The history of New
Paltz begins with a small group of French Huguenots, refugees
from Mannheim, Germany, who came to the New World in the mid-17th
century. In 1677 they negotiated the purchase of 39,000 acres with
Native Americans in the area, obtained patent to that land from
England, and in 1678 founded the present-day village of New
Their hometown of Mannheim was the capital of an area called the Rhenish Palatinate or, Rhein Pfalz in German. The founders discarded the “f” in the name Pfalz as it was silent, pronouncing it “Paltz”. Oddly enough, the first recorded name of the village was expressed in French as “Nouveau Palatinat”, according to records from the New Paltz Reformed Church, itself founded in 1683.
The settlers of New Paltz implemented a form of government known as the Duzine which was headed by a body of twelve patriarchs, one person from each of the 12 families that held patent to the 39,000 acres of land. The Duzine was New Paltz’s official form of government until the town was officially incorporated in the 19th century.
Eventually, the a large portion of the land extending to the banks of the Hudson River as well as some additional land grants to the south, were divided amongst the 12 members of the Duzine and their families. These divisions were both farmland and wilderness, the farms located near and around the heights of the Wallkill River. A commercial center was formed on the eastern shore of the Wallkill to accommodate the needs of these farms forming what is now known as Huguenot Street.
It was on this street that the farmer’s needs for goods and services brought forth a variety of commerce including churches, schools, supply stores and blacksmiths. Today, a number of the buildings that housed these businesses are still standing, serving as a museum exhibit for all.
As both commerce and the population of the town grew, homes and businesses expanded away from the riverbank onto what is now known as Front Street, Chestnut Street and Main Street. In the mid-nineteenth century the Town of Lloyd along with parts of Gardiner, Shawangunk and Esopus seceded from New Paltz, reducing it’s boundaries to the present day. Later, in 1887 the Village of New Paltz was incorporated within the Town of New Paltz.
The State University College of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz has held a prominent place in the New Paltz community since it’s origin on North Front Street. It later moved to Plattekill Avenue and then finally to its current location on Manheim Boulevard.
Initially the residents of New Paltz, the nearby communities and even New York City served as a solid market for the farmers of New Paltz. This commerce expanded considerably with the advent of the Wallkill Valley Railroad in 1870. Some fifty years later the automobile slowly began to replace the train. In 1956 the New York State Thruway opened, which was a catalyst to the flourishing business climate we know today.
For more information on New Paltz History and New Paltz Real Estate please visit TaftStreetRealty.com.