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Population (Census 2010): 15,541 over 4.9 square miles
The city of Beacon was named after the beacon fires that were set off at Mount Beacon during the Revolutionary War. The beacon fires were used to alert the Continental Army about the British troop movements.
During the 1800s, the city became a factory town and was known as "The Hat Making Capital of the US". Nearly 500 hat factories were operating at one time. Like many factory towns across the country, a decline in the economy starting in the 1970s shuttered most of the factories. As more and more buildings became vacant and businesses closed, people left the city for safer neighborhoods.
With the opening of one of the world's largest contemporary art museums, Dia:Beacon in 2003, Beacon began an artistic and commercial rebirth. The scenic setting of Beacon next to the Hudson River has always been inviting. With a large supply of gorgeous Victorian homes and red brick buildings, new artist residents and new developments moved in.
Today, on Beacon's Main Street, you can find a mix of art galleries and studios, cute boutiques and a host of restaurants serving different cuisines, wine bars, and coffee shops. The Dia and Main Street are within walking distance from the Beacon train station, making Beacon a convenient and walkable arts destination. However, parts of Beacon are still run down with abandoned buildings.
There are also many beautiful public green spaces in Beacon. The Riverfront Park offers basketball, volleyball, fishing, and picnicking with panoramic views of the Hudson River. Festivals like the Strawberry Festival, Corn Festival, and Pumpkin Festival, and a farmers market and flea market are held at the Riverfront Park.
A popular hike is to hike up Mount Beacon. The hike is steep, but rewarding once you see the view from the Hudson Highlands all the way to the Catskill. The hike actually begins on a staircase following the course of the Beacon Incline Railway. In the early 20th century, the Beacon Incline Railway was the world's steepest funicular railways. The Railway stopped operating in 1978, and was destroyed in a fire in 1983, but hopefully may be restored in the future.
Beacon is located on the Eastern shore of the Hudson River. Beacon is conveniently connected to other towns along I-84 and to the Taconic State Parkway. The Newburgh-Beacon bridge entrance is on I-84, providing Beacon with easy access to both sides of the river.
The City of Beacon is approximately 65 miles North of New York City. The Metro-North Railroad operates the train from Beacon to Grand Central Station. Both driving and taking the train requires approximately an hour and a half, and many residents, especially the newer transplants, commute to New York City for work.
Students go to schools at the Beacon City School District. The Beacon City High School was newly built in 2001 and has many amenities including a swimming pool that is open for membership to the community.
Click here for more information about all Dutchess County school districts.
49.6% of the properties in Beacon are detached single family homes. Around 35.9% of the homes were built before 1940. Many homes are within walking distance to Main Street and the Metro North Station, and are generally on smaller lots.
Approximately half the homes in Beacon are owner-occupied, and the other half are being rented.
The Beacon Arts Community Association website: www.beaconarts.org
Website for the City of Beacon NY: www.cityofbeacon.org