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Orange County, NY

Orange was Minisink Indian territory before Europeans came. Few Native Americans remain here today, but their names mark many historically significant places occupied by later immigrants. Robert Juet of Henry Hudson’s crew noted in his log that the land around Newburgh Bay was “a… pleasant place to build a towne,” but there is no record of colonization until c.1685 when Scotsman Col. Patrick Mac Gregorie built a cabin somewhere between new Windsor and Cornwall. Palatine Germans came during the reign (1702-1714) of Queen Anne, settling near Balmville, north of Newburgh. Since then, communities throughout orange have become distinguished by an array of colorfully diverse national and ethnic influences. Local aesthetics, architecture, institutions, houses of worship, and signage provide clues to successive waves of immigrants. Hispanics and Latinos are the most recent newcomers.

On July 4th, 1802m, by act of Congress, the United States Military Academy, the training ground for many of our greatest heroes and statesmen, was created at West Point. The 19th century brought the first attempts to bridge the mountain barriers. The “Old Mine Road from New jersey through western Orange and the C & H Canal from northern Pennsylvania connected the Delaware and Hudson Rivers at Kingston (in Ulster); both enterprises aided mining and commercial interests along their routes. The New York & Lake Erie Railroad reached the county in 1841. By 1848, the line and spurs connected most of Orange’s communities with its cities and the rest of the country. Railroads, with canals, opened the way for large scale shipping of grain from the Midwest and forced local farmers to turn to specialty cops: vegetables, fruits an dairy products. The “black dirt” area around pine Island has long been known for its fine onion; in recent years inspiring an annual onion festival.

Cities, public institutions, parks and private residences across American reflect the influence of Andrew Jackson downing, the Victorian Gothic Revival architect and innovative spirit behind the romantic landscape movement. He changed the way that we see the landscape. Olmstead’s Downing Park in Newburgh was a tribute to the spirit and form of Downing’s ideas. Tuxedo Park, built by Pierre Lorrillard in the 1880’s, was one of the country’s first planned communities. The environmental movement got its start here in a struggle between a power company and local conservationists over eco-systems around Storm king. Stewart International Airport is the current focus of regional planning for commercial and industrial development near the City of Newburgh, now rediscovering its exciting architectural heritage. The New York Times (7/23/98) quoted First Lady Hillary Clinton on her visit to Newburgh. Impressed by architect Alexander Jackson Davis’ monumental 1835 Dutch Reformed Church; she saw is as “the way to begin to tell the story… that makes American more real.”

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