Central Dutchess is the heart of the county. Tucked beside the Hudson River and surrounded by a town of the same name, the City of Poughkeepsie is the county seat. Founded in 1687, Poughkeepsie is an old river city with a population of about 30,000. It is in the midst of a dynamic revitalization focused on developing the waterfront and making it a destination point. The Town of Poughkeepsie has a population of about 42,000 and is home to a very large IBM campus noted for the development and manufacture of IBM mainframes. Vassar College, Marist College and Dutchess Community College are all located in the Town of Poughkeepsie as are the Galleria Mall, numerous shopping centers and restaurants, public parks and recreation.
Early settlers came to the Central Dutchess County area in the mid-1700s and established villages and hamlets throughout the region. Like many early communities, agriculture was a large part of daily life until advances in transportation brought more people and opportunities to the area. Hyde Park, located about 6 miles north of Poughkeepsie, also sits along the Hudson River in Central Dutchess County. Three national historic sites can be found near Hyde Park including the Vanderbilt Mansion, Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill and the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Visitors at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site can tour the president’s home and cottage, browse through the museum, or wander the gardens and grounds. Local parks with various recreation facilities are also scattered through Hyde Park.
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The Culinary Institute of America, one of the world’s famous culinary colleges, is also located in Hyde Park. Founded in 1946, more than 2,500 students develop their culinary skills at this premier institute. Visitors to the school can tour classrooms or dine at one of the five award-winning restaurants staffed by CIA students. From May to November, you can visit the Hyde Park Farmer’s Market and pick up fresh fruits and vegetables to try your own hand at creating a culinary masterpiece.
The other towns of Central Dutchess County have steadfastly maintained their small town characters. Pleasant Valley’s town center is a true hub for its residents and many of the town’s original public buildings are still standing. The Town of Washington is famous for its elegant country estates, celebrities and famous residents, manicured horse farms, wineries and the charming Village of Millbrook. Residents of the towns of LaGrange and Union Vale share with the other communities of Central Dutchess the convenience of being near the heart of things, grappling with changes due to growth and devotion to maintaining the rural quality of the landscape.
Did you know?
The Culinary Institute of America was founded in 1946 and is the only residential college in the world devoted entirely to culinary education.
The area was home to the peace-loving Wappinger Indians, part of the Algonquin federation.
The name Poughkeepsie comes from a combination of Indian words meaning “the reed covered lodge by the little-water place” which does not refer to the Hudson River, but to a spring.
Poughkeepsie was the capital of New York State from 1777-1783.
When it opened in 1889 the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge was said to be the longest bridge in the world.
Until 1972 Poughkeepsie was home to the Smith Brothers cough drop factory.