Beacon, New York - It’s hip. It’s resurgent. It's beautiful. And, it’s the perfect spot for your next weekend getaway. If you're looking for practical advice about exploring Beacon, NY then this THE place for you.
Views from Mount Beacon; Sights along East Main Street
This Beacon NY travel guide is chock-full of in-depth articles, HD photos and videos, and tons of ideas about how to get around and have fun.
Use the Quick Links below to learn more...
Location and Directions
Beacon, New York, lies 60 miles north of New York City on the eastern shore of the Hudson River in Dutchess County.
The Hudson Highlands State Park forms the city's south/east border; Cold Spring lies 4.6 miles to the south; and Poughkeepsie 6.8 miles to the north.
Getting Here from NYC
By train: Take Metro North's Hudson Line to Beacon from Grand Central Station. The trip should take about 80-90 minutes. Roundtrip tickets from NYC cost about $24, but the price may vary depending on whether it's peak or off peak.
By Car: Take I-87 North to the Sprain Brook Parkway. Continue on to the Taconic Pkwy. Merge onto Route 100 North/Route 9A North. Follow Route 9 to Route 9D. (9D is quite scenic!) You're almost there once you reach the tunnel at Breakneck Ridge.
Natives and a New World
According to Evan Pritchard's wonderful book, The Algonquins of New York, the Mattawans, were the original settlers of present day Beacon, New York.
The Mattawans, or people of the humble little stream, were closely affiliated with the Wappingers. They fished, hunted, and traded along Fishkill Creek (mattaewan) for hundreds of years before Henry Hudson arrived in 1609.
In 1708, Roger and Catheryna Brett became the first Europeans to settle this very same creek.
They established a homestead, a farm, and a milling operation; and soon, Fishkill Landing sprouted into a mini-trade center along the Hudson River.
During the Revolutionary War, (1764 - 1789) the Hudson River became an important stronghold for George Washington’s army.
In case of invading British ships, the colonists would light a tall signal fire atop the mountain. This "beacon of light" would send alert to the townspeople below and Washington at his headquarters across the river.
The continental army also used Denning’s Point as a launch to ferry men and supplies across the Hudson River.
** In 1910 the two villages of Mattaewan and Fishkill Landing merged under one name, the city of Beacon
Manufacturing Boom Town
Through the 1800s and early 1900s, Beacon, New York, became a major manufacturing and transportation center in the Hudson Valley.
Dozens of mills and factories produced hats, cotton, baby carriages, rubber, prosthetic limbs, bricks, steam engines, cannons, sleighs and wagons, bakery ovens, and so on.
The area served as a cross-roads for travelers from New England.
Trains whistled day and night, carrying freight and passengers to and from the Mattaewan Depot and Fishkill Landing stations.
The Newburgh-Beacon Ferry, with its fleet of characterful boats, chugged across the Hudson day in and day out, all year round.
Beacon, New York, became a lucrative place to live, build, and invest.
Mount Beacon Incline Railway, Hotel and Casino
In the 1890s, a local man named Weldon F. Weston had an idea that made Beacon, New York, a tourist magnet. While hiking Mount Beacon with his brother, he imagined a railway that would escort visitors to the peak.
Weston secured investments from partners in New England, and in 1902 the Mount Beacon Incline Railway opened for business.
It became a huge hit, selling 6,000 fares in its first year and then 90,000 fares a year by 1909; and in 1926- its most successful year -126,000 tickets.
Tourists would take a steam ship up the Hudson from NYC and hop on a trolley. In fifteen minutes, after a bumpy ride through town, they’d be at the base of the mountain. Then it was straight up 2,000 feet.
Once they reached the peak of Mt. Beacon, patrons lived the high life, gambling, relaxing, and dancing the night away at the Beacon Crest Hotel and Casino. All amid some of the most stunning scenery in the Hudson Valley.
Beginning in 1927, repeated fires eventually destroyed the casino and the railway. When you hike here today you can see the remains of the rail.
Beacon Makes a Big Comeback
Despite a couple of dreadful decades from the 1960s to the early 1990s, which saw mass destruction of the city's historic buildings, and a gutted economy - Beacon, New York, has triumphantly rebounded. Today this city is bona-fide hip.
Dia: Beacon, the world's largest modern art museum, opened in 2003 and put this old river town back on the map.
Droves of people from The City make the trek each weekend to go hiking, and visit the shops and restaurants along Main Street.
And many - attracted by the (comparably) affordable studios and living spaces, have made the move, deciding to stay for good.
After all, it's only a 90 minute ride on the Hudson Line back into the Big Apple.
Old buildings and factories have been re-imagined and spruced up. Now you see a proliferation of artist’s lofts, restaurants, entertainment venues, cafes, galleries, boutique hotels, and shops of all kinds. You'll see vacant brick walls and empty lots transformed into colorful murals and gardens.
Come to Beacon NY and get to know the character, lifestyle, and scenery of this Hudson River town. But, before you hop on the train or gas up your car - read on to find out more...
To the good life,
Chief Exploring Officer
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In recent years, the Beacon NY waterfront has been transformed from an industrial eyesore, to one of the best collections of Hudson River Parks in the Valley.
Read on to learn more about Beacon's Hudson River Parks...
Beacon NY makes the perfect launch pad for exploring the awe inspiring mountain trails of the Hudson Highlands - some of the best hiking terrain in the region.
This article provides an in-depth trail guide, and HD photo gallery of the sights!
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