Tagged: Beacon

A Brick Building in Beacon, 2007 vs. 2017

Beacon, New York

Speaking of photos I took of places that have undergone lots of changes, I was struck by the number of changes in Beacon, New York over the last decade or so.

I first visited Beacon in February 2005 on a class trip to the Dia museum. I was taking a Video Art class and as part of our curriculum, we were to visit the museum where many works by video artists—not just on video but in a variety of different media—are housed. Our class met on Thursdays, and instead of meeting at NYU, we met at Grand Central Terminal to take a Hudson line train to Beacon.

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It would have been a great trip, except that the museum is open Friday through Monday during the winter months. The museum was closed on this particular Thursday.

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I have returned to Beacon many times over the years, including a three-night trip in late July 2007. A lot of places that were around then are still there. These include the Bank Square Coffeehouse, Max’s on Main, and BJ’s Soul Food Restaurant. One place that stood largely unchanged was an abandoned brick warehouse on the corner of Main Street and East Main Street. (Yes, Beacon has three main streets: Main, East Main, and, yes, West Main).

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Last weekend, I returned to Beacon for a midsummer day trip. It was the first time I had been there since October 2015, and there were a few new places, or at least places I hadn’t noticed before. There was Draught Industries (a craft beer bar), Pandorica (a kind of “New Age” restaurant), and an expansive taproom for the Hudson Valley Brewery.

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And like before, there was that abandoned brick warehouse on the corner of Main and East Main Streets. But something was different. The warehouse wasn’t abandoned anymore. It was being renovated for conversion to residential lofts.

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As you can probably tell, a big reason why I wrote this post is to share two photos of the same place, ten years apart. So here they are side-by-side, allowing you to get the full effect.

A lot of what I’ve seen in Beacon is what some would call a “renaissance” and others would disparage as “gentrification.” Regardless of what you call it, this process is not a straight line. One place that had shown up over the years was The Hop. I first went in 2013 when it was a beer store with a few seats and a small kitchen.

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Over the years, the place had moved up the street, rented out two stores, and expanded to include a full bar and a sit-down restaurant. When I went there in July 2015, the place was busy, and business seemed to be great.

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So it came as a bit of a shock when I saw that The Hop was closed down.

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Apparently, the place abruptly closed last October without much explanation. All that remains is some of the furniture, a few memories, and couple of my photos.

The End-of-Colloquial “Summer Classic”

Throughout the United States Labor Day weekend marks the end of “colloquial summer.”

Over this past Labor Day Weekend, my friend Brian and I led a club ride through northern Putnam and southern Dutchess counties that he has appropriated as the Summer Classic, Road Ride Edition.


The ride is based on another “summer classic” ride by John Ferguson, author of the Riding the Catskills blog. Ferguson’s ride starts at Southeast station in North Brewster and goes through some very quiet roads, long stretch of gravel paths, and long descents. We also started our ride at Southeast station, but as city slickers, we adapted the course to follow more paved roads than the original course. (Thanks, Brian!) However, there was plenty of pastoral beauty among the rolling hills of the course.

Brian's Summer Classic: Brewster-Bangall-Beacon

And there were constant reminders that you’re riding through farm country, such as a rusted tractor that functions as a lawn ornament.

Brian's Summer Classic: Brewster-Bangall-Beacon

Some of those reminders, like the smell of fresh cow manure, didn’t photograph well so use your imagination for those.

Though both Ferguson’s route and our citified club version end in New Hamburg, I learned that some of my friends were hiking in Beacon that day, and I was drawn to meet them there for some après–hiking/biking activities. Failing in my role as a ride leader, I left the group at mile 67 and took the Dutchess Rail Trail to Hopewell Junction and headed southwest on NY-82 and NY-52 until I arrived on the eastern edge of Main Street in Beacon.

Brian's Summer Classic: Brewster-Bangall-Beacon

Nearly a decade ago, when I first went to Beacon, the falls near the (improbable) junction of Main Street and East Main Street, was only an abandoned factory.

Beacon, New York

On this day, there was a wedding on those grounds. I caught the tail end of the wedding party heading to the reception hall.

Beacon by Bike

As I arrived in town slightly ahead of my friends, I stopped by the new-to-me Denning’s Point Distillery near the corner of Main and Chestnut Streets. Like most new distilleries, most of their products are “un-aged.” They offer two vodkas (one straight and one flavored), a gin, a rye moonshine, and an American whiskey, aged for seven years, that they bought from a distillery in Kentucky.

Beacon by Bike

The rye moonshine was surprisingly smooth, especially considering how much trouble I had with another unoaked rye whiskey. I didn’t ask, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was filtered at least once to tone down the white-dog effect. I finished my tasting with the aged whiskey, which was the subject of a photograph I asked a fellow visitor to take of me.

Beacon by Bike

After the distillery, I found my friends and headed to another new-to-me brewery. Beacon’s 2-Way Brewing is located in a multipurpose office park building, which reminded me a lot of what you see in Southern California.1 But what it lacks in architectural charm, it makes up in proximity to the Metro North station at Beacon. It’s about a five-minute walk to the station, making a convenient place to end a day-trip to Beacon. As for the beer, I only tasted their Beacon Brown ale, because I like alliteration, and Climb High PA, to salute my hiking friends.

Beacon by Bike

Both were solid offerings, but nothing that stayed with me. That might be because the place smelled a lot like Pine Sol, which likely overpowered my senses, and because I had a really delicious Orangeweisse by Rushing Duck Brewing at Quinn’s earlier that day that really hit the spot, as they say.

But that’s not to say that we didn’t spend any time at the brewery. We kept missing trains until we finally caught the “ten oh-eight,” the last direct train to New York.

  1. When I visited my cousin in Orange County late last year, I noted that most every cool place out there—a brewery, a music venue, a record store—was located in an office park. 

Getting the Gunks Out

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Last year, I observed Bastille Day by riding to Philadelphia for a weekend with Sarah. We were met by two of my oldest and dearest friends, who travelled from Washington, DC, to meet us. I was never into doing “couple’s weekends,” but this one was easily one of the best weekends of my life. At the time, I regarded the weekend—consisting of a bike ride, perfect weather, a Bastille Day party, and some great exploring—as perfect.

Then it all fell apart. Sarah and I split shortly thereafter. To their credit, my DC friends still reach out occasionally to ask how I’m doing, but I am still reluctant to connect with them: it feels like I was expelled from the couples club, and I am too embarrassed to come around without a current membership.

For this year’s Bastille Day celebrations, I wanted to do something similarly epic to last year’s trip, but it seemed foolish to again ride to Philadelphia. My friend Brian, who I do a lot of long rides with, had a birthday this week, and we planned a three-day trip to New Paltz to ride around in the Shawangunk Range:

  1. Riding 80 miles to New Paltz
  2. Riding 70 miles around the Gunks
  3. Riding 30 miles to Beacon

Because you might someday want to do something like this, here are some details about the ride.

Hookey on Halloween

It’s rare when Halloween falls on a weekend evening, such as it does this year. But for the most part, we usually observe it on the Friday or Saturday before October 31. In recent years, that has produced some mixed results.

Halloween 2011

Three years ago, on Friday, October 28, Halloween sucked because we all learned that my mother had breast cancer for the second time. Feeling helpless a continent away, Sarah took me to a Halloween movie at Loews Jersey and a then a party in Long Island City. It helped take my mind off my mother for a little while.


Aside from the bad news in my family, the festivities for the rest of the weekend were muted because the city was hit with snowfall on Saturday, October 29. It was, by some accounts, the earliest New York City had seen snow since the Civil War.

Halloween 2012

Two years ago, with my mom’s cancer treatment behind us, we were ready to celebrate on Saturday, October 27. Sarah and I joined a few friends and went to that same Halloween party in Long Island City. I found a half-assed pepper costume, and she dressed up as a pineapple.

We had a blast! One of the nice things about the night of Halloween party was the warmth, but that warmth would soon subside as we were hit by Superstorm Sandy a day later.

Open for Sandy

As I’ve said before, the storm was big enough to cancel Halloween in New York City. No one was in the mood to do celebrate.

Halloween 2013

Last year, the parties happened on the day after Halloween, but we didn’t go to any. Sarah had just been injured in a bike accident a few days earlier, and she wasn’t in the mood to be festive. Neither was I. Instead, we stayed home and got take-out or something.

I also had to teach class on October 31. Since the class was on Experimental Film, I sported an “Andy Warhol” wig to class.


That’s about as far as the festivities went.

Halloween 2014

Because of this mixed track record, I couldn’t be less enthusiastic about Halloween this year. A great deal of this lackluster enthusiasm is because of Sarah. Despite how good or bad our Halloween experiences were, we were always together, and this year we won’t be.1

This Friday is not only Halloween, but it is also the only day of the weekend where the temperature will be above 50°. It is also the second-to-last day of Daylight Savings Time. So, much like I did last year, I’m going to ride up through Westchester and Putnam counties for the last chance I will have to do that after 4:00 PM until spring. It will also give me the chance to really see the leaves.


Although the New York State Fall Foliage Report says that they are just past peak at this point, that’s just how I like it.

Down Bedford Road

The ride will start in Woodlawn, Bronx around 8:00 AM. I plan to head to Connecticut for a few miles and then to Bedford, New York. From there I will continue north to Croton Falls then to Carmel. At that point, I will decide whether I will head northeast for about five miles to Brewster to catch the train back to New York or to continue northwest for another twenty miles towards Beacon.

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And if when I get back there’s a worthwhile Halloween party, I’ll be costumed as a very tired cyclist.

  1. Except for that one Halloween in 2010, when I went to visit my family in California, and she didn’t come with me. 

Bastille Day Ride to Beacon

For Bastille Day this year, I wanted to ride my bike somewhere I had never been, and as luck would have it, there was a club ride from Poughkeepsie to New Paltz to Beacon that was listed for Sunday, it was a “B” ride with a 17-mph pace, and it wasn’t full. So I signed up for it.

Bastille Day 2014

The ride began and ended outside of New York City so it required two trips on the Metro North train. Since the ride from New York to our starting point in Poughkeepsie was about an hour and a half, our ride leader recommended we eat two breakfasts, and I happily stopped by my local 24-hour grocery and bought two breakfast items before making my way to Grand Central to catch the 7:44.

The ride was splendid. The roads were gorgeous with plenty of tree shade, rolling hills, and very few cars and traffic lights. There was some hard pack through the woods on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, which was great because it was a pretty hot day, and riding through the shade made things a lot more comfortable. There were some interesting contrasts on this ride. On the one hand, you would see icons of the country: houses on large parcels of land, covered bridges, and lots of farms. On the other hand, I saw a few less savory elements, such as some folks that would looked like they were cooking meth. There were some abandoned and shuttered houses that could be used to cook meth. Or maybe the countryside and meth go together more than I had thought.

Covering Bridges

My third breakfast of the day was at our lunch stop in New Paltz at Mudd Pile Cafe, in the Water Street Market. It wasn’t quite noon so lunch wasn’t yet being served. The highlight of the stop was that we came during the second annual Hudson Valley Chalk Festival. Although we didn’t look around much here, I was captivated by a guy performing a series of Johnny Cash covers.

Covering Johnny Cash

Once on the road, we proceeded through Ulster and Orange Counties, and then over the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, named for Hamilton Fish. In Beacon, we were planning on going to the River Terrace as our ride leader rides for beer, but to our chagrin, we found that it was closed. It was as if they had closed down for good and were under construction. As that door closed, four of us found ourselves at The Hop on Main Street. This place was new, and was clearly a better option to the place that got three stars on Yelp.


A small of group of friends came to The Hop, mingled with my cycling mates, and the Bastille Day celebrations were afoot in Beacon.