is a city located in Dutchess County, New York, United States. Although the city's estimated living population is around 16,000 people, the 2000 census placed the city total population at 13,808. It is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New York–Newark–Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area. Beacon was named to commemorate the historic beacon fires that blazed forth from the summit of the Fishkill Mountains to alert the Continental Army about British troop movements.
is located in the southwest corner of Dutchess County, in the fast growing Mid-Hudson Region. It sits north of New York City. It is also located approximately south of Albany.
The area occupied as Beacon was originally settled as the Villages of Matteawan and Fishkill Landing in 1709, which were among the first communities in the state. Beacon incorporated as a city in 1913, amalgamating the two villages as well as a small portion of the Hamlet of Glenham from the Town of Fishkill.
The city served a variety of roles during the Revolutionary War. It manufactured war supplies, and served as a fort and signaling point. The city's name came from signal fires that were atop nearby Beacon Mountain. During the 1800s, the city became a factory town and was known as "The Hat Making Capital of the US" with nearly 50 hat factories operating at one time.
During the 1960s, urban renewal led to the destruction of some significant historic buildings. In the late 1970s, the Dutchess Ski area, which had been a large tourist attraction, was closed. Also in the 1970s, a decline in the economy shuttered most of the factories. This decline quickly became a severe and ongoing economic downturn that lasted from about 1970 to the late 1990s, during which almost 80 percent of the city's commercial business spaces and factories were vacant.
Starting in the late 1990s, with the opening of one of the world's largest contemporary art museums Dia: Beacon, Beacon began to an artistic and commercial rebirth. New development continues to enlarge the city. Currently, the two largest planned projects are a waterfront hotel and conference center, and "The Rivers and Estuaries Center" on Dennings Point.
Beacon is home to one of at least three operating "dummy-lights" in the United States, located at the intersection of Main and East Main Streets. It is a traffic signal on a pedestal which sits in the middle of an intersection, dating back to the 1920s. The other two are also located in New York State, in Canajoharie and Croton-on-Hudson.