Tag: Featured Article

Time Travel

“Public records are the frozen mind of the people.” Thus begins the introduction to transcriptions of Early Records of New York State showing the meetings and laws covering Road Commissioners of Ulster County, Volume I, 1722-1769. The book is an interesting read, especially if you ever wondered who laid out some of the rural roads [Read More…]

Putting Down Roots

Sidgwick Family: England Tantillo Family: Italy Polischuk Family: Russia   This pictorial layout is presented here as a downloadable PDF file: Putting Down Roots (PDF)

Water Works

Following the example of natural waterways, this article meanders. Hopefully, it makes connections between that H2O and some other facets of our vast land and its history that led to America’s unparalleled prosperity. Water was a natural bounty that provided a figurative and literal path to earnable wealth for our forebears, and continues for us [Read More…]

The Social Relief Society Welcomes You to Cottekill…

The Inviting Postcard The bucolic image above is a postcard. Its postal cancellation reads: “Cottekill, N.Y. August 6, 1941, AM.” The Social Relief Society (SRS) advertising text on reverse sets the mood: “The S.R.S. Home is beautifully situated in the Catskill Mountains 900 feet above sea level in Cottekill, Ulster County, N.Y. Reasonable rates. All [Read More…]

Thanks To You, Our Advertisers & Readers, We Begin Our 40th Year

About Town began in the Summer of 1984 as The Guide To New Paltz. The Guide’s founders were Liz Weisz, Elena Erber, Karen Thompson, and yours truly. By 1988, the publication had grown to incorporate other Ulster County towns. To accommodate the expanded area, we changed its name to About Town (AT). Within a few [Read More…]

College Hill, Poughkeepsie, NY

Looking at the postcard images throughout this issue, it is easy to understand Poughkeepsie’s “Queen City” designation. In the 1800s, Poughkeepsie was a beautiful, bustling, wealth-generating place bursting with industry, culture, philanthropy, imagination, and education. The city’s most significant enabler, the Hudson River, and later the railroads, brought materials, people, and investment to the area. [Read More…]

Where There’s Smoke…

This is a story that jumps around like water on a hot griddle. It jumps in time and it jumps in geography. When the smoke clears, I hope you have a greater appreciation for the history of our local fire departments, your investment in them, and their hundreds of volunteers. March 17, 1891. Highland. The [Read More…]

The Draining and Refilling of the Swartekill Swamp

Over my almost eight decades, I’ve witnessed the transformation of land once farmed by my grandparents. It has gone from farmed to fallow, to brambled meadows, to tightly-packed small-tree groves, to now, a few good-size 60+ year-old mature trees. Another transformation on that land was quicker. Sandwiched between the mostly parallel roads of Plutarch and [Read More…]

New D&H Canal Museum to Open

The website of the D&H Canal Historical Society makes this simple declaration: “The mission of the D&H Canal Historical Society is to highlight the importance of the D&H Canal and preserve its stories, landscapes, and artifacts.” One of the Society’s important accomplishments was the establishment in 1976 of a museum. They gathered artifacts, ephemera, stories, [Read More…]

America’s Pedestrian & Ulster County’s Man of Mystery

Two articles on this subject appeared previously in About Town. One with permission of Rodale Press and the other I wrote in 2008. The latter is available on our website. The article below covers some of the same information but also material from a 2014 Rodale Press published book, “The Last Great Walk” by Wayne [Read More…]

The Era of Oscar of New Paltz

Oscar Tschirky, aka, Oscar of The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, NYC, NY […] was a man of the world. His featured Waldorf domains were the Palm Gardens, the Empire Room, Peacock Alley, The Sert Room (murals by Jose Maria Sert), the Grand Ballroom, and the private supper rooms, all part of the hotel’s iconic dining scene… This [Read More…]

Poughkeepsie’s Woodcliff Pleasure Park

July 14, 1927, at 7 pm, it opened. Finally, Poughkeepsie had something to compete with other famous amusement parks up and down the Hudson, and in nearby cities and states. Poughkeepsie welcomed the Woodcliff Pleasure Park… This pictorial layout is presented here as a downloadable PDF file: Poughkeepsie’s Woodcliff Pleasure Park (PDF)  

It’s Snow Time

Whether or not we get snow, ‘tis the season for it. And that means hiking, snowshoeing, ice climbing, snowmobiling, ice skating, plowing and shoveling…or a warm toasty fire and a good book. After checking the forecast and the wind-chill chart below, decide your day’s itinerary from the possible alternatives listed. See Fireside Reads, and Out [Read More…]

New Paltz Village: Then & Now

In that other lifetime, before we all learned the name, structure, and pitilessness of a virus, I was preparing a presentation titled Then And Now for the New Paltz Historical Society in November. Here are a few of the images I was planning to share…   This pictorial layout is presented here as a downloadable PDF [Read More…]

Opening the Gates to Wellness

Anyone heading east on the Mid Hudson Bridge or driving on Route 9 south of it can’t be faulted for thinking the huge shining edifice cropping out of the stone cliff above the roadway is a dazzling new hotel. The almost completed construction of the Vassar Brothers Hospital takes modern design and the institution’s facilities [Read More…]

Postal Roots

Karen Berelowitz and Stephen Blauweiss’ comprehensively researched, beautifully written, and lushly illustrated account of The Life and Death of the Kingston Post Office should be in the library of anyone who appreciates historic architecture and works to preserve it. The book is a memorial to that most beautiful post office building as well as a [Read More…]

Roebling’s Gifts

Unlike today, fame once equated with substantial achievement—overcoming disease, taming natural barriers, death-defying exploration, tweaking the laws of nature. Fame was once the province of the world-changer. In that rich vein of past boundary-pushers are many inventors, entrepreneurs and scientists who saw better ways of answering the needs of their fellow humans. Henry Ford, Jonas [Read More…]

A Ferry Tale

Midnight, New Years’ Eve, 1941. Its light shining into the darkness of the Hudson River, the Brinckerhoff Ferry left its berth in Highland making one last crossing. Its forty-year Hudson River history sealed. Its future uncertain. Prior to the American War for Independence, crossing the Hudson River between Yelverton’s Landing (today Highland) and Poughkeepsie meant [Read More…]

Patrons of Husbandry

“Its primary object is to bring about a union among the farmers of the Republic, for it is its cardinal maxim that only in union can the agricultural class show its strength and make it felt.” History of the Grange Movement (Edward Winslow Martin, 1873)     1867 The United States Civil War had disrupted [Read More…]

Schools of Thought

I chose “Luminari” for the title typeface of this article because it captures the spirit of the camps, colonies, and schools that have fed the minds and imaginations of countless students from every socio-economic strata. Some of those schools evolved (above B&W postcard of the Mt. St. Alphonsus Seminary, now The Mount, a private high [Read More…]

Racing Hearts

This article honors the historic racing spirit of Ulster County. This September, two unusual races take place here. The Catskill Conquest Pilot Rally partially follows the historic auto-endurance race of 1903 sponsored by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (original 800 miles from NJ to PA). The September 22nd race starts in Ulster County and [Read More…]

What Might Have Been

Twenty years ago, American Demographics magazine published an article titled “Strong Home Towns.” It was based on a study of the 3,600+ counties in the United States detailing the civic connectedness of citizens in each county and ranking them more or less “strong home towns.” Some of the data they looked at were lengths of [Read More…]

Woodstock: An Original Long Before…

Outside influences, large and small, tangible and intangible, have shaped Woodstock, NY, for the last 100 years or more. Ideas that crossed the Atlantic in the prior century challenged the accepted orthodoxy of community. Worldly painters brought the beauty of the wild to the city-bound. The affordable publishing and distribution of newspapers and periodicals helped [Read More…]

Street Art: Celebrating the Highland-New Paltz Trolley

Art evokes feeling. For many of us, trolley images from early last century do just that. They beckon us to imagine riding on them. To think about how they changed the places and people they connected. Now, the Town of Lloyd Historical Preservation Society, whose mission is, in part, to collect and preserve the historic [Read More…]

The Deep Family Roots of an Old Vineyard

Fall is a great time to discover Ulster County wineries, and we have plenty: Adair Vineyards, Baldwin Vineyards, Benmarl Winery, Brimstone Hill Vineyard & Winery, Cereghino Smith Winery, El Paso Winery, Enlightenment Winery, Glorie Farm Winery, Kedem Winery, Magnanini Farm Winery,  Maple Hill Winery, Robibero Family Vineyards, Stoutridge Vineyards, and Whitecliff Vineyard (see Whitecliff listing). This list doesn’t include all the “hobby” vineyards scattered throughout [Read More…]

A New Paltz Reunion

Members of the New Paltz High School Class of 1962 were born at the end of World War II. In July we celebrate the 55th anniversary of our commencement into the world at large-a world of great opportunity. Though we’ve changed beyond recognition in many cases, many areas of New Paltz are much the same. [Read More…]

Recasting Recreation

To paraphrase a mantra of tourism and business developers throughout the world: Happy residents draw visitors. And, I add, businesses. It makes good sense. Residents who like where they live and work usually work and live in very nice places. Who wouldn’t want to visit? It explains why Ulster County has always been a destination. [Read More…]

Winter Tales

Winter. The thought summons dread to many New Yorkers. To others, it’s the best season–invigorating and challenging. Perspective is often missing in today’s revilers and revelers of winter. We are not that encumbered any more by the season’s bluster. This Winter story begins with entries from a set of diaries begun in 1874 by a [Read More…]

The Elverhoj Art Colony And Its Kindred Spirits

The frequency of connections among the places and players in Ulster County’s history–from Gomez Mill House’s Dard Hunter to Gustav Stickley and his publication The Craftsman, from the Roycrofters to John Burroughs and Henry Ford,, and from Sticlkey to the Raymond Riordon School, and dozens of other threads  criss-crossing our paths, all add to our [Read More…]

The System

Turning On the $pigot On Friday, May 20, 2016, the New York City Water Board voted to raise the cost of water and sewer services for its users. According to a Wall Street Journal article printed the next day, titled “City Water Rates Going Up,” the rate would increase 2.1% effective July 1st. Since 1980 [Read More…]