Brooklynites Blessing the Hudson Valley With Hipness

"You can't keep a good creative down," as the old saying goes. When pushed out of their community by covert gentrification, overt invasion, and other insidiousnesses, good creatives will simply move elsewhere and establish new, even more authentic communities. This is how the Land of NoBro came to pass.

What and where is this magical place called NoBro? As the New York Times suggests, it is, in some ways, a state of mind—a mixture of 1980s SoHo, 1990s East Village, and 2000s Williamsburg, where one can find communion with the universe and like-minded spirits. In the tangible, physical world, however, NoBro is Beacon, N.Y., one of the many towns scattered about the Hudson Valley that has apparently witnessed an influx of migratory Brooklynites in recent years. "Call it the Brooklynization of the Hudson Valley," the Times says (though we'd prefer it if you don't!)—the process by which towns such as Beacon, Tivoli, Rosedale, Woodstock, New Paltz, and Poughkeepsie have come to acquire new and/or larger populations of "refugees," as the Times calls them (I think it's because many newcomers to the Valley crossed minefields and passed through suburban culture-deserts on horseback before reaching their pastoral destinations, but am not 100% sure).

So many refugee Brooklynites now inhabit Valley towns, it seems, that they have created a game in which they compare their old, New York City neighborhoods to their new communities:

For instance, Rhinebeck might be the Upper East Side, Woodstock the West Village, New Paltz the Upper West Side, Beacon the East Village, Rosendale and High Falls different parts of Williamsburg. Tivoli could be compared to Greenpoint, Hudson to Chelsea, Catskill to Bushwick, Kingston to a mix of Fort Greene and Carroll Gardens.

What does one give up by moving to NoBro and these other places? Aside from convenient access to the L train, not much, it appears. Because of the entrepreneurial spirit and foresight of many Valley newcomers, one can find most of the fundamental necessities of life at his or her disposal. Consider the diversity of Millerton's economy, for example:

And yet there it is, everywhere you look: the old diner, renamed the Oakhurst and now serving gourmet curried chicken rolls, organic burgers and venison chili cheese fries; Eckert Fine Art, with its paintings by Eric Forstmann and Robert Rauschenberg; the fliers for the Buddhist Path of Fulfillment retreat; the sustainable agriculture benefit; the artsy, SoHo-esque Hunter Bee antiques; the three-screen Moviehouse on Main Street with its art gallery and cafe.

Does the Oakhurst offer vegan venison chili cheese fries, though? While we all wait for an answer to that important question, let's consider some other advantages of the Hudson Valley lifestyle:

  • Towns like Hudson offer "the feel of SoHo decades ago," as former Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur describes it. Auf der Maur is from Montreal and too young to have experienced SoHo in its heyday, but perhaps she just knows.
  • More from Auf der Maur: "There's the sense that it's manageable, it's beautiful, it has infrastructure that can inspire you and facilitate your needs and get you to feel like you're part of a moment of discovery." You can have still have moments of discovery in Williamsburg, but they're expensive and someone drunk will probably puke on your shoes at some point.
  • Beacon, pictured above, offers the Dia:Beacon museum. Admission's only $10, which is probably what you'd pay for a plate of those Bambi fries right now, how about it?
  • Instead of listening to trash trucks, you can "fall asleep and wake up to birds," says an artist who used to make stuff with a chainsaw.

So far, the only identifiable hurdle to living comfortably in the Hudson Valley is that it probably takes a lot of hard work to convert what's there—old factories, old farmhouses, old regular houses—into what could be: concert halls, art galleries, live/work spaces. But at least undertaking substantial construction projects gives you something job-like to do. Because as one local says, all those fancy side dishes and moments of discovery aren't producing many jobs. But you should have expected that! The Hudson Valley might be magical in some ways, but it's still in America.

[NYT, Image of Beacon by Dougtone/via Flickr]