principal city

Poughkeepsie (city), New York

Poughkeepsie is a city in New York, U.S.A. and serves as the county seat of Dutchess County, located in the Hudson River Valley midway between New York City and Albany. The name derives from a Native American word (roughly U-puku-ipi-sing), meaning "the reed covered lodge by the little-water place," referring to a spring or stream feeding into the Hudson River, south of the present downtown area. Poughkeepsie is known as "The Queen City of the Hudson." During the late 1980's through the late 1990's Poughkeepsie suffered from severe economic and social turmoil, serving as a symbol for urban decay in the Hudson Valley. However, due to recent efforts at waterfront and Main Street revitalization, Poughkeepsie is poised for an upswing.


The site of Poughkeepsie was first settled by a Dutchman, Barent Baltus, before 1659. It was founded in 1687 by his son, Baltus Barent van Kleeck, who built the first house of record there in 1702. The community was set off from the Town of Poughkeepsie when it became an incorporated village in 1799. The City of Poughkeepsie was chartered in 1854. Outside of municipal designations, the City and Town of Poughkeepsie are generally viewed as a single place, and are commonly referred to as Poughkeepsie, with a current combined population of approximately 75,000.

Spared from battle during the American Revolution, Poughkeepsie became the second capital of New York. In 1788 the Ratification Convention for New York State, which included Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and George Clinton, assembled at the courthouse on Market Street, debated and ratified the United States Constitution. With its ratification, New York entered the new union as the eleventh of the original thirteen colonies to join together as the United States of America.

Early on, the city was also a major center for whale rendering, and during the 1800s industry flourished through shipping, hatteries, papermills, and several breweries along the Hudson River, including some owned by Matthew Vassar, founder of Vassar College. Due to the area’s natural beauty and proximity to New York City, families such as the Astors, Rogers, and Vanderbilts built palatial weekend homes nearby. The city is also home to the oldest continuously operating entertainment venue in the state, the Bardavon 1869 Opera House (see below).


The City of Poughkeepsie is in the western part of Dutchess County and is bordered by the Hudson River on the west and by the Town of Poughkeepsie on the north, east and south.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.8 km² (5.7 sq mi). 13.3 km² (5.1 sq mi) of it is land and 1.4 km² (0.6 sq mi) of it (9.65%) is water.


Poughkeepsie is the largest principal city of the Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown Metropolitan Statistical Area, a metropolitan area that covers Dutchess and Orange counties and had a combined population of 621,517 at the 2000 census.

As of the census of 2000, there were 29,871 people, 12,014 households, and 6,559 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,243.8/km² (5,806.2/sq mi). There were 13,153 housing units at an average density of 988.0/km² (2,556.6/sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was 52.84% White, 35.71% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 1.62% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 5.29% from other races, and 4.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.64% of the population.

There were 12,014 households out of which 28.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.8% were married couples living together, 19.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.4% were non-families. 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 12.2% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 91.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,389, and the median income for a family was $35,779. Males had a median income of $31,956 versus $25,711 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,759. About 18.4% of families and 22.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.3% of those under age 18 and 13.8% of those age 65 or over.

Educational institutions

The area is home to several colleges: Marist, Vassar (one of the Seven Sisters), and Dutchess Community, all of which are in the Town of Poughkeepsie.

A branch of Adelphi University is also located in the city.

The Poughkeepsie City School District is the public K-12 school system serving approximately 5,000 students.


Poughkeepsie sits at the junction of the north-south US 9 and east-west US 44 and NY 55 highways.

Commuter service to New York City is available by train, served by the MTA's Metro-North Railroad, the city being the northern terminus of Metro-North's Hudson Line. Amtrak also services the Poughkeepsie station, along the Hudson River south to New York City's Pennsylvania Station and north along the river to Albany-Rensselaer station and points further north and west; Amtrak trains serving Poughkeepsie are the Adirondack, Empire Service, and Maple Leaf.

The Mid-Hudson Bridge, opened in 1930, carries US 44 and NY 55 across the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie to Highland. The Poughkeepsie Bridge opened in 1888 to carry railroad traffic across the Hudson, but has remained unused since a 1974 fire damaged its decking. A local group (Walkway Over The Hudson) has raised enough money to convert the bridge into a unique linear park connecting rail trails on both side of the Hudson River.

In nearby Wappingers Falls, the Dutchess County Airport services local commuter flights and general aviation. The nearest major airport to Poughkeepsie is Stewart International Airport about south in Newburgh, with the three major metropolitan airports for New York City - John F. Kennedy International approximately south, Newark Liberty International approximately south, and LaGuardia Airport approximately south - and Albany International Airport approximately north.

Within Poughkeepsie there are two transit bus services:

Both services have a quasi-hub at the intersection of Main and Market streets, adjacent to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center and at the west end of the former pedestrian-only Main Mall; the Mall was removed in 2001, with those blocks being restored back to traffic and to the name Main Street. Other buses serving this area include Adirondack Trailways, ShortLine, commuter runs to White Plains, and a shuttle to New Paltz.


IBM has a large campus in Poughkeepsie, once referred to as IBM's "Main Plant," although this facility is actually in the Town of Poughkeepsie, and much of the workforce has been moved elsewhere in the company (2008). The site once built the IBM Stretch Computer as well as later machines such as the IBM System/360 model 195, System/370 machines in the 1970s and 303x and 308x machines in the 1980s. The RS/6000 SP2 family of computers, which came to fame after one of them won a chess match against world chess master Kasparov, were also manufactured by IBM Poughkeepsie.

Entertainment and the arts

  • The Bardavon 1869 Opera House, located near Main and Market Streets, is a theater which has an array of music, drama, dance and film events. It is also the home of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic.
  • The Mid-Hudson Civic Center , located down the street from the Bardavon 1869 Opera House, hosts concerts, professional wrestling, trade shows, and has an ice rink next door for hockey events.
  • The Chance, located at 6 Crannell Street in downtown Poughkeepsie, hosts live rock concerts with local as well as major artists.
  • Popular FM radio stations in the area are WRRV-96.9 (alternative rock) WPDH-101.5 (album-oriented rock), WRWD-FM-107.3 (country), WSPK-104.7 (top 40), WHUD-100.7 (adult contemporary), and WPKF-96.1 (rhythmic top 40).
  • Popular AM radio stations in the area are WGNY-1220 (50's & 60's music), WHVW-950 (50's and older blues and country)
  • Available broadcast TV stations (with antenna pointed south): WCBS-TV-2, WNBC-TV-4, WNYW-TV-5, WABC-TV-7, WWOR-TV-9, WPIX-TV-11, WNET-13, WMHT-TV-42; (with antenna pointed north): WRGB-TV-6, WTEN-TV-10, WXXA-TV-23, WMHT-TV-42, WCWN-45
  • The collections of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise over 15,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and glass and ceramic wares.
  • G.A.S. (Gallery and Studio) is a visual art and performance space, located at 196 Main Street. G.A.S. presents contemporary art exhibitions, along with multi-media events, such as readings, films, and musical performances.
  • Albert Shahinian Fine Art, 198 Main Street, shows and sells original and contemporary regional art, Hudson River art, ceramics, and sculptures.
  • Cabaret Voltaire Art Center, 358 Main Street, is dedicated to showing groundbreaking, risk-taking and experimental works; site-specific installations; video, sound and performance art; and short films, as a forum of exploration and experimentation.
  • The Barrett Art Center at 55 Noxon Street offers exhibits, art classes, lectures and demonstrations focused on the visual arts. Twice yearly it presents nationally acclaimed shows, juried by curators of notable museums. It also operates Barrett Clay Works at 485 Main Street, with studio spaces for individual artists, and a street level space devoted to instruction in various methods of "working clay" for children through seniors.
  • Locust Grove , the home of Samuel Morse and a National Historic Landmark, features representative paintings by Morse, as well as historically important examples of telegraph technology.
  • The Mid-Hudson Children's Museum , 75 North Water Street, serves the city and region as an educational resource center, family destination and tourist attraction.
  • The Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center at 9 and 12 Vassar Street provides venues for both professional and amateur artists to showcase their talent in music, dance, and the visual arts.
  • Bananas is a comedy club that is very popular in Poughkeepsie. It is a major stop for comedians such as Jim Norton, Rich Vos, Patrice O'Neal, and Nick DiPaolo.

Notable natives and residents

Cultural references

  • In the movie Sex and the City, Charlotte will only eat pudding "made in Poughkeepsie" while on vacation in Mexico. Then, after she inadvertently swallows some local water and suffers from Montezuma's revenge, Carrie says, "Charlotte Poughkeepsied in her pants!"
  • Until 1972 Poughkeepsie was home to the Smith Brothers cough drop factory. The Smith Brothers' grave site is in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery.
  • The Poughkeepsie Journal is the third-oldest active newspaper in the United States.[citation needed]
  • Over the Rhine, Devendra Banhart, Windigo, and The Lemonheads have each recorded unique songs titled "Poughkeepsie."
  • In the movie Here Come the Waves, Betty Hutton performs a song called "There's a Fella Waiting in Poughkeepsie," also recorded by The Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby.
  • Batteries Not Included recorded a song in 1980 titled "Poughkeepsie City of Sin," which was a minor local hit. It was played annually by radio station WPDH (101.5 FM) as #1,015 on their Top 1,015 Rock Songs of all Time countdown.
  • In the movie The French Connection, Gene Hackman's character Detective Popeye Doyle uses the meaningless question "Did you ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?" as an interrogation tactic to throw suspects off their guard.
  • For many years Poughkeepsie was host to the Collegiate Regatta Race and celebration. This famous event ended in 1949.
  • The rock band Strata wrote a song titled "Poughkeepsie, NY" for their "Presents the End of the World" album.
  • In the mid 1980s WWE recorded many of their shows, televised on Saturday mornings, from the Mid-Hudson Civic Center/Main Hall.
  • An episode of Friends was entitled "The One With The Girl From Poughkeepsie." Ross Geller, while on a train going upstate, met a girl from Poughkeepsie. Ross had to decide whether he wanted to stay with the girl from Poughkeepsie or a girl from the city who's "just as pretty, somewhat smart, and not fun."
  • An episode of Veronica Mars was entitled "Poughkeepsie, Tramps and Thieves"
  • The 2008 horror movie The Poughkeepsie Tapes revolves around a fictional serial killer from Poughkeepsie.
  • Something Corporate references Poughkeepsie in its popular hit "I Woke Up In A Car."
  • Parts of the movie Ironweed, based on the William J. Kennedy novel of the same name, were filmed in Poughkeepsie.
  • The Ally McBeal character John Cage used to mumble 'Poughkeepsie' when he was nervous, eventually having to explain to his co-workers that it was a city in New York.
  • Robert DeNiro mentioned Poughkeepsie in Analyze This.
  • A Tribe Called Quest mentions Poughkeepsie in the song "The Love".
  • Devendra Banhart sings a song named "Poughkeepsie" in the album Rejoicing in the Hands.
  • During a Saturday Night Live sketch (The Back Page) one of the characters makes a reference to 'The Poughkeepsie Kennel Club' and the punch line of the ensuing joke is "Pregnant Pekinese Pops in Poughkeepsie."
  • In the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, one of the teams that competes in the tourney (and is ultimately eliminated in the semifinals) is The Poughkeepsie Flying Squirrels.
  • In Superman, The Movie, Poughkeepsie is mentioned as one of the stops of a departing train.
  • In Night At The Museum, the Teddy Roosevelt figure (Robin Williams) confesses, "I'm not Teddy Roosevelt. I was made in a mannequin factory in Poughkeepsie."
  • In an episode of Mad Men, Don Draper trips and falls while reading a 1960 Mother's Day issue of the Poughkeepsie Journal.
  • On stage in New York, Ray Davies of the Kinks commented, "You can tell by my accent I'm not from Poughkeepsie."
  • The Broadway musical The Wild Party makes reference to Poughkeepsie in the song, "The Lights of Broadway".
  • On A Episode of WWE Raw in 2007, John Bradshaw Layfield said " I'm going to be WWE Champion so I'dont have to wrestle in Poughkeepsie..."
  • In an episode of the NBC series "Heroes" entitled "One of us, One of them" one of the episode's main plot lines takes place in a bank in Poughkeepsie.


Further reading

  • Flad, Harvey. 2005. A digital tour of Poughkeepsie. Poughkeepsie, NY : Vassar College.
  • Mano, Jo Margert and Linda Greenow. 2006. Mexico comes to Main Street: Mexican immigration and urban revitalization in Poughkeepsie, NY. Middle States Geographer 39: 76-83.

External links

Search another word or see principal cityon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature