Explore the Hudson Valley

Experience The Hudson Valley

Woodstock Then & Now

  |   January 26, 2012  |  Comment

Woodstock, NY began as a mountain refuge for independent people, and a brief look at Woodstock then & now demonstrates how the town’s appeal to artists, artisans, and independent folks still exists today. The draw of Woodstock lies in both the natural beauty that abounds and its reputation as a center for creativity. The actual name, “Woodstock” has become synonymous with a crucial turning point in American culture, in the form of the music festival to which the town lent its name. But even before the famous concert, Woodstock was thriving as a mountain refuge from the norm, carved into some of the most beautiful country in the Northeast.

Woodstock was officially declared a town in 1787, but most likely started being settled by non-indigenous people closer to the early 1700’s. The first inhabitants of Woodstock were trailblazers from more populated cities like Kingston, who followed the streams into the mountains to live in peace and quiet. The beginning of the 1800’s marked the start of a boom time for Woodstock, which can be attributed to thriving new industries. Tanneries (which cure and treat hides & skins for leather goods) began popping up all across Woodstock, thanks to the ideal natural conditions the surrounding mountains provided. Hemlock bark was the preferred fuel for smoking hides, and Woodstock was abundant with Hemlock forests. The flowing creeks and streams around Woodstock were perfect for cleaning the thousands of hides these tanneries churned out. In addition, the Southern Catskills were bursting with Bluestone, which proved to be an ideal surface for sidewalks in all of the new cities that were suddenly being built across the country. Quarries and tanneries were the main businesses around Woodstock in the 1800’s, and business was booming. By the turn of the century however, industries and demand were changing with the times, and business lagged in Woodstock. By the early 1900’s, Woodstock had effectively transformed back into the sleepy, relatively poor mountain & farm town it used to be. The Arts & Crafts Movement, which promoted a return to traditional craftsmanship and shunned industrialism, caught on and became popular in Woodstock at this time. This planted the seed for the creative center that Woodstock, NY was to become.

Things more or less remained the same until the year 1969, when a music festival bearing the name “Woodstock” grew into an event that altered American culture. Despite the fact that the festival was actually held in Bethel, NY and not Woodstock, NY, from that point on Woodstock was forever associated with the legendary concert and the ideals it represented. Already a town that welcomed artists and craftsman, Woodstock became a Mecca of sorts for creative people following the ’69 Woodstock Music Festival.

The Woodstock of today is thriving once again yet hasn’t lost its unique and quirky identity. Main Street Woodstock is dotted with small shops and boutiques selling all manners of handmade goods. A nice collection of restaurants and eateries offer a variety of cuisine from gourmet food to the fast & affordable. The beautiful land remains a focal point of Woodstock, with endless trails, streams, retreats, and parks for visitors and locals to enjoy. Another pillar of Woodstock is a deep appreciation for and celebration of the arts. Festivals, art galleries, and an active sense of community are a testament to these values. Being close (by modern day standards) to New York City gives Woodstock great appeal to those seeking a country escape from the urban grind. The popularity of Woodstock, NY real estate among New Yorkers has brought with it an influx of culture & cuisine, and a very active local housing market. From the early 1700’s to the present day, Woodstock remains a refuge of creativity, perched among the beautiful Catskill Mountains!

Written by Dylan Taft, Taft Street Realty, Inc.

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