About 7,000 people live in the town of Hudson, right on the river and two hours north of New York City. At the top of town, the freight train often whistles as it slides right down the middle of the street. At the bottom of town, in the middle of the river, the lighthouse’s foghorn calls out as barges fight the current. In the middle of town, 25 Etsy Admin tap on their keyboards. It’s calm and peaceful, barring the occasional office dog eruption.
Etsy’s Hudson annex is in one of the town’s many 1800s brick warehouses left over from the industrial days. Like our building, many old structures in town have been reborn. But I often imagine the sweat and noise that happened here decades ago, when this was a factory churning out lumber, doors and windows for area houses.
A dramatic 1871 newspaper article describes entering our office when it was Traver & Sons’ mill: “The ears are greeted by a noise of sawing, buzzing and snapping, as if pandemonium had sent her most infernal orchestra to welcome the visitor to her chosen abode.”
Connecting this past with the present, Etsy Admin Jake found Traver & Sons’ stamp on old wainscoting as he was renovating his house. Folks working here now are living in homes that were made, at least in part, by those buzzing saws.
Even though our work is mostly on computers, we feel we’re carrying on the tradition. This is industry-hallowed ground, and we help thousands of Etsy sellers run their own industries. If you contact Etsy Support, it’s likely the satellites bounce your message to Hudson and back.
Of course, Etsy’s headquarters are in Brooklyn, NY, and one might think, “Why would a tech company open an office in a little town?” But if you know about the town, it’s an obvious fit.
Laid out by Nantucket whalers, this was a bustling seaport for many years. The town the whalers built for us is still very much here, in the architecture and in the air.
Artists have long found inspiration in the grandeur of the river valley and the neighboring Catskill Mountains. Several famed Hudson River School painters lived in and around town — Thomas Cole, Frederick Church and Sanford Gifford to name a few.
Like most American towns that were based around manufacturing, Hudson declined in the 20th century as industry dried up or went elsewhere. Nevertheless, the spirit has remained and brought about a steady rebirth, owing much to natural beauty and proximity to New York City, as well as the foresight and risks of a few who bought and restored buildings here in the past few decades.
The town is once again full of creative types. It seems like everyone you talk to makes something. The Albany Business Review says Hudson has the highest self-employment rate in New York state. The ingenuity, the artfulness, the respect for craft, and the quirkiness in Hudson are what drew Etsy here.
Also, having a space in a small town means that we can interact with the community in a different way than in a big city, and Hudson has many communities. In a year and a half, we’ve volunteered with the Hudson Black Arts & Cultural Festival, marched in the town’s Pride parade, hosted and attended local craft fairs, and opened our doors for craft nights in conjunction with the library. As in the Brooklyn headquarters, where the office compost goes to a Brooklyn farm, our compost goes to a community garden right down the block.
Our desks are made in a woodshop a few doors down by Rob Williams, Jr., who runs GrainWoodwork on Etsy. We’ve bought most of our furniture from shops in Hudson or from local Etsy sellers, like Idaseyeantiques. An artist who lives across the street created a mural and sound installation for us.
Most Hudson Admin are from the area, or have at least lived here a long time, so we’re just continuing being part of our community. What a special place to call home.
Are you in our neck of the woods? Come say hi at the Hudson River Exchange, a local handmade and vintage market in town July 20 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.!