Saturday, April 5, 2014

Back to 1965

We understand the present from studying the past. This is why Gossips is finding Hudson's 1965 Comprehensive Development Plan such a fascinating document. It reveals how the city perceived itself and was, in turn, perceived by planning consultants in 1965. That knowledge helps us understand some of the tensions that exist today.

The Comprehensive Development Plan of 1965 divided the city into six neighborhoods: "Downtown," essentially Warren Street from Third Street to Eighth Street; "South Bay," everything south of Warren Street from the river to East Court Street, including the area that was known as Simpsonville; "North Bay, everything north of Warren Street from the river to North Fourth Street; "Oakdale," the area north of Columbia Street and east of North Fourth Street, including Carroll, Clinton, Washington, and Prospect streets; "Hospital," made up of Worth and Prospect avenues, Green Street and Columbia Street beyond Eighth Street, Rossman Avenue, Columbia Turnpike, as well as East Allen Street and Partition Street above East Court Street; "High School," comprising the Boulevards, Paddock Place, Riverledge Road, Michael Court, and Joslen Place.

The map of the neighborhoods included in the Comprehensive Development Plan is primarily meant to chart what was determined to be the Structural Conditions of buildings in Hudson, marking the "Level of Substandard Condition by Block": crosshatch for "Serious," a category equivalent to what the federal Census of Housing called "deteriorating"; dots for "Critical," what the Census of Housing called "dilapidated." On the map, almost everything in the North Bay Neighborhood is marked as "Critical," except for the first two blocks of Warren Street, the north side of State Street above Third, and the east side of Third Street north of State, which are only "Serious." Almost everything in the South Bay Neighborhood below Third Street is marked as "Serious," as are the houses on Willard Place, with the exception of the one at the very end. The area that was Simpsonville is, of course, marked as "Critical."

The document contains a narrative about each neighborhood, and these narratives are interesting to contemplate almost fifty years later. The neighborhoods are presented in qualitative order, beginning with that was considered in 1965 to be the best neighborhood and ending with the worst. Gossips will present the neighborhoods in the same order, beginning with the best: the High School Neighborhood. Remember that in 1965 the school building we now know as Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School was the high school.

High School Neighborhood
The High School neighborhood, suburban middle-class in character and appearance, contains few problems. The neighborhood splits into two parts:
North of the school are well-maintained, single-family homes on large lots. Almost all of the new construction of the past decade and a half has taken place here.
South and east of the school, the blocks known as the Boulevards contain one and two-family homes on somewhat smaller lots. The only commercial uses of the neighborhood are located along Fairview Avenue. The only significantly poor environmental conditions were found along Spring Street.
Oakdale Recreation Area, the High School grounds and the open character of the neighborhood all provide ample recreational facilities.

Of the 298 housing units in the High School neighborhood, all were occupied, and almost all were in standard condition.

Except for code enforcement along the Boulevards, no treatment is required for this fine neighborhood.


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