Location of Beacon, New York
|• Mayor||Randy J. Casale (R)|
|• City Council|
|• Total||4.9 sq mi (12.7 km2)|
|• Land||4.8 sq mi (12.4 km2)|
|• Water||0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)|
|Elevation||138 ft (42 m)|
|• Total||15,541 Living and 25,000 Working/ Tourism (city proper)|
|• Density||3,333/sq mi (2,072/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0977521|
|Website||City of Beacon|
Beacon is a city located in Dutchess County, New York, United States. The 2010 census placed the city total population at 15,541. Beacon is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, New York Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New York–Newark–Bridgeport, New York–New Jersey–Connecticut–Pennsylvania Combined Statistical Area. It was named to commemorate the historic beacon fires that blazed forth from the summit of the Fishkill Mountains to alert the Continental Army about British troop movements.
The area occupied as Beacon was originally settled as the villages of Matteawan and Fishkill Landing in 1709, which were among the first colonial communities in the county. Beacon is located in the southwest corner of Dutchess County in the Mid-Hudson Region, approximately 90 miles (140 km) south of Albany, New York, and approximately 60 miles (97 km) north of New York City.
In 1683, the land that would come to include the City of Beacon was purchased from the Wappinger Indians by Francis Rombout and Gulian Verplanck, merchant-fur traders from New York City. The sale was confirmed, in 1685 by royal patent issued in the names of Rombout, Jacobus Kipp (as successor to the deceased Verplanck, and Stephanus Van Cortlandt. Rombout died in 1691, leaving his share to his daughter, Catharyna, who later married Roger Brett, an officer in the Royal Navy. The Rombout Patent was partitioned in 1706 with Catharyna Brett receiving about 28,000 acres along the Vis Kill. In 1708 the Bretts re-located upriver from the family home on Broadway to an area near the mouth of the Fishkill Creek and built a grist mill on the lower creek. In June 1718, Roger Brett was drowned when his sloop encountered a fierce squall near Fishkill Landing while returning from New York with supplies. Thereafter Catharyna Brett continued to manage her holdings, becoming a well-respected businesswoman.
Unlike the Verplancks, Livingstons, and other landowners, Madam Brett was not averse to selling land to settlers, although often retaining the right to build a mill. Of paramount importance was the commerce in flour. During the first third of the nineteenth century, Dutchess County ranked first among New York State counties in wheat production, supplying one third of all the flour produced in the State. Madam Brett laid out a free road over her property from the river eastward to the limits of her lands. “Madam Brett’s Road” (now, route 52) ran from Fishkill Landing through Matteawan to Fishkill. The mill thrived, attracting farmers from both sides of the river. Wheat and corn were ground into flour and meal, and shipped to New York. In 1748, Madam Brett, with eighteen others, entered into an agreement for the building of the Frankfort Store House. which stood near the water at the "Lower Landing" north of Dennings Point. This was the origin of river freighting. Fishkill Landing developed into a river port. As early as 1780 two dozen vessels operated out of Fishkill Landing.
The early development of Fishkill Landing was due in no small part to the enterprises of John Peter DeWint.  DeWint was born in Tappan in 1787. His father was a Dutchman who came to New York from the West Indies. The DeWint house in Tappan was one of George Washington's headquarters during the Revolution. In September 11, 1814 John Peter DeWint married Caroline Smith, granddaughter of John Adams. DeWint owned 2,000 acres at Fishkill Landing, a gift from his father; and held property and business interests across the river in Newburgh. In 1815 he built the Long Dock. He had a shipyard on the river just south of the Long Dock, and interests in the freight business which for many years was conducted by sloops for the Long Dock as well as the Lower and Upper Landings. In 1828 Cornelius Carman of Low Point, (present day Chelsea), built for DeWint and Carpenter, the Plow Boy, the first steam-powered ferry between Fishkill Landing and Newburgh. The Fishkill Landing post office was established in 1804. DeWint purchased the Bogardus-DeWindt House and lands as part of his Cedar Grove estate. His mother, Elizabeth, moved there in 1825. DeWint's original homestead was located on the river just north of Fishkill Landing, but was destroyed by fire in 1862. He donated land for the Dutch parsonage and burial grounds. John Peter DeWint died on November 18, 1870.
Between the voyages of the Half Moon and the Clermont there were two centuries when sloops conducted much of the river traffic. The sloop is of Dutch origin. In its simplest form, it is a vessel of one mast, carrying a mainsail, jib, and generally a topsail. For steering, a long tiller was used. Sloops were a favorite means of travel, and for the shipping of light articles, parcels, and letters. Frequently, better time was made the sloop than by the stagecoach. The Caroline, built by John Peter DeWint and named in honor of his daughter, once made the sixty miles from New York to Fishkill Landing in five hours.
Matteawan was situated on the Fishkill Creek about a mile and a half east of Fishkill Landing, and a like distance above the mouth of the creek, whose hydraulic properties contributed to its development as a manufacturing center. It lay at the foot of the Fishkill Mountains, and was a station on both the Newburgh, Dutchess & Connecticut, and the New York & New England Railroads, and was connected with the Fishkill Landing by stage, and rail. The first settlers were Roger and Catharyna Brett, who in 1709 built a home further upstream from their original location.
Ferry service between the future locations of both Beacon and Newburgh had existed in some form at least since 1743. By the early 20th century the fleet had grown to three 160-foot (49 m) coal-fired ferries, the Orange, Dutchess and Beacon, capable of carrying 30 vehicles each. It linked the two segments of NY 52, the major east-west artery at that point. Increasing traffic on 52 by midcentury, however, coupled with the building of the New York State Thruway in the Hudson corridor, was straining the ferry beyond its breaking point. The state's Department of Public Works began planning for a bridge, but it was not a serious possibility until federal money became available through the construction of Interstate 84. Beacon is serviced weekdays by a commuter ferry, The Newburgh-Beacon Ferry, over the Hudson between both cities which helps alleviate traffic to the Beacon Train Station from Orange County commuters. The ferry's route runs between Beacon City Harbor and Newburgh City Waterfront.
The city served a variety of roles during the Revolutionary War. It manufactured war supplies, and served as a fort and signaling point. The city's name came from signal fires that were atop nearby Mount Beacon. During the 1800s, the city became a factory town and was known as "The Hat Making Capital of the US" with nearly 50 hat factories operating at one time.
During the 1960s, urban renewal led to the destruction of some significant historic buildings. In the late 1970s, the Dutchess Ski area, which had been a large tourist attraction, was closed. Also in the 1970s, a decline in the economy shuttered most of the factories. This decline quickly became a severe and ongoing economic downturn that lasted from about 1970 to the late 1990s, during which almost 80 percent of the city's commercial business spaces and factories were vacant. Starting in the late 1990s, with the opening of one of the world's largest contemporary art museums Dia: Beacon, Beacon began an artistic and commercial rebirth. New development continues to enlarge the city. Currently, the two largest planned projects are a waterfront hotel and conference center, and "The Rivers and Estuaries Center" on Dennings Point.
Beginning on February 24, 2010, a massive snowstorm affected the city and surroundings. On February 25, Mayor Steve Gold enacted a State Of Emergency, due to total snow accumulations in excess of three feet. The city was without electricity and gas services for over two days.
Beacon is home to one of a handful operating "dummy lights" in the United States, located at the intersection of Main and East Main Streets. It is a traffic signal on a pedestal which sits in the middle of an intersection, dating back to the 1920s. Two others are located in New York, in Canajoharie and Croton-on-Hudson.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.9 square miles (13 km2), of which 4.8 square miles (12 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) is water. The total area is 2.25% water.
Located on the eastern shore of the Hudson River, Beacon is noted for its proximity to numerous historic sites and large cities. It is located minutes away from Bannerman's Castle and West Point. Beacon also sits with the famous Mount Beacon as its backdrop and the Hudson River as its front door. The city also is located across the river from its larger sister city, Newburgh. Beacon is just 20 minutes south of the Hudson Valley Region Capital City, Poughkeepsie. In addition, Danbury, Connecticut is located to the east and New York City is to the south.
The city includes the following neighborhoods:
- River Side Section
- Mountain Side Section
- North Tree Streets
- South Tree Streets
- Business District (Main Street Area)—revitalized over the last decade with artists studios, shops and restaurants
- "Davies" or "The Apartments" (Section of City with a Concentrated Area of Public Housing on South Ave)
- "Forrestal Heights"—This also is partially populated by elderly fixed income persons in the one high rise buildings in the complex and welfare recipients in the two story apartments in the surrounding neighborhood.
- "The Derk" (Neighborhood East of Fishkill Creek along E. Main, centered around Beacon Fire Station 1)
Byrnsville, or Tioronda, was a hamlet near the mouth of the Fishkill, about a mile south of Fishkill Landing, and contained the Tioronda Hat Works. In 1880 it had a population of two hundred and seventeen. The Hat Works occupied the site of an old cotton-mill at this place which failed before 1850. A grist and saw-mill were subsequently built on the site but torn down by Lewis Tompkins in 1878 when the Hat Works were erected. A little below these works is the former site of the Madam Brett grist-mill, for which this has been mistaken.
Groveville derives its name from the extensive oak grove which formerly occupied the site. There was a grist mill at Groveville from a very early day, owned about 1820 by Samuel Upton, a Quaker. who acquired it from Abraham Dubois. Upton also erected on the opposite side of the race a stone building which he used as a fulling mill. Sometime after 1840, the property, was sold it to the Glenham Co., who converted it to a woolen mill, and did carding,spinning and weaving.
The first several blocks of Main Street east of its junction with South Avenue constitutes the Lower Main Street Historic District and features many small businesses located in vintage Italianate-style buildings.
- Madam Brett Homestead, 50 Van Nydeck Avenue: the oldest building in Dutchess County, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Bogardus-DeWindt House is located on Tompkins Avenue, a short distance west of NY 9D, in Beacon, New York, United States. It typifies the houses built in the region between 1750 and 1830. It was included on the National Register of Historic Places on April 19, 1993.
- Reformed Church of Beacon, originally the Reformed Dutch Church of Fishkill Landing, is a congregation of the Reformed Church in America. The oldest church in Beacon, the congregation was established in 1813. It overlooks the Hudson River from the top of a bluff. The church and its cemetery were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
- Eustatia is a brick cottage in the Victorian Gothic style overlooking the Hudson River on Monell Place. It was built in 1867 to designs by Frederick Clarke Withers for his friend John Monell. Monell had recently married Caroline DeWindt Downing, widow of the influential Newburgh architect Andrew Jackson Downing, with whom Withers had worked. They built the house on property deeded to them by her father, John DeWindt. Its original form and appearance have remained largely intact since its construction. In 1979 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Howland Cultural Center, also known as Howland Library, is the former public library building, located on Main Street. It was designed in 1872 by Richard Morris Hunt, brother-in-law of Joseph Howland. He was one of a committee of ten local benefactors who had joined to establish a library for their city, and commissioned Hunt for the job. When the library opened, its 2,200-volume collection was available only to subscribers. Later the library opened to the general public, but by 1976 the collection needed more space and so the library moved down Main Street. The old library building is now in the hands of a private non-profit organization, the Howland Cultural Center, which presents art exhibitions and other cultural activities. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 5, 1973.
The 2010 United States census listed the population at 15,541. The census of 2000 placed the city's population at 13,808 people. The census also showed that the city has 5,091 households and 3,360 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,891.6 inhabitants per square mile (1,115.3/km²), based on the census population of 13,808. There are 5,406 housing units at an average density of 1,132.1 per square mile (436.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 9,440 or 68.37% White and 4,368 or 31.63% Minority. The minority population is dominated by African Americans at 2,713 residents or 19.65%, then followed by Hispanic or Latino which make up 2,334 residents or 16.90% of the city. Smaller minority groups include 956 residents or 6.92% from other races, 181 residents or 1.31% Asian, 43 residents or 0.31% Native American, and 0.00% Pacific Islander. Also, the city includes 475 residents or 3.44% identifying themselves as two or more races.
Based on census data showing 5,091 households, 34.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% are married couples living together, 16.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% are non-families. 28.6% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.61 and the average family size is 3.23.
Of the city's total population, 27.1% are under the age of 18, 7.1% are between 18 and 24, 31.9% are between 25 and 44, 21.7% are between 45 and 64, and 12.2% are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 90.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 86.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $45,236, and the median income for a family is $53,811. Males have a median income of $40,949 versus $29,154 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,654. 1,465 residents or 11% of the population and 310 families or 9.1% of the total number of families are living below the poverty line. Of the total population, 834 residents or 11% of those under the age of 18, and 99 residents or 8.6% of those 65 and older, are living below the poverty line. The city's housing stock is currently composed of 10% subsidized housing, of which about 400 units are state and federal housing projects.
Museums and institutes
- Dia:Beacon: contemporary arts museum. (in city)
- The Beacon Institute of Rivers and Estuaries: a major river and estuary research institute. (in city)
- Beacon Theatre (Beacon, New York): a small performance venue that occupies the second floor of the once historic Beacon Theatre (now converted into apartments).
Parks and recreation
- Bannerman Castle Trust: in connection with the Beacon Historical Society.
- Forrestal Park: connected to Forrestal Elementary on Liberty Street this large playground with a basketball court is a longtime favorite with locals. (in city)
- Green Street Park: neighborhood park located in the Mountain Side Section of the city (in city)
- Hammond Field: neighborhood park located in the River Side Section of the City that is primarily used for the city school district functions. Is the home of the "Beacon Bulldogs" Track and Football venues. (in city)
- Hudson Highlands State Park: state park located behind and just south of the city. A very large state park that covers Mount Beacon. (1–3 minutes east and south of city)
- Memorial Park: located in the center of the city and serves as the city's "Central Park". It is the city's primary park and many civic events are hosted there. (in city)
- Mt. Beacon Park: the hiking trails in and around the Mt. Beacon Incline Railway
- Riverfront Park: The City's riverfront park, which is located on a peninsula jutting out into the Hudson River. A very active park that hosts numerous events. (in city)
- River Pool at Beacon: a project for cleaning up the Hudson River and allowing a safe place to swim.
- South Ave Park: housing project park for the Forrestal Heights Houses. Primarily used for the Beacon Hoops program, a city youth basketball program. (in city)
- Beacon Sloop Club: started in 1978 to promote recreation, sound ecological practices, and environmental awareness of the Hudson River. The BSC offers free rides to the public on the Sloop Woody Guthrie, teaches seamanship to its volunteers, and maintains the harbor.
Beacon's most major route is Interstate 84 (I-84), which passes through the city's north side, providing a connection that is minutes to the Taconic State Parkway, New York State Thruway, and Stewart International Airport. The city also has the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge which carries the Interstate Highway over the Hudson River.
New York State Route 9D (NY 9D) serves as the city's north-south arterial. It starts at the city's north side and wraps around the city to its south side. The city also has NY 52 Business, which begins in the city's west side at NY 9D and runs across the middle of the city to I-84 east of the city limits.
From 1902 to 1978, the Mount Beacon Incline Railway was one of the steepest incline railways in existence (a 74% grade). It took an estimated 3.5 million people up to the 1,540-foot (470 m) summit of Mount Beacon. Fire and vandalism destroyed the incline railway. There is now a movement to restore it.
In the nearby Town of Wappinger, the Dutchess County Airport services local commuter flights. The nearest major airport to Beacon is Stewart International Airport about 10 minutes away, in Newburgh.
Duchess County's LOOP transportation system operates public bus service in and near Beacon on weekdays and Saturdays. One line (Route A) travels from downtown Beacon northeast on NY 52 to Fishkill and north on U.S. Route 9 (US 9) through Wappingers Falls to South Hills Mall, Poughkeepsie Galleria and downtown Poughkeepsie. Another line (Route B) travels from Beacon north to Poughkeepsie along NY 9D and US 9. A third line (Route F) travels northeast from Beacon through Fishkill to Hopewell Junction.
Beacon also has its own shuttle service, which runs on Sundays (unlike the LOOP buses).
Images for kids
Remarks from 1944 FDR visit praising Beacon's participation in the War Effort
Beacon, New York Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.