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- For the magazine, see Hudson Valley (magazine).
The Hudson Valley refers to the valley of the Hudson River and its adjacent communities in New York State, generally from northern Westchester County northward to the cities of Albany and Troy. Historically a cradle of European settlement in the northeastern United States and a strategic battleground in colonial wars, it now consists of suburbs of the metropolitan area of New York City at its southern end, shading into rural territory, including "exurbs," farther north.
Geographically, the Hudson Valley could refer to all areas along the Hudson River, including Bergen County, New Jersey. However, this definition is not commonly used and the Tappan Zee Bridge is often considered the southern limit of the area. Though Westchester County is often classified as part of the region, Westchester residents who live at the southern end of the county (and especially the parts closer to the Long Island Sound than the Hudson River) generally do not associate themselves with the region, unless their town includes Hudson River banks. Including all of Westchester County in the definition of the region would seem unusual to many and seems like something one might only read in a travel guide. In fact, there is a road sign on the New York State Thruway in Yonkers that suggests that the "Hudson Valley region" is located somewhere farther to the north and west along the Thruway.
At the time of the arrival of the first Europeans in the 17th century, the area of Hudson Valley was inhabited primarily by the Algonquian-speaking Mahican and Munsee Native American people, known collectively as River Indians.
The first Dutch settlement was in the 1610s with the establishment of Fort Nassau, a trading post (factorij) south of modern-day Albany, with the purpose of exchanging European goods for beaver pelts. Fort Nassau was later replaced by Fort Orange. During the rest of the 1600s, the Hudson Valley formed the heart of the New Netherland colony operations, with the New Amsterdam settlement on Manhattan serving as a post for supplies and defense of the upriver operations.
During the French and Indian War in the 1750s, the northern end of the valley became the bulwark of the British defense against French invasion from Canada via Lake Champlain.
The valley became one of the major regions of conflict during the American Revolution. Part of the early strategy of the British was to sever the colonies in two by maintaining control of the river.
In the early 1800s, popularized by the stories of Washington Irving, the Hudson Valley gained a reputation as a somewhat gothic region inhabited by the remnants of the early days of the Dutch colonization of New York (see, e.g., The Legend of Sleepy Hollow).
Following the building of the Erie Canal, the area became an important industrial center. The canal opened the Hudson Valley and New York City to commerce with the Midwest and Great Lakes regions. However, in the mid 20th century, many of the industrial towns went into decline.
The Hudson Valley also was the location of the estates of many wealthy New York industrialists, such as John D. Rockefeller and Frederick William Vanderbilt, and of old-moneyed tycoons such as Franklin Roosevelt, who was a descendant of one the early Dutch families in the region.
The area is associated with the Hudson River School, a group of American Romantic painters who worked from about 1830 to 1870.
The natural beauty of the Hudson Valley has earned the Hudson River the nickname "America's Rhine," a comparison to the famous 40 mile (65 km) stretch of Germany's Rhine River valley between the cities of Bingen and Koblenz. A similar 30-mile (48 km) stretch of the east bank in Dutchess and Columbia counties has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Geology and physiography
Pollution and urban sprawl
Due to the decrease in industry within New York State over the past 40 to 50 years, parts of the Hudson Valley have seen economic decline and unemployment to a greater degree than other areas in the state. Still seen in the Valley today are abandoned factories and old buildings that are remnants of a once thriving region that included upscale theaters, lavish homes, resort hotels, and health spas. The numerous factories that at one time lined the Hudson River poured garbage and industrial waste directly into the river. This pollution was not assessed in a comprehensive fashion until the 1970s. By that time, the largest company still operating factories in the area was General Electric, which became primarily responsible for cleaning the Hudson River. As of 2008, after decades of litigation, GE was still in the process of complying with government cleanup directives.  Though swimming was banned in parts of the river in the early 1960s, the pollution has been steadily declining and, as a result, some municipalities have begun to allow people to swim in it again.
The crowding and high cost of living associated with the New York metropolitan area and its adjacent suburbs has led increasing numbers of people to move from these densely populated areas to the Hudson Valley, including parts as far north as greater Poughkeepsie, and commute into New York City to work. This demand for housing has resulted in increased residential development, and a significant increase in housing costs in the lower- and mid-Hudson Valley regions. Along with this residential development has come commercial development such as shopping malls, and other landmarks of suburbia and urban sprawl. Many long-time residents have reacted to this by forming environmental and preservationist groups dedicated to stopping further development.
While parts of the Valley today struggle with crime and poverty, other parts contain some of the wealthiest and safest communities in the nation (see, e.g., communities discussed in articles on Westchester and Putnam Counties). The overall effect of decreased industrialization and increased residential development has been a transformation of the region, especially in the lower- and mid-Hudson Valley, to an exurb struggling to balance the competing demands of maintaining the area's rural character with the conveniences and services of suburban living.
The Hudson Valley Renegades are a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays. The team is a member of the New York - Penn League, and play at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill.
The Hudson Valley REBELS are the Hudson Valley's Premiere Rugby union club. The HUDSON VALLEY REBELS are members of the Metropolitan New York Rugby Football Union and was est. in 2001. Their home pitch is Beacon Memorial Park, in Beacon, NY. www.hvrugby.com
The Hudson Valley Hawks is a team in the newly formed National Professional Basketball League. The team's home court is at Beacon High School, in Beacon. Lastly, the Hudson Valley Highlanders of the North American Football League play their home games at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
The Hudson Valley is divided into three regions: Lower, Middle and Upper. The following is a list of the counties within the Hudson Valley sorted by region.
Cities and towns
- Glatthaar, Joseph T., and Martin, James Kirby (2007). Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution, p. 39. Macmillan. ISBN 0809046008.
- Stanne, Stephen P., et al. (1996). The Hudson: An Illustrated Guide to the Living River, p. 120. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813522714.
- Hirschl, Thomas A. and Heaton, Tim B. (1999). New York State in the 21st Century, pp. 126-28. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 027596339X.
- "Physiographic divisions of the conterminous U. S.". U.S. Geological Survey. http://water.usgs.gov/GIS/metadata/usgswrd/XML/physio.xml. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
- Hudson Valley Directory
- Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area
- Hudson River Valley Greenway
- Connect to people in Hudson Valley
- Hudson River Valley Heritage: digital collection of historical materials