made pretzel rolls with flavored cream cheese toppings. But there is much to do beyond the limits of Main Street. Those who wish to take a daytrip to Manhattan can catch a bus that goes directly to NYC. But there’s no need to leave for lively nightlife; located across from the bus station (on Route 32), Market Market has become a tiny haven for live indie and rock music.
In general, Rosendale-living is life at a slower pace; just ask the small population of Brooklyn and city ex-pats who move there for a quieter, more affordable lifestyle. It’s entirely possible to find a renovated 1800s farmhouse on a couple of acres, a stone house built in the style of nearby New Paltz’s Huguenot settlers, or a more modern home surrounded by nature at a price that’s lower than the state average. Plus, the town is broken down into hamlets such as Cottekill and Tillson, where homes are sited along scenic country drives with views of farms, historic stone houses, the occasional general store, and winding side roads.
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