The Hudson Valley: Places to Explore



In 1609 Henry Hudson's ship landed at Kingston Point. Within five years a fur-trading post was established at the mouth of Rondout (from the Dutch word for a small fort) Creek. In 1658 a permanent village—Wiltwyck—was built. When the British took over in 1669, that tiny village was renamed Kingston.

It became the state's first capital in 1777. As such, Kingston became a target for the British, who set fire to every building but one (alleged to belong to a Tory sympathizer) in October of that year. Many stone houses were rebuilt, however; uptown Kingston's historic Stockade District has examples from the 17th and 18th centuries. The intersection of Crown and John streets is the only one in the United States with 18th-century stone houses occupying all four corners. The architecture throughout the city is rich and varied, and it includes representatives of Federal; Greek, Gothic, and Romanesque revival; Italianate; English Renaissance; colonial; Georgian; Second Empire; English Tudor; Dutch Colonial; and Victorian styles. The design of City Hall, which has a distinctive tower and was completed in 1875, was based on that of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

Kingston thrived as a commercial port in the 19th century, especially between 1828 and 1898, when the D&H Canal was in operation and coal was shipped here from Pennsylvania for distribution elsewhere. Much of this commerce-related activity occurred in the Rondout District, just west of where the Rondout Creek joins with the Hudson River. This waterfront area, which has seen extensive gentrification since the 1980s, has a lively arts and restaurant scene. River cruises embark from the pier at the foot of Broadway.