Sunday, October 18, 2009

This is Poughkeepsie

“Suddenly, there’s Poughkeepsie, except for its spelling, an ordinary town.” 
 -Grace Paley

Poughkeepsie lies on the east bank of the Hudson River, midway between New York City and Albany, New York.  It's south of the Culinary Institute of America, north of the Dia:Beacon galleries, and west of Millbrook and horse country, all three of which are destinations in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley.  But should anyone go to Poughkeepsie itself?

Poughkeepsie is, of course, the home of Vassar and Marist colleges.  Vassar's well-groomed campus, open to the public, sports an architectural feast of buildings and a jewel of an art museum that hums with money, including most of the blue-chip names in modern artMarist commands a great swath of Hudson riverfront:  Longview Park hugs the river's edge, with lovely vistas north and south.
For many who come to visit, Poughkeepsie is its colleges, and that’s it.  But Poughkeepsie is more than colleges, with a history and a future of its own.  To prove it, the city has staked its claim on the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s trip up his eponymous river.  And truly, the view of the Hudson from Poughkeepsie, already grand, has just got grander, for its old railroad bridge, a looming, derelict skeleton of a thing, has been restored and reopened this October 3 as “Walkway Over the Hudson.”

Last Sunday, we joined the throng, as jammed as Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue in summer.  The sun shone; the water gleamed.  We looked down at a kayaker paddling in the wake of a barge.  We took pictures of a red tug that had the barge in tow.  We marveled at the fall color on the cliffs.  We reached the Walkway gates on the west side of the river, and we walked back east again.

 Suddenly, Poughkeepsie lay before us:  a white church spire in the foreground and further off, the train station’s stenciled metal tower spelling out P-O-U-G-H-K-E-E-P-S-I-E for the world to see.  To celebrate our return, we pulled our wool coats tight against the wind and sat outside at the River Station, each with a Bloody Mary, a ten-ounce burger, and a side of onion rings to keep us warm.

If you come to visit the Walkway, spend some time in town, as well.  You just might find an arty restaurant with specials like bouillabaisse and elk medallion, or a Main Street gallery showing zany collages for fifty dollars each, or a farmer’s market with everything from baskets of local apples to pulled pork on corn arepas.  This is Poughkeepsie, and you’ll be glad you’ve come.

Arlington Farmers' Market:  Vassar College Alumni House lawn, Raymond Avenue (Thursday afternoons through October)

The Artist’s Palate:  307 Main Street

Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center:  124 Raymond Avenue

G.A.S. Visual Art and Performance Space:  196 Main Street (open Friday-Sunday)

 Marist College, 3399 North Road

Poughkeepsie Train Station:   41 Main Street

River Station Steak and Seafood Restaurant:  1 North Water Street

Twisted Soul Food Concepts:  47 Raymond Avenue (845-705-5381; the pulled pork featured at the market is made here)

Walkway Over the Hudson:  see website for entrances, parking, and shuttle bus information


  1. very nice article, thanks for the mention. Its great to see people saying nice things about this city, instead of all the negative.

    Thanks again
    Kevin Kihlmire
    Owner operator of River Station Restaurant

  2. I've never been to Poughkeepsie, but your lovely article makes me want to put it on my "places to visit" list! Great photo, too.

  3. This is a great travel article/memoir! I daresay lots of little towns have similar stories behind them, especially college towns, and I always enjoy those glimpses of another town's life.

    The link has photos of the walk and it does look crowded! I have a friend in New Paltz, I'll have to ask him if he's heard about the bridge.

    As River Station said, it is great to hear nice things about a city. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I have flown from London to visit Poughkeepsie and have been back another two times since.A great place to visit and never without interest.

  5. How nice of you to add to complimentary words about Poughkeepsie. We look forward to seeing you here again!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.