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What is the American history of Beacon, NY?

asked 2012-12-11 18:08:05 -0400

ken gravatar image ken
198 7 17 40

History of the area from the Revolution to the present in text, images, and links.

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answered 2012-12-12 10:11:59 -0400

Pat gravatar image Pat
171 3 5

updated 2012-12-12 10:13:03 -0400

Beacon's history over the last 200 years had much more to do about two villages than one city - Fishkill Landing and melzingah.

Due to the help of Madam Brett selling land to settlers and the paramount importance of commerce in flour (during the first third of the nineteenth century Dutchess County ranked first among New York State counties in wheat production, supplying one third of all the flour produced in the State) a mill and store house was built at the banks of Dennings Point, wheat and corn were ground into flour and meal and shipped to New York, and the start of river freighting allowed Fishkill Landing to develop into a river port.

melzingah was situated on the Fishkill Creek about a mile and a half east of Fishkill Landing, and a like distance above the mouth of the creek, whose hydraulic properties contributed to its development as a manufacturing center. It lay at the foot of the Fishkill Mountains, and was a station on both the Newburgh, Dutchess & Connecticut, and the New York & New England Railroads, and was connected with the Fishkill Landing by stagecoach and rail.

Knowing that their strength economiaclly was to become one, Beacon incorporated as a city in 1913, amalgamating the two villages as well as a small portion of the hamlet of Glenham from the town of Fishkill. The city's name came from signal fires that were atop nearby Beacon Mountain and almost was named Melzingah but quickly changed their minds prior to the vote after the name was made fun of by NYC papers. The city became a factory town prior to and after the creation of the City and was known as "The Hat Making Capital of the US" with nearly 500 hat factories operating at one time.

During the 1960s, urban renewal led to the destruction of some significant historic buildings and "urban flight" gave a major economic blow on Beacon. By the late 1960s the Beacon Theatre closed, by the late 1970s, the Dutchess Ski area and the Mt. Beacon Incline Railroad, two large tourist attractions, were closed. Also in the 1970s, a decline in the economy shuttered most of the factories. This decline quickly became a severe and ongoing economic downturn that lasted from about 1970 to the late 1990s, during which almost 80 percent of the city's commercial business spaces and factories were vacant.

Starting in the late 1990s, with the opening of one of the world's largest contemporary art museums Dia: Beacon, Beacon began an artistic and commercial rebirth. New development continues to enlarge the city. The reopening of The Beacon (Theatre), Hudson Beach Glass, The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls, Long Dock Park, The River and Estuaries Center, the rebirth of Frost & Justice Brewery, the creation of BeaconArts, and the receation of the Beacon Chamber of Commerce shows that coming into it's 100th birthday next year, Beacon is the envy of the other river cities up and down the Hudson.

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answered 2013-01-22 13:44:51 -0400

ken gravatar image ken
198 7 17 40

updated 2013-01-23 13:04:43 -0400

The chronology below is from a pamphlet to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First National Bank of Fishkill Landing in 1963 and was graciously shared to me by Royal "Dewey" Bogardus.

  • 1788 - Town of Fishkill incorporated.
  • 1814 - Village d Matteawan founded.
  • 1851 - Hudson River Railroad completed from New York to Albany.
  • 1857 - Fishkill Savings Institute, Fishkill Village, chartered February 25
  • 1863 - The First National Bank of Fishkill Landing (now the Fishkill National Bank) commenced buines August 10.
  • 1864 - Meeting of citizens, February 24, to consider merger of Fishkill Landing and Matteawan. (Merger was actually effected May 15, 1913.)
    • Village of Fishkill Landing incorporated March 17.
    • Burglars attempted to blow safe of First National Bank.
  • 1895 - Five patients escaped from Matteawan State Hospital April 10.
    • Reformed Church parsonage at Glenham burned April 12.
    • First internment in Fairview Cemetery May 8.
    • Initial trip on the trolley to Fishkill Village made in the evening of June 12.
    • The Colonial Inn at Fishkill Village formally opened July 3.
    • Samuel K. Phillips elected County Judge November 5.
  • 1896 - The Green Fuel Economizer erected first buildings on present site.
  • 1902 - Highland Hospital, Verplanck Avenue, occupied 5/1. Enlarged in 1925.
    • Incline Railway to top of Mt. Beacon opened 5/30. Carried 60,000 passengers first year.
  • 1909 - St. John's parochial school opened.
  • 1913 - Villages of Fishkill Landing and Matteawan merged to form the City of Beacon 5/15.
  • 1916 - Beacon High School, Fishkill Avenue, opened for first classes.
  • 1922 - Beacon Savings and Loan Association incorporated.
  • 1924 - Castle Point Veterans Administration Hospital opened 9/15.
  • 1928 - South Avenue School rebuilt following major fire.
  • 1929 - Howland Library became "free" public library 1/2.
    • Beacon Hebrew Alliance Synagogue and center dedicated.
  • 1930 - Last trolley to Fishkill 3/18, and last run in Beacon 4/30. Removal of overhead wires commenced.
  • 1931 - St. Joachim's parochial school demolished and new school built.
  • 1932 - Beacon Crest Hotel, atop Mt. Beacon, burned.
  • 1935 - Mechanics Savings Bank and Matteawan Savings Bank merged under name of Beacon Saving Bank 4/10.
  • 1937 - St. Lawrence Seminary opened.
    • Large addition built on Beacon High School.
  • 1944 - Cornerstone of First Presbyterian Church laid, to replace edifice destroyed by fire 2/17/43.
  • 1945 - Springfield Baptist Church established in November.
  • 1953 - James V. Forrestal school opened.
  • 1954 - Vacated Spring Street school destroyed in spectacular blaze August 26.
  • 1956 - Main and branch offices of Beacon Savings Bank consolidated into new building at 364 Main Street, on 4/10.
    • Newburgh-Beacon ferry purchased by State of New York.
  • 1957 - New Glenham School occupied in January.
  • 1958 - Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corp. organized.
  • 1959 - Chelsea & Brockway school districts consolidated with Beacon to form City School District of the City of Beacon 7/1.
    • WBNR took to the airwaves 5:30 A. M. 12/19.
  • 1960 - Highland Hospital, Delavan Avenue, opened 3/5.
    • Assembly of God church, Delavan & Fishkill Avenues, dedicated 4/24.
  • 1963 - Cornerstone laid for new Rombout school 6/17.
    • Bridge opened to Newburgh. Ferry discontinued 11/3.
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Asked: 2012-12-11 18:08:05 -0400

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Last updated: Jan 23 '13