The Hudson Valley: A Parade of Views
Getting Out of New York
If visiting New York City from outside the country or from another State, it is well worth taking time out to travel up the east side of the River Hudson. It all starts no more than than 70 miles north of Times Square with an array of significant historic sites.
- Consider watching one of the films about President Roosevelt (FDR) such as Hyde Park or read one of the many books about his remarkable life and achievements
- Read about The Gilded Era eg PBS story, check out HudsonValley.com
- For the secondary properties and museums check the opening times!
The Hudson Valley has long been a wonderful playground for New Yorkers. Hiking, sailing, kayaking, dining, visiting museums, air displays, galleries, art, concerts all flourish to this day. But I was there for a bit of a specific history. FDR is certainly one of my favorite American historical figures and of course Churchill is a recent British history lovers dream. So, if like me you find their stories appealing then Hyde Park has to be your first stop as this is one of the few places where their lives crossed.
Hyde Park was FDR’s family home, where he tackled polio and during his Presidency even entertained The Queen (and introduced her, at great risk to Hot Dogs!). Adjacent is his Presidential Library and his, latterly almost estranged wife’s, Eleanor’s ‘cottage’, called Val Kill. She was a long lasting human rights tiger to say the least. You’ll need a full day here. The Roosevelts next door neighbors were, non other than The Vanderbilt family. We walked along the river side between the properties (it is a decent walk so allow time etc) and as a bonus saw the largest owl I have ever seen, napping on a tree a few feet away.
A few miles north is another grand Gilded Era house, Staatsburgh, in Mills Norrie State Park (which also has some lovely trails especially along the river frontage and very quiet too).
Daisy’s (Mary Suckley) home until 1991
But My Favorite recent visit was to Wilderstein If you know anything about FDR and his relationships you will likely have heard of a lady call Margaret Suckley (Daisy). Wilderstein is a much smaller house than some of the others which adorn the Hudson Valley and it was not, like most of the other Gilded Era homes just lived in for a few months each year for ‘party time’.
Turns out it was the home of Daisy a distant cousin of FDR, who according to popular films and books had an affair with him. She only died in 1991, just short of 100 years old and so some of the volunteer guides knew her. You might be lucky to hear first hand stories. Our Guide was adamant the movies were wrong and whilst they had a deep friendship it was no more than that. So was it or was’nt it?
One of todays challenges is that we tend to get our history lessons from movies, which often, embellish or worse, to enhance the story.
To relax in the evening what better than A Drive In Movie….a uniquely American activity and a first for me. On a warm summers evening we watched a movie from our car on the big screen in the town of Hyde Park. Very atmospheric. (I barely recall the movie, I think it had lots of chases and so forth in it….but it was just a very nice couple of hours).
Getting there: you can take a tour or take the train to somewhere like Poughkeepsie and rent a car.
Dining Options : A Gilded Era Dining Room or the historic railcar Diner in Rhinebeck