Part of the New York Harbor River System, the Port of Poughkeepsie is just 25 nautical miles upriver (121 kilometers or 75 miles) north-northeast of the Port of New York. The Port of Poughkeepsie is about 58 nautical miles downriver (103 kilometers or 64 miles) south-southwest of the Port of Albany. The Port of Poughkeepsie is the seat of Dutchess County, New York. Lying on the east bank of the Hudson River, the Port of Poughkeepsie is home to Vassar College and the home of inventor Samuel F.B. Morse. In 2010, the Port of Poughkeepsie was home to almost 33 thousand people, but the Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown metropolitan area had a population of more than 670 thousand.
Known as the "Queen City of the Hudson," the Port of Poughkeepsie was for a short time the capital of New York. Today, the Port of Poughkeepsie economy is based on industries that include computer research and assembly, lithography and printing, and the manufacture of electronics, ball bearings, chemicals, and swimming pool equipment. Hyde Park, home of national historic sites that include a Vanderbilt mansion and the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, is just eight kilometers (five miles) north of the Port of Poughkeepsie.
In 1686, Elishman Robert Sanders and Dutchman Myndert Harmense Van Den Bogaerdt purchased the site of the future Port of Poughkeepsie from the indigenous people known today as the Delaware (the Lenape people). These Native Americans were famers, hunters, and fishers that lived in seasonal camps. When the first Europeans came to the Port of Poughkeepsie area, the people traded agricultural goods for the settlers' iron tools.
During the 17th Century, the Lenape culture was severely damaged when European diseases and violence were brought to the New World. Those Lenape who survived left the Port of Poughkeepsie area and went to the west in the Ohio River region. The American Revolution pushed them even further west. By the 1860s, most of the Lenape people who remained in the Port of Poughkeepsie area were moved to the Oklahoma Territory where they live today. There are also Lenape people in Kansas and Wisconsin in the United States and in Ontario, Canada, their traditional homelands.
The first European settlers in the Port of Poughkeepsie were Dutch, and the early settlement grew rapidly. In 1720, the Reformed Church of Poughkeepsie was established. In 1854, the City of Poughkeepsie was chartered. The Port of Poughkeepsie was not touched by the battles of the American Revolution. The Port of Poughkeepsie was New York State's second capital. New York State's Ratification Convention, attended by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and George Clinton, met at the Port of Poughkeepsie courthouse to debate and ratify the United States Constitution in 1788.
The early Port of Poughkeepsie was a whale rendering center, and it flourished as a shipping center during the 19th Century. Other important industries in the Port of Poughkeepsie at that time were paper mills, hatteries, and breweries.
The Port of Poughkeepsie is located in a beautiful natural area, and it was convenient to wealthy New York City families like the Vanderbilts and the Astors who built ornate weekend homes in nearby Hyde Park.