10 Top Towns

Settled by the Dutch, Quakers, or Huguenots, nestled in the Catskills or on the river’s banks — these 10 Valley communities all have one thing in common: They’re great places to call home


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garrison art center’s float your boatThe Garrison Art Center sponsored the free family event “Float Your Boat” last spring

Photograph courtesy of Garrison Art Center

Putnam County


Sandwiched between the Hudson River and Hudson Highlands State Park Osborn Preserve, this small, exclusive hamlet across the river from West Point is possessed of a natural, woodsy beauty that has cast a spell on many a traveler.

So it was for Stephen Kent, a consultant for nonprofit agencies, who discovered Garrison during a long-ago boat ride. He took one look at the craggy bluffs and said, “This is the place! I have to figure out how to live here!” Other residents have similar stories.

The word “garrison,” meaning military post, derives from the Old French garir, or to protect. It is an apposite moniker for this hamlet, where privacy, conservation, and tradition are the watchwords. The old Albany Post Road runs through Garrison; its residents formed the Old Roads Society to preserve the road in its original state — which is unpaved.

While there is money here — there are houses listed in the $5 million range, even during the recession — Garrison is not ostentatious. “It’s not the kind of McMansion thing where everyone has a 5,000-square-foot house,” says Kent. “It’s old and charming.”

And desirable. Once residents settle in, they seldom leave. These days, those residents include bankers as well as artists who ensure that the Garrison Arts Center, housed in a charming old building on the river, is one of the Valley’s most active arts meccas.

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