4.8% (Apr 2015)
Colleges and Universities
SUNY Ulster, State University of New York at New Paltz
Points of interest
Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Mohonk Mountain House, Senate House State Hist, Mohonk Preserve, Huguenot Street Historic D
New Paltz, Woodstock, Minnewaska State Par, Phoenicia, Kingston
Ulster County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 182,493. The county seat is Kingston. The county is named after the Irish province of Ulster.
- Map of Ulster County NY USA
- Adjacent counties
- National protected area
- Government and politics
Map of Ulster County, NY, USA
Ulster County comprises the Kingston, New York Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area. It is located in the state's Mid-Hudson Region of the Hudson Valley
The area of present-day Ulster County was called "Esopus" by Dutch settlers: it was then part of the New Netherland Colony. In 1652, Thomas Chambers, a freeholder from the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, purchased land at Esopus and began trading there. In 1654, Johan de Hulter, owner of 20% of the Killian van Rensselaer Company was granted a patent, together with the patents of Christoffel Davids, and Jacob Jansen Stoll, this supplies evidence of the first permanent settlement, that grows into the village of Wiltwijck, later: Kingston. In 1683, the Duke of York created twelve counties in his province. Ulster County was one of them. Its boundaries at that time included the present Sullivan County, and portions of the present Delaware, Orange, and Greene Counties.
In 1777, the capital of New York State (the first state capital of independent New York) was established at Kingston, though it was subsequently moved to Kerhonkson when the British burned Kingston.
In 1797, portions of Otsego and Ulster Counties were split off to create Delaware County.
In 1798, the southernmost towns in Ulster County were moved into Orange County, to compensate Orange for breaking away the southernmost portion of that county in order to form Rockland County.
In 1800, portions of Albany and Ulster Counties were split off to create Greene County.
In 1809, Sullivan County was split off from Ulster County.
During the American Civil War volunteers were recruited from the more affluent families of the County to form the 139th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
The Lake Mohonk Mountain House on Shawangunk Ridge was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,161 square miles (3,010 km2), of which 1,124 square miles (2,910 km2) is land and 37 square miles (96 km2) (3.1%) is water.
Ulster County is in the southeast part of New York State, south of Albany, immediately west of the Hudson River. Much of the county is within the Catskill Mountains and the Shawangunk Ridge. Ulster County has Minnewaska State Park, Mohonk Preserve, Sundown State Park, VerNooykill State Forest, Witches Hole State Forest, and Shawangunk Ridge State Forest and Sam's Point Preserve, which includes rare dwarf pine trees and VerKeerderkill falls.
The highest point is Slide Mountain, at approximately 4,180 feet (1,270 m) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level along the Hudson River.
National protected area
As of the census of 2010, there were 181,440 people, 67,499 households, and 43,536 families residing in the county. The population density was 158 people per square mile (61/km²). There were 77,656 housing units at an average density of 69 per square mile (27/km²). The racial makeup of the county, as of 2008, was 83.2% White, 6.50% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.15% from other races, and 1.70% from two or more races. 7.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 19.2% were of Italian, 16.8% Irish, 15.5% German, 6.8% English, and 4.7% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 90.3% spoke English, 4.5% Spanish, 1.2% Italian, and 1.0% German as their first language.
There were 67,499 households out of which 30.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.20% were married couples living together, 10.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.50% were non-families. Of all households, 27.90% were made up of individuals and 10.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the county, the population was spread out with 23.50% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 29.70% from 25 to 44, 24.70% from 45 to 64, and 13.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 99.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $42,551, and the median income for a family was $51,708. Males had a median income of $36,808 versus $27,086 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,846. About 7.20% of families and 11.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.00% of those under age 18 and 8.70% of those age 65 or over.
Government and politics
In recent history, Ulster County has voted Democratic. In 2004 John Kerry defeated George W. Bush by 54–43%, in 2008 Barack Obama defeated John McCain by 61–38%, and in 2012 Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney by 60–37%. The county is currently being represented by Republican Chris Gibson in Congress, and is located in New York's 19th congressional district.
Ulster long had a county-scale version of a council-manager government, with the county legislature hiring a county administrator to handle executive functions. The chair of the legislature had a great deal of power and was only accountable to the voters of his own district. The only countywide elected officials were the district attorney, Holley Carnright, 2008 to present and sheriff, Paul Van Blarcum, 2007 to present.
In 2006, voters approved the first-ever county charter, changing to an elected executive branch. Two years later, Mike Hein, the last appointed county administrator, became Ulster's first elected county executive.
Legislative authority is vested in the County Legislature, which consists of 23 members elected from individual districts, as directed by a county charter reapportionment mandate starting in late 2010. The current composition of the Legislature is as follows (10 Democrats, 10 Republicans, 1 Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, 1 Conservative who caucuses with the Republicans, and 1 Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans to give them a 12-11 majority):
Ulster County contains a large part of Catskill Park and the Catskill Forest Preserve. The former Delaware and Hudson Canal brought Pennsylvania coal to Kingston on the Hudson. Former Orleans band member John Hall served in the Ulster County legislature before moving to the 19th Congressional District to run for Congress.
Ulster County has continued to be a popular vacation destination for many decades. The County is home to many outdoor landscapes, including the Catskill Mountains, the Hudson River, Minnewaska State Park, Catskill Park, Shawangunk Mountains and the Shawangunk Ridge. Each offers various recreation opportunities, including hiking, bicycling, skiing, horseback riding, kayaking, rock climbing, hunting and fishing.
The County also includes more than 40 miles of rail trails along the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, and O&W Rail Trail. The Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge which spans the Hudson River, is connected within Ulster County trails.
Ulster County has also played a leading role in highly significant moments in U.S. history. The Senate House State Historic Site in Kingston, New York is where, in early 1777, American colonists met to ratify the New York Constitution.
The Ulster County Fair has been held in New Paltz for many years and is promoted as "The Best Six Days of Summer". County run recreation areas include the Ulster County Pool in New Paltz and the Ulster Landing Park in Saugerties.
The New York State Thruway Interstate 87 runs north–south through the county, carrying traffic to and from New York City and its surroundings.
Public transportation in Ulster County is provided by Trailways of New York to and from New York City and Albany, and along Routes 28 and 23, Ulster County Area Transit on major state and US road corridors in the county, and by Kingston Citibus in Kingston.