Stevenson Library Digital Collections

Hudson Valley Sublime

Since the first European settlers arrived in the 1600s, the Hudson Valley has drawn immigrants from around the world who have seen, in its rich pastoral beauty, the potential to live out an American destiny of open space and unbridled expansion. Red Hook and Rhinebeck started out as collections of land patents owned by Dutch and English gentry, before developing into towns settled by British and American elites, who built lavish estates and properties to take advantage of the bucolic countryside. Today, members of America’s recently established middle class call these towns home. While they have ceased to be the epicenters for the country’s wealthy that they once were, these towns continue to be shaped by a uniquely American conception of romanticism that originated during when they were cultural capitals for the elites. Beginning in the 19th century, American Romanticism played a significant role in shaping the towns’ architecture and environment, and romantic ideas about the role of nature, art, and history have continued to affect the towns’ efforts towards environmental and historic preservation to this very day.

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