Town of the Week: Beacon

Beacon, New York is like a living laboratory of a Richard Florida book:if you build an art museum (or rather, house one in a former cracker box factory), they will come—and by “they,” we mean creative class expats fleeing increasingly pricey New York City neighborhoods. Even before Dia: Beacon actually opened its doors, news of its arrival spurred a revival of this once-depressed Dutchess County town. The revival isn’t complete—much of Beacon still looks like its post-industrial East Coast brethren—but it’s definitely farther along in the cappuccino department than nearby Newburgh, and safer to boot. At the same time, it’s cheaper than posher spots like Cold Spring or Cornwall, with average home sales hovering around the $200,000 mark.

I find it pretty hard to take that Metronorth ride up the Hudson to the Dia and not fantasize about moving to Beacon, especially when you hit that point in the trip where you pass Bannerman’s Island and that great expanse of river, fjord, and green mountains. Beacon is far enough away to assure yourself you’re not moving to the suburbs, yet it’s still just an hour and twenty minutes rail ride from Manhattan via the relatively cheap Metronorth. It offers Hudson Rivers views and a surprising number of public parks, visibly active civic improvement efforts, delicious-sounding food festivals and farmers markets, a historic Main Street with some appealing new businesses, and of course, a burgeoning art scene. No wonder it’s such an appealing day trip on the cheap for city dwellers. This week will be exploring options for those who might want to stay longer.

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About aliahanna

I'm a literary agent who mostly lives in Brooklyn but sometimes escapes to East Jewett, NY.

Posted on October 17, 2011, in Beacon, Dutchess County, upstate new york, Urban, Village and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Before you think too dream too much about moving to Beacon, check out Reclaimed Home, where the author wrote quite a bit about dreaming of a life in the country and moving up to Beacon. Spoiler alert: she and her husband moved back to Brooklyn. Every time I think about moving out of the city I think of Phylis her stories.

    http://reclaimedhome.com/2010/12/14/goodbye-dream-home/

    • Yes, I remember reading her blog and feeling very nervous about my upstate fantasy. Although I do know more people who’ve traded Brooklyn for a great house, most of them moved to towns where they had a built-in social life. That might be the key!

      For the record, my wonderful partner and I have different feelings about Beacon. I find it dreary, a place that gentrified too quickly (like Hudson), so that it has a strange mix of upstate urban poverty and shmancy NYC folks who don’t much influence each other. And since I’m not in love with the DIA Beacon (although I love the site it’s on), I don’t feel the same pull as other folks!

  2. Yes it takes all sorts. An interesting statistic: in 1990 and consistent for many years, there were 10,000 more republicans than democrats in Dutchess county. Today there are 10,000 more democrats than republicans. That is fairly dramatic in a county with low single figure growth. Anyone making the rounds knows this is due to Brooklyn folk heading north – not necessarily all to Beacon but it certainly got a boost. Not everyone is moving back yet.
    Moving north is not for everyone. Don’t have any preconceived notions. Moving with kids might be easier, they adjust faster and seeing them happy makes it all easier. AT least while they are young they are in heaven up here.

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