New York’s Hudson Valley has become a hotspot for creatives looking to relocate in recent years, something that has affected different towns in different ways. Beacon is Bohemian and artsy; Hudson cosmopolitan and chic. One town, however, continues to belie description: Newburgh. For decades it’s been dealt a number of hardships, but there’s something undeniably intriguing, majestic, and lovable about the city that refuses to take a set shape or be pinned down.
To begin with, there’s the architecture. The city was home to several celebrated architects in the 19th century whose compelling handiwork can still be seen in the form of proud and noble Gothic and Victorian structures that line Newburgh’s streets. Andrew Jackson Downing’s work is on proud display alongside that of Calvert Vaux, and the city’s Downing Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. Then there’s the city’s history. It was in Newburgh, from headquarters overlooking the Hudson River, that George Washington guided the Continental Army during the last year and a half of the Revolutionary War. Take a closer at the Hudson Valley’s diamond in the rough below!
History and Architecture
Johanna Porr, director of the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands, says there are two things that will always draw people to Newburgh. “One is the river views, the nature of the scenery, and then the historic architecture. That’s what makes Newburgh so uniquely beautiful and those are the two things that just can’t be replicated in any other place.”
“Newburgh has the largest contiguous historic district and most diverse in New York State,” Porr continues. “When you look at New York City, there’s more historically preserved buildings, but they’re scattered around.”
Food and Drink
The restaurant scene in Newburgh is, well, cooking on high. The beloved Caffe Macchiato is thriving under the new ownership of Culinary Institute of America alum Jodi Cummings, who took over in September 2015. Liberty Street Bistro has opened next door, featuring chef/owner Michael Kelly who has worked under acclaimed chefs like Thomas Keller and Gordon Ramsay. 2 Alices Coffee Lounge hosts lively open mics. Live music, art, and great food are staples at the Newburgh Brewery, situated in a renovated factory just blocks from the Hudson River.
Newburgh also boasts a stunning array of authentic ethnic food, and no one knows that better than Ann Stratton. Since she moved four years ago, she’s been blogging about her effort to eat at every restaurant in town at Newburgh Food Journal, and she’s playing catch up at this point. “There’s great Caribbean, Mexican, Peruvian, Salvadoran, Puerto Rican, Italian, American. The city is about 50 percent Latin American now, and their food is fabulous. I’ve fallen in love with this city; I lived in the city for 35 years and never felt like part of a community as I do here, and a lot of us are fighting desperately to make it a great place for everyone—not to gentrify, but to revitalize.”
Sights and Sounds
Newburgh’s epicenter radiates out from a single main street that stretches the length of the city. Broadway is home to or kitty-corner from a number of prominent art galleries, including Teran Studio, and Ann Street Gallery. Newburgh’s resident poet, activist, and hip-hop artist Decora helped open a new “community workspace” called Space Create, a hybrid art gallery, conference center, cafe, bike rental hub, and collaborative space for resident artists. Newburgh Mercantile curates one-of-akind products by Hudson Valley makers in its boutique. Newburgh Vintage Emporium’s 11,000 square feet of retail space features 50 vendors of antiques, repurposed industrial items and locally handcrafted goods. Thornwillow Press Proprietor Luke Ives Pontifell has been doing custom bookbinding by hand on antique machinery, and has counted clients from Bill Clinton to Elton John. Many of these galleries and shops come alive during “Last Saturdays,” opening their doors in tandem for a city-wide event that’s “half gallery opening, half dance party.”
Newburgh is also home to several museums, including the Motorcyclepedia Museum, which is a loving homage to the two-wheeled steeds of the open road. Opened in 2011, Motorcyclepedia features over 450 motorcycles, along with photographs, posters, memorabilia, machinery, and other objects related to bikes. Just over a mile away stands the Karpeles Manuscript Museum, featuring important documents and manuscripts throughout history as well as current artists.
↑ A portrait series by artist Dmitri Kasterine lines the walls of Newburgh’s Ritz Theater.