Tag Archives: columbia county

A Walk in the Park

We went down to the City this weekend and stayed in our old apartment, currently inhabited by my father, for a night. In the morning, I walked to get a latte at Indian Road, our old favorite brunch place, and then wandered through the park to the Isham Road Farmers’ Market, where I bought us muffins–corn raspberry and pumpkin cranberry.

Inwood Hill Park in the snow. Just out of frame: a few families sledding.

Inwood Hill Park in the snow. Just out of frame: a few families sledding.

Strolling through Inwood Hill Park on a snowy day

Strolling through Inwood Hill Park on a snowy day

Inwood is an amazing neighborhood, and when I’m there, I feel the way I used to feel about the Upper West Side, and the way I imagine most people used to feel about the city as a whole. Inwood is a perfect little neighborhood that just happens to be part of one of the biggest, most famous cities in the world; it makes the city feel small and kind and like a patchwork of important places.

See? Inwood is adorable. And, also, has solid priorities.

See? Inwood is adorable. And, also, has solid priorities.

When we were moving from Albany to NYC (not to be confused with when we more recently moved from NYC to Albany), we had no idea what neighborhood we should live in, and had never really heard of Inwood. We decided we would take one Saturday and travel down the A/1 corridor until we found the neighborhood that suited us best. Within thirty seconds of starting the journey, we were sold. We emerged from the Dyckman Street A stop and were confronted with a temporary closure of Broadway for a Little League parade. There were people cheering on the kids from both sides of the street.

We wandered over to Payson Avenue, which runs along and the base of a long hill (Inwood Hill?) and Inwood Hill Park, and declared it the Most Darling Street In the World. And, though we were already in love, nothing could have sealed the deal more than what happened next: we turned a corner and ran into the Isham Farmers’ Market, which runs throughout the year on Saturdays. The first farm stand we saw belonged to Samascott Orchards, one of the two primary orchards from my home town of Kinderhook. Subsequent farm stands belonged to Our Daily Bread, Ronnybrook Farms, and Hawthorne Valley. It was as if the whole of Columbia County had brought their wares down to this one specific, geographically convenient market.

Apples from the farmers' market

Apples from the farmers’ market

The first view I had of the Isham Farmers' Market, only much snowier.

The first view I had of the Isham Farmers’ Market, excepting the snow.

Later, when we lived there and I was bringing our dog to a playgroup in Isham Park, I learned that many in the neighborhood refer to Inwood as “Upstate Manhattan,” which is just about right.

Electric Park

Late last night I was stumbling around the Internet at 2am, and, because this is just the way things happened, entered “Kinderhook” as a search term on eBay. I was looking for something I didn’t end up finding, but also: I found something I didn’t know I was looking for. Namely, I discovered, via countless vintage postcards, that one hundred years ago, a full-fledged amusement park operated on Kinderhook Lake.

I don’t know much about Kinderhook Lake. I know it is very built up, and that the few times I’ve swum in it I wished the water was cleaner. That’s basically it. I think it’s safe to say, then, that my knowledge of the lake has approximately quadrupled in the past 24 hours.

My favorite new facts:

  • Around the turn of the century, there were lots of small amusement parks operated along trolley lines by train companies, planned in order to increase their weekend business. Kinderhook Lake’s Electric Park was one of these parks. It was open from 1901 to 1917 or so, and during that time was–apparently–the largest amusement park on the East Coast between Manhattan and Montreal.
  • Ten thousandĀ people attended the park each weekend. To put that into a modern, local perspective, that is more people than the number that lived in the entire town of Kinderhook at the 2010 census.
  • Attractions included two ferris wheels, a roller coasterĀ built over the lake, a carousel on an island, and water slides that were converted into toboggan runs in the winter months.
  • Chatham was a dry town; Kinderhook was not. I wonder if this helps explains the two towns’ modern-day personality differences.

More information can be found here, here, here, and here.