The Hudson Valley is a study in contrasts. We are a region of densely populated urban areas with business and commercial centers, Fortune 100 companies, Fortune 500 companies, and world-class medical and educational centers contrasted with sparsely populated rural communities with one-block-long charming downtown business districts and centralized school districts housing K-12 schools in one building. We are a region with pockets of great wealth and a region with pockets of deep poverty.
We rise from just above sea level at Rye in Westchester along the shores of Long Island Sound to 4,108 feet above sea level at the top of Slide Mountain in Shandaken in Ulster County.
We are a region teeming with history – Washington’s Headquarters, the Home of FDR National Historic Site, West Point, Boscobel, Mohonk Mountain House, the Delaware and Hudson Canal, the site of the original Woodstock Festival at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, and 300 year old stone houses in some of the earliest settlements in the United States.
Our most significant asset is water – the seven counties that comprise the Mid-Hudson region supply drinking water to more than 20 million people in the New York metropolitan area, Philadelphia, and Trenton, as well as providing for our own communities.
The watersheds east and west of the Hudson River and the Delaware River Watershed along our western boundary with Pennsylvania are priceless assets for our region.
In places the land is rugged, steep, wooded and inhospitable. Several mountain systems dominate on both sides of the Hudson; the Catskills on the west side and the Hudson Highlands/Taconic Ranges on the east. The Shawangunk Ridge slices through the region with the white stone cliffs on one end and the Basherkill Wetlands at the other. Our collective ethos is to preserve – we have tens of thousands of acres of protected park lands and trails including the historic Appalachian Trail.
Tourism is one of the engines that drive our economy. Our region has always been a playground for the New York City (NYC) metropolitan area population from the early days of the railroad and the birth of the “Borscht Belt” as well as dry fly-fishing in the US. Now our green mountains and fresh air provide “green” alternatives for urbanites: hiking, biking, fishing, boating, camping, and watching the stars. Restoration of an old railroad bridge over the Hudson River took on new significance as a major tourist draw when the “Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park” opened several years ago. It has since become one of New York State’s top tourist attractions, bringing pedestrian and cyclists to the miles of connecting trails.
The Woodbury Commons Outlet Mall in lower Orange County is another top draw in New York State, bringing busloads of tourists every day. Star watching was reinvented when the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a world class entertainment venue, opened at the site of the original Woodstock Festival in Bethel, NY. It has since received national recognition and ranking as one of the top outdoor concert venues in the country. Now locals and visitors can enjoy entertainment such as the New York Philharmonic, Tony Bennett, and Elton John under the stars in Sullivan County, as well as the celebration surrounding the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock Music Festival.
Agriculture is an important component in our economy. In places, the land is rich and lush with black dirt farms that grow onions and vegetables. There are new generations of farming entrepreneurs in organic and niche farming, developing value added products such as cheeses, artisan breads, wines and yogurts – many designed to take products to the markets in NYC. The Mid-Hudson region is lined with apple farms and glimpses of gnarled old trees laden with sweet red apples. The grape arbors nourish a growing wine industry and an emerging micro–brewery industry in the region has boomed in recent years. Dairy farms, beef cattle farms, poultry and eggs farms, and horse farms complete the agricultural picture. Protecting the agricultural component can be challenging as a need for more housing and growth push into the region. With our history of preservation and the importance of water in our region, there are strong institutions and organizations working to protect and preserve this precious asset of paramount importance.
We are a major transportation corridor. On any given day in the region one can see freight trains, passenger trains, cargo ships, barges, passenger planes, military planes, fishing boats, and thousands of cars and trucks on our network of major highways, railroad networks, bridges, airports, and rivers; all connecting the world to the New York metropolitan area, the Hudson River, and the Mid-Hudson region.
The largest construction project in the region, the Mario Cuomo Bridge spanning the Hudson River and connecting Rockland and Westchester counties, was completed and opened in 2019. Air traffic increased significantly with the addition of a robust international carrier at Stewart International Airport, now under the management of the New York Port Authority. The Hudson River remains a major economic asset for all of New York State as a large number of ships, tankers, and barges travel daily between the Port of New York and the Port of Albany.
Business and industry dominate the landscape along our border with the NYC metropolitan area. We are home to international corporations, including IBM, Pepsi Co, ITT, and Kawasaki. Our region’s economy is closely linked to that of NYC’s; we share the highs but sometimes share the lows as well. Large percentages of our population commute to work in the New York metropolitan area every day.
The Mid-Hudson region has strong regional economic and employment clusters in the areas of education and knowledge creation, as well as health care. There are more than 30 post-secondary educational institutions in Westchester alone. The Center for Discovery in Sullivan County is the largest employer in the County. These clusters are significant in proving and maintaining quality employment opportunities while providing and maintaining vital services.
The Hudson Valley is rich in natural beauty and physical assets, yet there is need. In most areas, the region has rebounded from the economic downturn of 2008-09, with job numbers good in most of the region with exceptions in some of the inner older cities. As we look to the future and inevitable growth we now see the need to address our aging and, in some instances, non-existent or inadequate infrastructure.