Monday, April 28, 2014

"I've Got to Admit It's Getting Better": Part 3

For this part of our series about the 1965 Comprehensive Development Plan, using the line from the Beatles song as the title seems inappropriate. The vision for the second section of the riverfront--Promenade Hill--has changed only marginally since 1965. In fact, what's proposed in the plan sounds better than what we actually got.

Promenade Hill
The blocks west of Front Street, between Ferry Street and the Hudson Mills, contain some of the worst housing in the City. Many structures are derelict and vacant, some occupied structures have been condemned as unsafe by Hudson's Department of Public Works. This area also contains a firehouse and two parks. Promenade Hill, a stately riverfront park, is seldom used; Franklin Playground, intensively used by neighborhood children, but without a bench to sit on, is on a small lot that was carved in two by the railroad.
Proposals. This narrow strip of land needs redevelopment and has been included as part of the first proposed urban renewal project. Housing problems here are intense and redevelopment treatment is required. One possible type of redevelopment is . . . Franklin Playground, Fleet Street, and the block between Fleet Street and Pennoyer Street are utilized for high density housing. Under this scheme, the first units would be built on Franklin Playground to minimize relocation problems. To replace Franklin Playground, it is proposed that Promenade Hill (south of Warren Street) be enlarged east to Front Street and south to include Pennoyer Alley (a paper street), thus providing a more centrally located playground. This plan should increase the use of Promenade Hill which at present, although it commands a magnificent view of the Hudson, has no facilities for young people, and is not conveniently located for the elderly. If its addition to the east provides active play equipment for children, it would make handsome and historic Promenade Hill more useful for parents.
The firehouse site and the block to the west are pleasant reminders of the Proprietors' early map--both in scale and proportion. The first public market in Hudson was located here. The firehouse, a sound structure, can be retained, with parking provided both to the north of the building and on Warren Street. The narrow alley of Market Place can be added to the firehouse site to provide a small green area for social events. The small block to the west, centrally located and historically reminiscent in its scale, can be used for small-scale housing, which would blend harmoniously with the park. 
The area directly north of the firehouse as far as Hudson Knitting Mills, is another site for high density housing. At present, these blocks contain burned-out hulks and decrepit structures, but, as is true of the whole Promenade Hill area, they are potentially one of the finest housing sites in Hudson.
With redevelopment, all of the short streets and alleys west of Front Street, between Mill Street and Ferry Street, may be eliminated with the exception of Warren Street, which must be retained to provide egress for the fire truck and parking for firemen and for persons using the park.
The black and white map is a detail from the map of the First Ward in the 1888 Beers atlas. The other images are from the 1965 Comprehensive Development Plan.


  1. "With redevelopment, all of the short streets and alleys west of Front Street, between Mill Street and Ferry Street, may be eliminated ..."

    But Mill Street west of Front Street never existed except in the minds of the city's Proprietors.

    As for this or any mayor doing whatever he or she wishes at the Promenade park, it's a general truth that power fills a vacuum. Thus you can't entirely blame the current mayor for disregarding the Proprietors' wishes concerning the management of the Promenade, a.k.a. "Parade Hill" (at their very first meeting no less!), when the feckless Common Council has ceded its authority on the public's behalf.

    As in national politics, when the legislature relinquishes its authority to the executive, perhaps we ultimately have only ourselves to blame. But do we deserve to get ripped off? Certainly not.

    1. "You've Got to Admit the parks are Getting much Better", unless you smoke, ride a bicycle, walk a dog, fish, hunt or wish to Navigate from land to our Riparian Forest...