Every town, village, city, and county in the Hudson Valley has its own vibe, Ulster is where we take it easy and peace out, Dutchess is where we go to visit the upstate elite, and so on. I cannot be the only person who has noticed this, can I? This weekend I found myself defending my county and my city so often that I just had to sit down and blog about it.
When I finally decided it was time to own my own home I choose to live in Ulster county, and I purposely chose the city of Kingston. I had grown up in Orange County (Mount Hope – don’t blink or you’ll miss it), my first apartment was in Montgomery, my second was in Goshen. When I got married and started a family we lived in Hyde Park and later moved to LaGrange, both in Dutchess county. But when I finally decided start a business and buy a house Ulster county was where I wanted to be. I rented an apartment in Kingston and decided to see if I liked living there, in less than six months I was house hunting and had found my home.
Over the weekend I found myself having to defend my city to those who had never fully explored it. If you only come to Kingston to see a show at UPAC or to visit one particular restaurant then you miss the charm of the place. I’m sure if the only part of Kingston that I had ever seen was mid-town I probably wouldn’t have chosen to call Kingston home either. But before the haters get too far into their rants let me explain my love affair with New York’s first capital city.
Kingston was an easy choice for me, after years and years of living in places where having a car was a necessity moving somewhere that allowed me to only have to get behind the wheel twice a week (sometimes less than that) was exhilarating. If I want a great bagel or pastries I can walk to my local bakery (The Cake Box). If I run out of milk or cat food I can walk to my local bodega or Stewarts. If I want to go out for a really nice meal there are more restaurants than I have time to list all within a ten minute walk from my home. If I want a new outfit or have to buy a gift all I have to do is walk out of my front door and within minutes I can be at Bop To Tottom or any of the other great shops in uptown Kingston. My hairdresser is there, my bookstore is there, my vintage clothing store is there, my tattoo artist is there (Hi Karma Tattoo) and so is my pharmacy. If I wanted to walk to the grocery store I could do that too, but I simply don’t want to. My Saturday mornings are spent at the Kingston Farmer’s Market and I get all the locally sourced organic produce I want just a couple of blocks from my front door. Why would I go to a grocery store? I have never lived in a place where so many business owners help each other and their communities. I really wish that other communities could experience this type of harmony. The Kingston Uptown Business Association (aka KUBA) has a lot to do with this and they do a magnificent job.
Uptown Kingston is a tourist destination and so is the waterfront. Midtown is still trying to rise to the same level as their counterpoints and I feel that eventually this will happen. Kingston is a city within a easygoing county and while it’s a bit gritty and rough around the edges I love it. Parking is an issue, but show me any thriving city that does not have parking issues. Yes crime is an issue, but our crime rate is much lower than the city of Poughkeepsie or Newburgh. I will willingly walk through the roughest sections of Kingston (and have) but I avoid walking anywhere in the cities of Poughkeepsie and Newburgh because they are really very scary.
My father is a lifelong Orange county resident. He grew up in Newburgh, moved to Montgomery, and has settled down in Maybrook. He is a truck driver and he has to come to midtown Kingston at least once a week, he hates it. He hates the traffic patterns (understandably), he hates the parking (join the club), and he is under the mistaken notion that Kingston is a dying city. He only willingly comes to Kingston once a year and that’s only because we have the only French restaurant that he has deemed “acceptable” (BTW – try Le Canard Enchaine,it is amazing). Other than driving his truck or eating snails he has never taken the time to fully explore all that uptown Kingston has to offer. He’s never checked out the live music scene (sending my love to BSP) or wandered into Rhino Records. He’s never walked next door to Ecce Terra and met Bridget and her amazing staff. He’s never taken the time to walk five minutes to the Stockade Tavern where they serve his favorite gin. When he called me from his truck this past Friday all he did was complain that Kingston has too many parades and not enough ways around them. Sorry Dad, Kingston shines in the summertime and we will do nothing to change that.
So I think it is safe to say that I am a devoted Kingstonite. I took the time to get to know the business owners and community leaders before I decided that Kingston would become my home base. The friends and family members that visit us find that they fall in love with my city almost as quickly as I did. Friends who insisted that they never go out on New Years eve find themselves at my home every year for the big New Year‘s Eve celebration, complete with ball drop. Other friends make a point of being here for the big Chronogram Block Party and still others make the Kingston Artists Soapbox Derby their reason to visit. So the next time you find yourself in Kingston take the time to get to know us, you’ll be surprised by just how much we have to offer! Oh, and just because Hudson Valley Agents isn’t based in Ulster county does not mean that we don’t insure here! HVA has a large Kingston client base and they understand the insurance needs of this historic city. We offer low cost NY insurance to all of the Hudson Valley and we work with many New York state based insurance companies too. HVA insures the entire Hudson Valley so give them a call today!