Hudson Valley Region Facts

Each Friday a new fact about a region of New York State is posted to the Exploring Upstate Facebook Page. In case you haven’t been following along there, here’s what you missed!

– Cream cheese was invented in 1872 not in Philadelphia, but actually in Chester, NY by A.L. Reynolds. He began distributing it in foil wrappers and called it ‘Philadelphia Brand’ simply because at the time, Philadelphia was nearly synonymous with ‘high quality foods’, so he figured it would be more respected. [source]

– Martin Van Buren was born in Kinderhook and later became the 8th President. He is the only President for whom English was a second language. [source]

– On December 5, 1782 Martin Van Buren (who would later become the 8th President of the United States of America) was born in Kinderhook, NY. He was the first President that was born here in the U.S. [source]

– The first female self-made millionaire in the U.S. spent her final years in Irvington-On-Hudson in Westchester County. Madam C.J. Walker created a line of beauty products specifically designed for black women and went on to use her wealth in numerous charitable efforts. The home where she passed away, Villa Lewaro, was designed in 1917 by New York State’s first licensed black architect. [source]

– Camp Sundown out of Poughkeepsie is a camp specifically for children with Xeroderma Pigmentosa, which is a profound allergy to sunlight. Camp activities are basically the same as other camps, but they take place at nighttime so children can safely play outdoors. [source]

– Martin Van Buren, who was the 8th President of the United States, was born in Kinderhook, as was his wife Hannah. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 35, prior to her husband holding office, and therefore was never First Lady. When Martin Van Buren wrote his 800-page autobiography, his wife of twelve years was never once mentioned in the book. [source]

– The Union Street Guest House in Hudson, NY once had a policy statement on their website that any customer who posted a bad review on any online website would be charged $500. When the NY Post reported on it, the Facebook page and Yelp profile for the business collected thousands of scathing reviews within just 24 hours. [source]

– The historic Kingston ‘Four Corners’ is the only intersection in the entire U.S. where buildings on all four corners pre-date the Revolutionary War and remain still intact. [source]

– In 2010, Hudson High School in Columbia County made national news when it became the first in the country to elect a pair of gay students as prom king and queen. Charlie Ferrusi and Timmy Howard won the vote of their classmates with such a landslide that the school didn’t even bother to announce the runners-up. [source]

– Fort Worth, Texas is named for General William Jenkins Worth, who helped liberate Texas during the Mexican-American War in 1794, but he was born in New York. The home he was born in still stands in the town of Hudson.

– Between 1778 an 1782, American soldiers looking to fortify the Hudson River constructed a huge chain to be strung across the river at West Point, effectively keeping British ships from passing. What became known as the Great Chain featured 600 yards of links that were two-feet in length and 114 pounds each. [source]

– Creator of the “gonzo journalism” writing style Hunter S. Thompson is best known for authoring Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but he started his writing career in Middletown, New York in Orange County. He began working for the Daily Record in 1959 just before it merged with The Times Herald. He was fired in 1961 for using his bare feet to kick in a vending machine filled with candy. [source]

– Vassar College provides a scholarship to any student who can prove they are a descendant of Calvin Huntington, an 1800’s era benefactor to the college. Furthermore, the financial award is available to any student who agrees to change their middle or last name to Huntington [source]

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library on his former estate in Hyde Park, NY is the first ever Presidential Library. FDR began the tradition that has continued with each president since. [source]

– One of the rarest coins ever created by the U.S. Mint is a 1935 half-dollar celebrating the sesquicentennial of Hudson, New York. Only 10,008 were produced, but two collectors bought up 8,500 of the coins, and collectors around the country were incensed. They were to be sold by the government for $1.21 each, but almost immediately they were changing hands at $10.00 a piece. Today, depending on quality, they sell on average for about $1,000 per coin. [source]