Poughkeepsie, officially the City of Poughkeepsie, is a city in the state of New York, United States, which serves as the county seat of Dutchess County. Poughkeepsie is located in the Hudson Valley midway between New York City and Albany, and is part of the New York metropolitan area. The name derives from a word in the Wappinger language, roughly U-puku-ipi-sing, meaning "the reed-covered lodge by the little-water place," referring to a spring or stream feeding into the Hudson River south of the present downtown area.
Poughkeepsie is known as "The Queen City of the Hudson". It was originally settled in the 17th century by the Dutch and became New York's second capital shortly after the American Revolution. It was chartered as a city in 1854. Major bridges in the city include the Poughkeepsie Bridge, a former railroad bridge now serving as a public walkway, which opened on October 3, 2009, and the Mid-Hudson Bridge, a major thoroughfare built in 1930 that carries U.S. Route 44 (concurrent with State Route 55) over the Hudson. The City of Poughkeepsie lies in New York's 18th congressional district.
The site of Poughkeepsie was purchased from Native Americans in 1686 by Robert Sanders, an Englishman, and Myndert Harmense Van Den Bogaerdt, a New Netherland-born Dutchman. The first settlers were the families of Barent Baltus Van Kleeck and Hendrick Jans van Oosterom. The settlement grew quickly, and the Reformed Church of Poughkeepsie was established by 1720. The community was set off from the Town of Poughkeepsie when it became an incorporated village in 27 March 1799. The City of Poughkeepsie was chartered on 28 March 1854. Outside of municipal designations, the City and Town of Poughkeepsie are generally viewed as a single place and are commonly referred to collectively as Poughkeepsie, with a current combined population of approximately 75,000.
Spared from battle during the American Revolution, Poughkeepsie became the second capital of New York. In 1788, the Ratification Convention for New York State, which included Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and George Clinton, assembled at the courthouse on Market Street, debated, and ratified the United States Constitution. With its ratification, New York entered the new union as the eleventh of the original thirteen colonies to join together as the United States of America. In 1799, a new seal was created for Poughkeepsie.
Early on, Poughkeepsie was also a major center for whale rendering, and during the 19th century industry flourished through shipping, hatteries, paper mills, and several breweries along the Hudson River, including some owned by Matthew Vassar, founder of Vassar College. Due to the area’s natural beauty and proximity to New York City, families such as the Astors, Rogers, and Vanderbilts built palatial weekend homes nearby. The Vanderbilt mansion, located several miles up the Hudson from Poughkeepsie, is registered as a National Historic Site; it is considered to be a sterling example of the mansions built by American industrialists during the late 19th century. The city is also home to the oldest continuously operating entertainment venue in the state, the Bardavon 1869 Opera House (see below).