Poughkeepsie was organized in 1788, and incorporated in 1801: its name is said to have been derived from the Indian word apokeepsing, safe harbour. Fall Creek enters Hudson river at the village, by a succession of cascades, with a fall in the whole of more than one hundred and sixty feet. The town contains fifty- four stores, eight lumber yards, three cotton factories with more than four thousand spindles, four flouring mills, two grist mills, one saw mill, two tanneries, one brewery, two potteries, three printing offices, two weekly newspapers and two periodicals, two academies with two hundred and ninety students, fourteen schools with eleven hundred scholars. The population numbers ten thousand. The village is one of the handsomest and most flourishing in the State, situated about midway between New York city and Albany, on an elevated plain, two hundred feet above the level of the river, from which it is partly concealed from the view by the abrupt bank. The town is laid out with great skill, containing seventy-nine streets, the principal of which are well paved with convenient side walks. Many of the edifices are remarkable for beauty, and very few of them would dishonour a greater city. Besides the court-house and jail, the collegiate school, on College hill, half a mile northeast of the compact part of the village, is worthy of attention. This is a well established and flourishing institution, furnished with an extensive gymnasium, and conducted on philosophical principles. The edifice is one hundred and fifteen feet long and thirty-five feet wide, after the model of the Parthenon at Athens. Besides this, the town contains four seminaries for young ladies, Duchess Academy, three banks, two whaling companies with a total capital of four hundred thousand dollars, two market-houses, a lyceum, fourteen churches, ninety-two stores, and a large variety of manufacturing and mechanic establishments. The village is supplied with water from the vicinity brought into a reservoir, and distributed through the streets at an expense of about thirty thousand dollars. The convention of the State of New York adopted the Constitution of the United States at this place in 1788, and previously the State legislature frequently assembled at this " the queen village of the empire State."
Benson Lossing in The Hudson From the Wilderness to the Sea relates the story behind the name Poughkeepsie;
"Six miles below Hyde Park is the large rural city of Poughkeepsie, containing about 17,000 inhabitants. The name is a modidication of the Mohegan word, Apokeep-sinck signifying 'safe and pleasant harbor.' Between two rocky bluffs was a sheltered bay (now filled with wharves), into the upper part of which leaped, in rapids and cascades, the Winnakee, called Fall Kill by the Dutch. The northerly bluff was called by the Dutch Slange Klippe, or Snake or Adder Cliff, because of the venomous serpents which were abundant there in the olden time. The southern bluff bears the name of Cal Rock, it having been a place from which the settlers called to the captains of sloops or single-masted vessels, when passage in them was desired. With this bay, or 'safe' harbour,' is associated an Indian legend, of which the following is the substance:-
Once some Delaware warriors came to this spot with Pequod captives. Among the latter was a chief, who was offered life and honour if he would renounce his nation, receive the mark of the turtle upon his breast, and become a Delaware brave. He rejected the degrading proposition with disdain, and was bound to a tree for sacrifice, when a shriek from a thicket startled the executioners. A young girl leaped before them, and implored his life. She was a captive Pequod, with the turtle on her bosom, and the young chief was her affianced. The Delawares debated, when suddenly the war-whoop of some fierce Hurons made them snatch their arms for defense. The maiden severed the thongs that bound her lover, but in t6he deadlsy conflict that ensued, they were separated, and a Huron chief carried off the captive as a trophy. Her affianced conceived a bold design for her rescue, and proceeded immediately to execute it. In the character of a wizard he entered the Huron camp. The maiden was sick, and her captor employed the wizard to prolong her life, until he should satisfy his revenge upon Uncas, her uncle, the great chief of the Mohegans. They eluded the vigilance of the Huron, fled at nightfall, with swift feet, towards the Hudson, and in the darkness, shot out upon its bosom, in a light canoe, followed by blood-thirsty pursuers. The strong arm of the young Pequod paddled his beloved one safely to a deep rocky nook near the mouth of the Winnakee, concealed her there, and with a few friendly Delawares whom he had secured by a shout, he fought, conquered, and drove off the Huron warriors. The sheltered nook where the maiden lay was a safe harbour for her, and the brave Pequod and his friends joyfully confirmed its title to Apo-keep-sinck"