Grit and grandeur, side by side in a richly historic city.
Tue Mar 18 2008
Photograph: Courtesy of Leyland Alliance LLC
If you feel like you’ve experienced everything Williamsburg has to offer, head to Newburgh, NY—a former shipping and commercial hub with landmark 19th-century architecture, stunning views and a true urban feel. An influx of businesses and citizen activists are bringing new life to this gritty, fascinating city on the western banks of the Hudson.
Enjoy river views from a room at the elegant, Federal-style Goldsmith Denniston House B&B (227 Montgomery St between Broad and Clinton Sts; 845-562-8076, dennistonbb.com; from $165), located in Newburgh’s East End, the largest historic district in the state. Owner Nancy Billman (who’s also a caterer) serves up a seasonally inspired breakfast like strawberry crepes and raisin-bread French toast with homemade apple syrup.
Drive or walk along Grand and Montgomery Streets and the neighboring blocks to gawk at some of the city’s most stunning architecture, including the landmark 1835 Dutch Reformed Church (132 Grand St at 3rd St; 845-562-8076, newburghdrc.org), and David Crawford House (189 Montgomery St at Clinton St; 845-561-2585, newburghhistoricalsociety.com; a $5 suggested entry fee includes a tour), a former shipping captain’s neoclassical home, where you can see Hudson River School paintings by Thomas Benjamin Pope and Asher B. Durand as well as mid-19th-century decorative arts and furnishings. Beebs: An American Bistro (30 Plank Rd at Robinson Ave; 845-568-6102, orangecountynyrestaurants.com/beebs.htm) is an excellent dining option on the east side; order lobster shepherd’s pie or hanger steak.
Newburgh’s Downing Park (Carpenter Ave at 3rd St; 845-565-5559, newburgh-ny.com/downing), is an urban oasis designed by the legendary landscape architects Olmsted and Vaux and named after Vaux’s former partner and the pair’s mentor, Newburgh native Alexander Jackson Downing. Wander through the meandering paths to see the park’s pond, pergola and a stone shelter house now serving as the city’s visitor center.
Live music at Vino 100
The city’s waterfront draws crowds every weekend, who plant themselves at restaurants like Cena 2000 (50 Front St at 3rd St; 845-561-7676), which serves up a vacationy vibe along with panoramic river views. The ferry to Beacon, NY, and river cruises on the Pride of the Hudson and the River Rose all launch from here. The Yellow Bird building houses the subterranean Downing Film Center (19 Front St between 2nd and Washington Sts; 845-561-3686, downingfilmcenter.com), a 55-person theater that showcases indie, foreign and classic films. Vino 100 (21 Front St, 845-725-7680, vino100newburgh.com) is next door, featuring 100 wines for under $25 and occasional tastings, classes and live music events.
Newburgh’s wide, once-bustling main drag, Broadway, is primed for renewal; a few great spots linger, like the family-owned Commodore Chocolatier (480–482 Broadway between Fullerton Ave and West St; 845-561-3960, chocolateusa.com), which has been at its location since 1935. Snap up the white chocolate truffles and chocolate-covered nougats, almonds and caramels, all made from scratch. The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum (94 Broadway at Liberty St; 845-569-4997) features local and national artists along with rotating exhibits of documents; from April through June, they’re focusing on great women in history and will display manuscripts pertaining to Golda Meir, Rosa Parks, Queen Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots and Eleanor Roosevelt.
The house Washington occupied during the last 16 months of the Revolutionary War—where he announced the cease-fire and renounced the idea of becoming the nation’s monarch—is also available for a tour. The first site that the U.S. government ever declared a historic landmark (Liberty St at Washington St, 845-562-1195) is situated on beautiful grounds with river views.
Just across the way, brunch on baked eggs, banana-laden crepes and prosciutto-mozzarella frittata at neighborhood standby Caffe Macchiato (99 Liberty St at Washington St; 845-565-4616), a bustling spot with house-made tiramisu. Or for home-cooked soul food, grab a spot at the counter at Rootz (89 Liberty St between E Parmenter and Washington Sts; 845-561-2278) and feast on barbecued ribs, macaroni and cheese, beef brisket, red velvet cake and banana pudding.
Wrap up your Newburgh weekend with an easy scenic drive. Take Route 9W to Route 218, stopping in Cornwall-on-Hudson at the picturesque Painters’ Restaurant (266 Hudson St between Ave A and Idlewild Ave, Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY; 845-534-2109) for a grilled cheddar and tomato sandwich before continuing on to Storm King Art Center (Old Pleasant Hill Rd, Mountainville, NY; 845-534-3115, stormking.org; $10, opens Apr 1 for the season). Just five miles south of Newburgh, Storm King displays large-scale sculptures by the likes of David Smith, Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson and Nam June Paik. While docent-guided highlight tours are available, you can roam the 500 acres by tram, hopping on and off as you please.
One night, two people
Car rental (with gas) $175
Take I-87N to Rte 300 to I-84E. Take exit 10 for Rte 32/US 9W toward Newburgh/Highland.