The Town of Athens was formed in 1815 from parts of the Towns of Catskill and Coxsackie. In 1890, the total population was 2,361.According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 28.8 square miles (74.7 km²), of which, 26.2 square miles (67.8 km²) of it is land and 2.7 square miles (6.9 km²) of it (9.22%) is water. The east town line is defined by the Hudson River and is the border of Columbia County, New York. U.S. Route 9W and the New York State Thruway (Interstate 87) pass through the town
History of the village and historic sites worth preservation are detailed in a New York State study, “Village of Athens Multiple Resource Area”.
Historic sites in Athens listed on the National Register of Historic Places in or near the village include:
Athens Lower Village Historic District, Roughly bounded by Hudson River, NY 385, Vernon and Market Sts.
Brick Row Historic District, Off NY 385
Hudson/Athens Lighthouse, S of Middle Ground Flats in Hudson River
Stranahan-DelVecchio House, N. Washington St.
Albertus Van Loon House, N. Washington St.
West Athens Hill Site, Address Restricted, Athens
Zion Lutheran Church (Athens, New York), N. Washington St.
The land was purchased from the natives in 1665. The community was once called “Loonenburgh” and “Esperanza.” The village was incorporated in 1805.
The 1935 completion of the Rip van Winkle bridge several miles to the south put an end to the local ferry service across the Hudson, until the summer of 2012 when weekend ferry service resumed. However, the ferry is portrayed in the 2005 film War of the Worlds, when Martian tripods attack the town, the ferry, and refugees from New York City attempting to flee across the Hudson.