Poughkeepsie is called 'The Queen City', and uses a beehive as its symbol for the industrious nature of its inhabitants. Although in years past it devolved into a rather unsavory place to live, the current atmosphere in the city is one of quiet expectation. It's the feeling that happens before a storm, or before a frenzy of activity erupts.
Evidence suggests that the city is primed for a rebirth. The waterfront area, discarded back in the mid-70's and left for urban blight, has been the scene of a continued push for real estate development and urban renewal. There are a number of restaurants and shops which are trying to open up in the immediate waterfront vicinity, but the current businesses located there are actually doing all they can politically to keep new business out, since apparently they will gain an advantage if they can remain the only businesses operating in the waterfront development area when the place gets the much-needed maintenance and security upgrade.
The Rip Van Winkle highrise apartment building is also getting a makeover. Located within a stone's-throw of the Hudson River and waterfront area, the building has been a low-income housing unit with a majestic Hudson view for the past few decades. According to rumor the building has just been purchased by a real estate development group which will invest millions of dollars in renovations and plans to turn the building into luxury apartments, given the tremendous river views.
Why the turnaround for an area which was one of the more urban-blighted areas on the Hudson river? And why now? Over the past few years the Mid-Hudson region has experienced an influx of new residents. Housing prices have nearly doubled for apartment rentals over the last four years.
Perhaps part of the appeal that Poughkeepsie has is its relative proximity to NYC and a more rural environment. Poughkeepsie is the last stop on the Hudson Line for Metro North out of Manhattan, which means that thousands of people make their home in Poughkeepsie, and commute to 'the City' every day. Poughkeepsie is situated on the Hudson River in the middle of many historic sites, and the view of the river in the autumn from some parts of the city is incredible. Since it's located halfway between Manhattan and Albany, Poughkeepsie has access to the capital of the world and to NY State's capital, with all of the cultural advantages of both areas.
Perhaps as well with the tragedy of 9/11 many New Yorkers are seeking someplace outside of the City while still close by. Or perhaps those who desire exposure to the modern amenities in a rustic setting are getting tired of the rampant commercialism in Connecticut, the traditional haven for 'urban country folk'. Advertising agencies are beginning to appear in the Poughkeepsie region, which means that business is on the rise as well, or else more 'small' businesses are feeding off of the larger clients in the Metropolis while doing business in the lower-rent districts of the 'burbs.
One of the definite attractions to relocating to Poughkeepsie is the historic feel of the place. While there are indeed tenement housing projects to be found, it is also a city which is rich in historic districts and grand old Victorian houses. While apartment prices are now matching the cost of those in Fairfield County, Connecticut, what you get for those prices is worth much more. Add in on top of that a city government which is trying to attract businesses and actively encouraging growth and revitalization, and Poughkeepsie definitely stands poised to experience a resurgence of popularity.
Once it cleans itself up, that is. But the long efforts of both governments and individuals have begun to pay off, and Poughkeepsie might just surprise people willing to give it a second glance.