This complex metro area, which includes Dutchess and Orange Counties, spans the Hudson River above New York City and the more upscale suburban cities and towns of Westchester County. Newburgh is located 70 miles north of New York City on the west bank of the Hudson just north of the West Point Military Academy, while Middletown is located in the southern Catskill Mountains about 20 miles west. Poughkeepsie is on the east bank of the Hudson 20 miles north of Newburgh, and numerous small towns fill the valleys in between. The two counties stretch from the Connecticut border east to New Jersey to the west.
Poughkeepsie is perhaps the best known town in the area, if for no other reason than its name and the large IBM complex in the town. It is also home to the well-regarded Vassar College, and is probably the most culturally rich town in this part of the Hudson Valley. Commuter rail service runs up this side of the Hudson, although the town is a bit far for daily commutes into Manhattan. The downtown area is fairly non-descript but significant investments are being made in the Hudson waterfront.
The once-prosperous industrial center of Newburgh has fallen on hard times, as a diverse core of manufacturing has largely left the city and little has replaced it. Whether historic preservation interests and state economic development initiatives can improve this city remains to be seen. The story of Middletown is similar. Both cities are starting to get some interest from residents farther south looking for less expensive housing, but the area’s East Coast location and proximity to New York City brings high costs on a national scale.
The area is mainly hilly and wooded with deciduous trees. The east bank of the Hudson is a narrow, flat valley with hills rising to the east, while the west bank consists of high rocky bluffs, especially near West Point. The climate is continental with a limited marine influence from the south. Summers are warm and frequently muggy, with evenings occasionally cooled by breezes from all directions. Summer showers and thundershowers are common. Winters are cold and fairly wet with snow common. Periods of bitter cold with below-zero nighttime temperatures occur, although the Hudson Valley and hills shelter the area from the strongest winds and harshest cold. First freeze is late September, last is late April.