Town of the Week: Beacon

  |  October 22, 2012

We took a look at Beacon last October, and thought it was time to revisit it. After all, since we last checked in, dozens of New Yorkers have made their way there (friends of ours just leased a building and are opening a bar soon) — it is, indeed, a ” living laboratory of a Richard Florida book,” as my colleague called it. The NY Times likened it to the East Village last year (Rosendale and High Falls were the upstate equivalent of Williamsburg, in that analogy, which seems wrong to us — Hudson, maybe). We’re not sure that’s right. While it’s attracting some artists and small business owners, we think many making their way there are young families.

Yes, some of its new found, or re-found, popularity can be attributed to the Dia:Beacon’s success — an enormous waterfront museum of minimalist art. But, let’s be real: how many people really move somewhere for a museum of minimalist art? The wonderful Mass MoCA in North Adams hasn’t seen the same kind of revitalization, and their museum is more of a crowd pleaser. But Beacon is on the MetroNorth, which is no small thing. It provides easy access to both city and country, it has a real and walkable downtown, it’s across the river from the city we do so love (Newburgh, which has more beautiful buildings but also much more crime).

It also has some nature, right in the city, in the form of Mt. Beacon. It used to be home to the world’s steepest funicular, and if some citizens have their way, it will be again. It’s also home to the Roundhouse, a spa and resort with 14 rooms; additional rooms will open soon, and you can eat at their fancy restaurant, Swift.

However, Beacon is not as safe as some imagine it to be. While murder and rape are very, very rare, hey, it’s a city, and there are assaults, robberies, burglaries and auto thefts. Brooklyn’s crime rate — and that’s for the whole borough — is 41; Beacon’s is 34.

The schools are “in transition” as they say — gives them average markings. And we think this accounts for the very reasonable real estate prices; you can pick up a nice folk Victorian in town in the $250,000 range. At the time of this writing, there were 25 homes for sale, averaging around $250,000; the 25 most recently sold homes averaged less than $200K.



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