October 2, 2009 | The official seal of the city of Hudson, New York, depicts a whale—which strikes the first-time visitor to a town more than one hundred miles from the Atlantic as odd. But then, Hudson has had an odd history. The site—on high land between two deep-water bays—was noted by Henry Hudson in 1609, during his expedition up the river that bears his name aboard the ship Half Moon. Later in that century Dutch farmers bought a large tract of land encompassing the present-day city from the Mohican natives and named it Claverack.
Beginning in 1783 a group of Quakers, and later whalers and fishermen from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, settled in Claverack. For their purposes, the area was perfect: two ports, on a river teeming with fish and offering easy access to the ocean whaling grounds. These transplanted New Englanders platted a street grid and chartered the city of Hudson in 1785.
Prosperity came almost immediately via a thriving maritime industry, and within twenty years the streets were lined with handsome Federal and Greek revival houses and public buildings. The synthesis of kerosene as a lighting fuel, however, eventually crushed the market for sperm whale oil. And while the building of the Erie Canal and the arrival of the railroad encouraged the growth of manufacturing in Hudson, the city moved through a long cycle of booms and busts. By the 1970s it was another forlorn Rust Belt town.
But toward the end of the next decade, hope arrived in an unusual guise. Many New Yorkers, priced out of the ever-tonier Hamptons, began to look upstate for vacation retreats, and a cohort of antiques and vintage design dealers began to trickle into Hudson to serve them. Hudson's moribund business spine, Warren Street, began to blossom with design shops and galleries. Restaurants, art galleries, and vendors of wine, couture, and jewelry followed. Today Warren Street alone is home to some forty antiques stores and vintage furniture dealers, with another half-dozen or so located on nearby side streets. The Hudson Antique Dealers Association puts out a map—available in any member shop—to center city stores, and has an attractive and informative Web site: hudsonantiques.net. Hudson is about a two-hour train ride from New York City (the tracks skirt the majestic river). Intrepid collectors can hit the bulk of Hudson's antiques stores in a day. Most offer a mixed inventory, where an eighteenth-century sideboard might share space with a high modernist desk. Our advice: take your time. Hudson is a city best suited to what the French call a flâneur—an observant, judiciously minded stroller. What follows is a brief, selective guide to the stores of the city that antiques rescued.
April 18, 2009 | Philadelphia is a city of great character and great contrasts: blue-blooded and blue collar; home of the beaux arts and the Broad Street Bullies; as steeped in history as it is in Tastee Cakes. In today’s Philadelphia, au courant fashion shops nestle next to dealers in exquisite art and antiques.
In April the City of Brotherly Love celebrates its long tradition as trading place for—and source of—America’s most prized antique furniture, art, and objets de vertu with the Philadelphia Antiques Show and the Original Twenty-third Street Armory Show. But Philadelphia is a collector’s paradise any month of the year.
Three main areas of the central city offer bountiful hunting grounds for the collector. First, the busy commercial blocks around Rittenhouse Square are home to several of the city’s finest art and antiques galleries. Then there is Pine Street, long known as “Antiques Row.” Though resident dealers mourn that it is not what it used to be, Pine Street is still home to some …» More
February 10, 2009 | “Follow the money.” What was good advice for Woodward and Bernstein is equally useful guidance for the antiques collector. When Henry Morrison Flagler established Palm Beach as a winter haven for Gilded Age society, important furnishings and art were sure to follow. And so they did.
February sees the annual Palm Beach Jewelry, Art, and Antique Show, and those who attend the exhibition at the area’s convention center should visit local galleries as well. Two areas merit special attention. The first is Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, the city’s luxury shopping strip. Laid out in the 1920s by the architect Addison Mizner, it is still an enclave of opulence, with its arcaded blocks and wide side alleys. Alongside Hermès, Gucci, Armani, and other lavish retailers are a clutch of antiques shops and art galleries that offer works of great interest.
The second area lies inland, across the lagoon of Lake Worth, in the city of West Palm Beach. There, some fifty antiques dealers have set …» More
February 2, 2009 | Natives and longtime residents of New Orleans have an endearing habit of describing their city as if it were a woman, one who is by turns refined and blowsy. Her sybaritic side is notorious, and her exquisite taste in food is famous. But what is slightly less well known is that Lady Orleans is passionate about antiques. For the dedicated collector, the city is a treasure house.
There are two main sections of town for the antiques maven. The first is the French Quarter, where several of the stores are family-owned and date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. That maturity is reflected in their inventories, which focus on fine continental and English furnishings, many of them period pieces with notable provenances. The softer side of the antiques world can-with one important exception-be seen in the shops that pepper the six-mile length of Magazine Street. Here, too, the emphasis is on traditional French, Italian, and English designs, with a healthy amount of…» More
[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi» View All