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Writing & Photography by Justin Negard

There are several good “New York rivertown” comeback stories in our area. Places like Beacon, Tarrytown and Nyack have reinvented themselves against the backdrop of dying industries and forgotten commerce, weaving their past into something entirely different and fresh.

Hudson is another one of those stories. A small city with a rich past, the city of Hudson has a front-row seat to history, dating back hundreds of years. Notable figures such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln have visited the town for varying reasons. It was the first incorporated city in the newly independent United States, came thisclose to becoming the capital of New York (literally one vote short) and was home to many industries, including whaling, iron, brick, cement and more. Eventually, each industry met its demise, and each time, the people of Hudson came back with something new to offer. 

Recently, Hudson went through another revitalization, trading ironworkers for artists and whalers for entrepreneurs. Shuttered storefronts are disappearing in lieu of stylish beer halls, cozy coffee houses and design stores fit for any beret-fashioned intellectual. It’s a place that is close enough to fish in Manhattan’s creative waters yet far enough away to avoid being swallowed up. It is this combination of the old and the new that’s drawing people in for a visit, and, possibly, to decide they never want to leave.

Food talk

Located about an hour and a half from northern Westchester, Hudson sits at the feet of the Catskills on the southeastern side of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Hudson is a city surrounded by rural life, with farms, creameries, and wineries only minutes away, including the popular Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery at the base of the bridge. 

Food is a big part of the Hudson scene. Taco trucks can be found parked alongside Warren Street, which serves as the heart of the commercial district. Many popular restaurants line the strip, including Olde Hudson, which boasts a wide selection of fresh produce and high-end charcuterie. A proper beer and burger can be had at Governor’s Tavern, while Cafe Mutton is a local favorite for brunch-minded crepe hunters on a Saturday morning. Grazin’ operates out of a converted, retro-style diner, serving modern fare such as grilled sirloin steak salads and decorative milkshakes. If you are bold and thirsty enough, head to the river’s edge and find the Hudson Brewing Co., which provides beer and wings out of a converted warehouse.

For a quick jolt of caffeine, Hudson is home to an enormous number of stylish coffee shops, including places like REV Coffee, Hudson Roastery and Supernatural Coffee. They all provide the proper beanery experience and are well-situated in the heart of the shopping area. However, a particular cafe favorite is MOTO Coffee/Machine which offers the unusual combination of coffee house-turned-motorcycle shop. It’s a blend you didn’t realize you needed until now. 

Shopping redesigned

Equally diverse as its culinary scene, Hudson hosts a wide array of shopping options for the sophisticated buyer. Clothing and furniture stores are plentiful up and down the city’s main drag, featuring window displays decorated with colorfully designed chairs, modern lighting and stylish apparel. 

With antique dealers woven between the latest home decor stores and fashion boutiques, the business district is colorful and inviting for window and real shoppers alike. 

FINCH hudson holds a prime spot on the busy Warren Street, with a two-story home store that sells a variety of furniture ranging from modern to country. If the vast showroom doesn’t draw you in, the ability to lounge while appearing like your shopping should do the trick.

Although FACE Stockholm is a chain store, this beauty boutique features a unique storefront that invites you to explore their large selection of colorful makeup and creams, along with their open-air decor. And the enormous Swedish flag hanging over the sidewalk is hard to miss. 

There are countless clothing options in town, such as Hudson Clothier, which provides rustic cowboy garb that blends in well with the upstate vibe of the region. And shops like Little Pickles offer enough toys, gummies and neon distractions to keep the youngest in your group entertained. 

A bit of culture

For art lovers, Hudson quite literally has galleries in all directions, and far too many to properly list here. The recently transplanted Robin Rice Gallery has exchanged its Manhattan footprint to focus exclusively on the Hudson scene. The newer, larger gallery, which is closer to the river, focuses on fine art and photography. Meanwhile, the Susan Eley Fine Art gallery maintains its Manhattan location, featuring a “salon-style” space that began as a “pandemic pop-up” and never left. 

For an unconventional artistic experience, look no further than Basilica Hudson. Built in 1800 as a forge and foundry for steel railway wheels before housing a glue factory, it’s now a multidisciplinary art center that hosts events, exhibitions, films, an artist residency program, weekly concerts and more. This brick-walled industrial building deserves attention during any day trip to Hudson.

But there’s no reason to limit your art experience to the indoors, as long as the weather cooperates. Just 20 minutes away in Ghent, you’ll find Art Omi, a 120-acre sculpture and architecture park plus gallery (called the Newmark Gallery) that features works from contemporary artists and architects. With a range of large-scale installations in nature and rotating exhibitions in the Newmark Gallery, the park has more than 60 works on display, and pieces are regularly added or exchanged, so you’ll have a new experience each time you visit. 

Head upstate

With the warmer months upon us, it’s a perfect time to make the trip to Hudson. Whether it’s a stopover on the way to your Catskills adventure or an afternoon visit with the family, Hudson is worth the time. Come hungry and curious. Hudson will provide the rest.

This article was published in the May/June 2024 edition of Connect to Northern Westchester.

Art Omi

1405 Country Route 22, Ghent

(518) 392-4747

Basilica Hudson

110 South Front Street, Hudson

(518) 822-1050

Cafe Mutton

757 Columbia St., Hudson

(518) 671-6230

FACE Stockholm

401 Warren St., Hudson

(518) 822-9474

FINCH hudson

427 Warren St., Hudson

(518) 828-3430

Governor’s Tavern

14 S 7th St., Hudson

(518) 697-5609

Grazin’ 

717 Warren St., Hudson

(518) 822-9323

Hudson Brewing Co.

99 S 3rd St., Hudson

(518) 697-5400

Hudson Clothier

443 Warren St., Hudson

(518) 828-3000

Hudson Roastery

4 Park Place, Hudson

(518) 697-5633

Little Pickles Hudson

707 Warren St., Hudson

(518) 249-4700

MOTO Coffee/Machine

357 Warren St., Hudson

(518) 822-8232

Olde Hudson

449 Warren St., Hudson

(518) 828-6923

REV Coffee

742 Warren St., Hudson

(518) 828-2210

Robin Rice Gallery

234 Warren St., Hudson

(212) 366-6660

Supernatural Coffee

527 Warren St., Hudson

(413) 475-4983

Susan Eley Fine Art

433 Warren St., Hudson

(917) 952-7641

Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery

4150 State Route 23, Hudson

(838) 209-9248

Creative Director at Connect to Northern Westchester

Justin is an award-winning designer and photographer. He was the owner and creative director at Future Boy Design, producing work for clients such as National Parks Service, Vintage Cinemas, The Tarrytown Music Hall, and others. His work has appeared in Bloomberg TV, South by Southwest (SXSW), Edible Magazine, Westchester Magazine, Refinery 29, the Art Directors Club, AIGA and more.

Justin is a two-time winner of the International Design Awards, American Photography and Latin America Fotografia. Vice News has called Justin Negard as “one of the best artists working today.”

He is the author of two books, On Design, which discusses principles and the business of design, and Bogotà which is a photographic journey through the Colombian capital.

Additionally, Justin has served as Creative Director at CityMouse Inc., an NYC-based design firm which provides accessible design for people with disabilities, and has been awarded by the City of New York, MIT Media Lab and South By Southwest.

He lives in Katonah with his wonderfully patient wife, son and daughter.