The history of growth, decline, and revitalization in Poughkeepsie, New York, parallels that of many other small northeastern cities. Main Street to Mainframes tells the story of Poughkeepsie's transformation over the past three centuries--from an agricultural market town, to a small city with a diversified economy centered on Main Street, to an urban region dependent on the success of one corporation--and how this transformation has affected the lives and landscape of its inhabitants. As it adjusted to major changes in agriculture, transportation, and industry, Poughkeepsie was also shaped by the forces and tensions of immigration and race. The voices of immigrant and migrant newcomers, from the Germans, Irish, and African Americans of the nineteenth century to the Italians, Poles, and Latinos of the twentieth, enliven the narrative and offer personal perspectives on the social and demographic shifts that have taken place over the years. The book also places Poughkeepsie in the context of the mid-Hudson Valley's other cities--Kingston, Newburgh, and Hudson--as they competed from the colonial period onward. Finally, the book examines recent revitalization efforts based on tourism, culture, and the arts.
More than just a local history, Main Street to Mainframes addresses important issues in urban and regional planning, community development, and sociology. Like a palimpsest, Poughkeepsie shows how past landscapes live on in the present, and how, over time, popular perceptions both shape and reflect urban and rural realities.