Much of Hudson’s draw to visitors is in this somewhat unpolished aesthetic. Perhaps nowhere is that more visible in the Hudson’s many alleys, which run the length of the city. Vine-covered barns and carriage houses, and private gardens line the uneven and pocked one-lane-wide two-way traffic alleys. The alleys are like the wrinkles in Hudson’s face that show the complexity in its age. The alleys show that the city, so known for the upscale appearance of its main thoroughfare, Warren Street, is also one that is lived in by a wide range of peoples and co mmunities.
Unlike the rest of Columbia County, Hudson is racially diverse, with large African American and Bangladeshi communities. While the busiest upper section of Warren Street has been gentrified, in a city that only covers two square miles one can’t help but know their neighbors.
Decades of cultural influence from New York City transplants has brought a stylistic revolution to Hudson. In the ‘90s, antique dealers brought the struggling city back from the brink, as manufacturing jobs left and the strip malls in nearby Greenport put many locally owned shops out of business. Antiques and art filled long-vacant storefronts that line Warren Street, Hudson’s backbone. Now it’s hard to imagine the city without the shops and art galleries that have since made the city a destination.
The city is also filled with music, with local performers and traveling acts playing nearly every night somewhere, in venues from the small bar and bookstore The Spotty Dog to the palatial Club Helsinki, recently transplanted from Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
Hudson even has its own live-in circus. The gritty punk-vaudevillian hallucination that is the physical and exceedingly professional act of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus somehow slides seamlessly into Hudson’s complicated cultural tapestry. Hudson’s quirky circus folk have a social conscience too. Co-founder Stephanie Monseu teaches circus skills at the Hudson Youth Center.
Then there are organizations like the Time and Space Limited Warehouse, an arts facility that attracts visitors and opens its doors to a community in need.
“The chances of survival are against one,” says Linda Mussmann who, along with her partner Claudia Bruce, has operated the hard-to-define TSL on Columbia Street for the past 20 years. “We’re just always keeping one nostril above water in the arts. It’s always exciting. It’s always risky.”
TSL’s largest draw these days are high-definition broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera. The arts center is also known for the original theatrical productions of its founders and performances by visiting artists like Bread and Puppet Theater.