Beacon, NY- Hudson Valley’s best Success Story

I only included the pre WW-II portion of Beacon in this evaluation.

Beacon was named to commemorate the historic beacon fires that blazed forth from the summit of the Fishkill Mountains to alert the Continental Army of British troop movements. During the 1800s, the city  became a big manufacturing town and was known as “The Hat Making Capital of the US. Its important to note that Danbury, CT makes this claim as well!

But like most Hudson River Valley cities, Beacon experienced economic decline especially by the 60s.and 70s. By 1990 almost 80 percent of the city’s commercial business spaces and factories were vacant. Starting in the late 1990s, Beacon really focused on an art’s based revitalization strategy beginning with the opening of  Dia Beacon, one of the world’s largest contemporary art museums Dia. This spilled over into the Main Street and other historic warehouse buildings.

Main Street has become so successful that quality urban in-fill is starting to fill the gaps. Beacon’s revitalization success has also spilled over into a high standard of living for its residents, quality schools, good parks spaces, and a great array of cultural and walkable retail amenities focused on Main Street. To help make Beacon a great urban environment, I’d like to see better bike and ADA infrastructure along with a strong emphasis on providing affordable housing as this is a pretty high cost place to live. 
Click here to view my Beacon, NY album on Flickr


* Wonderful historic architecture along the main St. Nothing spectacular
 in the residential areas.
* Dwtn Beacon is becoming such a strong market that there is not quality urban in fill being constructed.
* Good public transit in dwtn Beacon, but it drops off in the neighborhoods esp. east of Fishkill Creek. Beacon is connected to the Hudson line providing convenient access to Poughkeepsie. One can even get to Manhattan in 2 hours.
* Over 60% of households are family households.
* Strong middle class community but still with good economic diversity. Great racial diversity as well.
* Excellent main street overall with great vibrancy, streetscaping, and lots of diverse retail and stores.
* Solid park amenities including a great waterfront park, extensive sport fields at Memorial Park, the South Ave Park, and several other smaller community parks. 
* Crime is low here and blight is limited.
* Very nice array of public, private, and parochial elementary schools within the City core. Middle and high schools are to the north more on the outskirts of town.
* Good cultural amenities including a great array of restaurants, bars, and cafes, several nice live music spots, a performing arts center, movie theater, and one of the world’s largest art museums. Also a good array of art galleries and a couple local museums.
* Not surprisingly lots of boutiques, local creative retailers, a small nature grocery store and a full service grocery store, a drug store, a couple bookstores, several bakeries, a cheese shop, and many antique stores. There is also a dwtn library and post office.


* Good sidewalk infrastructure but up-to-date ADA curb cuts are rare.
* A short bike lane along the Hudson is the only one in town.
* For sale housing skews expensive but still a good diversity of product. Start homes run in the 200K, 300Ks, medium sized in the 400-500Ks. Top of the market is 600Ks-700Ks.
* Rental housing is also pretty expensive but good amount of product. 1-bedrooms lease in the $1,000s,  2 & 3 bedrooms anywhere from the high $1,000s to $3,000.

Newburgh, NY- Historic headquarters of the Continental Army

Downtown is generally bound by Washington to the south, 1st to the north, Robinson to the west, and the Hudson River to the east.

Newburgh area was first settled in the early 18th century. During the American Revolution, Newburgh served as the headquarters of the Continental Army. Newburgh became quite prosperous during the Gilded Age helped by its situation on the Hudson River midway between New York City and Albany.

Things started to unravel in Newburgh starting in the early 20th century with mills and industry shutting down. By the late 1960s the city was in full economic decline and used urban renewal plan to demolish the historic waterfront area. Newburgh has struggled for several decades even as Beacon across the river has stabilized and prospered. Much of this has to due with a lack of civic vision and political continuity. Fortunately things have begun to improve in Newburgh. More and more residential properties are being renovated with many homes selling in the 200K and 300Ks. The smaller Liberty Street biz district has seen many new businesses. Broadway Ave is still pretty rough but have businesses and most of its historic urban form. 
Click here to view my Newburgh, NY album on Flickr


* Excellent connectivity Dwtn.
* Hispanic majority population but still good diversity.
* High percentage of family households.
* Good for sale diversity ranging from around 75K-350K depending on size and condition.
* Rentals are a bit more expensive but good amount of product. 1-bedrooms rent in the low $1,000s and 2-bedrooms in the mid $1,000s. This high end price range is pretty surprising given the blight of the neighborhood, but it is New York.
* Good park amenities with Washington Head Quarter’s historic site, a waterfront park, safe harbor’s green (a good civic space), and the expansive Delano-Hitch Park to the west of Dwtn with a swimming pool and many sport facilities.
* Decent cultural amenities including a handful ethnic restaurants, several cafes, and a good number of bars on Liberty, the Ritz Theater, a couple of art galleries.
* While rough the main street urban form is very much in tact. Streetscape still pretty rough. Liberty Ave has the most investment, Broadway has a ways to go still.
* Great density here. 


* Consistent sidewalks but lots of crumbling infrastructure and ADA
 curb cuts are rare.
* Not many jobs Dwtn but Beacon is only a 15 minute drive. Poughkeepsie is 35 minutes away.
* Public transit is very limited.
* No bike infrastructure really in Newburgh.
* Pretty high poverty Dwtn but some income diversity.
* Really no modern in-fill.
* Lots of blight remain in downtown Newburg. Crime is high but getting better.
* Retail amenities are more limited but include several nice boutiques and local stores on Liberty Ave, lots of small ethnic grocery stores, a florist, a bakery, a hardware store, and some other local retail. 
* The post office and library are located north of Dwtn. No banks dwtn, nor a pharmacy or full service supermarket.
* Only the Catholic grade school is located within New borough. A couple good school options north of Dwtn.
* Even with recent investment in dwtn Newburgh it still has a pretty bad reputation.

Poughkeepsie, NY- A historic Hudson River town with an incredible Walkway over the Hudson

As Poughkeepsie is a pretty old community with lots of development in the 1800s there are distinct neighborhoods and pockets. Figuring out exactly where the boundaries are is a bit undefined, a common problem with historic towns of this size. This review deals specifically with the Historic West End of Poughkeepsie. Its actually not an official neighborhood name but I use it to include the most historic parts of Poughkeepsie and the area west of Downtown. It includes the Union Street Historic District, which dates back to the late 1700s.

The Historic West End of Poughkeepsie is generally a walkable neighborhood with nice historic architecture, good park amenities and several small commercial nodes. It has great cultural amenities but limited neighborhood retail. Fortunately Downtown provides this and is walkable to most residents in the neighborhood. The district is also the main entrance to the Walkway over the Hudson, a spectacular pedestrian/bike bridge spanning the Hudson River. There are several places the neighborhood could improve including the need for walkable schools, more retail amenities, up to date ADA curb cuts, and better connectivity.
Click here to view my Poughkeepsie, NY album on Flickr


* Good density.
* Great public transit access and good access to jobs with the Historic West End being adjacent to Dwtn (where Poughkeepsie County offices are located) and Marist College is located just to the north.
* Good bike lanes in the neighborhood with a waterfront trail and the Walkway over the Hudson trail.
* Incomes are a bit on the low side but plenty of economic diversity here. Also a very racial diverse neighborhood and good generational diversity.
* Good for sale diversity ranging from around 75K-350K depending on size and condition.
* Rentals are a bit more expensive but good amount of product. 1-bedrooms rent in the low $1,000s and 2-bedrooms in the mid $1,000s. Several aff. hsg towers mixed in as well.
* Good park amenities including the Hudson walkway, Pulaski Park, Upper Landing Park and several other smaller parks.
* Cultural amenities include: a good array of restaurants, bars, and cafes clustered at several nodes, a couple community theaters, the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, and convenient access to Downtown’s cultural amenities
* Solid Tree canopy.


* Connectivity is the not the greatest as the street grid is pretty erratic.
* Retail amenities are limited in the Historic West End. One generally needs to good Dwtn for this. The MidHudson Hospital is just north of the neighborhood.
* Some blight and crime is higher than the national average in Poughkeepsie.
* No schools in the Historic West End but a couple dwtn.
* Sidewalk infrastructure is good and consistent but up to date ADA curb cuts is rare. 

Downtown Troy, NY- one of American’s most beautiful Downtowns

Troy has a long history going back to the late 18th century when it was formally incorporated. Due to its access to the Erie Canal it quickly became a prosperous city. In 1824 the nation’s oldest private engineering institute opened here, the Renesselaer Polytechnic Institute. The industrial revolution continued to spur industrial and economic growth to the City helping Troy become the fourth wealthiest city in America around the turn of the 20th century. This wealth translated into amazing architecture, especially in Downtown  including many elaborate Victorian and Italianate rowhouses and brownstones along with several great churches containing Tiffany stained glass windows, Troy Music Hall,  Troy Public Library, and much more.

Like most industrial cities, Troy witnessed significant blight and disinvestment. Yet, unlike Albany, most of its historic building stock remains in tact. With new interest and reinvestment this become a great asset for Troy creating one of the most beautiful American Downtowns with great urban form and a truly live/work district. Many restaurants, bars, locally owned retail have opened the past couple decades. While not a major employment hub, Dwtn troy excels as a business incubator as it can provide cheap spaces in an attractive urban districts.

Areas that Dwtn can improve include removal of remaining blighted areas, new condos (for-sale housing is only rowhouses), walkable downtown schools, more bike lanes within the Downtown District, and a full service grocery store. 
Click here to view my Downtown Troy album on Flickr


*Great density for a Dwtn especially a mid-sized city. Much larger residential population in Dwtn Troy than Dwtn Albany.
* Wonderful historic architecture. Arguably the best preserved historic downtown in the United States.
* Good street tree coverage especially for a Downtown area.
* Overall a very comfortable pedestrian environment where most curb cuts have up to date ADA infrastructure.
* High quality transit service Dwtn and extending to all of Troy and connecting to Albany. In fact the entire Capitol Region transit system is quite good.
* The bike share system in place in Albany, Troy, Schenectady provides great coverage to all these cities. Several regional bike trails come close but don’t quite connect with Dwtn. Still easy to bike the last 1/2-1 mile without a fully dedicated bike lane.
* Wonderful street grid and connectivity. * Good racial diversity.
* Most for-sale housing options are larger rowhomes. One can purchase a 2-4 bedroom in the 100Ks & 200Ks. Plenty of options in the 300Ks-600Ks depending on size and value. This is great if you want to live Dwtn with a family. Condos are certainly a missing market here.
* Decent array of rental options too. Pretty in-expensive for a dwtn. 1-bedrooms lease btwn $800-$1,400, 2-bedrooms in the $1,000s and low 2Ks, 3-bedrooms in the $2,000s.
* Parks spaces consist of Chamberlin Waterfront Park, sage park, and Monument Square- the modest civic heart of Dwtn in the middle of an ambitious re-design. The extensive Prospect Park is located just SE of Dwtn.
* Good college population within or near Dwtn with Sage College and Renesselaer  Polytechnic Institute (8,500 students).
* Excellent urban form and massing. Surface parking lots are pretty limited in Dwtn Troy.
* Dwtn has an active BID charged with clean up, beautification, and special events.
* Culturally dwtn excells at in the food & beverage industry, several art galleries, several historic theaters, and great cultural amenities from its colleges.
* Retail amenities include a wonderful array of local, creative stores, bookstores,  boutiques, a hardware store, drug store, dwtn post office & library, a small organic grocer, and nearby hospital.


* No convention center or sport facilities downtown
* IF you include the universities total employment dwtn is only about 10K. But there are positives in the office market. Troy has lots of small start up companies and trend is very positive. They are attracted by Downtown’s cheap rents (around $12-$15 a square foot). There is also limited vacancy too.
* Portion of Dowtn north of Federal Street and east of 5th Ave is still pretty blighted. But reinvestment seems to be arriving quickly.
* Limited post WW II in-fill but some nice medium sized mixed-income buildings starting to pop up, a sign of Dwtn’s success. Bland mid century infill located north of Federal St. due to some haphazard urban renewal efforts. Lucky this was limited.
* No direct public transit connection between Dwtn and the airport. One needs to pass transfer at Dwtn Albany.
* Incomes generally pretty low in dwtn Troy (30% poverty rate) but this seems to be improving as more young professionals move here. 
* Family households account for 30% of the pop, while this is low note bad for a dwtn area. Also plenty of 3 bedroom + options with all of Dwtn’s rowhouses.
* Crime rate in Troy overall is pretty high. But dwtn generally feels safer other than a few sketchy and blighted spots.
* Without any modern skyscrapers, no traditional American skyline here. Kind of nice though as the historic bldgs and churches still form the skyline.
* No schools located within Dwtn but a couple good options a mile away.
* Given its historic blight and safety concerns, Dwtn Troy still struggles with aa unjustified negative perception.
* Streetscape is generally attractive but uneven in terms of investment.
* No full-service supermarket and large retailer dwtn. 

Saratoga Springs, NY- Historic Vacation Grounds for New Yorkers

Lots of great history at Saratoga Springs. The community was  incorporated as a village in 1826 and quickly became a tourism destination after the arrival of the Saratoga Schenectady Railroad. Its mineral springs and eventually horse racing & gambling led to an explosion of large hotels. By 1900 the town had a fulltime population of 12,000, which grew to 15,000 by 1950. Following WWII, Saratoga had a couple decades of decline but quickly rebounded in the 1970s as a major destination but also attracted lots new housing and quality mixed-use infill.

Saratoga Springs has some major of urban weaknesses that prevent it from being a great urban area… expensive housing, lack of residential density, limited bike infrastructure, limited public transit access. 
Click here to view my Saratoga Springs album on Flickr


* Good generational diversity and half of all households are family ones.
* Congress Park is a wonderful recreational amenity near Downtown. Several other nice park & recreational spaces in Saratoga Springs. Really wonderful in-fill development as well. Not just in Downtown but also in the residential streets.
* Vibrant downtown packed with great shopping and cultural amenities.
* Generally quality sidewalks and ADA curb cuts but lots out of date curb cuts.
* Low crime rate and limited blight through Saratoga Springs.
* Great urban form and streetscaping along Broadway.
* Schools are highly rated and most are located within the historic core.
* Great cultural amenities including ton of restaurants, bars, and cafes, several live music venues, Skidmore College theater, a cineplex, a good array of art galleries, museums and historic sites. 
* Retail amenities include a dwtn supermarket, lots of smaller specialty grocers, great array of boutiques & independent stores, some brand name retail, a couple drug stores, bookstores, public library, post office, Saratoga Hospital. Only retail amenities missing is a target and department stores.


* Density not great.
* Decent local public transit but limited access to downtown Albany or Dwtn Troy. There are a fair amount of jobs in Saratoga Springs with it local tourism, the arts and Skidmore College
* 40-45 minute drive to either downtown.
* Bike infrastructure limited inside historic Saratoga Springs.
* Generational high incomes here but some economic diversity. Racial diversity on the other hand is very limited.
* For sale housing is runs expensive but decent diversity in price and type (mix of townhouses, condos, and SF). Starter homes run in the 200Ks. Better 3-bedrooms generally 300-400K. Nice 3 & 4 bedrooms between 400K-700K. Large homes and luxury product generally selling between 700K and 1 M.
* Lots of rental product but pretty expensive. 1-bedrooms leasing in the $1,000s and low $2,000s, 2-bedrooms in the mid $1,000s and $2,00s