New York State's first capital, the old Dutch town of Kingston, on the west bank of the Hudson, has two distinct historic areas of great interest to visitors. In uptown Kingston is the historic Stockade District, a pleasant commercial area marked by the presence of 21 pre-Revolutionary, Dutch-style stone houses (all four corners at the intersection of John and Cross sts. are occupied by 18th-century stone houses, unique in the U.S.). Chief among the historic landmarks is the Senate House, which housed the first New York State Senate in 1777 after the adoption of the first constitution, until British troops burned Kingston later that same year. The Senate House Museum contains Colonial artifacts and the paintings of John Vanderlyn. Along North Front and Wall streets is a pretty 2-block area of buildings with turn-of-the-20th-century-style canopied sidewalks, called the Pike Plan, home to a number of shops, galleries, restaurants, and cafes. The Old Town Stockade Farmers' Market is held Saturday, June through September. Opposite the Old Dutch Church is the Fred J. Johnston Museum, an 1812 Federal-style house with an excellent collection of American decorative arts. At the other end of town, Kingston's historic waterfront area, the Rondout, reached its pinnacle in the days of the D & H Canal in the early 19th century, but declined with the advent of the railroad. Today, it's a nicely revitalized commercial area with a burgeoning number of restaurants and bars. It is also home to the Hudson River Maritime Museum and Lighthouse (an old boat shop with exhibits on the history of boating and ships), weekend vintage trolley rides out to the Hudson (which begin in front of the Maritime Museum), Sampson opera house, and a handsome new visitor center. Boats leave from the Maritime Museum to go out along Rondout Creek to the 1913 Rondout Lighthouse (call tel. 845/336-8145 for information). The Rondout is also the spot to catch the larger Hudson River Cruises on the Rip Van Winkle ship.
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