DUTCHESS County, NY
Dutchess County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2020 census, the population was 295,911. The county seat is the city of Poughkeepsie. The county was created in 1683, one of New York's first twelve counties, and later organized in 1713. It is located in the Mid-Hudson Region of the Hudson Valley, north of New York City.
Dutchess County is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown Metropolitan Statistical Area, which belongs to the larger New York–Newark–Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area.
Before Anglo-Dutch settlement, what is today Dutchess County was a leading center for the indigenous Wappinger peoples. They had their council-fire at what is now Fishkill Hook, and had settlements throughout the area.
On November 1, 1683, the Province of New York established its first twelve counties, including Dutchess. Its boundaries at that time included the present Putnam County, and a small portion of the present Columbia County (the towns of Clermont and Germantown). The county was named for Mary of Modena, Duchess of York; is an archaic spelling of the word duchess.
The Province of New York and the Connecticut Colony negotiated an agreement on November 28, 1683, establishing their border as east of the Hudson River, north to Massachusetts. The east of the Byram River making up the Connecticut Panhandle were granted to Connecticut, in recognition of the wishes of the residents. In exchange, Rye was granted to New York, along with a wide strip of land running north from Ridgefield to Massachusetts alongside the New York counties of Westchester, Putnam then Dutchess, known as "The Oblong". The eastern half of the stub of land in northeast Dutchess County containing Rudd Pond and Taconic State Park is the northernmost extension of The Oblong.
Until 1713, Dutchess was administered by Ulster County. On October 23, 1713, Queen Anne gave permission for Dutchess County to elect its own officers from among their own population, including a supervisor, tax collector, tax assessor and treasurer. In 2013, Dutchess County celebrated its 300th anniversary of democracy based upon a legislative resolution sponsored by County Legislator Michael Kelsey from Salt Point. In 1812, Putnam County was detached from Dutchess.
Fourteen royal land patents were granted between 1685 and 1706 covering the entirety of the original footprint of Dutchess County (which until 1812 included today's Putnam County).
The first ten, granted between 1685 and 1697, covered almost all of Hudson River shoreline in the original county, with three - Rombouts, the Great Nine Partners, and Philipse Patents - extending significantly inland. The eleventh, and smallest, Cuyler, 1697, was the first to contain solely inland territory, just in from the Hudson. The twelfth, and next smallest, Fauconnier, in 1705, completed the Hudson River shoreline. The last two, Beekman, 1705, and the Little Nine Partners, 1706, laid claim to the remaining interior lands.
# 1685 Rombout (Beacon/Fishkill Area)
# 1686 Minnisinck (Sanders & Harmense)
# 1686 Kip
# 1688 Schuyler (Poughkeepsie)
# 1688 Schuyler (Red Hook)
# 1688 Ærtsen-Roosa-Elton
# 1696 Pawling-Staats
# 1697 Rhinebeck
# 1697 (Great) Nine Partners
# 1697 Philipse
# 1697 Cuyler
# 1705 Fauconnier
# 1705 Beekman (Back Lots)
# 1706 (Little) Nine Partners
From 1683 to 1715, most of the settlers in Dutchess County were Dutch. Many of these moved in from Albany and Ulster counties. They settled along the Fishkill Creek and in the areas that are now Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck.
From 1715 to 1730, most of the new settlers in Dutchess county were Germans. From 1730 until 1775, New Englanders were the primary new settlers in Dutchess County.
Franklin D. Roosevelt lived in his family home in Hyde Park, overlooking the Hudson River. His family's home is now the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, managed by the National Park Service.
Prior to the 1960s, Dutchess County was primarily agricultural. Since then the southwestern part (from Poughkeepsie southward and from the Taconic State Parkway westward) of the county has developed into a largely residential area, suburban in character, with many of its residents commuting to jobs in New York City and Westchester County. The northern and eastern regions of the county remain rural with large farmlands but at the same time developed residences used during the summer and or on weekends by people living in the New York City urban area.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of , of which is land and (3.6%) is water.
Dutchess County is located in southeastern New York State, between the Hudson River on its west and the New York–Connecticut border on its east, about halfway between the cities of Albany and New York City. It contains two cities: Beacon and Poughkeepsie. Depending on precise location within the county, road travel distance to New York City ranges between and .
The terrain of the county is mostly hilly, especially in the Hudson Highlands in the southwestern corner and the Taconic Mountains to the northeast. Some areas nearer the river are flatter.
The highest point in the county is the summit of Brace Mountain, in the Taconics, at 2,311 feet (704 m) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level, along the Hudson River. The highest point of neighboring Fairfield County, Connecticut, is a point along the state line in Pawling.
Wappinger Creek, at from its source at Thompson Pond in Pine Plains to where it drains into the Hudson at New Hamburg, is the longest stream in the county. Its watershed is likewise the largest in the county. To its south is the watershed of Dutchess County's second-longest stream, Fishkill Creek, part of which spills over into Putnam County. Within that watershed are the county's third-longest stream, Sprout Creek, and its largest, deepest and highest lakes: Whaley (), in the town of Pawling; Sylvan () in the town of Beekman and Beacon Reservoir, in the town of Fishkill, at respectively.
Other, smaller tributaries of the Hudson such as the Saw Kill drain the northwestern portion of the county. The southeastern fringe of Dutchess is part of the upper Croton River watershed and thus part of the New York City water supply system. On the east, in the Oblong, streams drain into the Housatonic River in adjacent Connecticut.
A border nearly one-half mile (800 m) long exists with Berkshire County, Massachusetts, in the extreme northern end of the county.
National protected areas
State, county, and town parks
Privately protected open space
As of the census of 2000, there were 280,150 people, 99,536 households, and 69,177 families residing in the county. The population density was 350 people per square mile (135/km2). There were 106,103 housing units at an average density of 132 per square mile (51/km2). 22.0% of the population was of Italian, 16.9% Irish, 11.3% German and 6.7% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 88.3% spoke English and 4.8% spoke Spanish.
Based on the Census Ancestry tallies, including people who listed more than one ancestry, Italians were the largest group in Dutchess County with 60,645. Irish came in a very close second at 59,991. In third place were the 44,915 Germans who barely exceeded the 44,078 people not in the 105 specifically delineated ancestry groups.
There were 99,536 households, out of which 34.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.5% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.5% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.16.
In the county, the age distribution of the population shows 25.1% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.2 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $53,086, and the median income for a family was $63,254. Males had a median income of $45,576 versus $30,706 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,940. About 5.0% of families and 7.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.5% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.
The decrease in population between 1810 and 1820 was due to the separation of Putnam County from Dutchess in 1812.
As of 2017, the residents of Dutchess County were reported as the following: American Indian and Alaska Native (0.04%), Asian (4%), Black or African American (8.5%), Hispanic or Latino (12.5%), Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (0.016%), Some Other Race (0.35%), Two or More Races (3%), White (71%).
Dutchess County has a Charter Government with a County Executive and directly elected legislature of 25 members, each elected from a single member district. The Charter form of Government went in to effect in 1968 given the favorable outcome of a 1967 special election dedicated to the question. From 1713 until 1967, the County Government had been managed by a Board of Supervisors, made up of the locally elected leaders.
The Cities of Beacon and Poughkeepsie; Towns of Fishkill, Hyde Park, Pine Plains, Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck, Red Hook, and East Fishkill; and Villages of Millerton, Wappingers Falls, Millbrook, have their own Police departments. The remainder of the county is patrolled by the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office and New York State Police. The New York State Police Troop K headquarters is located in Millbrook.
The composition of the County Legislature is 16 Republicans, 8 Democrats and 1 Conservative for the 2021–2023 term. County elections occur in odd-numbered years.
Historically, Dutchess County, like most of the lower Hudson, was classic "Yankee Republican" territory. Between 1884 and 2004, the Republican presidential candidate carried Dutchess County in 28 out of 30 elections (1964 and 1996 being exceptions). As a measure of how Republican the county was during this time, Hyde Park resident Franklin D. Roosevelt lost Dutchess County (but won New York) during his four successful bids for president.
The Republican edge narrowed significantly in the 1990s, with George H. W. Bush going from 61 percent of the county's vote in 1988 to only 40.5 percent in 1992. In 2008, Barack Obama became only the third Democrat to carry the county since 1884, and the first to win a majority since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. It has gone for the Democratic candidate in four consecutive elections (2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020).
Dutchess County is split between two congressional districts. The more populated southern portion is in the 18th district, represented by Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney. The northern portion is in the 19th district, represented by Democrat Antonio Delgado. These are considered "swing" districts nationally, with Cook Partisan Voting Index ratings of R+1 and R+2, respectively, as of 2019.
Three spans cross the Hudson River, linking Dutchess with Orange, Ulster, and Greene Counties:
The Metro-North railroad provides a critical link to New York City for Dutchess County's commuting population. The Hudson Line and Amtrak run concurrently along the Hudson River, on the western edge of the county. The Hudson Line has stops at Breakneck Ridge, Beacon, and New Hamburg (a hamlet of the town of Poughkeepsie) before the Hudson Line terminates at Poughkeepsie. The tracks continue north of that point as Amtrak, with Poughkeepsie and Rhinecliff (a small hamlet in the Town of Rhinebeck) being stops along Amtrak's Empire Service.
The Harlem Line, on the eastern side of the county, has station stops in Pawling, along the Appalachian Trail, Wingdale, Dover Plains, and two stops in Wassaic (one along the Tenmile River and the other the namesake terminus of that line).
Buses and Ferries
Public transportation in Dutchess County is handled by Dutchess County Public Transit, commonly called "the LOOP." Outside of the urbanized area of the county, most service is limited. Privately run lines connect Poughkeepsie to New Paltz and Beacon to Newburgh. Leprechaun Lines and Short Line Bus also operate some service through Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck, and the southern part of the county.
NY Waterway operates the Newburgh–Beacon Ferry, which is located at the Beacon train station.
General aviation facilities are located at Hudson Valley Regional Airport (formerly Dutchess County Airport), located in Wappinger and Sky Park Airport in Red Hook, New York. General commercial passenger service is provided by New York Stewart International Airport, which is located across the Hudson River in Newburgh.
Dutchess County holds an annual county fair. The County Chamber of Commerce holds an annual hot air balloon launch typically in the first week of July. The main launch sites are along the Hudson River. As many as 20 balloons participate in the event.
The Dutchess County Historical Society was formed in 1914 and is active in the preservation of a large collection at the 18th century Clinton House. The Society has published a yearbook since 1914 and presents up to four awards of merit in the field of Dutchess County history each year.
Dutchess County has no locally based television stations. Its only news radio format station is WKIP (AM) of Poughkeepsie. WRHV is an NPR affiliated broadcasting out of Poughkeepsie. The country music format station, WRWB-FM, broadcasting across the Hudson River, can be reached in much of the county.
Poughkeepsie Journal is published in that city. Vassar Miscellany News, associated with Vassar College, is published weekly. Also published in the county is the Beacon Free Press/Southern Dutchess News.
The Hudson Valley Renegades are a minor league baseball team affiliated with the New York Yankees. The team is a member of the High-A East, and play at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill.
The Hudson Valley Bears were one of four founding members of the Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL). They played their home games at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie.
The Hudson Valley Hawks was a team in the former National Professional Basketball League. The team's home court was at Beacon High School, in Beacon.
The county is home to Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck. MidHudson Regional Hospital (formerly St. Francis) and Vassar Brothers Medical Center are both in Poughkeepsie. The Castle Point Veterans Health Administration is in Wappinger.
On March 11, 2020, the county's first case of COVID-19 was confirmed. As of June 2021, there had been 29,483 cases and 445 deaths. There are under 100 active cases and 56.8% of residents received at least one vaccine dose.
N.B.: Cities, Towns and Villages are official political designations.
Public school districts
This page uses material from the Wikipedia article Dutchess County, NY, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 4.0.