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Historic Kingston

Kingston was founded around 1616 by the Dutch as a trading post between New Amsterdam, (New York City), and Fort Orange, (Albany). The first permanent settlement was in 1652 and later Governor Stuyvesant ordered the original stockade built in 1658 to protect the settlers from the Indian attacks and massacres which included the burning of the village in 1653. As the third settlement in their colony Kingston became a center of agriculture in the surrounding countryside and trade from its important location along the Hudson River.

Situated where the Rondout Creek joins the Hudson, its location would prove pivotal both to its development and the economy of both New York and the nation. Kingston changed from a trading post into a regional farm town to a center of river transportation. As the termus of the D&H Canal Kingston acted as the staging port for the coal shipments both up and down the Hudson that drove the Industrial Revolution.

Because of its robust prosperity, Kingston accepted hosting the new State government after the start of the American Revolution. In 1777, Kingston became the first capital of New York. The senate first met here in the house which today remains a historic site and museum. It was here that Governor George Clinton was inaugurated.

British forces had reason to view Kingston as a hotbed of disloyalty to King George the Third and His Majesty's Parliament. The farmers near Kingston provided Washington's troops with wheat and other food supplies (Kingston would become known later as "the breadbasket of the Revolution") and in September of 1777, John Jay and other patriots met in a stone house in Kingston to declare the province a sovereign state and establish the first New York State Senate.

In October, General William Clinton brought British forces up the Hudson on the way to meet Burgoyne coming down from Canada. Taking the opportunity to punish Kingston, he landed his troops at Kingston Point and marched on the village. He put the torch to every house in the village but one. Being built mostly of stone, the buildings were gutted, but not destroyed and over the coming decades would be rebuilt and reoccupied.

Today, almost two dozen of the original pre-revolutionary stone houses remain standing in the Stockade Historic District and are occupied, forming the core of the architecture found in Kingston. The Rondout Historic District, an early settlement one mile away on the banks of the Hudson River, contains 19th century commercial and residential structures housing a reborn "village" on the waterfront.

Kingston is a chronology of American architecture spanning four centuries from the early Dutch and English, including Federalist, Georgian, Greek Revival, Victorian, Romanesque, Italianate, Neo-Classical, Art Deco and Contemporary. The blend makes a beautiful landscape for every visitor.

Exploring Kingston's historic districts is a fun adventure thru time back to the roots of America straight thru the Industrial Revolution and the creation of the American Empire. Two historic districts have been defined and are accessible through the Kingston Urban Cultural Park Visitor Centers; the Historic Stockade District and the Rondout Historic District.

Brochures outlining self guided walking tours are available as well as information on the many museums and attractions you will find waiting for you. Visit the Senate House, site where the New York State Senate first met during the opening days of the Revolution, discover 19th century fire fighting engines at the Volunteer Fireman's Hall, ride a period Trolly from the Trolly Museum in the Rondout, savor Early American interior furnishings at the Fred J. Johnson Museum in the Stockade, explore the maritime history of the mighty Hudson River at the Maritime Museum in the Rondout and take a launch ride and climb the Rondout Lighthouse.

Kingston is a virbant and exciting place to visit. filled with history and family-friendly adventure.

Specifics on visiting Historic Kingston were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
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