Kingston Area History – Overview and Articles – Colonial Times

Kingston, NY: A Tapestry of Colonial History

Nestled in the heart of New York, Kingston boasts a history that is both rich and multifaceted. Established by the Dutch in 1652 as Esopus, it underwent a name change to Wiltwyck in 1661. By 1669, the English, seeking to expand their colonial influence, seized control and christened it Kingston, drawing inspiration from the English family estate of Governor Francis Lovelace.

Strategically positioned at the juncture of the Hudson River and Rondout Creek, Kingston emerged as a pivotal trading hub during the colonial era. This prime location facilitated trade with Native American communities and European settlers alike. Beyond its trading prowess, Kingston was a hive of industrial activity, with shipbuilding, milling, and tanning operations dotting its landscape.

The American Revolution cast Kingston into the limelight. In 1777, it was honored as the inaugural capital of New York State. Yet, this distinction also made it a target; British forces set the city ablaze the same year. The resilient spirit of Kingston’s inhabitants shone through as they painstakingly rebuilt their beloved city.

Post-revolution, Kingston’s star continued to rise. The 19th century saw it transform into a manufacturing powerhouse and a nexus of commerce. Culturally, it was a beacon, housing esteemed institutions like the Kingston Academy and the Kingston Library.

Today, Kingston stands as a testament to its storied past. The Stockade District, a National Historic District, beckons history enthusiasts. Museums, art galleries, and theaters offer a rich tapestry of experiences throughout this historic city.

Kingston’s Colonial Timeline:
1652: Dutch settlers establish Esopus.
1658: Peter Stuyvesant commissions a protective stockade around Esopus.
1661: Esopus undergoes a renaming to become Wiltwyck.
1669: English forces annex Wiltwyck, rebranding it as Kingston.
1777: Kingston is designated the first capital of New York State.
1777: British troops raze Kingston.
1783: The curtains fall on the American Revolution.
19th Century: Kingston evolves into a manufacturing and commercial hub.
20th Century: Kingston’s growth trajectory continues unabated.

This video gives a great perspective of early Colonial times in the Kingston Area.

In retrospect, Kingston’s journey from a Dutch settlement to a vibrant, small city is nothing short of remarkable. Its pivotal role in American history is etched in its streets, buildings, and landmarks. Today, as Kingston evolves and deals with its challenges, it stands as a living monument to its rich heritage, a city that has seamlessly woven its past into the fabric of its present.

Discover Our Local History Now

Learn Our History

Find Museums and Historic Sites

Events and Museum Hours

Articles About History of the Kingston Area

Burning of Kingston Returns This October

From Kingstonwire: The tramping of hobnailed boots and the boom of musketry will return to the Stockade District this fall as the city commemorates the 246th anniversary of the burning of Kingston by British forces during the Revolutionary War. The event — scheduled for the weekend of October 13-15 — will be the first commemoration […]

Help Create New Wurts Street Bridge Time Capsule This Weekend

From Kingstonwire This weekend city residents will have a chance to make their mark on history with The Time Capsule pop-up event at the Hudson River Maritime Museum. The interactive exhibit will give viewers a chance to check out the results of a months-long project to collect writings, photographs and artifacts — and make their […]

“Songs of the Irish Brigade” at the Matthewis Persen House Museum

Veterans in a New Field to Perform Civil War Songs at Matthewis Persen House The Ulster County Civil War Roundtable will present a concert by Veterans in a New Field on Saturday, June 10 at 2:00 PM at the Matthewis Persen House in Kingston. The event is free and open to the public. Veterans in […]

Our Community Sponsors