Putnam County, NY, lies in the lower Hudson River Valley between the Hudson River and the New York-Connecticut border in the southeastern part of the state. With spectacular views of the Hudson River in the west and rolling hills and sparkling lakes and reservoirs in the east, some consider Putnam County to be the Hudson Valley’s hidden gem. Part of the New York City watershed, Putnam County is home to many of the reservoirs that supply water to New York City and Westchester County, so a large portion of its land falls under the care of New York City’s Watershed Preservation Program. After World War II, rapid development made it an exurb and bedroom community of New York City, but the necessary protection of wetlands and reservoirs limited this development. Citizen groups continue to carefully evaluate and integrate state-of-the-art communication and transportation systems to balance comfortable living with preservation of valuable natural resources. As a result, the county’s vast network of parks, lakes, forests, preserves and green spaces have remained unspoiled and are enjoyed daily by residents and visitors alike. So much pristine nature near picturesque towns and New York City such a short distance away make it a highly desirable place to live, so it isn’t surprising that Putnam County is one of the most affluent counties in America, ranked 11th by median household income according to the 2000 census.
Putnam County was incorporated in 1812 when it detached from neighboring Dutchess County, and the area grew steadily afterward. In the late 19th century, the construction of the Croton Reservoir System had a significant impact on the landscape of both the town and the village. Much of the area’s farmland was flooded for construction of dams and to protect the purity of the watershed. After World War II, when newly-built highways like the Taconic State Parkway began to make travel by automobile convenient, many of the county’s seasonal getaways developed into year-round communities—due, in part, to an easy commute to New York City—that combined the best of suburban and rural living.
A large portion of Putnam County land falls under the care of New York City’s Watershed Preservation Program. Within its borders, state parks like Wonder Lake, Clarence Fahnestock State Park and Hudson Highlands overlooking the mighty Hudson River offer mile after mile of hiking and riding trails and facilities for boating, fishing, skating, swimming, golf and tennis in addition to thousands of acres of protected open spaces. Also here is the Great Swamp, the state’s second largest wetlands area. Surrounding many of the county’s lakes are onetime summer resorts that have become year-round communities.
The arts community in Putnam County is one of the state’s most well-represented outside New York City. Storm King Art Center is celebrated as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks. Arts on the Lake fosters performances, exhibits and art classes in Kent. Putnam Valley Arts taps into the diverse local artistic resources by sponsoring annual events including the Summer Music and Fine Arts Festival, the Putnam County Film and Video Festival, Harvest Festival and Valleypalooza. The annual Armonk Outdoor Art Show is a juried fine art and craft show that, with its attendant fundraisers, draws crowds each year.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner, a classic family supper or a quick pizza slice to go there are plenty of well-recommended dining establishments in the Hudson Valley. In addition, Putnam County is dotted with small, family-run farms offering a bounty of fresh items through top-quality restaurants, grocery stores and farmers’ markets. A unique location allows easy access to excellent dining and shopping opportunities throughout Westchester County and Connecticut as well. Kitchenware stores like the well-known Kitch-n-Kaffe cater to the area’s home chefs and restaurateurs alike.
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