Some 130 miles north of Times Square, on a bend in the river that shares its name, sits the city of Hudson, New York, population 6,300. Hudson once enjoyed a manufacturing boom—along with a national reputation for illicit pastimes—only to enter a period of steep economic decline during the second half of the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century, though, Hudson is enjoying a significant revival. With its galleries, coffeehouses, and open-kitchen restaurants attracting hipsters, writers, artists, and movie stars, Hudson has been called the Un-Hamptons, New York’s Upstate Downtown, and Brooklyn North. It might just as easily be called the sixth borough of New York City.
The city’s attractions draw heavy summer traffic, but it flourishes in wintertime, too. On a twilit mid-December evening, three art galleries held openings. Warren Street, Hudson’s main drag, lined with galleries and cafés, bustled with groups of young and old, some well dressed and some in painter’s pants, crisscrossing from sidewalk to sidewalk, laughing, shouting greetings, their visible breath making what looked like cartoon-dialogue balloons, creating a carnival atmosphere in the frigid air. The city also attracts young families. “When we moved here ten years ago, you wouldn’t have seen a stroller anywhere,” says Betsy Gramkow, executive director of Columbia Memorial Hospital, located just off Warren. “Now, it’s stroller central.” Gramkow and her husband, Ted, moved to Hudson from San Francisco. “Since we moved here,” Ted said, “every house on our block has been renovated. The death and rebirth of American cities is happening right here.” So are the tensions—between social classes, values, and visions for the future—that roil American politics today.
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