Today at 6 p.m., the Historic Preservation Commission is holding a public hearing on the new construction proposed for the corner of Union and First streets. On April 20 at 6 p.m., the Zoning Board of Appeals will hold its public hearing on the project.
A criticism frequently heard about the plan for this corner is that it is too dense: four houses are too many for what was originally only two lots. Given that, it's reasonable to wonder what the corner looked like in the 19th century. Maps of the First Ward in 1873 and 1888 both show a heavily built-up corner, with two houses facing Union Street and at least one house--larger than the surviving house--facing First Street. What did those houses look like and when did they disappear?
The aerial photograph below, taken in the 1960s, before Urban Renewal, shows the lot at Union and First streets already vacant and apparently being used to store some kind of heavy equipment.
Conversations with people who grew up in the First Ward suggest that Union and First was already a vacant lot in the early 1950s. Tomorrow the quest for evidence of what the corner looked like in the 19th century continues in the History Room of the Hudson Area Library.