The glorious views of the Hudson Highlands from the City of Peekskill emphasize its strong relationship with the history of the nation. George Washington considered the area a strategic key to the defense of the nation. He established headquarters at the Birdsall House and there, against his better judgment, signed Benedict Arnold's command of West Point. Peekskill was razed twice by the British during the Revolutionary War, and some of the notable sites from that period can still be identified today. From the late 1600s, when Jan Peeck established a trading post on Annsville Creek, Peekskill relied on the Hudson River for its business needs. During the 19th century, the city became a manufacturing center for stoves, plows, hats, and other iron and clothing products. Boats of all descriptions stopped for passengers and cargo as they plied the river from New York to Albany. There are several locations in Peekskill thought to have been associated with the Underground Railroad.
Now in the midst of revitalization, with emphasis shifting to the arts, technology, and our Hudson River waterfront, Peekskill is fortunate to have reclaimed and retained much of the architecture and open space that defined its elegant past.
An Artists' District, a Business Improvement District, and renovation of several sizable buildings are breathing new life into our historic downtown. Pleasant restaurants, galleries, boutique shopping, and a weekly farmers' market entice residents and visitors. The Paramount Center for the Arts provides headline live entertainment and art movies for the entire region.
National Register Historic Districts – Peekskill is home to two National Register Historic Districts: The commercial downtown area and the residential Fort Hill neighborhood just north of Main Street. Both districts have many intact 19th century buildings with various architectural styles that can be viewed on a walk through the neighborhoods.
Hudson River Kayaking - Atlantic Kayak Tours, the largest sea-kayaking company in the tri-state area, paddles along the Hudson River from New York City to Albany, with several launches that are accessible by train from the Peekskill area. The staff is talented and friendly and the equipment is first rate. There is nothing like the experience of actually paddling on the Hudson River. www.paddlesportcenter.com
Birdsall House Plaque - Although a group of activists wanted to preserve the Birsdsall House because of its use as a headquarters by General Washington during the War of Independence, it was razed in 1853 because it was an obstruction on Main (or North) Street. The tablet was installed in 1931 by the Friendly Town Association, on the south side of Main Street, near the corner of Division Street.
Lincoln Exedra - A small plaque commemorates the short visit of President-elect Abraham Lincoln during his trip to his inauguration in Washington, his only stop in Westchester. The Peekskill Lincoln Society, one of the oldest in the country, holds a ceremony at the Exedra on or near the President's birthday every year. It overlooks the Old Lincoln Railroad Station, which is in the process of being renovated into the future Lincoln Depot Museum on the west side of South Street.www.lincolnsociety.com.
M/V Commander - This historic excursion boat sails from Peekskill's Riverfront Green at 12:30 p.m. on the last Saturday of every month from May through October, for a three-hour narrated cruise north into the Hudson Highlands. Reservations required. (914) 534-7245.www.hudsonhighlandscruises.com
National Maritime Historical Society - The National Maritime Historical Society holds seminars throughout the year on related topics that are well worth attending. 5 John Walsh Boulevard. (914) 737-7878.www.seahistory.org.
Paramount Center for the Arts - Built in 1930 as a movie palace, the Paramount is a performing arts center that hosts top-quality live entertainment, movies, gallery showings and educational programs. The façade, marquee, entrance doors and interior finishes have recently been restored thanks to the fund-raising efforts of committed volunteers. 1008 Brown Street. (914) 739-2333.www.paramountcenter.org
Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce - Conveniently located in the heart of the business district, the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce provides up-to-date tourism information with brochures, newspapers and information on an electronic "kiosk." Staff members cheerfully answer questions. 1 South Division Street. (914) 737-3600.www.hvgatewaychamber.com
The Peekskill Business Improvement District (BID) - was established in 1996 to develop, organize and sponsor programs and promote Peekskill's vibrant commercial business district. The BID holds various events throughout the year. Please visit the BID web site atwww.peekskillbid.com.
Peekskill Museum - Housed in the Herrick House, designed by William R. Mead of the famous architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, the museum displays tools and products from local foundries; items from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars; furnishings; clothing and more. On the lawn outside is the cannon used to fire on the British ship "Vulture" and thwart the British spy Major John André on his return to New York City with the plans of West Point. Open Saturdays, 2 - 4 p.m. from June - October, and by appointment. 124 Union Avenue. (914) ) 736-0473. www.peekskillmuseum.com.
Tours of the Artists' District – Held annually during the Open Studios event on the first weekend in June. Check the Peekskill Arts Council website at www.peekskillartscouncil.org.
Farmers’ Market – Held every Saturday from June to October, 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. A variety of vendors are located on Bank Street between Main and Park Streets. Visit the Business Improvement District website at www.peekskillbid.com Antique and Treasures Market - Held every Sunday from May through November. Visit the BID website atwww.peekskillbid.com
Peekskill Celebration – Events are held all weekend at Riverfront Green Park and throughout the City, including Dragon Boat Races, a 12K Race, an Old-Timers Softball Game, an extravagant Fireworks Display and activities for the kids. In 2009 the date has changed from the first weekend in August to September 11 – 13th, to coincide with Quadricentennial Events and the Hudson River Ferry-Go-Round.www.peekskillcelebration.com
Hudson Valley Center For Contemporary Art (HVCCA) - The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art is a non-for-profit 501(c)(3) arts and educational organization dedicated to the development and presentation of new works, exhibits and interdisciplinary programs that enrich understanding of contemporary art and its contexts and relationships to societal issues. Open Saturday and Sunday from 1am to 6pm or by appointment. The HVCCA is located at 1701 Main Street. (914) 788-7166.www.hvcca.org.
Riverfront Green - With a backdrop of the Hudson Highlands, this is an ideal spot to river watch, enjoy a picnic or bring the kids to the playground. Many special events are held during the year. Just off Route 9 at the Hudson Avenue exit, adjacent to the Metro-North Railroad Station. (914) 734-PARK. www.ci.peekskill.ny.us Charles Point Pier Park - Fleishmann’s Pier - Fleishmann’s Pier at Charles Point provides an expansive view of Peekskill Bay up to the Bear Mountain Bridge. It was used by the Fleischmann Company to import the raw materials at its vast yeast and gin factory. Now it provides a great spot for picnics and river watching. Located off the Louisa Street exit of Route 9. www.ci.peekskill.ny.us
Annsville Preserve Park – A newly created waterfront park, Annsville is ideal for a stroll along numerous trails with interpretive signage, crabbing off the pier, or relaxing in the gazebo with excellent views of the Hudson River. Located off the Main Street exit of Route 9, follow the signs.
Depew Park – This 176-acre City park contains a stadium with athletic fields and track, a pool complex, courts for tennis, basketball, bocci and horseshoes, a playground, a fishing lake, and many miles of wooded trails. It is located off Hudson Street near the heart of the City.
Peekskill Stadium – This brand new regulation-sized baseball stadium is home to the Peekskill Robins, a semi-pro team, with games held throughout the season. It is located off the Louisa Street exit of Route 9.
Blue Mountain Reservation - This 1,600-acre park owned by Westchester County has 15 miles of marked hiking paths and bridle trails, and is open for mountain biking. It is heavily wooded and home to deer, squirrels and wild turkeys. There are plenty of picnic areas, playground facilities, soccer fields and a small lake for fishing (with a valid license). Blue Mountain Lodge has dormitory accommodations, a dining room, living room and kitchen and is available for group rental by organizations, except during the summer months. Parking fee. Welcher Avenue, off Route 9A. (914) 737-2194. www.co.westchester.ny.us/parks/
The Inn on the Hudson - Conveniently located, with 53 comfortable rooms, the Inn on the Hudson has unsurpassed views of the Hudson River and Highlands. A complimentary Continental breakfast is served in the lobby each weekday morning. An outdoor swimming pool and Henry's on the Hudson Riverview Restaurant are also on the premises. Special rates are available for seniors and AAA members. 634 Main Street (just off Route 9 at the junction of Route 6). (914) 739-1500. Out-of-state reservations: (800) 526-9466. www.innonthehudson.com