About Shawangunk

HISTORY

Shawangunk was first settled by Europeans around 1670. The region was organized as a precinct in 1743, and became the Town of Shawangunk in 1788.

The name is a Dutch transliteration of the indigenous Munsee Lenape "Scha-WAN-gunk." The Lenape linguist Raymond Whritenour reports that, "Schawan" is an inanimate intransitive verb meaning 'it is smoky air' or 'there is smoky air.' Its noun-like participle is "schawank," meaning that which is smoky air.' Adding the locative suffix gives us "schawangunk" ('in that which is smoky air' or, more simply, 'in the smoky air'). Like the nearby Catskill Mountains, which are referred to as the "Hidden Mountains" at Olana, the Shawangunk area can be noted for the heavy humidity and atmosphere caused by the mountain ridge running southwest to northeast partially blocking the prevailing west to east wind.


Whritenour suggests the name derives from the burning of a Munsee fort by the Dutch in 1663 (a massacre ending the Second Esopus War) beside the creek later named the Shawangunk Kill, near the western terminus of what is now Old Fort Road. Nearly a dozen three-syllable variants of Shawangunk appear on the earliest land deeds adjacent to the massacre site and across the basin. The name spread to the nearby ridge in the early 1700s.

Residents, rather than describing themselves as living in Shawangunk, more commonly refer to their residence as either Wallkill, Pine Bush or Walker Valley, depending on which part of the town they live in.



GEOGRAPHY

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 56.5 square miles (146.4 km²), of which, 56.2 square miles (145.6 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km²) of it (0.55%) is water.

The south town line and half of the east town line is the border of Orange County, New York.

The Wallkill River flows through the eastern half of town and lends it its name, which it flows through, while the western (Walker Valley) half climbs the slopes of the eponymous mountains.

  • Latitude 41.633N, longitude -74.259W
  • Estimated population: 14,332
  • Total Area: 56.5 square miles

 



DEMOGRAPHICS

Population

Total Population

14,332


Housing Status

( in housing units unless noted )

Total

4,333

Occupied

3,887

Owner-occupied

3,092

Population in owner-occupied

( number of individuals )

8,890

Renter-occupied

795

Population in renter-occupied

( number of individuals )

1,917

Households with individuals under 18

1,465

Vacant

446

Vacant: for rent

87

Vacant: for sale

66


Population by Sex/Age

Male

8,133

Female

6,199

Under 18

2,693

18 & over

11,639

20 - 24

1,143

25 - 34

2,137

35 - 49

3,724

50 - 64

2,868

65 & over

1,398


Population by Ethnicity

Hispanic or Latino

1,310

Non Hispanic or Latino

13,022


Population by Race

White

12,427

African American

1,157

Asian

227

American Indian and Alaska Native

33

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander

0

Other

293

Identified by two or more

195