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Treasures of the Hudson Valley: A Library Program and Reading List

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Treasures of the Hudson Valley: A Library Program and Reading List

hudson valley

The Hudson Valley (also known as the Hudson River Valley) comprises the valley of the Hudson River and its adjacent communities in the U.S. state of New York. The region stretches from the Capital District including Albany and Troy south to Yonkers in Westchester County, bordering New York City.

This is a region steeped in history, natural beauty, culture, and a burgeoning food and farmer’s market scene. Among many attributes, it’s the oldest wine-producing area in the country, and the magnificent scenery inspired artists whose works became the Hudson River School of painters.  Lonely Planet describes the Hudson River Valley as “a real city break, with leafy drives, wineries and plenty of farm-to-table foodie options.” National Geographic Traveler named the Hudson Valley one of the top 20 must-see destinations in the world. 

The Valley boasts mainstream historic sites such as Lyndhurst, the Sunnyside estate, Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Presidential Library, and the Vanderbilt Mansion, which attract thousands of tourists every year. At the same time, a number of relatively unknown yet historically significant locales in the region often go unnoticed.  In some cases they are hidden in plain view, positioned along main thoroughfares or in the midst of city centers. 

If you want to discover more about the region, join author and speaker Anthony Musso on July 1st at 7pm for the program “Hidden Treasures of the Hudson Valley”.  Musso will reveal historically significant sites located throughout the Hudson Valley region that are for the most part unknown and under the mainstream tourist radar, and are featured in his three-volume “Hidden Treasures of the Hudson Valley” book series.

The sites that will specifically be highlighted in this talk include a Fishkill homestead established by Cornelius Van Wyck in 1732 that was commandeered by General George Washington to serve as headquarters for the Fishkill Supply Depot during the American Revolution and that now serves as a museum offering guided tours and frequent Revolutionary Encampments. You will hear about the only domed octagonal residence in the world, built in 1859 and located in Irvington, which was featured in The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” and now offers visitors a unique tour to observe its fine details and craftsmanship. 

Open to the public through local historical societies and other civic groups, discover and then visit Quaker meeting houses that were a critical part of the Underground Railroad.  Hear about the ‘76 Tavern built in 1688 that became a military prison during the American Revolution and is now a dining establishment with its interior space untouched from its infancy.  Learn about the rustic cabin that was home to renowned American naturalist and author John Burroughs, and discover the residence and art studio of Jasper Cropsey, one of the more successful artists of the Hudson River School of Art in Hastings, that offers a glimpse into his life and work.

Discover the structure that has the distinction of being the oldest Jewish home in North America and that was Built in 1714 in Newburgh by Luis Moses Gomez as a trading post for Native Americans and early settlers. Through the years it was owned by a militia captain and later a renowned artist who established a paper mill on the grounds. It welcomes visitors to tour the home and property.

The sites featured are excellent venues for day trips, weekend getaways or a more extended trip into an area that spans from Westchester and Rockland counties north to Columbia and Greene counties in the Hudson Valley.

Here are some books on the history and geography of the region available to borrow with your Livingston Library card.  Starred titles are available in other BCCLS libraries.

50 Hikes in the Lower Hudson Valley by Daniel D. Chazin

With hikes of all types and difficulties from lower Westchester County to the Shawangunks, this book has something for hikers of every experience level. Each hike provides a difficulty rating, approximate walking time, distance, vertical rise, maps, and trailhead GPS coordinates outlined at the beginning of the chapter, and provides tips and suggestions for getting to the trail, resting, and observing views throughout the hike. 

* Gardens of the Hudson Valley by Steve Gross

The majesty of the Hudson River has captivated both artists and visitors for generations, and the gardens along its banks have a special character. Those created for the Gilded Age estates are more formal; private gardens respond directly to the rolling landscape and mature forests.  This book focuses on the historic landscape and how gardens have been integrated into it. Photographers Steve Gross and Susan Daly have selected twenty-five gardens between Yonkers and Hudson, including famous estate gardens like Kykuit, Boscobel, the Vanderbilt Mansion, and Olana (all open to the public) and private gardens that combine sweeping views and lush plantings.   Garden writers Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner describe each of the gardens in detail, focusing on the history of the site and the strategies for design and plant materials.

*Historic Houses of the Hudson River Valley by Gregory Long

 Overlooking the majestic Hudson River, the Hudson Valley has long been a favored place to live. From the homes of the early settlers of the seventeenth century to the estates of the landed gentry of the eighteenth century and the baronial mansions of the captains of industry of the nineteenth century, the valley boasts some of the finest houses in America. This book is a sumptuous presentation of thirty-three houses in the region, ranging from the earliest Dutch cottages still extant to the grand Gothic and Italianate revival, stately Georgian, Federal, and Beaux-Arts country homes of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The History of the Hudson River Valley From the Civil War to Modern Times by Vernon Benjamin

Here we see the formation of the great estates of the Valley, including the Rockefellers, Sunnyside, and Olana, and the book shows us how the turn to the twentieth century brought a new era of population growth and prosperity to the region. A young Franklin Delano Roosevelt takes his first political steps in the New York senate during this time, and Thomas Dewey’s work as the New York State governor morphed him into a viable candidate on the national political stage as well. In short, the twentieth-century Hudson River Valley was a hotbed of wealth, influence, and culture, a vibrant scene of American development as significant as any our country has seen. By taking his narrative all the way into the post-September 11th present moment, Benjamin finishes his engaging, readable, and comprehensive history of one of America’s most significant and culturally important regions. 

The Hudson : An Illustrated Guide to the Living River by Stephen P. Stanne

This volume gives a detailed account of the Hudson River’s history, including the geological forces that created it, the various peoples who have lived on its banks, and the great works of art it has inspired. It also showcases the many species making a home on this waterway, including the Atlantic sturgeon, the bald eagle, the invasive zebra mussel, and the herons of New York Harbor. Combining both scientific and historical perspectives, this book demonstrates why the Hudson and its valley have been so central to the environmental movement. 

*The Hudson Valley : A Cultural Guide by Benjamin Swett

A cultural guide to the Hudson Valley arranged by county, from Staten Island to Lake George. It includes more than 500 performing-arts centers, museums, historical homes, parks, nature sanctuaries, fairs, and festivals along the Hudson River. The guide celebrates not just the big museums and historic locations for which the valley has long been famous but also the little-known gardens, hidden masterpieces of municipal architecture, local theater companies, and small rustic lodges where local musicians play chamber music under the stars.

The Hudson Valley : The First 250 Million Years : a Mostly Chronological and Occasionally Personal History by David Levine

This book chronicles the Valley’s rich and fascinating history and charms. Often funny, sometimes personal, always entertaining, this collection of essays offers a unique look at the Hudson Valley’s most important and interesting people, places, and events. 

Hudson Valley & the Catskills by Nikki Goth Itoi

Details the attractions, historic sites, accommodations, restaurants, and outdoor activities in the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains, and suggests itineraries for exploring the region.

*Hudson Valley Haunts : Historic Driving Tours by Linda Zimmerman

New York’s Hudson River Valley is a place of beauty and history. It is also one of the most haunted regions in the country. Read about ancient Indian spirits at Spook Rock, where an innocent girl was murdered in an act of revenge. Encounter soldiers who still walk the battlefield of Fort Montgomery. Visit haunted houses that line the streets of the old Dutch settlements in New Paltz and Hurley, and see a misty figure that haunts the Sickletown Road Cemetery. Beware; a passing shadow or faint whisper may signal that you have just had an encounter in haunted Hudson Valley.

*Hudson Valley Ruins : Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape by Thomas E. Rinaldi

This book offers a glimpse at some of the region’s forgotten cultural treasures. In addition to great river estates, the book profiles sites more meaningful to everyday life in the Valley: churches and hotels, commercial and civic buildings, mills and train stations. Included are works by some of the most important names in American architectural history, such as Alexander Jackson Davis and Calvert Vaux.The book is divided into four parts that correspond to the upper, middle, maritime, and lower sections of the Hudson River Valley. Sites have been selected for their general historical and architectural significance, their relationship to important themes in the region’s history, their physical condition or”rustic” character, and their ability to demonstrate a particular threat still faced by historical buildings in the region. 

*A Kayaker’s Guide to the Hudson River Valley : the Quieter Waters : Rivers, Creeks, Lakes, and Ponds by Shari Aber

A guide to great kayak adventures in the heart of New York’s Hudson River Valley–Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Putnam, Columbia, Greene, Westchester and Sullivan counties. Paddles include journeys through such magnificent waterways as Tivoli Bays, Constitution Marsh, the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary, the Delaware, Wallkill, Tenmile, Croton, & Neversink rivers, the Esopus, Wappinger, Otter Kill, Black, Stockport, Catskill, Bashakill, DuBois, Fishkill & Rondout creeks, plus 37 lakes, ponds and reservoirs. Meet bald eagles, blue heron, swans, and beavers on the quieter waters of one of America’s great watersheds. Includes maps, photographs, tips on safety, and directories of outfitters and environmental organizations offering equipment, instruction, or guided tours. 

The Manors and Historic Homes of the Hudson Valley by Harold Donaldson Eberlein

A classic guide to the history and architecture of the historic manors and homes of the Hudson River Valley.

Revolution on the Hudson : New York City and the Hudson River Valley in the American War of Independence by George C. Daughan

Daughan successfully argues that the British strategy of isolating New England by claiming New York and the Hudson Valley ultimately backfired, but he also shows the roles Philadelphia, the Chesapeake Bay.the American South, and even the Caribbean played in the war. The book delivers an enlightening combination of military and regional history that will draw anyone interested in the naval side of the American Revolution.

Archana Chiplunkar Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

 

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