There are delectable edibles inside the Runcible Spoon café, but visitors must be lured by aroma alone.

The display cases are hidden by the picture window. Yes, hidden, because it's covered with handbills.

There are various offers for massage therapy, aroma therapy and reflexology; classes in yoga or tango or Tai Chi; promises of relief through guided introspection, rolfing or homeopathy. There are reminders of the annual Nyack Street Fair, upcoming historic walks and a fire department pancake breakfast fund-raiser.

Nyack is what Hollywood directors call real. So real that a few scenes from NBC's small-town charmer, "Ed" -- supposedly set in Stuckeyville, Ohio -- have been filmed there.

Of all the waterfront villages on the Hudson's west bank, Nyack and its tree-lined streets, is a favorite for a day's worth of puttering, capped by a visit to nearby Piermont village. Bring your appetite and your credit cards.

Most weekends, side streets are bumper-to-bumper with out-of-state license plates as their owners stroll Broadway and Main streets, shopping, soaking up the arty ambiance and enjoying fine restaurants.

They duck into the antiques and collectible shops along antiques row and contemplate a rich assortment of teas, wind chimes, pottery and indoor fountains in shops with names like Tetsubin Tea, Cat Bamboo, The Klay Gallery, Pickwick Books and Trends.

Those with a nose for Nyack history make sure they make the ritual visit to Christopher's, credited with giving Nyack its now more than 25-year-old identity as an antiques mecca.

Christopher's is three overstuffed floors of antiques, pretend antiques and collectibles stacked every which way.

Here, progress is slow to protect the browser from stumbling and/or missing the "just-right" item partially hidden by a period print, a stack of dishes or a retro lamp.

Also, watch out for the chocolate poodle Addie, who sometimes snoozes on the cool wood floors of the Victorian-era building.

These old buildings of brick and well-worn wood are ideal backdrops for the cases of estate jewelry, china cabinets, silver tableware, oil paintings and French, Italian and English furniture. Some stores have piles of old postcards that portray former Nyack eras.

Since its settlement a few centuries ago, Nyack has plied a historical journey similar to many waterfront communities -- river settlement, manufacturing town, resort and finally picturesque village with original shops, bookstores and cafes.

The riverfront communities and one or two other Rockland County villages revel in their historic roots, especially since most of the remaining towns were born with the opening of the Tappan Zee Bridge in 1955. That's when Rockland became a "bedroom" or commuter community.

But the ensuing building and population boom, and later waves of urban renewal, pretty much bypassed downtown Nyack.

The result is that downtown Nyack, with the exception of one hotly contested waterfront condo development, looks much as it did when native son Edward Hopper made its Main Street an icon of the American realist school of painting.


Nyack still doesn't have the pansies-in-a-pot perfection of ritzy beach communities or the deliberately ragged earthiness of some mountain retreats. It remains scenic and livable.

In its heyday (every village seems to have had one), Nyack was described as "the Naples of America" and "the gem on the Hudson" by a poetic journalist writing in 1889 for the New York Daily Graphic. The population then was about 4,000. Today, it's about 6,700.