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Kingston: A City Remade by the Coronavirus

  • August 14, 2020

Kingston, a small city in upstate New York, became my home four and a half years ago. Seeking space, affordability, green, and quiet, my husband and I traded Brooklyn for this city of 23,000. Unwittingly, we joined a slow-drip migration north.

Since the arrival of coronavirus, though, what had been a steadily paced increase in newcomers has become a barrage, with our adopted hometown experiencing an unprecedented and not entirely welcome real estate boom.

I was newly pregnant with twins when we purchased our house on a tree-lined block of Kingston. We were drawn to the town’s smallness, walkability, its racial diversity (in the overwhelmingly white Hudson Valley, Kingston is nearly 70 percent white, the rest an amalgam of Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous American and other non-white groups), and its natural surroundings: mountains, farms, woodlands, and the majestic Hudson River. With my husband, a chef, newly employed by the Phoenicia Diner, a popular upstate restaurant, we finally had the push to leave the city, a move I’d been impatient to make for years.

The first day we drove upstate to house hunt, I fell for an 1850 Victorian that had been sitting on the market, uninhabited, for nearly a year and a half. I ignored the dust and the rotting back deck, focusing, instead, on the 13-foot ceilings, the light pouring in despite the wintry clouds, and the many built-in closets. We made an offer immediately, and went into contract for more than $20,000 below the asking price of $339,000.

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