Author Archives: radominguez


On our last field trip of the class, we headed to Beacon, NY, where we visited a magazine publisher, The Valley Table, and then went out to explore the town.

A warm afternoon at the Beacon train station


Beacon is a small city in the Hudson Valley – just 90 minutes away from New York City by train (Metro-North). Beacon is a popular day-trip destination amongst the city crowd – situated across the riverbank from Newburgh, similarly laying just south of I-84 corridor. With a bustling and attractive main street, a factory turned contemporary art museum in the form of Dia:Beacon, a thriving arts community, and the nearby Mt. Beacon, there is certainly a lot to do in this Dutchess county community. Perhaps one of the most glaring examples of a blossoming “arts” community in the Hudson Valley – it is hard to miss the influence that the processes of gentrification has made its mark a distinctive mark on the city’s urban landscape.


Our first stop in Beacon was the office of a regional food magazine known as The Valley Table. Situated on the second floor of a historic building – just above a popular restaurant specializing in cheese and sandwiches , we were greeted by Janet Crawshaw, the publisher, who introduced us to the rest of the magazine’s small team.

The magazine staff had set up a small space for us to sit and chat, and be presented to. Best of all, they treated us to some delicious doughnuts, apples, and cider – and gave each of us (except Ray) a bag of Irving Farm coffee beans. Janet gave us some interesting background information about the magazine and a primer on the Hudson Valley’s culinary scene and its growth since Janet’s direct intervention in it.

The Valley Table had been established in 1998 by Janet and her husband, with the aim of celebrating the Hudson Valley’s culinary history, traditions, and contemporary state of culinary arts in the regon. In her own words, she wanted to bring together the various regions of the Hudson Valley and highlight the region’s distinct identity through its unique food culture and geography. By highlighting the quality of food and local produce in the region, the magazine supported local agriculture and businesses – encouraging a form of sustainable urban, agricultural consumption – for instance, she talked about how the revival of the hard cider industry and growing interest in the many breweries and distilleries in the Hudson Valley has supported the region’s farms and orchards, thus preserving its unique place character, its historical commodities and its landscape.


After leaving the offices of The Valley Table, we headed down main street, heading westward towards the river, in search of of nothing in particular, but that which caught the eye. To our great fortune, a few blocks west of our first stop we walked slightly north on Chestnut, and found ourselves outside of the Hudson distillery by the name of Denning’s Point Distillery, founded in 2014. This structure is part venue, distillery, and according to the head distiller – also a farm. Those of age and present were able to get a little taste of the flavours offered at the site, and all of us got a quick run down of the basics and background of distilling, the distiller, and the historical forces that came to define the properties that constitute what Whiskey is and means. The head distiller was quite a friendly person, full of knowledge into the intricacies and the sociotechnical systems that enable the modern distillery.


Walking down Beacon’s Main Street was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The city in general was very walkable, with tree-lined streets and interesting shops, businesses and restaurants to pop into. The streets were not very broad, and about similar in comparison to the rest of the Hudson Valley’s small towns and cities. Similarities in zoning are also common to the rest of the valley. Main street is lined with all types of businesses, and those that appear to arise where there are what shall be for this instance deemed “the bohemian”- such as the classic olive oil store, artisan goods, galleries and curated antiques, boutiques and bars. One of our classmates pointed out a glass blowing shop, and we also spotted an eyelash extension studio. I particularly liked the Beacon Creamery, an ice cream shop with a cute bear mascot.

We then crossed Wolcott Ave, which divides what appears to divide the town from the uphill/downhill. We crossed Wolcott, accidentally crossed the police station, and found ourselves walking to the other main street. Nearby, there appeared to be an erection and construction of a relatively large structure. As we walked onto the riverbanks of Hudson, we noticed that there started to be an abrupt change in zoning along this lower Main street. Another brewery, and an auto repair shop were overlooking a residential area that descended into the Beacon train station beside the Hudson. Along the way to the train station, we walked past a residential area, which also felt rather wealthy.


Perhaps a result of its proximity to New York City and its reputation as an “artsy” town, Beacon represents a larger, more visible trend of gentrification in the Hudson Valley. On the one hand, it makes for a vibrant, bustling community and city with curiosities of its own – on the other hand, rents and property prices have risen as a result, no doubt pushing out the area’s lower-income residents. We passed by realtor while exploring the town, and one of the nearby houses being sold had a hefty price tag of $450,000. As was the case with New Paltz and to a lesser extent, the rest of the cities we visited, there was the phenomena of second-home buyers from the city driving prices up, along with restaurants and businesses and entrepeneurs entering these towns in waves of inhabitation and investment– particularly the Dia:Beacon catering to these hip, wealthy visitors from the city or out-of-town.

That being said, I think the city has done a good job preserving its own unique small-town character and reviving its main street such that all its residents benefit from a highly-walkable public space – which is a desirable form of urban fabric in itself, and an amenity in such an aesthetically gifted sector of the Hudson Valley.


A trip to Soundscape Basilica 2017.

This past mid-september weekend, I traveled to Hudson, NY to experience the Soundscape Basilica. Soundscape is a cultural event that mediates sonic, performance and visual arts over the course of a weekend to establish an desirable atmosphere and state of experience in those who partake in the event. Soundscape is/was a three day event that ran from the 15th of September to the 17th of the same month – of which I only attended on the 16th. Individuals throughout the area rushed to Hudson to experience the local vision of performance and activity based foundation built upon the infrastructural and economic legacy of the city; which gave way to a community functioning as a system of interest in the amenity economy of the Hudson valley


Getting to Hudson is possible through the use of ‘public’ transportation. The Basilica itself is located a short walk away from the Amtrak train station located in Hudson, which can be taken from Penn Station in NYC. Soundscape Basilica offered the opportunity to camp in sites with limited services and transportation to and from the event, which many decided to do for the weekend.

The easiest, and certainly most convenient form of transportation was through automobile – I thought it would be wise to park farther away from the venue, but this was not explicitly necessary, for there appeared to be more than enough parking spaces for those who came to the event by car that day. After a short stroll through heading west and then south along the town of Hudson, the Basilica was visible.


The site of this function is the Hudson Basilica – a remnant structure of supply chains now past made out of brick walls, terracota/clay ceiling tiles. The structure originally housed a railway wheel works and forge in the late 19th century, a glue factory until the late 20th century, to now – where it houses curated experiences centered around the arts.


The event itself is explicitly bound to the local economy and the community. The founders and individuals in charge of the event take the efforts to curate a list of those who are seen to fall within the atmospheric and experiential vision desired to imprint to those present. During the day of performance – a small trailer resembling the form of a tiny diner hatched onto the back of a pick-up truck- housing modified and curated clothing and robes. There was a small bar/beer garden available – offering beer, wine and sake for a relatively d\adequate market price considering the cost of the ticket – with picnic tables arranged in two parallel lines outside and beside the beer station and the entrance to the small chamber of the Basilica. A few yards across the beer garden a strong and captivating grilling scent hovered around the other outdoor section- with chicken among some of the things being grilled and prepared in the kitchen/food cabin stand. It was wonderful to have one’s thirst quenched and hunger fulfilled without having to make an effort to leave and return to the venue. Albeit it came at a price – in my hunger and exalted state after the jumping, dancing, and yelling after the experience of seeing John Maus – I was induced into paying ten dollars for a bowl of tasty stew. Which was delicious.


The main chamber and the counter-chamber were the sites of performance. The function began at around 1730; yet I arrived slightly after 1800 to experience the performance of Yellow Eyes. Following that, in the main chamber there was Yvette performing after them. After their nice set, Amy Rose Spiegel orated some thoughts – which were followed by the smooth function that was Priests. Returning to the counter-chamber, Protomartyr performed a great set of which I partially saw – for I moved to the main chamber early to get close to the stage and the speakers for the performance of John Maus and his band– which was riveting and a delirious experience. After this I felt slightly exhausted and went outside for air and a snack(the stew). I was able to see and hear most of the performances, which is a great quality of the space – whether one decides to be directly present in the performance or to watch from the outside, one does not miss the experience.

I am keen to return and experience this again in the years to come.


Today we made a quick stop in Amenia,NY. Amenia is a small town with a singular traffic light and many peculiarities. I explored the area surrounding the town hall – which was an elementary school, and before that a seminary. The Amenia Library is home to a series of books and is managed by two amicable people.

the Amenia Library