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The Road More or Less Traveled
Just off Exit 18 of the New York State Thruway, The Town of New Paltz is a major destination in the Hudson Valley. It is, to a great extent, defined by the presence of the college, one of the largest and most prominent in the state university system. Yet its historical roots give a dimension to the town that goes much deeper than the many bars and pizza joints catering to college students. Huguenot Street, dating back to the 17th century, is the historical heart of the town.
Though usually described as Huguenots, some of the founders of New Paltz were actually Walloons—French-speaking Protestants who came from northern France and what is now Belgium. Both Huguenots and Walloons were followers of John Calvin (1509-1564), the French theologian and Protestant Reformation leader.
Seeking freedom from persecution by Catholic authorities, the "New Paltz Huguenots" sailed to America in the 1660s and 1670s. They traveled to present-day Kingston and founded New Paltz, named after "Die Pfalz" in Germany, where they had received temporary refuge before fleeing to America.
In 1677, 12 men (the "Duzine") from the Bevier, Crispell, Deyo, DuBois, Freer, Hasbrouck, and LeFevre families met with the Esopus Indians and purchased 40,000 acres of land stretching from the Shawangunk Mountains to the Hudson River. In exchange, the Esopus received domestic supplies, farming tools, clothing, blankets, wine, horses, tobacco, and gunpowder. Today, the 10-acre National Historic Landmark District includes a visitor center, seven stone-house museums, a reconstructed 1717 French church, and an early burial ground. HHS also maintains an extensive archive that preserves early local history collections and family papers, along with a research library.
Eventually, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail will be connected on the western side all the way through New Paltz to the Shawangunk Ridge, giving visitors uninterrupted access to the natural splendor of the region and the rich history of the land that the Esopus Indians and the Duzine knew 350 years ago. A short trip off the beaten path can make you feel as if very little has changed.
- David Morris Cunningham
- American Legion Memorial Park
Coral Acres Topiary Design
First Care Walk-In Medical Center
Fleet Service Center (845) 255-4812
Gray Owl Gallery
Haven Coffee & Espresso Bar
Il Gallo Giallo Wine Bar
Jack’s Meats & Deli
LaBella Pizza Bistro
Primal Life Training
Samuel Dorsky Museum
SUNY New Paltz School of Fine & Performing Arts
Water Street Market