|Founded||November 1, 1683[A]|
|Named for||Prince James, Duke of York and Albany and Earl of Ulster|
|• County Executive||Jen Metzger (D)|
|• Total||1,161 sq mi (3,010 km2)|
|• Land||1,124 sq mi (2,910 km2)|
|• Water||37 sq mi (100 km2) 3.1%|
|• Density||161.8/sq mi (62.5/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|Congressional districts||18th, 19th|
Ulster County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. It is situated along the Hudson River. As of the 2020 census, the population was 181,851. The county seat is Kingston. The county is named after the Irish province of Ulster.
When part of the New Netherland colony, Dutch traders first called the area of present-day Ulster County "Esopus", a name borrowed for convenience from a locality on the opposite side of the Hudson. The local Lenape indigenous people called themselves Waranawanka, but soon came to be known to the Dutch as the "Esopus Indians" because they were encountered around the settlement known as Esopus. In 1652, Thomas Chambers, a freeholder from the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, purchased land at Esopus. He and several others actually settled and began farming by June, 1653. The settlements grew into the village of Wiltwijck, which the English later named Kingston. In 1683, the Duke of York created 12 counties in his province, one of which was Ulster County, named after Prince James, Duke of York (later King James II of England) whose subsidiary titles included Earl of Ulster. Its boundaries at that time included the present Sullivan County and parts of the present Delaware, Orange, and Greene Counties.[A]
In 1777, the first state capital of the independent New York State was established at Kingston. The official records of Ulster County were removed to safety to a stone house in Kerhonkson when it became evident that the British would burn Kingston.
In 1797, parts of Otsego and Ulster Counties were split off to create Delaware County.[A]
In 1798, Ulster County's southernmost towns were moved into Orange County to compensate Orange for breaking away its southernmost part to form Rockland County.
In 1800, portions of Albany and Ulster Counties were split off to create Greene County.[A]
In 1809, Sullivan County was split off from Ulster County.[A]
During the American Civil War, volunteers were recruited from the county and formed the majority of the following regiments:
Other regiments with at least one company from the county included:
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 an 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 southeastern New York State, south of Albany, immediately west of the Hudson River. Much of it is within the Catskill Mountains and the Shawangunk Ridge. Ulster County has Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Mohonk Preserve, Sundown State Park, VerNooykill State Forest, Witches Hole State Forest, and Shawangunk Ridge State Forest. The Sam's Point section of Minnewaska includes rare dwarf pine trees and Verkeerder Kill falls.
The county's 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.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, the county had 181,440 people, 67,499 households, and 43,536 families. The population density was 158 inhabitants per square mile (61/km2). There were 77,656 housing units at an average density of 69 units per square mile (27/km2). The county's racial makeup, 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, of which 30.70% had children under age 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.
23.50% of the county's population was under age 18, 8.70% was from age 18 to 24, 29.70% was from age 25 to 44, 24.70% was from age 45 to 64, and 13.30% was age 65 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 county's median household income was $42,551, and the median family income 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.
As of the 2020 census the population of Ulster County is 181,851. The population density was 158 inhabitants per square mile (61/km2). The county's racial makeup, as of 2020, was 75.16% non-Hispanic white, 5.8% black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 2.1% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 5.4% from other races or from two or more races. 11.61% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race
|Black or African American (NH)||10,152||5.8%|
|Native American (NH)||306||0.2%|
|Pacific Islander (NH)||45||0.02%|
|Hispanic or Latino||21,119||11.61%|
For most of the 20th century, Ulster County voted for the Republican nominees for president. Republicans regularly got over 60% of the vote, the high point coming when Dwight D. Eisenhower won 76% in 1956. The Democratic nominee won only in 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt and his Progressive Party split the Republican vote and gave a plurality to Woodrow Wilson, and in 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson won every county in New York and carried Ulster County by 19.8 percentage points.
More recently, Ulster County has voted Democratic. In 1992, 1996, and 2000, the party won a plurality, due to strong showings from third parties. In 2004, John Kerry defeated George W. Bush, 54%–43%; in 2008, Barack Obama defeated John McCain, 61%–37%; in 2012, Obama defeated Mitt Romney, 60%–37%; in 2016, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump, 52%–41%; and in 2020, Joe Biden defeated Trump, 60%–39%.
As of 2023, most of the county is in New York's 18th congressional district, represented by Democrat Pat Ryan. Some of the west and north of the county is in New York's 19th congressional district, represented by Republican Marc Molinaro. It had no U.S. representative after Antonio Delgado resigned on May 25, 2022, to become lieutenant governor of New York. Ryan won a special election on August 23 against Molinaro, and was sworn in on September 13. On September 9, Ryan stepped down as county executive, and Johanna Contreras was sworn in as an acting county executive. Ryan ran in the 18th congressional district in the 2022 general election after redistricting put most of Ulster County in that district. Ryan was narrowly reelected against New York Assembly member Colin Schmitt. Molinaro ran in the 19th district and narrowly defeated Democrat Josh Riley. Democrat Jen Metzger, a former New York State Senator, defeated Republican Jim Quigley in the 2022 election to replace Ryan. Metzger took office in 2023.
For a long time, Ulster County 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 accountable only to the voters of their district. The only countywide elected officials were the county clerk (Nina Postupack has served since 2006), district attorney (Dave Clegg took office in 2020) and sheriff (Juan Figueroa took office in 2019).
In 2006, voters approved the first-ever county charter, changing to an elected executive branch. Two years later, Michael P. Hein, the last appointed county administrator, became Ulster's first elected county executive. In early 2019, Hein resigned to accept Governor Andrew Cuomo's appointment as commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Deputy County Executive Adele Reiter succeeded him as acting county executive until a special election was held in April 2019.
On April 30, 2019, Democrat Patrick K. Ryan was elected in a special election by a margin of 74%-26%. He was sworn in as Ulster County's second County Executive on June 7, 2019.
|Michael P. Hein||Democratic||January 1, 2009 – February 11, 2019|
|Adele Reiter||Democratic||February 11, 2019 – June 7, 2019 (Acting)|
|Pat Ryan||Democratic||June 7, 2019 – September 9, 2022|
|Johanna Contreras||Democratic||September 9, 2022 – December 31, 2022 (Acting)|
|Jen Metzger||Democratic||January 1, 2023 – Present|
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. Of the members of the County Legislature, 16 are part of the Democratic Caucus (15 affiliated with the Democratic Party and 1 unaffiliated), and 7 are part of the Republican Caucus (all 7 are affiliated with the Republican Party).
|5||Abe Uchitelle, Deputy Majority Leader||Democratic||Democratic||Kingston|
|7||Peter Criswell, Vice Chair||Democratic||Democratic||Kingston|
|9||Herbert Litts III||Republican||Republican||Highland|
|11||Thomas Corcoran, Jr.||Republican||Republican||Marlborough|
|13||Kenneth Ronk Jr., Minority Leader||Republican||Republican||Wallkill|
|14||Craig Lopez, Deputy Minority Leader||Republican||Republican||Pine Bush|
|16||Tracey Bartels, Chair||Unaffiliated||Democratic||Gardiner|
|19||Manna Jo Greene||Democratic||Democratic||Cottekill|
|20||Tricia Bowen||Democratic||Democratic||New Paltz|
|22||Kathy Nolan||Democratic||Democratic||Mount Tremper|
|23||Jonathan Heppner, Majority Leader||Democratic||Democratic||Woodstock|
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 (64 km) 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 role in some 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.
Since 2016, Kingston Stockade FC, a semi-professional soccer team that plays in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), has been based in Kingston and plays its home matches at Dietz Stadium.
Also since 2015, the Saugerties Stallions, a collegiate summer baseball league team that plays in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL), have been based in Saugerties and play their home games at Cantine Field. The Stallions won the 2021 PGCBL Championship.
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 32, by Ulster County Area Transit on major state and U.S. road corridors in the county, and by Kingston Citibus in Kingston.
The New York State Thruway (I-87) runs north–south through the county, carrying traffic between New York City and Albany and its surroundings. NY 55, NY 52, and NY 28 are all major east–west highways that run through the county, and US 209, US 9W, and NY 32 are major north–south highways.
|Ulster County, New York|