Through its mix of residential, commercial, and religious architecture, the Rondout-West Strand Historic District illustrates the dynamic and booming prosperity a river could bring to a small town in the 19th century. Located just a few miles south of fertile flood-plains of the Esopus Creek where Dutch settlers built the Stockade Historic District, other Dutch colonists established the small village of Rondout near the confluence of Rondout Creek and the Hudson River. With a larger population and economy, the town of Kingston dominated the area until the 18th century--a description of Rondout in 1776 described the area as "a mere dependency of Kingston." Rondout businessmen were acutely aware of their strategic location on the Hudson River, but repeatedly failed to build up the area as a major transportation hub. In 1828, the Delaware and Hudson Canal linked the Pennsylvania coal fields to the Hudson River (and therefore New York City), and Rondout was chosen as the link from canal to river. River traffic increased exponentially, and Rondout underwent a complete transformation. Growing from a tiny population in 1820, by 1840 the village had a population of 1500; 200 hundred houses, 2 churches, 6 hotels and taverns, 25 businesses, 3 freight companies, a tobacco factory, four boatyards, and the main offices of the Delaware and Hudson Canal. By 1855, the town had over 6,000 residents, larger by 2000 than its neighbor, Kingston. In 1872, the two towns incorporated into the City of Kingston, and the entire area continued to prosper until 1899, when the Delaware and Hudson Canal closed. A new transportation technology, the railroad, was more dependable than seasonal canals, and the Delaware and Hudson transformed itself into a railroad company, leaving Rondout behind. Today, the Rondout-West Strand Historic District, part of the Kingston Urban Cultural Park Heritage Area, constitutes a remarkable set of historic business, residential, and industrial buildings, representing the full breadth of mid-19th-century styles and types.
West Strand Plaza
Photograph courtesy of Kingston Urban Cultural Park
Ravine and Hone Street
Photograph by F.H.K Kingston
The Rondout-West Strand Historic District is roughly bounded by Broadway, Mcentee, Dock and West Strand Streets. Many of the buildings of the district are businesses and open to the public.