Rhinecliff is a hamlet in the town of Rhinebeck in northern Dutchess County, New York. It was founded in 1686 as the town of Kipsbergen by five Dutchmen, among them Hendrikus and Jacobus Kip, who moved from Kingston to live in the settlement along the eastern shore of the Hudson River. In 1849, under the influence of the Hudson River Valley school of painters, the hamlet was given the more picturesque name of Rhinecliff. The quaintness and charm of the hamlet serve as the water and rail gateway to the larger town of Rhinebeck.
Rhinecliff is one of the oldest intact hamlets along the Hudson River and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributor to the Hudson River National Historic Landmark District. At 20 miles (30 km) long, this Historic District is the largest National Historic Landmark (NHL)designation in the country. Rhinecliff is also included in the Local Waterfront Redevelopment Program (LWRP) and is designated: a Scenic Area of Statewide Significance (SASS), a contributor to the DEC Mid-Hudson Historic Shorelands Scenic District, a contributor to DEC Scenic Roads designations, and is in the Hudson River National Heritage Corridor.
The hamlet is demarcated by large agricultural and wooded area to the north, east, and south, and bounded by the Hudson River on the west. Steep topography, formed by contorted slate ridges and valleys, define the site-specific and seemingly random orientation of the small, frame 19th century houses and winding narrow roads. After experiencing a mid-19th century building boom, the original hamlet boundaries and building density have changed very little over the last 100 years.