The Legacy and Resurgence of Upper Landing
Though everything but the Central Hudson power plant had closed at the Upper Landing by the second decade of the 1900s, this important site was not forgotten. Concerned citizens were successful in ensuring that the Hoffman and Reynolds Houses, the oldest structures remaining at the site, survived the 20th century to receive renewed attention in the 21st.
The first recognition of the historic significance of the Hoffman House was in Helen Wilkinson Reynolds’ book, Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776. Published in 1929 and featuring an introduction by the recently elected governor of New York, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Reynolds’ book connected Hoffman’s house to the home constructed by Leonard Lewis in the early 1700s. This book also served as the basis for several newspaper articles written about the Hoffman House in the 1940s and 1960s, which focused less on the building’s connection to Poughkeepsie’s Dutch heritage and more on the fact that it had served as the home of Walter Livingston, one of New York’s most important political figures during the American Revolution.
In 1982, efforts were launched to submit both the Hoffman and Reynolds Houses to the National Register of Historic Places. However, the site’s bid was cut short, as Central Hudson did not want the added complication of structures being protected from alteration. In 2005, the City of Poughkeepsie purchased the buildings, and in 2007 successfully completed the process of seeking federal recognition.
Attention once again turned to the area around the Upper Landing in 2009. To coincide with the Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s voyage up the river that now bears his name, the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, closed for decades following a fire on the tracks in 1974, was converted into Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. The park provides a spectacular pedestrian route between Poughkeepsie and Lloyd on the west bank of the Hudson. Its construction caps nearly two decades of work by concerned citizens, elected officials, and public servants to preserve the Railroad Bridge.
The Walkway was an immediate success, yet there were from the beginning plans to improve upon the site. While the Walkway passes over the Poughkeepsie waterfront, it continues another half mile into the city, dropping visitors in a neighborhood somewhat removed from the scenery and businesses on the banks of the Hudson. It was thus determined that an elevator should be constructed, connecting the Walkway to the disused former industrial site of the Upper Landing beneath it. In 2010, the Hoffman and Reynolds Houses and the surrounding 2.7 acres at the Upper Landing were purchased by the Dyson Foundation with plans to convert the property into a public park. Opened in the fall of 2013, this park connects with both the elevator to the Walkway and the Poughkeepsie waterfront. In addition to preserving what was once the industrial heart of Poughkeepsie, this connection brings visitors to the city’s waterfront and the Lower Main neighborhood, making the Upper Landing once again a bustling hub of activity.