Dutchess County, New York

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Dutchess County, New York
Main Mall Row, Poughkeepsie, NY.jpg
Downtown Poughkeepsie
Flag of Dutchess County, New York
Seal of Dutchess County, New York
Map of New York highlighting Dutchess County
Location in the U.S. state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location in the U.S.
Founded 1713
Named for Duchess of York
Seat Poughkeepsie
Largest city Poughkeepsie
 • Total 825 sq mi (2,137 km2)
 • Land 796 sq mi (2,062 km2)
 • Water 30 sq mi (78 km2), 3.6%
 • (2010) 297,488
 • Density 374/sq mi (144/km²)
Congressional districts 18th, 19th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.co.dutchess.ny.us

Dutchess County is a county located in the south east corner of the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 297,488.[1] The county seat is Poughkeepsie.[2] The county was created in 1683 and later organized in 1713.[3]

Dutchess County is part of the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is located in the Mid-Hudson Region of the Hudson Valley.


Mary of Modena, Duchess of York and later Queen of England, the namesake of Dutchess County. "Dutchess" is an archaic spelling of "duchess".
The Dutchess County Fair, August 21, 2012

Prior to Anglo-Dutch settlement, what is today Dutchess County was a leading center for the native Wappinger peoples. They had their council-fire at what is now present-day Fishkill Hook, and also held gatherings along the Danskammer.[4][clarification needed] On November 1, 1683, the Province of New York established its first twelve counties, with Dutchess County being one of them. Its boundaries at that time included the present Putnam County, and a small portion of the present Columbia County (the towns of Clermont and Germantown). The county was named for Mary of Modena, Duchess of York, second wife of James, Duke of York (later James II, King of England). Dutchess is an archaic form of the word duchess.[5]

A 1799 map of Connecticut which shows The Oblong. From Low's Encyclopaedia.

The Province of New York and the Connecticut Colony negotiated an agreement on November 28, 1683, establishing their border as 20 miles (32 km) east of the Hudson River, north to Massachusetts. The 61,660 acres (249.5 km2) east of the Byram River making up the Connecticut Panhandle were granted to Connecticut, in recognition of the wishes of the residents. In exchange, Rye was granted to New York, along with a 1.81-mile (2.91 km) wide strip of land running north from Ridgefield to Massachusetts alongside the New York counties of Westchester, Putnam then Dutchess, known as "The Oblong". The eastern half of the stub of land in northeast Dutchess County containing Rudd Pond and Taconic State Park is the northernmost extension of The Oblong.[6]

Until 1713, Dutchess was administered by Ulster County. On October 23, 1713 Queen Anne gave permission for Dutchess County to elect its own officers from among their own population including a Supervisor, Tax Collector, Tax Assessor and Treasurer. In 2013, Dutchess County celebrated its 300th anniversary of democracy based upon a legislative resolution sponsored by County Legislator Michael Kelsey from Salt Point. In 1812, Putnam County was detached from Dutchess.[7]

The patents

Map of Philipse Patent (showing the Oblong and Gore)

In the twelve years 1685–1697 lawful patents had been granted securing for their purchasers every foot of Hudson River shoreline in the original county. Three additional patents, to 1706, laid claim to the remaining interior lands.[citation needed]

  1. 1685 Rombout (Beacon/Fishkill Area)
  2. 1686 Minisink
  3. 1686 Kip
  4. 1688 Schuyler (Poughkeepsie)
  5. 1688 Schuyler (Red Hook)
  6. 1688 Ærtsen-Roosa-Elton
  7. 1696 Pawling-Staats
  8. 1697 Rhinebeck
  9. 1697 (Great) Nine Partners
  10. 1697 Philipse Patent
  11. 1697 Cuyler
  12. 1703 Fanconnier
  13. 1703 Beekman (Back Lots)
  14. 1706 (Little) Nine Partners

Early settlement

From 1683 to 1715 most of the settlers in Dutchess County were Dutch. Many of these moved in from Albany and Ulster Counties. They settled along the Fishkill River and in the areas that are now Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck.[8]

From 1715 to 1730 most of the new settlers in Dutchess county were Germans. From 1730 until 1775 New Englanders were the main new settlers in Dutchess County.[9]

20th century

Franklin D. Roosevelt lived in his family home in Hyde Park, overlooking the Hudson River. His family's home is now the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, managed by the National Park Service.

Prior to the 1960s, Dutchess County was primarily agricultural. Since then the southwestern part (from Poughkeepsie south and From the Taconic State Parkway westward) of the county has developed into a largely residential area, suburban in character, with many of its residents commuting to jobs in New York City. The northern and eastern regions of the county remain rural with large farmlands but at the same time developed residences used during the summer and or on weekends by people living in the New York City urban area.[10]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 825 square miles (2,140 km2), of which 796 square miles (2,060 km2) is land and 30 square miles (78 km2) (3.6%) is water.[11]

Dutchess County is located in southeastern New York State, between the Hudson River on its west and the New York-Connecticut border on its east, about halfway between the cities of Albany and New York. It contains two cities: Beacon and Poughkeepsie.

The terrain of the county is mostly hilly, especially in the Hudson Highlands in the southwestern corner and the Taconic Mountains to the northeast. Some areas nearer the river are flatter.

The highest point in the county is the summit of Brace Mountain, in the Taconics, at 2,311 feet (704 m) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level, along the Hudson River.

Almost a half mile long border exists with Berkshire County, Massachusetts in the extreme northern end of the county.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

State, county, and town parks

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Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 45,276
1800 47,775 5.5%
1810 51,363 7.5%
1820 46,615 −9.2%
1830 50,926 9.2%
1840 52,398 2.9%
1850 58,992 12.6%
1860 64,941 10.1%
1870 74,041 14.0%
1880 79,184 6.9%
1890 77,879 −1.6%
1900 81,670 4.9%
1910 87,661 7.3%
1920 91,747 4.7%
1930 105,462 14.9%
1940 120,542 14.3%
1950 136,781 13.5%
1960 176,008 28.7%
1970 222,295 26.3%
1980 245,055 10.2%
1990 259,462 5.9%
2000 280,150 8.0%
2010 297,488 6.2%
Est. 2014 296,579 [12] −0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
1790-1960[14] 1900-1990[15]
1990-2000[16] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[17] of 2000, there were 280,150 people, 99,536 households, and 69,177 families residing in the county. The population density was 350 people per square mile (135/km²). There were 106,103 housing units at an average density of 132 per square mile (51/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 83.66% White (80.3% non-Hispanic whites),[18] 9.32% Black or African American, 0.22% Native American, 2.52% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.37% from other races, and 1.89% from two or more races. 6.45% were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 22.0% were of Italian, 16.9% Irish, 11.3% German and 6.7% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 88.3% spoke English and 4.8% Spanish

Based on the Census Ancestry tallies, including people who listed more than one ancestry, Italians were the largest group in Dutchess County with 60,645. Irish came in a very close second at 59,991. In third place were the 44,915 Germans who barely exceeded the 44,078 people not in the 105 specifically delineated ancestry groups.[19]

There were 99,536 households out of which 34.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.50% were married couples living together, 10.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.50% were non-families. 24.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.16.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.10% under the age of 18, 9.40% from 18 to 24, 30.20% from 25 to 44, 23.20% from 45 to 64, and 12.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 100.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $53,086, and the median income for a family was $63,254. Males had a median income of $45,576 versus $30,706 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,940. About 5.00% of families and 7.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.50% of those under age 18 and 6.50% of those age 65 or over.

The per capita income and average home values have increased noticeably in recent years mainly due to affluent residents relocating from nearby and expensive Westchester County, NY. In recent years, there has been a large influx of people that have relocated from New York City, mainly from the Borough of The Bronx.

The decrease in population between 1810 and 1820 was due the separation of Putnam County from Dutchess in 1812.


The current county courthouse, built in 1903, stands on the same site as the original 1720 building.

The county is governed via a county executive and a county legislature. The county legislature consists of 25 members each elected from single member districts.

Law enforcement

The Cities of Beacon and Poughkeepsie; Towns of Fishkill, Hyde Park, Pine Plains, Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck, Red Hook, and East Fishkill and Villages of Millerton, Wappingers Falls, Millbrook, and Fishkill have their own Police departments. The remainder of the county is patrolled by the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office and New York State Police. The New York State Police Troop K headquarters is located in Millbrook.


The current composition of the County Legislature is 16 Republicans, 7 Democrats, and 2 Independents. The current county executive is Republican Marcus Molinaro. The county executive is elected in a countywide vote. The majority of the county is located in New York's 19th congressional district, which is currently being represented by Republican Chris Gibson. Dutchess County has historically leaned Republican due to its affluence and large suburban swaths; it has voted for Democratic presidential candidates only four times - 1964, 1996, 2008 and 2012. The largely suburban southern towns of Dutchess tend to be more conservative, while the small villages and rural areas of the northern tier have become somewhat more liberal. Almost all elected officials are Republican, but in the 2008 Presidential Election, Barack Obama carried Dutchess with 54% of the vote. The previous election saw George W. Bush win with 51%.

Dutchess County Executives
Name Party Term
David C. Schoentag Republican January 1, 1968 – December 31, 1975
Edward C. Scheuler Republican January 1, 1976 – April, 1978
Lucille P. Pattison Democrat January 1, 1979 – December 31, 1991
William R. Steinhaus Republican January 1, 1992 – December 31, 2011
Marcus Molinaro Republican January 1, 2012 –
Dutchess County Legislature
District Legislator Title Party Residence
1 Ellen Nesbitt Republican Poughkeepsie
2 Don Sagliano Republican Pleasant Valley
3 Dale L. Borchert Chairman Republican Poughkeepsie
4 Hannah Black Democrat Hyde Park
5 Kenneth Roman Republican Poughkeepsie
6 Angela E. Flesland Republican Poughkeepsie
7 Will Truitt Republican Hyde Park
8 Craig P. Brendli Democrat Poughkeepsie
9 Kari Rieser Democrat Poughkeepsie
10 Barbara Jeter-Jackson Democrat Poughkeepsie
11 Joel Tyner Democrat Staatsburg
12 John D. Metzger Republican Hopewell Junction
13 Donna Bolner Assistant Majority Leader Republican LaGrangeville
14 Francena I. Amparo Assistant Minority Leader Democrat Wappingers Falls
15 Joseph Incoronato Republican Wappingers Falls
16 John V. Forman Independent Hopewell Junction
17 James J. Miccio Majority Leader Republican Fishkill
18 Jerry Landisi Independent Beacon
19 A. Gregg Pulver Republican Pine Plains
20 Micki Strawinski Minority Leader Democrat Rhinebeck
21 Marge J. Horton Republican Hopewell Junction
22 Marc Coviello Republican Poughquag
23 John M. Thomes Republican Pawling
24 Alan V. Surman Republican Pawling
25 Sandy Washburn Republican Salt Point



  • Interstate 84 traverses the county in an east-west route cutting through the southern quadrant of the county. It is the only interstate highway in the county.
  • US 9, the Taconic State Parkway, and NY 22 are the main north-south roads in the county.
  • US 44, NY 55, and NY 199 are the other main east-west roads in the county


Amtrak has stations in Rhinecliff, a small hamlet in the Town of Rhinebeck, and Poughkeepsie, with both stations being served by Empire Service trains as well as other trains that run along the line. The latter station is the terminus of the Hudson Line of the Metro-North Railroad. The Hudson Line also has station stops in New Hamburg (a hamlet of the town of Poughkeepsie) and Beacon.

The Harlem Line, on the eastern side of the county, has station stops in Pawling, Wingdale, Dover Plains, and two stops in Wassaic (one along the Tenmile River and the other the namesake terminus of that line).


Public transportation in Dutchess County is handled by the Dutchess County Department of Mass Transit, branded publicly as the LOOP system. Outside of the urbanized area of the county, most service is limited. The City of Poughkeepsie operates its own limited system as well. Privately run lines connect Poughkeepsie to New Paltz and Beacon to Newburgh.

For intercity bus service, Adirondack Trailways and Short Line Bus also operate some service through Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck, and the southern part of the county. The last time service ran outside that area was in the late-1990s when Peter Pan/Bonanza ran service to New York City in the eastern part of the county.


The Dutchess County Airport, located in the town of Wappinger, is a general aviation facility which once had commercial service. The closest commercial airport, Stewart International Airport, is located across the Hudson River in Newburgh.

Also located in the county is Sky Park Airport, a public use general aviation facility in Red Hook, New York.[20]


Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce holds an annual hot air balloon launch typically in the first week of July. The main launch sites are along the Hudson River. As many as 20 balloons participate in the event.


The Hudson Valley Renegades are a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays. The team is a member of the New York - Penn League, and play at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill.

The Hudson Valley Bears are one of four founding members of the Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL). They play their home games at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie.

The Hudson Valley Hawks is a team in the newly formed National Professional Basketball League. The team's home court is at Beacon High School, in Beacon.


N.B.: Cities, Towns and Villages are official political designations.

Dutchess County, New York



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Public school districts

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Private schools

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Higher education

See also


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  4. MacCraken, Henry Noble, Old Dutchess Forever! The Story of an American County (New York: Hastings House, 1956) p. 3
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  6. [1]
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  8. Pucher, J. Wilson and Helen Wilkinson Reynolds, Old Gravestones of Dutchess County, New York (Poughkeepsie: Dutchess County Historical Society, 1924) p. xi
  9. Pulcher and Reynolds. Old Gravestones. p. xi
  10. Hobson, Archie, ed., The Cambridge Gazeteer of the United States and Canada (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995) pp. 183–184
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  18. Census fact sheet, Dutchess County, 2000 census data
  19. American fact finder chart on Ancesties for Dutchess County, New York
  20. FAA Airport Master Record for 46N (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective April 10, 2008.
  21. Swartwoutville

Further reading

  • MacCracken, Henry Noble. Old Dutchess Forever!, New York: Hastings House, ©1956. LC 56-12863
  • Smith, James H. History of Dutchess County, New York, Syracuse, New York: 1882. Reprinted: Interlaken, New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing. ISBN 0-932334-35-0

External links

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