HUDSON, THE FRIENDLY CITY, is a veritable trident of true Americana, having sailed through nearly three centuries of revolutionary history. The first leg of this titular tripod is Hudson, NY, our city; the second, its namesake, explorer Captain Hendrik Hudson; the third leg, the Hudson River - the source of pleasure, sustenance, migration, transport, and misdemeanor indecent exposure charges.
HUDSON, 1609 AD: "...The lands are pleasant with grasse and flowers and goodly trees as every we have seene, and very sweet smells come from them..." (spellcheck and GPS were invented a few years after Henry Hudson allegedly ran aground here...)
WE ARE TOLD THAT THE 12534 was once a Native American settlement, and that for reasons lost to history, in the lore of the Mohican ("Muhhekunneuw") tribe the region was known as "territory where old tomahawks, arrowheads, canoes, and papooses are traded, the teepees are cheap, and the comely painted squaws work for beads."
THE DUTCH PURCHASED THE LAND from the Native Americans in 1662 for 500 guilders in beaver, the first recorded reference to our legendary easy virtue, Hudson's illustrious commerce of ill-repute.
CHRISTENING THE AREA "KLOVER RACK," the Dutch were continuing Hudson’s established tradition of gratuitous sexual innuendo, which began with Hendrik's "Halve Moon" and the gross indecencies that landed with him. Historic "annals" detail that in 1805, Hudson became Columbia's much abused "County Seat", and also became an international "Port of Entry" in 1790, celebrating that position legally until 1815, and much more frequently illegally. These horrific crimes against nature are now protected locally; in 1980 New York State legalized sodomy under that vague right to privacy alluded to in our Constitution.
FORESIGHTED WHALERS from Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Providence, fearing invasion of their exposed ports by the British during the American Revolution, settled the 12534 in 1783 and adopted a civic charter (the U.S.'s first) in 1785; those fearless crossdressing settlers from Provincetown landed just a few years later. Those self-described “Proprietors” laid out a street grid, and the city grew rapidly as a bustling, beautiful upriver seaport, by 1790 the eighth largest city in the United States. Frequented by whaling ships carrying sealskins and sperm oil whose sailors celebrated their leave with a devil-may-care insouciance, Hudson earned a lawless reputation as upstate's emporium of prostitution, gambling, and bootlegging that it enjoyed all the way into the 1950's. You'd think there'd be a grocery store here by now.
WITH THE DECLINE IN POPULARITY of whalebone corset stays, spermaceti candles, Blubber Helper, Avon's Ambergris spray cologne, and whaling in general, the days of Hudson's North and South Bays as international ports of call were numbered. In 1845 the Hudson Whaling Company was abandoned, and our last whaling vessel, the "Martha" was sold. And she still hasn't forgiven our titular insult.
THE 315-MILE LONG HUDSON RIVER, by connecting the Erie Canal to the Atlantic Ocean, was America's first superhighway of interstate commerce. Actually an estuary, the Mohican tribe called the Hudson River "Muhheankantuck" - The River Which Flows Both Ways. Originating at Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondacks on the southwestern slope of Mt. Marcy, the Hudson River ends in a canyon 15,000 feet beneath the Atlantic ocean; the river's current changes direction four times each day from Troy to New York Harbor as ocean tides push saltwater upriver. Native Americans were prescient in calling the Hudson "The River Which Flows Both Ways" given the sexual proclivities of 21st century residents.
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION and the "iron horse" led many other productive businesses to Hudson. One can easily locate the vestiges of factories for successful industries like cannonballs, cement, mushrooms, breetches, lab rats, rope, glue, pocketbooks, bricks, goldfish, shirtwaists, icepicks, matchbooks, corn huskers, dehumidifiers, and Section 8 housing.
ALAS, IN 1951 NEW YORK'S Tom Dewey (our then-governor and yeah, that "Dewey Defeats Truman" guy) instigated raids that lowered the boom on all historic Hudson's famed institutionalized vice. Coming from licentious Albany, this brief moment of moral crusading was a true anomaly.
DIAMOND STREET, HUDSON'S NOTORIOUS red light district, disappeared overnight, bulldozed and renamed Columbia Street. And Main Street, earlier renamed "Warren," was beset by the issues and problems typical of 20th Century America and upstate New York in particular – lamentable educational opportunity, closure of outdated local industries and the loss of their economic buttress, shortsighted urban redevelopment schemes, an intransigent Republican state administration, lack of access to modern dentistry, enthusiasm for men's combover hairstyles, and a relative lack of the necessary open space for big box stores, strip malls and drive-through fast-food restaurants.
THE WELCOME LATTER-DAY RESURGENCE IN DEPRAVITY (with its related economic stimulus package) began in the 1990's as enterprising newcomers landed ashore: boatloads of antiques-peddling butt pirates, historic-preservation fanatics, underage piercing-enthusiasts, wig-wearing degenerates, self-mutilating performance artists, aesthetically-sensitive Bard youths, stroller-shoving Williamsburgians, nailgun-loving friends of Gertrude, lute-strumming sexaholics, tattooed skateboarding thriftshoppers, and Farrow & Ball-paintchip-wielding-Vuitton-carrying-hybrid-driving-bordeaux-swigging-cement-factory-battling-yoga-enthusiast-tchotchke-shopping-addicted-twelve-steppers.
HUDSON'S ANTIQUES DEALERS (yes folks, that's a euphemism) fronted the city's gradual renaissance of repute as a salon of commerce. As an antiques destination known for urban ultra-sophistication, Hudson today is nearly as celebrated as the Paris flea market. The antiques dealers were followed by settlers of every creative bent, talent, ability, gender and sexual orientation, and the urban canvas of a few decades ago is being repainted with broad strokes of music, poetry, art, laughter, and just a smidgen of real estate gossip.
THAT MOTLEY CREW has banded together to attack status quo, challenge convention, and restore Hudson's sordid Rococo renown. The Hudson Valley's geographic and conceptual link to Manhattan, the 12534 has the potential to be a model 21st century American community. While preserving and enhancing its natural and built environments, it is also engendering an active participatory civic life that simultaneously nurtures individual and artistic expression.
HARBORING SCENIC BEAUTY, big city immorality & small town conviviality, and a whole lot of architecture galore, the 12534 is New York's showplace of sexy, sustainable new urbanism, Hudson Valley's green Gomorrah, its bucolic urban sensualism posited to be the axis of a new Loire or the next Napa.