Situated in New York’s Hudson River Valley, Dutchess County (population 290,000) was established in 1683 by Provincial Governor Thomas Dongan as one of the original 12 counties in what would become New York state. The first settlements were near present-day Poughkeepsie and Fishkill.
The rich soil of Dutchess County contributed to its identity as the “Breadbasket of the American Revolution,” and George Washington stayed in several homes and buildings in the county.
The fur and farming economy of the area changed over time to technology. IBM located several of its largest plants in Dutchess from the 1940s through the 1990s. Today, Dutchess has a mixture of technology, manufacturing, and retail, with farming still strong in several parts of the county. With its proximity to major cities of the Northeast and its own local history, Dutchess also welcomes thousands of tourists each year.
Among the county’s historical sites is the 1869 Bardavon Opera House, the oldest continuously operating theater in New York state. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Complex in Hyde Park includes the family home where FDR was born in 1882, as well as the Presidential Library and Museum. Other popular destinations are the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site; Locust Grove, the 150-acre estate of Samuel Morse; and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Killretreat.
Historic walking and driving guides take tourists through picturesque villages and scenic byways. A guide to the Hudson River School of 19th century painters offers visitors the opportunity to view landscapes by Frederic Church, Thomas Cole, and others at a number of National Heritage sites in the area.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2007.