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This Is the First City Ever in the USA (It’s Not St. Augustine)

Often, when people think of the state of New York, they think of New York City. While New York City is, without a doubt, worth a visit, you’ll miss out on a lot if you never experience the state outside of the Big Apple. Hudson, New York, is likely a city in the Empire State that you haven’t heard of.

However, after you finish reading this article, you may want to add it to your travel bucket list. Let’s take a look at the first city ever in the USA.

About Hudson, New York

Hudson, New York, sits along the Hudson River in eastern New York. Depending on traffic, you can reach the town in about 2.5 hours from lower Manhattan. Those traveling between Hudson and Albany can do so in under 45 minutes. With a population of just under 6,000 people, it is a far cry from big city life in the Big Apple. Instead, Hudson offers the ability to enjoy small-town charm with plenty of conveniences.

The city is a great place for those in NYC to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It is just big enough and offers activities to make a great weekend getaway.

You’ll find plenty of history and activities to see and do. Whether you want to pack your travel itinerary with shopping, eating, or relaxing, Hudson is the perfect spot to do it.

Lighthouse over Hudson, New York
Visit the first city in the USA by heading out of Manhattan to Hudson, New York.

What Is the History of Hudson, New York?

Hudson, New York, was first chartered as a city in 1785. It thrived due to the Hudson River port and eventually became a successful factory town. It became the 4th largest city in the state by 1820. Hudson reached its highest population in 1930, with just over 12,000 residents.

With advances in technology and less dependency on rivers, the town saw a slow decline to its current population. Currently, the city has approximately 6,000 residents, half of what it had in its prime.

In 1935 the United States Mint issued the Hudson Half Dollar to celebrate the sesquicentennial of Hudson. With only 10,008 coins produced, it is one of the rarest coins ever minted via the U.S. government.

Many locals believe that the coin directly resulted from the Hudson City Democratic Committee being the first to endorse President Franklin D. Roosevelt for state senator and governor. 

What Is Hudson, New York, Known For?

Hudson, New York, has a reputation for being the first city in the United States. This is because it was the first city incorporated after the thirteen colonies became the United States.

So while it was not the first city established on the land now known as the United States, it was the first city incorporated after the country became official. 

Pro Tip: After exploring Hudson, New York, head to one of these 7 Best Small Towns in New York (And Awesome Nearby Campsites).

Boy hiking through forest in Hudson, New York.
Escape the hustle and bustle of NYC in exchange for Hudson, New York.

What Is There to Do in Hudson?

There is something for everyone in the historic town of Hudson. Let’s look at a few great places to explore and fun things to do while visiting Hudson, New York.

You’ll quickly see that you’ll have no trouble filling your itinerary with as many or few activities as you like. Let’s get started!

Olana State Historic Site

The Olana State Historic Site is an easy trip just south of Hudson. Located just ten minutes from downtown Hudson, you can quickly access this historic New York site. The house once belonged to Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900). He once had a major influence over the Hudson River School, which specialized in landscape paintings.

Olana is unique because it has a reputation as one of the very few “intact artists’ home-, studio- and estate-complexes in the United States.” The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation owns and manages the house. Guests can explore the 250-acre property and see the stone, brick, and polychrome-stenciled villa that served as the primary residence for Frederic and Isabel Church and their four children.

Hudson-Athens Lighthouse

Navigating the Hudson River at night and during thick fog was incredibly dangerous during the 1860s. However, Congress appropriated $35,000 in 1872 to build the Hudson City Lighthouse, which now goes by the name Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. The lighthouse was completed and officially opened on Nov. 14, 1874, and was manned until the 1950s. 

Today, the lighthouse aids sailors navigating around the Middle Ground Flats. Since the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse first opened, the United States Coast Guard has maintained and operated it. In 1982 the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society., Inc. formed to collect private donations, grants, and legislative initiatives to help preserve the structural, aesthetic, interpretive, and public access to the property.

On Feb. 15, 1984, the Lighthouse Society and the U.S. Coast Guard signed a 20-year lease. However, on July 3, 2000, the U.S. Coast Guard finally transferred the deed to the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society.

If you visit Hudson, New York, during the summer, you can take a guided tour. However, times are typically very limited. But visitors can learn about the Hudson River and how it impacted the development and growth of the many Hudson River towns. Tickets cost $30 for adults, $27 for seniors, and $20 for children 15 and under.

Henry Hudson Riverfront Park

The City of Hudson offers several parks that provide the general public with a place to play and a green space to recreate. Henry Hudson Riverfront Park is one of these great parks and is an excellent spot for a sunset over the Hudson River. However, most people use it for its popular playground and access to basketball courts, a baseball diamond, handball courts, and many more places. Visitors of all ages can play and get some exercise. If you visit during the fall, the foliage and the view of the Hudson River provide a stunning view.

FASNY Museum of Firefighting

Many consider the FASNY Museum of Firefighting as the largest and most comprehensive museum that pays respects to one of the most revered occupations in our country. The museum has a collection of past and present-day firefighting techniques, artifacts, and equipment which you can experience through interactive exhibits. You can see historic firefighting vehicles and equipment used throughout the town’s history.

Admission to the museum is $12 for adults, $8 for children three and over, and free for kids under three. However, no matter your age, you may enjoy the hands-on and interactive exhibits and activities that engage your senses. The museum hosts events throughout the year, including Dalmatian Day, Super Saturdays, and many more. You’ll spend hours exploring the museum’s 20,000+ artifacts.

Pro Tip: Visit one of these 7 Spectacular Castles in New York while visiting the famous state.

Do You Need a Car in Hudson, NY?

Luckily, the quaint city of Hudson is very accessible and walkable. Many guests visit the city after taking the train. It’s a short walk from Amtrak’s Warren Street train station to the many bars, restaurants, and coffee shops . A mile-long district offers plenty of antique shops, restaurants, art galleries, and small parks. Yyou can easily access them without needing to bring a vehicle.

Is Hudson, New York, Worth Visiting?

Once you visit Hudson, New York, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the favorite locations for many New Yorkers who need a weekend getaway. The town’s charming atmosphere with the vintage and antique shops, cocktail bars, and art galleries is unlike anything you can experience in the noisy and often chaotic Big Apple. Whether you want to escape the city or visit a historic New York town, Hudson, N.Y., is a great place to go.

Will you take a trip to Hudson, New York? Tell us your travel plans in the comments!

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