Located midway between Albany and
New York City, the Great Estates region of the Hudson Valley contains
the grand expressions and visions fo the Gilded Age.
The history of many of the estates
streach back into the early land grant history of the Dutch and English
in the new world. Several great fortunes are based upon the control
of vast tracts of land in the Valley. Lands owned by the Livingstons,
Roosevelts and Beekmans established such gilded estates as Clermont,
Springwood and Wilderstein.
Given the early social promenance of
the Hudson Valley and its proximity to the economic engine of America,
New York City, many of the wealthy looked north into the Valley
for their country seats and elegant country houses. Vanderbilts
and Goulds, as well as dozens of other lesser known magnates, lavished
fortunes on the construction of homes and gardens. The gentle summer
climate, unsurpassed landscape and romantic associations brought
the well heeled north for their escapes from city life.
It didn't hurt that, thanks to Corenlius
Vanderbilt, the mid-Valley was an easy train ride out of the City.
Vanderbilt seized control of the banks of the river and installed
train service along the entire length of the river from New York
City to Albany, and beyond. Luxury cars and private Pullman's could
be attached to north-bound trains providing the wealthy a very private
and very quick trip up the river.
The great estates of the Valley start
in the south in Yonkers and quite literally line the river's banks
all the way up-river into Columbia County. These days a few of them
are open to the general public to visit and admire. The highest
concentration of these accessible estates starts to the north with
Clermont, just outside of Germantown, centuries old seat of the
Livingston family all the way down to Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie,
home of Samuel Morse. The history of America can be traced through
these estates, from Revolutionary War leaders and founding fathers
at Clermont to FDR's home and Presidential Library at Springwood
to the inventor of the telegraph Samuel Morse's home, Locust Grove.
Visiting the estates provides you a
glimpse back into the economic, social and aesthetic history of
our country. From charming livable spaces like Wilderstein to imposing
sandstone edifaces like the Vanderbilt Mansion, each has an intreaguing
story to tell and history to reveal.
Sprinkled liberally between the estates
are many lesser known, yet equally important historic sites and attractions.
Take a tour at the pre-eminent gastronomic experience of the CIA,
(Culinary Institute of America). Walk the bustling shopping streets
of Rhinebeck lined with high-end boutiques and shops. Take a ride
on the Sloop Clearwater out of Poughkeepsie and learn about the ecologic
and environmental history of the Valley. Sit on the bleachers on a
lazy summer day and thrill to the exciting antics of antique planes
buzzing and swooping at the Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Stop at any one of
the many dozens of antique shops to be found around almost every corner
and bend in the road. Or just sit and enjoy the day at one of the
many cafes, sipping tea and enjoying the atmosphere.
More than anything else, the Great Estates
Region of the Hudson Valley is a quiet, lazy, welcoming place. The
people are friendly, the shops & sites and attractions are fun
and exciting and the landscape is the best in the Valley. Easily
reachable by car, bus or train, a trip into the Great Estates Region
is one you will never forget, one you will savor always.