According to Wikipedia, when Henry Hudson first sailed up the Hudson River and anchored in 1609, the inhabitants of the area included “Algonquian-speaking Mahican Indians and Munsee Native American people.” During the same century, European settlers followed, as did the first Dutch settlement and, as the valley grew, it formed the heart of the New Netherland colony operations, with the New Amsterdam settlement located on Manhattan Island. But, with development comes involvement. Accordingly, the valley played a significant role in military events, including the French and Indian War of the 1750’s, followed by the American Revolution in 1776. During this war, the strategy of the British forces was to gain control of the river and, thereby, starve-out the colonists from any supplies. Well, they failed and the rest is history.
By the 19th Century, the valley captured the artistic and creative imaginations of writers like Washington Irving of “Headless Horseman” fame, as well as a whole group of acclaimed painters who formed the Hudson River “school of art,” almost dedicating themselves to capturing in oils the primordial lushness of the region that was unequal to anything else they had seen in the world.
With the advent of the Erie Canal, which opened the Hudson Valley and New York City to commerce with the Midwest and Great Lakes Region, many industrial towns prospered and flourished. While the 20th Century saw the demise of many of these towns, the beauty that so captured the hearts and minds of all who ventured here, remains. (For more information, visit www.wikipedia.com.)
To perpetuate all of the region’s rich cultural and historical heritage, the Historic Hudson Valley organization was established in the 1950’s, and now represents six historic landmarks including Kykuit in Tarrytown (Rockefeller estate), Sunnyside in Irvington (former home of Washington Irving), Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson (an 18th Century residence), Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow (an 18th Century mill and estate), Union Church in Tarrytown (features stained glass windows by Chagall and Matisse) and Montgomery Place (a 380-acre estate and architectural masterpiece originally owned by the Andrew Jackson Downing). All restoration sites provide an annual calendar full of interesting things to see and do, as well as seasonal activities and holiday celebrations.
(Visit www.hudsonvalley.org for a Calendar of Events and a detailed list of things to see and do. Also visit the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce located in downtown Peekskill at One South Division Street (737-3600 or www.hvgatewaychamber.com).
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