Hudson in New York is the cutest little town you ever did see. I grew up in New York state and I don’t remember anything remotely this pretty in the area. After a little bit of digging, I found out why. Hudson is a trendy little town which has been recently colonised by Brooklynites looking for fresh air and small-town atmosphere.
The town has had its fair share of ups and downs over the course of its history. Settled by merchants in the 18th century, the town was very prosperous and lost the vote to become the capital of New York State by one mere vote. It had to make do with being the 4th largest city in New York by the early 19th century. By the late 19th century though, it became famous for a less-salubrious reason – becoming the centre of the drinking, gambling and prostitution in the area. The vice rings were broken up by the mid-twentieth century.
In the 1980’s, antiques dealers moved into the area and began the process of gentrification. Shortly, thereafter it was gays and Brooklyn hipsters and the transformation to full-on cuteness was complete.
Many of the houses have historic architectural value because they were built in the town’s heyday in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. The loving restoration of these houses only adds to the charm of the town.
In addition to the 40+ antiques stores you have art galleries, specialty coffee shops, artisanal food shops and charming boutiques in this town.
My son and I had a great time wandering through town on our Hudson Valley Tour. I can highly recommend Lick Hudson for their fabulous ice cream flavours such as gingersnap molasses and salted pistachio. My son had a banana split sundae which I helped him finish. I needed one of their delicious expressos after I came down from my post sundae sugar-high.
We only did a day trip but there’s plenty of accommodation if you choose to stay here. Check out the websites Stay in Hudson for accommodation possibilities and Go To Hudson for what to do when you are there.
The town is conveniently located on the Hudson River with its own Amtrak railroad station. It is 2 hours from New York City and 3 hours from Boston. We drove to Hudson and parking is really easy.
There’s a New York holiday tradition that many tourists miss because it is off the beaten track and located in the borough of the Bronx (gasp!).
The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens is now in its 23rd year having started in 1992. Really charming for young and old, it shows all the New York City landmarks recreated in bark, leaves, nuts, dried fruit and other natural materials. The show is located inside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.
There are about 150 buildings including some of the older buildings which made way for the new skyscrapers.
More than a dozen trains whizz along the quarter mile track alongside these buildings through tunnels and overhead bridges.
My children had the best time identifying mini versions of their favourite New York landmarks.
My son’s favourite was the replica of JFK Airport complete with a little Concorde, the famous TWA Saarinen building and a runway.
My favourite part was seeing the faithful recreation of the old mansions which were demolished.
New York City would have looked so different in the 19th century with these ornate mansions lining the streets instead of the sleek glass and steel skyscrapers we are used to seeing today. I did wonder why so many of the landmarks featured were older or demolished buildings. Perhaps skyscrapers don’t look as good in twigs and bark because these botanical mini-buildings are really all about the detail.
Details: The New York Botanical Gardens is incredibly easy to get to from Manhattan. The easiest way to get there is the Metro North Railroad from Grand Central Station to Botanical Garden Station which takes 20 minutes and is right across the street from the Botanical Gardens. If you are driving, there is a handy car park located near the Botanical Garden Station. The show is incredibly popular with New Yorkers and so I would advise you to get tickets beforehand. Tickets are on timed admission so that you won’t have to stand around in the cold. Let’s face it, there’s only so much outside fun you can have in a botanical garden on a cold winter’s day with young children in tow.
The Red Cube (1968) by Isamu Noguchi is one of the sculptures you can find in downtown Manhattan.
The sculpture is made of bright red steel and surrounded by skyscrapers on three sides. You can see the building behind through the grey-painted hole in the middle. Technically Red Cube isn’t a cube at all but a parallelepiped (!) because it is longer than it is wide.
Red Cube is all diagonal lines while the buildings surrounding it are vertical and horizontal lines. Looking at it from a distance, the geometry of the piece is particularly striking. Contrast also how the sculpture seems slightly precariously balanced on one end while the buildings are solid and sturdy. The top is pointed towards the sky, striving and reaching like the skyscrapers it is surrounded by. Some people also say that the cube represents a die which, of course, is very appropriate in the financial district.
Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was an American artist, sculptor and designer born in Los Angeles to an American mother and a Japanese father. His works can be found in many major cities throughout the world.
Where can you find it? In front of 140 Broadway at Exchange Place between Liberty and Cedar Streets. Nearby in front of the Chase Manhattan Bank Building is another Noguchi work, Sunken Garden.