The Hudson Valley’s Red-Haired Stepchild
Another layer to the demographic conundrum.
Illustration by Tim Foley
When people outside of New York ask where I reside, I usually tell them that I live in the Hudson Valley, or say Upstate New York. But truth be told, I feel more pride when I tell folks I live in the Hudson Valley. To most people, the area invokes quaint towns, bucolic country roads, farm-to-table restaurants, and a sanctuary for New York City’s rich and famous.
Sometimes people will drill down and ask where in the Valley I live. “Outside of Albany,” I’ll respond. “Oh, really,” is the usual response.
A mixture of pity and affirmation that I don’t live in the Hudson Valley after all.
Officially, I live in the Town of Bethlehem, which is the first town south and adjacent to the City of Albany. Legally, my residence is in the hamlet of Glenmont, which is combined with the hamlets of Delmar, Elsmere, Slingerlands, Selkirk, South and North Bethlehem to make up our town.
It’s a very nice place to live, and would fit in very nicely with most of our southern neighbors who are more perceived as the real Hudson Valley. So as one may surmise, we folks residing up-river suffer from a bit of identity confusion. And this fine publication offers little to clear the confusion, as one would think after reading most issues that the only place to dine in Albany County is Jack’s: a fine restaurant, to be sure, but not the only one.
But I get it. We are as responsible for this confusion as anyone. And how can we blame anyone when we ourselves are unable to agree on where we live?
Officially, the Capital District — or Capital Region, as some say — refers to the metropolitan area surrounding Albany, the capital of New York. But half the people refer to the area as the Capital District while the other half calls it the Capital Region.
I prefer “Capital Region”; Capital District harkens the old Soviet gulag system. I picture visiting the state capital and being met with, “Hello, comrade. Kindly report to work in Sector C of the Gulag.” Capital Region sounds softer and more aligned with the rest of the locale.
Most people consider our little corner of the world to be composed of four core counties — Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Saratoga — as these areas constitute the US Census-defined “Metropolitan Statistical Area,” so there is that. Unofficially, the expanded area also includes Columbia, Greene, Washington, Warren, Fulton, Montgomery, and Schoharie counties.
But I try to look at it simply: If your town is along the Hudson River (either side will do), you live in the Hudson River Valley. Of course, all this might beget the question: Where does Upstate New York begin?
Art Stein is originally from New Jersey but has made the Hudson Valley his home for the past 20 years. He is a financial analyst who loves to write in his spare time.