The Hudson Riviera: Why not Vacation in Haverstraw?

After reading a New York Times article on the resurgence of the Rockaways  among twenty- and thirty-somethings as a mecca of weekend vacationing/staycationing, my mind started to tick. Of course the ticking revolved around Haverstraw, however, this may be a lesson for most still grungy rivertowns in the Hudson River Valley. Hipsters proudly proclaim that the Boardwalk is the new Bedford Avenue, and that Williamsburg has become so “Chuck E. Cheesed out” that these hip, young millenials are looking for adventure further and further out. Various staple restaurants in Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and the East Village (L Train fare) have opened everything from taco trucks to Vegan cupcake and grass-fed burger joints just steps from the surf. What was once a Requiem for a Dream-like hellhole, is now the epitome of cool summer.

Haverstraw has already been there and done that in the weekend/summer scene. During the earlier part of the twentieth century, the Village was a major stop on the Vaudeville circuit and major silent film actors and actresses made their country bungalows all along nearby South Mountain Road (see Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks, and more). Nyack Beach State Park was an absolute haven in its heyday. Haverstraw has a to-die-for waterfront on the wide Hudson River, boasts an ethno-chic downtown, high peaks for hiking, awesome 70’s-era old man bar, and of course, a burgeoning arts and restaurant scene. So, why not summer in Haverstraw? Really.

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9 thoughts on “The Hudson Riviera: Why not Vacation in Haverstraw?

  1. What could be done about getting a passenger train to come north this way again? I think that could be key to making Haverstraw as lively as it was in years gone by.

  2. NJ Transit is studying the possibility of extending rail service to West Nyack on the West Shore Line. The issue with that corridor is that CSX (a private company) owns full rights to the corridor, and does not want passenger service interrupting its freight service – it is one of the busiest freight lines in North America. The other issue with the West Shore Line is the Haverstraw Tunnel, just above Dutchtown. The tunnel is only narrow enough for two tracks with cars holding one shipping container. CSX stacks its containers two-high, and they have shifted to a single track through the center of the tunnel. The Tunnel would likely have to be widened and raised in order to accommodate stacked containers and possibly three tracks. In other words, this a long way off. We have very little political leadership on this particular project.

    The other opportunity is to extend the Pascack Valley Line from Spring Valley back into Haverstraw, into the field behind Haverstraw Middle School. This project might be even more difficult to achieve than the West Shore Line due to the fact the original corridor has been built over in certain places (single family homes and some businesses). A significant amount of eminent domain would be required to free up the corridor, and then community opposition would probably kill even a single track line from Mount Ivy, through Garnerville/West Haverstraw, and into Haverstraw.

    I believe that as it becomes more and more difficult to own a personal automobile, these options will become more and more politically feasible. The first rail connection to happen would likely be along the West Shore Line, and is at least 15 to 30 years away from today. Perhaps a connection to the proposed east-west Tappan Zee/I-287 rail line could happen at West Nyack. See my old post on the area’s defunct passenger lines to get a better idea of where these future lines would run: https://haverstrawlife.com/2011/03/09/our-history-of-trains/

    Right now, our best option might be to expand ferry service, linking the ferry up with more inbound/outbound NYC trains. The chicken/egg principle applies here: without strong ridership numbers, expansion will be a difficult sell – and without expansion, stronger ridership is more difficult to achieve. To be honest, I think the Hudson Line in Westchester is going to have a tremendous problem with sea level rise over the next twenty years, so the government should probably prepare accordingly. Currently, they are not.

    1. Expanding the ferry would be great. I’ve been wishing for weekend service…..even just a couple/few in the morning and evening each on Saturday and Sunday that you could plan your day around. We would be able to park locally and quickly get onto a line that would go directly into the city (or the other way around). Much faster than either of the possible train lines on our side of the river that would have to wind around and have a lot of logistical/political/construction hurdles to jump. Too bad that there is the chicken /egg issue. Everything is already in place to be able to make it a reality aside from the funding. Oy.

    1. The best way to get up there by transit is train and ferry during the week. Check the schedule. The other way is by bus from Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd Street.

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