New York 19th District
The great interior of America can be said to begin where the Hudson River squeezes through the series of Appalachian ridges at the Hudson Highlands. This choke point became a barrier to British military power during the Revolutionary War, when American forces put a chain across the river to keep the British from sailing north. Benedict Arnold betrayed his country over control of this part of the Hudson, and the new nation built its Military Academy high on the cliffs at West Point. The Hudson was the impetus for the builders of the Erie Canal and the water-level New York Central Railroad, two great projects that made New York City the port of the American interior as well as the port for the builders of the nearby Croton Aqueduct, which provided the water without which New York could not grow. (It also carried the first cockroaches to the city.) Some distant day the great aqueduct may crumble, but the cockroaches will remain.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 19th Congressional District of New York covers much of the lower Hudson Valley, sprawling across parts of five counties. West of the Hudson, the district takes in much of Orange County, New York’s fastest-growing county from 2000 to 2007. There, old farming villages like Warwick adjoin mountains, farms and new, middle-income subdivisions on the nation’s biggest deposit of muck soil outside the Everglades. Orange County is also home to the Stewart Airport, which many have viewed as a possible alternate airport for New York City. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey took control the facility in 2007, but its service has remained scant. The county includes Kiryas Joel, a politically controversial Satmar Hasidic settlement where two-thirds of residents live below the poverty line. (Its 20,000 residents function almost as a single voting unit, without much regard to partisan affiliation, a fact that has not escaped the notice of the state’s top politicians, who regularly court local leaders.)
While the district excludes two of Orange County’s biggest population centers, Middletown and Newburgh, it takes in portions of northern Rockland County, including Stony Point. The district crosses the Hudson near West Point. East of the river, the district begins in northern Westchester County, including Croton-on-Hudson, Yorktown, Mount Kisco, and Peekskill, where Republican George Pataki was mayor before becoming governor. Farther north, the 19th takes in all of Putnam County and part of Dutchess County, including the suburbs, but not the center city, of Poughkeepsie and Wappingers Falls. Putnam has become popular with first-time home buyers who make the 80-minute commute to Grand Central Station. The region also has proved attractive to middle- and higher-income public and corporate employees seeking reasonably priced housing in safe areas, a trend that has led to robust growth at a time when other areas of New York state are losing population. Immigrants from Ecuador who have settled here find the farmland and mountains similar to those back home. Politically, this area moved toward the Democrats in the 1990s, voted for Republican George W. Bush for president in 2004, but switched again to vote for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008.