It’s been called the Crossroads of the Northeast. And indeed, the more-or-less central nexus of the Town of Newburgh, where the New York Thruway and Interstate 84 meet with Route 300 not far from Route 17K, is a crossroads on a grand scale, modernized in recent years until it feels far more “downstate” than most of the Hudson Valley.
One of the newest features: a dedicated highway, Route 747, that speeds you simply and directly to Stewart, a tidy little international airport that’s handy and simple enough to make flying painless. In this, as in a surprising variety of other areas, the Town of Newburgh has what you need. It’s as if, when the communities of the Valley lined up to receive their varied blessings, a good fairy with a practical turn of mind pulled this town into her embrace and whispered, “You shall be useful.”
Surrounded by the workaday world of the Crossroads of the Northeast lies New York’s Other City. Head to Newburgh—the city—for symphony or opera. Drop by the Ann Street Gallery for high tea and contemporary art. See legendary jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli at the Ritz Theatre, part of the Tom Humphries Guitar Series. Chow down on barbecue and burgers that melt in your mouth at the Wherehouse, or on Zagat-rated Italian at Caffe Macchiato. Have a beer at Gully’s floating restaurant and watch the sun sparkle on the river.
Come to the Downing Film Center for a free showing of Joyeux Noel. Bask in the renovated glory of the Railroad Playhouse for a performance of David Sedaris’s “Santaland Diaries.” Explore the effect of 4,000 National Historic Register buildings gathered in one small city. Come to the Newburgh Free Library Gallery or the Karpeles Document Museum. Check out the websites of the Newburgh Preservation Association, Newburgh Restoration, and Newburgh Revealed to study up on new urbanism in action, or the City of Newburgh Arts Calendar to get an overview of what’s doin’. But whatever you do, don’t miss out completely on the Queen City of the Hudson.
And stay tuned—newly elected mayor Judy Kennedy says it’s time Newburgh got her game all the way back. “For two whole days after the election, my iPhone voicemail was literally running over and I was getting a constant stream of calls,” says Kennedy. “So many people are so excited about Newburgh’s potential right now. I’ve been spending my days in rooms full of enthusiastic people. We need to build a business district around the architecture, the location, the art. We have so much here, and so much more to come.”
To hold their own in the boiling cauldron of development that characterizes this area, a place needs to offer something special. Devitt’s Nursery, for example. A humble Agway in my youth, Devitt’s is now a 25-acre horticultural center and full-service nursery selling every imaginable landscaping need. Yet Devitt’s hasn’t forgotten its humble roots. What may be the only giant talking Christmas egg on earth, Eggbert, still presides over Christmas on the Farm. Still other types of gardening needs can be met at Crossroads Hydroponics and Organics, a brand new retail store specifically for the indoor gardener. Newburgh’s even got a place, Newburgh Power Equipment, where one can shop for gardening equipment and motorsports fun—go-karts and minibikes—at the same time.
The stable where my parents used to bring me for trail rides on humble hacks has morphed and grown up into Gardnertown Farms, an indoor/outdoor facility featuring A-rated horse shows, lessons, camp, and polo. New Windsor also hosts the Hudson Valley’s first official Airsoft field, where you can do paintball battle in a destroyed city for that genuine post-zombie-apocalypse thrill.
For devotees of truly indoorsy sports, Steve’s Pool Tables Plus in New Windsor offers pool, darts, and poker supplies, and all the furnishings and trimmings. And your next party for the younger set will be one they’ll remember after you’ve gotten hip to the existence of Bounce Arena Party Rentals, where you’ll find not just bounce houses but obstacle courses, waterslides, joust arenas, and a trackless train. An awe-inspiring selection of unique and educational gifts for the occasion can be found at Teachntoys.
Truly, one can visit the greater Newburgh area and bring home the good times. Need flowers? Indoor Jungle and Good Old Days are just two of your choices. Wine? MidValley Wine and Liquor is family owned and local since 1977, with a selection of 7,000 wines and 1,000 spirits. Pet supplies? Positively Pets, United Pet Supply and the Pet Stop at the Mid-Valley Mall are all worth checking out. In Newburgh and New Windsor, it’s all about selection—within minutes, you can visit multiple superstores and eyeball a range of options.
Motorsports & Military History
The area is rich in military history—a lot happened around here during the Revolutionary War, and one of the most poignant happenings is commemorated at the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, a moving tribute to the recipients of the medal that is “available to all, desired by none.” At Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site in New Windsor, they’ll be reenacting Christmas 18th-century style on Friday December 16, complete with costumed guides and period music.
Newburgh’s 45 square miles wrap around the City of Newburgh to the north and west, and vary widely: There is the stately hamlet of Balmville, home of the prestigious Powelton Club, one of the 10 oldest golf courses in the United States, and of the Balmville Tree, an old-growth eastern cottonwood dating to 1699, and there are the venerable and solidly middle-class residential zones like Gardnertown and Meadow Hill. To the west and south lie long, gleaming sprawls of commercial development, offering a wide selection of national chains along with some of the pluckiest and most outstanding locally grown family businesses in the region.
Newburgh has subspecialties—certain categories of business that thrive here and may not be easy to find in other parts of the Hudson Valley. Motorsports, for example. Resources and points of interest abound, and they’re top of the line: the Motorcyclepedia Museum, with 85,000 square feet of exotic rides on display, and Orange County Choppers, for those who like their bikes with a side of family drama, are serious fun—and for those looking to do more than just observe, there’s Jim Moroney’s, a family-run motorcycle “superstore” over half a century old, and Overdose Motorsports in nearby New Windsor. If you’re seeking four wheels, Newburgh and New Windsor both offer acres upon acres of choices; Newburgh’s even got its own auto auction.
Town Clerk Andy Zarutskie, a lifetime native, says a combination of factors make Newburgh the thriving business-and-bedroom boomtown that it is. “This is God’s country,” he says without hesitation. “You want history, we’ve got wonderful history. We’ve got terrific parks—Cronomer Hill, with that amazing view, the Mid-Hudson all laid out before you. Chadwick Lake—we just added a roller rink and basketball—families can come and picnic, rent a boat, fish, and a season pass is very affordable.
“But the best thing about the town has to be the people. The volunteer firefighters, the Rotary, the people that do the senior programs—people in this town, we’ve got each other’s back. It’s a deeply good place.”
Zarutskie then asks about my mom. I grew up in the Town of Newburgh, gazing across the valley from Cronomer Hill (now highly rated for stunt biking opportunities by the Fats in The Cats organization) and filling stringers with panfish from Chadwick Lake while my dad rowed. Andy Zarutskie, a lifelong Republican stalwart, has fond memories of my mom, a fire-breathing preservationist somewhere to the left of Jimmy Carter. Both adore my cousin, town historian Les Cornell, not easily categorized. Gadflies and established-order types lock horns here as everywhere—but at the end of the day, they are neighbors first, last, and always.
Need a break from all this civilization? Head toward the river in New Windsor and you will find the Kowawese Unique Area at Plum Point, a 102-acre county-owned park with stunning river views and 2,000 feet of sandy riverfront to walk. Or take in a first-run movie; between the 11 screens at Showtime on Route 300 and the 12 at New Windsor’s Destinta, there’s probably something showing to suit every taste. Or consider heading into the City of Newburgh, a distinct entity and yet somehow still the region’s heart and soul—at the foot of Broadway, the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry offers 20 elegant and relaxing minutes on the river for just $3, complete with stunning views. What better way to end your sojourn than a voyage on the Crossroads of the Northeast’s original highway, after all?
Wine & Dine
If you need a bite to eat after all that playing and shopping, you’re in a veritable Mecca of dining. Rather than opt for the nearest chain—although if you fancy that, a great many are represented—you can enjoy the hospitality of an indie operation such as Cosimo’s or Il Cenacola, both of which offer excellent Tuscan fare. Yobo, offering fine Asian from Japan, Indonesia, Korea and every Chinese province, is another great choice for feast-style dining out. Citrus offers Indian and Thai food. And these are just a few standouts: wandering the highways of the region, you’ll encounter a kaleidoscope of places to shop, eat, and drink.
- David Cunningham
- The Hudson River from the Kowawese Unique Area at Plum Point. Storm King is on the right.
- David Cunningham
- Brian and Sharon burke at the Downing Film Center
- David Cunningham
- Mike Finnegan at Continental Organics
- David Cunningham
- Orange County Choppers
- David Cunningham
- Balmville Tree
- David Cunningham
- Downing Park