Once an important strategic point in the Revolutionary War—both town and mountain got its name from the signals lit atop the mountain to warn the Continental Army of approaching British troops—the city of Beacon now thrives as a center for the arts.
The city’s fortunes haven’t always been so upbeat. “Urban renewal” caused the demolition of important historic buildings in the 1960s. During the following decade, the closing of many factories due to economic decline precipitated an economic downturn that lasted until the late 1990s.
Enter the artists and their visions. The arrival of Dia:Beacon, the largest museum of contemporary art in the country, in what had been a Nabisco cracker box factory generated both an artistic and a commercial renaissance in this Dutchess County city. Residents of artistic enclaves downstate began relocating to Beacon. A variety of art galleries followed in Dia:Beacon’s wake, including Fovea, the Van Brunt Gallery, and Hudson Beach Glass. Hudson Beach Glass, founded by well-known glass artist John Gilvey with three partners, is located in a renovated former firehouse, itself a work of art. Just as the city of Hudson, some sixty miles north, arose from the doldrums to refashion itself as a destination for antiques aficionados, so Beacon has been transformed into a mecca for the arts.
Friendly cafés and restaurants cater to visitors and residents alike. Those interested in history and hiking have their choices of historic homesteads and hiking trails, including hikes up Mt. Beacon itself.
On the opposite side of the river in Newburgh, a statue of General Washington looks across and surveys Beacon and its mountain. Could he ever have envisioned the future history of this amazing city?
For my recent photograph uploads to my Hudson Valley Gallery, please visit my website. Thank you!