National Geographic : 1948 Jul
The Mighty Hudson Legend Says Yankee-Doodle Was Written on the Well Curb of Fort Crailo, Rensselaer During the French and Indian War a British Army surgeon is supposed to have composed the verses as he watched raw provincial militiamen drilling in motley garb. Later their sons proudly sang the derisive words as a marching song (page 6). way, much less to name, the famous and wealthy people who have lived or still live along the Hudson. As fortunes were made in this country, the accessibility of the Valley to New York City made it one of America's first vacation lands; those who made money had to have a country estate on the Hudson and live like English gentry. The Valley is, of course, no longer the only location for such purposes, and many large estates have been broken up or turned into educational and religious institutions. But the region below the Highlands is still one of the country's foremost suburban areas. And in the whole territory between Pough keepsie and New York City there are nearly 60,000 commuters, and 36,000 on the west bank between Weehawken, New Jersey, and Highland. An extraordinary number of rare old build ings still stand on both sides of the river. Ulster County alone, with Kingston as a cen ter, has one of the largest number of old stone houses in the United States. French Huguenots, in search of religious freedom, settled New Paltz, a few miles south of Kingston, in 1677, and on one of its streets a considerable group of the original stone houses remains (Plate VIII). For a century New Paltz was ruled by the Dusine, a body of 12 men elected yearly. One of the most typical of the very early Dutch dwellings, open to the public, is the Pieter Bronck House, or rather two connected houses, close to the main highway on the west bank near West Coxsackie, between Albany and Catskill. It was built about 1663 by a member of the family after whom the Bronx Borough is named, and long occupied by the same family. Curiously enough, on this property, close to the house, is a 13-sided barn, a very rare form of construction indeed, with the origin wholly obscure. In 1849 Orson Squire Fowler, a popular but bizarre phrenologist of that day, wrote a book advocating the erection of 8-sided houses, and many of these octagonal houses were built not only in the Hudson Valley but elsewhere. Possibly the builder of the barn wished to go Fowler several sides better. Millions of passengers on the New York Central Railroad have probably seen the Van Cortlandt Manor House, when their trains stopped at Harmon to change from electric to steam locomotion, or vice versa.