Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Charming Small Towns - Nyack, NY

The visitors' website for Nyack, NY, a riverside town on the  west bank of the Hudson River twenty-seven miles north of mid-town Manhattan, declares "One visit will capture your heart." so I decided this was one small town I should check out.

Nyack takes its name from the Native Americans who originally occupied the area until it was settled by Europeans in 1675.

Its location on a hilly bank ensures that glimpses of the river can be seen from most of the side streets off Broadway which, together with Main Street, makes up the central hub of town.


My exploration started on the tree-lined Main Street, with its low-rise buildings containing quirky shops and a plethora of restaurants encompassing just about every type of cuisine. Most offer outdoor dining, adding to the vibrant atmosphere on a sunny day.

As a writer and avid reader, I find myself drawn to libraries and bookstores wherever I go and Nyack is home to two gems.

Nyack Library

The original library, built with a grant from Andrew Carnegie and opened in 1904, has been retained and now provides the main entrance and several quiet reading rooms leading to a much larger, modern facility.

Nyack Library Foyer

Nyack Library Reading Room
Nyack Library Reading Room

 When you walk in, there is a sense of stepping back in time. Certainly one of the most beautiful small town libraries I've come across.

Pickwick Books, Nyack

Nyack is also home to an independent bookstore, Pickwick Books, a reader's dream with every inch of wallspace stacked with books. It's the kind of place you could disappear into for hours. Sadly, I had to make do with a quick browse, but next time....

Nyack has a reputation for its art and culture, with opportunities to enjoy live music at local bars and restaurants or at the Carnegie Concerts held at the library. In the summer there are regular, well-attended free concerts in the park.

Edward Hopper's birthplace

The town was birthplace to artist Edward Hopper, His old home was saved from demolition after his death and is now a not-for-profit art center.

Edward Hopper House

Other famous residents include actress Helen Hayes - the local youth theater is named after her - and Carson McCullers, author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, whose home is now a historic landmark.

Memorial at Memorial Park

A short walk down from the town center brings you to Memorial Park. Upgraded over the last few years, the park now includes a memorial to the World Wars, a skate park, children's playground, courts for tennis, basketball and baseball, and a fishing/viewing pier.

Memorial Park Skate Park

Memorial Park Fishing Pier

 There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the river views of the Tappan Zee Bridge, the Westchester County coastline or the mansions nestled in the nearby hills.


Nyack's stone barge

Or this strange derelict structure just off shore, the identity of which taxed even local residents until a local librarian decided to dig through the records. A concrete barge? I find it hard to get my head around the idea that anyone would have thought that was a bright idea!

Verdict: Nyack certainly captured my heart. It manages to combine small town living with a lively vibe. Given it's only a thirty minute drive from my home, I will definitely be visiting again.