Poughkeepsie, seat of Dutchess County, New York, is situated on the east side of the Hudson River, midway between Albany and New York City. The name is derived from an Indian phrase that is the subject of debate, but one popular theory is that it meant "reed-covered lodge by the little watering place." It is known as the "Queen City on the Hudson."
Poughkeepsie was founded in 1687 by the Dutch. The city of Poughkeepsie is surrounded by a separate entity known as the town of Poughkeepsie. The town was incorporated in early 1788. Later that year, it was at Poughkeepsie that New York State ratified the U.S. Constitution, at the courthouse that still stands on Market Street. The hamlet within the town of Poughkeepsie was incorporated as a village in 1799, and as a city in 1854. Although also an industrial center, Poughkeepsie is probably more widely known as the home of Vassar College, founded following the Civil War for the education of women. The Cunneen-Hackett Cultural Center is housed in a former home of Matthew Vassar, founder of Vassar College. The Cunneen-Hackett Cultural Center, built in 1869, is the oldest continually operating entertainment venue in New York State. The Samuel Morse Historic Site is in Locust Grove, south of the city but within the town, where the inventor of the Telegraph resided until his death in 1870. The Poughkeepsie Journal is the oldest newspaper in New York State and the third oldest in the country.
The same Vassar family that funded Vassar College provided the funds for Poughkeepsie's first full hospital. Vassar Brothers Hospital opened in 1887, and admitted 80 patients in its first year. The name was changed in 2002 to Vassar Brothers Medical Center. Saint Francis Hospital was founded in 1914, by the Franciscan Sisters.