07/25/14 11:30am

riverfront park

Pardon us if we deviate from the norm just a bit today. Yes, we have some juicy listings for you, but we also wanted to show you around the Hudson River village of Athens in Greene County (west of the Hudson, about 2.5 hours from Brooklyn). We went there yesterday 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. But before we get to those, take a brief visual tour of the town after the jump.


07/18/14 11:30am
17 moore lane esopus ny

17 Moore Lane, Esopus: $249,900

It might not be huge, but this cottage in the town of Esopus, Ulster County sure is pretty. The enclosed porch on stilts reminds us of a tree house and also allows for one heck of a view of the valley below. Moore Lane is located in Ulster Park, about 15 minutes south of Kingston and 15 minutes northwest of the Poughkeepsie train station. (more…)

07/11/14 11:30am
144 main street andes ny

144 Main Street, Andes: $176,000

Delaware County up in the Catskill Mountains is always a great place to look for a bargain. As we’ve said, your buck will go far there. The village of Andes, located about 15 minutes southeast of Delhi, is a charming town with a lot of great old buildings, like this Colonial. The listing says the deed puts its construction date in 1830 but is believed to have been built in the 18th century. Bright, cheerful interior, plus an old barn on the property’s quarter-acre lot size walking distance to Andes businesses. Taxes are low. Beds: 4. Baths: 2. Square Feet: 1,971. Lot Size: .25 acres. Est. Taxes: $2,003. Distance from Brooklyn: 3 hours.


06/27/14 11:30am


24 molly white dr coxsackie ny4

As we’ve said before, Greene County has such a “best of both worlds” situation. Over to the east, you’re in the Hudson Valley and quaint villages like Catskill and Coxsackie. Over to the west, you’re squarely in Catskill Mountain Park. So we’re going on a road trip this week starting in the riverfront town of Coxsackie, then working our way west to Cairo, Jewett, and then Hunter. We never get tired of looking at properties in Greene County. You can still find a bargain or two, land is abundant and , overall, the taxes won’t blow your mind like they do in other neighboring counties (we’re looking at you, Ulster County).


06/20/14 11:30am
91 ballyhack rd brewster ny

91 Ballyhack Road, Brewster: $395,000

We know. You’re looking at the above property’s $395,000 price take and thinking, “That’s a bargain?” Okay, so “bargain” is a relative term when it comes to Putnam County. As we saw last week in our Garrison post, properties are not exactly cheap in the area. However, if you know where to look (avoid Garrison and Cold Spring), you might be able to find something in your price range. This week, we’ve gathered some the more modestly priced homes in the lower Hudson Valley county. However, be warned: Just because the prices are decent doesn’t mean the taxes will be. You have to keep going north if you want lower. Putnam County is on the east side of the river, with its center located approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes from Brooklyn.


06/19/14 10:45am

Harmony Mills, Canal park, SSpellen 1

Standing on the edge of the mighty Mohawk River in Cohoes, NY, Harmony Mill No. 3 was the largest single cotton factory in the world when it was finished in 1872. Stretching over 1, 100 feet in length, the five story building held enough spinning and weaving machinery to produce 700,000 yards of cotton goods a week. Seven hundred THOUSAND yards. And that was just Mill No. 3. The complex had three other mills on site, as well as outbuildings for various other functions.

And then there was the housing. The first worker’s tenements were built next to the river on several streets near the mill. They consisted of three and four story brick row houses in the Greek Revival style. When Mill No. 3 was finished, the need for far more housing was met by the purchase of 70 acres on the hill overlooking the plant, which was re-named Harmony Hill.

By the time they were done building here on the hill, there were 800 tenement houses, five large boarding houses for unmarried workers and a company store. Harmony Hill was a self-contained town of single, double houses, both detached and row houses, as well as shops, churches, and schools. Harmony Mills had its own police force, garbage collection, street paving and repair crews and other maintenance workers. By the beginning of the 20th century, Harmony owned three-quarters of Cohoes, and employed at least one member of every family in the city, in one way or another.

For more information on the history of the mill, and how it worked, please see the links to the previous chapters in this story below. We’ve looked at the physical structure of Harmony Mills, but who made it all work? The owners and management get the glory, but the reason Harmony Mills was so successful was the productivity of all of its workers. Who were they, and what was it like to work here? (more…)

06/17/14 10:45am

Harmony Mills, Mill 3, SSpellen 2

In 1866, Harmony Mills in Cohoes, N.Y., just across the river from Troy, was about to build Mill No. 3, the largest expansion in its history. As we learned in Chapter One and Chapter Two of our story, Harmony Mills was a textile company, one that took raw cotton, spun that cotton into threads, and wove those threads into cotton fabric, the source of the city of Cohoes’ nickname as the “Spindle City.” The mill greatly added to the region’s prosperity, and population, and in its day, was the largest cotton mill in the United States, even larger than the great mills of Lowell, Massachusetts and Nashua, New Hampshire.

Harmony Mills had been founded by Peter Harmony in 1838, but he failed to make a profit, and in 1850, the mill was sold to Thomas Garner of New York City and Nathan Wild of Kinderhook. They brought on veteran weaver Robert Johnston to run the plant, and by 1866, he had turned Harmony Mills into a very successful operation. The company had not only expanded its factory buildings and capacity, it had built blocks of worker’s housing and established a community around the mill buildings, here on the banks of the mighty Mohawk River.

The Cohoes Falls, the second highest waterfall in the state, was right next door, and the power generated from the water was used to power the spinning and weaving machines. There would have been no Harmony Mills without the power of the waterfall. The Cohoes Company, the power company which owned the rights to the falls, was purchased and enlarged by Harmony Mills in 1860. By 1861, Harmony Mills owned all of the mills in Cohoes, and the power to run them. When the Civil War ended, it was time for the largest building campaign to begin. They set out to build the largest single textile mill in the country. (more…)

06/13/14 11:30am
342 avery rd garrison ny

342 Avery Road, Garrison: $1,390,000

Gorgeous, green Garrison. The Putnam County hamlet is about a tony as it gets in upstate New York, and it’s no wonder. In 2012, the American Community Survey ranked Putnam County the seventh most affluent county in the U.S. based on median income, and Garrison is the seat of plenty of that affluence. To discourage traffic, the roads aren’t paved, beautiful estates dot the land, and even the most modest of homes are way outside of our price range. But, if you can afford it (and the property taxes, which are kind of scary), Garrison is a lovely place to settle down. The schools are good, and it’s a stop on the Metro-North. Garrison is located in the town of Philipstown, approximately one hour, 15 minutes from Brooklyn.


06/12/14 10:45am

Harmony Mills, worker's housing, SSpellen3

Troy, New York is known as the “Collar City” due to the fortunes made in the manufacture and sale of detachable collar and cuffs, so necessary to 19th century haberdashery. Troy also made shirts and other garments in the many factories that line the Hudson River. Arrow brand shirts were made here until the 1950s. Just across the river is the city of Cohoes, which lies along both the Hudson and the Mohawk Rivers. Both rivers were vital to the cities’ development, not only in manufacturing, but also in transportation, as the Erie and Champlain Canal systems run through Cohoes, and then onto the Hudson through Troy.

A mighty waterfall cascades down the gorge of the Mohawk River bed on the north end of Cohoes, the second highest waterfall in the state, after Niagara Falls. These falls were discovered by the Mohawk people centuries ago, and gave the city its name, the Anglicization of the words meaning “place of the falling canoe.” While a gorgeous natural wonder, especially in the spring, the falls were seen by those who came later as a great source of power. Utilizing water to turn turbines, the falls could generate power to operate factory machinery, something that was figured out not in the late 19th century, as one might suppose, but long before. The Dutch, who were the first European settlers in the area, had been using water power for centuries.

Textile mills were a natural choice, and Cohoes became home first to knitting mills, and then to the largest textile mill outside of New England, and for a while, the largest textile mill in the United States and the world. It was called Harmony Mills, and it was the reason for Cohoes’ nickname as the “Spindle City.” The early history of the area and a very general description of the mill and its surroundings can be found in Chapter One of this story. Harmony Mills is massive, in square footage and in scope. It took the genius of one man to run an operation that at its peak employed at least one person in every family in Cohoes. (more…)

06/10/14 10:45am

Harmony Mills, SSpellen 1

The first time my friend and I visited Troy, it was to see a property that I had found online. We had never been here before, and knew nothing about the city or the area. When we got to the property, we could see that it was within blocks of the Hudson River, and that there was a large 19th century brick factory building near the river, right in front of our river view. It was one of several large 19th century former garment factories that lined River Street between Downtown and North Central, where we were. These factories were the remnants of Troy’s once-bustling garment trade, a powerful and huge industry that helped make Troy one of the most prosperous cities in the United States. The building was now empty, with broken and boarded up windows, and looked rather forlorn.

Our real estate agent was quick to tell us that the factory had been purchased by the same developer who had purchased and rehabbed a complex called Harmony Mills, just across the river in Cohoes. He planned on doing here what he had done in Cohoes, transforming the factory into luxury loft apartments. Buying the building we were interested in would become a doubly valuable proposition, being that it was so close to this upscale condo-in-the-making. We did know about Harmony Mills, didn’t we? We mumbled something about having heard of it, and the day went on. We ended up with another property, and the developer still hasn’t made loft apartments out of his Troy factory. But that’s another story.

I’ve always been curious as to what Harmony Mills was all about, and after being here for almost two years, one weekend about a month ago, I decided to look for it. I’d been to Cohoes (the accent is on the second syllable) a few times, so I knew where Harmony Mills was not, as I had never passed it on my trips there. I knew it was on the river, so there’s where I would start. I also knew that the mill was on the Mohawk River, not the Hudson, and that it was near the historic Cohoes Falls. The Mohawk and the Hudson came together right below the mill somewhere, so I was just going to drive around until I found it. How can you miss a waterfall? (more…)

06/06/14 11:30am
70 floyd ackert rd west park ny

70 Floyd Ackert Road, West Park: $25,500/mo.

‘Tis the season for summer rentals, so we’ve been posting about them a lot. We just can’t help ourselves. Can you blame us? Here’s yet another bumper crop of stunning properties, this time in Ulster County, west of the Hudson, approximately two hours north of Brooklyn. If you’re considering a summer rental upstate, now is the time to make a decision before the good ones are all gone.