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As all American kids learn in school, Independence Day celebrates July 4, 1776, when the 13 colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. That announcement was made through the Declaration of Independence, one of this country’s greatest and most powerful documents.

There are some modern doubts as to whether it was actually July 4th, or the 2nd, or even another date, but it really doesn’t matter. John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail about the event, (which he thought was July 2) and said, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”

“It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Americans took John Adams’ advice and have been celebrating Independence Day ever since. (more…)

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Stone Church, Cragsmoor. Photo used with permission from Friends of the Stone Church

As we continue our three-part series on art colonies in the Catskills, we turn our attention to the mountain hamlet of Cragsmoor in Ulster County. Never heard of it? Not surprising.

Other places with walkable Main Streets and charming locavore eateries get most of the attention, while Cragsmoor remains a hidden gem, tucked away in a remote spot near the top of the Shawangunk Ridge. (more…)

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Old Studio of Artist Hall, Palenville, N.Y. Via Wikipedia

It’s not hard to find the creative muse among the hills and verdant valleys of the Catskill Mountains. Artists have been doing it for ages; in fact, there’s a whole art movement based around the views of the Catskills from the Hudson Valley.

Painters from the Hudson River School like Thomas Cole, Frederic Erwin Church, John Frederick Kensett, and Asher Brown Durand all took inspiration from their surroundings, a legacy that continues with up-and-coming art communities in the Hudson Valley and Catskills like Kingston and Beacon. (more…)

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Main Street, Rosendale. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, we took a look at Germantown, a hidden gem East of the Hudson River. This week, we take a look at Rosendale, another hidden gem, one located West of the Hudson.

Where Germantown is more pastoral, Rosendale has a funky, artsy vibe to go with its small-town charm. Located in central Ulster County about 10 minutes north of New Paltz, Rosendale village is essentially a one-stop-light town along the Rondout Creek. But there’s a lot happening along the half mile stretch of Main Street.

Rosendale’s history lies within its abandoned cement mines. Well, not so abandoned. (more…)

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Hudson Valley Manor House, Germantown. Photo via Airbnb.com

With the increasing popularity of Hudson Valley towns and the subsequent influx of newcomers to the area, it’s getting harder and harder to unearth a hidden treasure every now and again. There are two places, however, that don’t get as much attention as their neighboring communities even though they deserve it just as much: Germantown in Columbia County, and Rosendale in Ulster County.

Germantown, a Hudson Riverside hamlet in the town of Germantown, is sleepy, idyllic, and rife with historic properties, such as the Hudson Valley Manor House, depicted above. It might not be the place to go for exciting nightlife (or much nightlife at all, for that matter, unless you count watching fireflies as “nightlife”), fancy restaurants, or tony shops.

But if you want old world charm, outstanding views of both the Hudson to the west and the hills to the east, and picturesque farmland, then it might be what you’re looking for in a Hudson Valley escape. (We’ll take a close look at Rosendale next week.)

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We are proud to announce that Brownstoner Upstate now includes listings from Houlihan Lawrence, the venerable real estate brokerage specializing in Westchester, Fairfield, Putnam, and Dutchess counties. This is a significant enhancement to Brownstoner Upstate’s real estate marketplace. Houlihan Lawrence has over 1,200 agents working out of 30 offices across four counties.

Whether you’re considering a move upstate or just looking for a country retreat, our selection of listings just got a lot bigger. Click through for a selection of some choice Houlihan Lawrence properties currently listed on Brownstoner Upstate. (more…)

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 Olana in Hudson, Frederic Church’s studio and home in Hudson. Photo by Rolf Müller via Wikimedia Commons

Nary a week goes by that doesn’t include a mention in the press about Hudson, N.Y. Why, earlier this month, Jetsetter.com included Hudson River city in its top 10 Coolest Towns. In Niche’s rankings, Hudson is in the top 23 best towns to raise a family in New York, certainly a far cry from its origins as a rough-and-tumble whaling town and Hudson Valley’s infamous red-light district.

With all the attention paid to its antique stores, galleries, restaurants, sauerkrauteries, and music venues, we sometimes forget that there’s a whole Columbia County outside of Hudson that’s pretty darn spectacular, especially in the summertime.

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athens ny

This posted originally ran on July 25, 2014. It has been updated.

Today, we want to show you around the Hudson River village of Athens in Greene County (west of the Hudson, about 2.5 hours from Brooklyn). It’s a worthy destination for a serene Memorial Day weekend getaway or a visit any time.

We went there just to explore the waterfront park since its recent upgrade, and overall, we came away feeling quite charmed by it all, even if Athens seems to suffer from that same eerie weekday quietness that other places around here do, as if the whole town is waiting for something to happen.

There are lots of empty storefronts with “for rent” signs in the windows, almost no cars driving around, and we encountered only two other people out walking. There is, however, a brew pub that emits the most tantalizing malty fragrance for two blocks surrounding its location, not to mention the most charming outdoor dining area on the waterfront that is connected to the historic Stewart House boutique hotel.

Other stuff we discovered on our jaunt: Athens has a town pool, a huge cemetery, and tons of great houses. Take a visual tour of the town after the jump.

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The circa-1850 Bussy Building in Margaretville

The Delaware County village of Margaretville has had its ups and downs. Charming though its streets may be, all that charm couldn’t protect them from flood damage of historic levels when Hurricane Irene rolled into town in 2011.

However, Margaretville did just exactly what so many other plucky, tough-as-nails Catskill Mountain towns do when disaster strikes: It got up, dried itself off, rebuilt what it could, and got on with life.

While you won’t find a happening nightlife in Margaretville (you’re in the wrong mountain range if you want that, although we hear Hunter Mountain gets pretty rowdy during the winter), what you will find is a centralized village packed with historical architecture, mom-and-pop shops, a swell bookstore, and close proximity to outdoor recreation of all sorts, including hiking, fishing, swimming, kayaking, bird watching — we could go on.

Margaretville’s population is around 600, and the village is situated in the town of Middletown near the border of both Catskill Park and Ulster County and along the banks of the East Branch of the Delaware River. It’s located approximately 3.5 hours from Brooklyn.

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You can’t tell by looking at it, but a wealth of history lurks beneath the still blue surface of the Ashokan Reservoir. Several towns’ worth of history, in fact.

Roads, blacksmith shops, churches, private residences, thousands of acres of farmland, and untold personal items all became submerged when the reservoir, located in Ulster County, was constructed in the early 20th century to provide water to New York City. While it still supplies water to New York, the 190-foot-deep basin has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Catskills, providing visitors a place to boat, fish (with the appropriate permits, of course), and behold some seriously gorgeous views. (more…)

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Orpheum Theater, Saugerties

Saugerties offers the best of upstate in one place. Look to the west, and you’ll find the Catskills. Look to the east, and you’ll find the Hudson River. Bisecting the town and village across the center is the Esopus Creek, making Saugerties a point at the intersection of some very fun, very pretty outdoorsiness.

Located in Ulster County about 2.5 hours north of Brooklyn, Saugerties has seen its fair share of hard times, not unlike its other upstate counterparts. Locals can recall a time when the village’s indie movie house, the Orpheum Theater, showed adult movies. During the 1990s and early 2000s, however, Saugerties found itself in the midst of a renaissance.

Brooklynites and others started coming up to look for antiques in between hikes in the Catskills and kayak trips down the Hudson and Esopus. Meanwhile, quirky, independent shops started to move in, locavore eateries began opening up, and a large-scale equestrian center made Saugerties its home, turning the once-languishing Hudson Valley burg into one of the area’s most popular (and coolest) small towns.

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Saugerties Lighthouse

If you visit: Grab a pint of craft beer goodness from the Dutch Ale House. You can stick around for one of the burgers, or you can head down the block to Miss Lucy’s Kitchen on Partition Street for sophisticated, simple and seasonal fare. Browse the selection at the Hudson Valley’s largest indie bookstore, Inquiring Minds Books and Cafe.

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107 Fishcreek Road, Saugerties: $675,000

We get it. The standard 3 bed/2 bath 1500 square foot split-level Ranch isn’t going to cut it for you. You want something unusual. You want to pull into the driveway and gasp with delight at the house you own. Your friends and acquaintances will invite themselves over just to catch a glimpse of the inside of your house, the coolest house on the block. You want a place that you never, ever, ever want to leave on Monday morning. In that case, cast your discerning eye this-a-way and behold a former Catholic oratory, an eclectic tower, and a geodesic dome, all located in Ulster County, west of the Hudson, approximately 3 hours from Brooklyn.

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