Hudson is a city located along the west border of Columbia County. The city is named after the adjacent Hudson River and ultimately after the explorer Henry Hudson.
In the late 19th and first half of the 20th century, Hudson became notorious as a center of vice, especially gambling and prostitution, as described in Bruce Edward Hall's book, Diamond Street: The Story of the Little Town with the Big Red Light District. (The former Diamond Street is today Columbia Street.) At the peak of the vice industry, Hudson also boasted of more than 50 bars. These rackets were mostly broken up in 1951 after surprise raids of Hudson whorehouses by New York State Troopers under orders from then-Governor Thomas E. Dewey netted, among other catches, several local policemen.
After a steep decline in the 60s and 70s, the city has undergone a significant revival. A group of antiques dealers opened shops on the city's main thoroughfare, Warren Street, in the mid-1980s, the earliest being the Hudson Antiques Center, founded by Alain Pioton, and The English Antiques Center. Their numbers grew from a handful in the 1980s to almost seventy shops now, represented by the Hudson Antiques Dealers Association (HADA). Following this business revival, the city experienced a residential revival as well, and is now known for its active arts scene, antiques shops, restaurants, art galleries and nightlife.
In recent years, encouraged by the number of gay business owners, Hudson has become a destination for LGBT people who have opened new businesses, moved here from larger urban areas, and who have been in the forefront of the restoration of many of the city's historic houses. In 2010, Hudson hosted its first gay pride parade, and in the span of just a few years the parade and festival is now sponsored by over a hundred local businesses and attended by several thousand people.
With hundreds of properties listed or eligible to be listed in the State and National Registers of historic places, Hudson has been called "a finest dictionary of American architecture in New York State."
The Hudson Historic District includes most of downtown Hudson. It is a 139-acre area stretching from the city's waterfront on the east bank of the Hudson River to almost its eastern boundary, with a core area of 45 blocks. It has 756 contributing properties, most of which date from the city's founding in 1785 to the mid-1930s. In 1985 the Hudson Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.