Friday, October 26, 2012

Where Did All the Buildings Go?

This aerial picture shows the Hudson waterfront probably sometime in the second quarter of the 20th century. There are vehicles in the picture, so we can infer it was taken after the advent of the motorcar--and the airplane. What's remarkable is the number of buildings at the waterfront, around Ferry Street and south of it. Compare that with this aerial picture, discovered by Dan Seward and, thanks to Stephanie Monseu, shared with Gossips.

This picture was probably taken in the early 1970s. Bliss Towers has been built. The Hudson Terrace apartments are in place, looking strangely dark to those of us who remember them with powder blue vinyl siding. The area from Columbia Street to State Street below Second is devoid of structures, as is the south side of the first block of Warren Street. On the waterfront, all the buildings are gone and oil tanks have taken their place. When and how did this happen?

The photo caption reads:
A Contrast: The New And The Old Photographer Wendy Neefus of Neefus Studios, Hudson, captured this view of Hudson from the air showing the river-front middle income housing development, the Warren St. historic rehabilitation district behind which parts of the sale housing constructed by Channing Corp. may be seen, and the high rise low income housing complex at the right, an area adjoining some of the oldest structures in Hudson. At the far left is the city's boat launch site, and, in the foreground, the railroad station that will be undergoing a renovations [sic] that also will include new parking facilities. The bare section of Warren St., center right, will be the site of a neighborhood shopping center.


  1. Great old photo!

    You can see the Fleet Street railroad bridge, the building that preceded the Half Moon, possibly Ely's at the Ferry slip, and the Hudson House hotel up against the Columbia Knitting Company on Ferry Street.

    Imagine how attractive Franklin Square must have been. See how open the space was.

    I believe that the more people we encourage to turn their historical curiosity towards the waterfront the better.

  2. The Franklin Street Playground/Park was absolutely beautiful, with a large fountain pool near the Front Street side. Chip's (Chipkowski?) store was at the corner, selling, when I was a kid, three packages of Kool-Aid for 25 Cents. I could go on......

  3. So what did happen?
    Basically the citizens of Hudson were told that they had one of the worst housing conditions in NYS.
    This was amplified by the fact that there was mixture of cultures living in dowtown Hudson (the Afro-Amercian citizens resided mostly only on Columbia St. with a mixture of Italian, Polish, Irish cultures living in the other areas)plus buildings that varied from "slums" to livable with the population seeking to move uptown or to the "sub-burbs" of Greenport.
    Then came the great hope of urban renewal, set forth by the Fed, State & local gov'ts as a cure all for eradicating slum lords & to provide housing for the poor & elderly. Thus came Bliss Towers & Hudson Terrace. Hudson Terrace was offered to Seniors of Hudson ( it acutally had brown stained wooden siding w/ white stucco in the beginning)& Bliss Towers as a place to house low income and/or for the residence of the buildings to be demolished. Now add to that the daggling carrot offered to property owners in the renewal areas to buy them out. The owners grab the opportunity, even some people purchased the buildings in the urban renewal areas only to "flip" them at a profit to the gov't.
    At the time I believe that the Urban Renewal Programs gave a sense of hope & a positive feeling for Hudson residents, not all but for many.
    Then you have the first time a river front park/access was given to the locals thus came the "boat launch" area that still exists today.
    You have to remember that at the time, the 60's, the country was in stages of demonstrations, rioting & a cultural revolution. Change was good.
    Also there weren't many flocking to Hudson to open stores, restore buildings to there former glory, etc. especially "downtown" in the ghetto.
    The economical downturn of Hudson during the 70's & 80's provided an opportunity for new investment, new ideas, & directions that makes Hudson what it is today.
    The challenge is to preserve what Hudson offers to attract new property owners & keep those that reside there now.

    1. Thanks for this, tmdonofrio, but I was asking specifically about the buildings on the waterfront. How did they disappear to make way for oil tanks?

  4. Carole:
    The single gas/fuel tank that is closet to the CSX bridge was surronded by buildings up until the 60's. The building(s) that were nearest the tank caught fire & scared the hell out of the residences nearby. Many people expected a huge explosion of the single tank that would than cause the other tanks to explode.
    Those buildings were torn down soon after the fire.
    Personally I do not known when the tanks were constructed & the buildings on the riverside demolished to make way for the tank farm.

  5. I did fail mention one fact about the tank farm on the river.
    It was used in the film "Odds Against Tomorrow". Needless to say there was quite an explosion from gunfire in the movie.
    Do you or gossips' readers know if "Odds Against Tomorrow" was the first movie ever to use Hudson in a film?

  6. I looks like 28 Allen Street is the corner of 1st and Allen when 1st street came to Allen with 3 buildings between here and the warehouse instead of the current two houses.I have been told that 1st St. came at least to Allen if not to Cross St.

  7. I recall the tanks downtown and then they added more tanks (Shotmyer Oil) and then recovery catchment basins (1980) in such a case of leaks/spills. Also noted in other photo that I would guess it was around 1974ish where they leveled Warren St between 1st and Front (Except for Wardels Drug Store) for shopping center. This was an grand idea to build a downtown supermarket to replace the Grand Union that was to be closed next to Finish Line where Mental Health currently is today. This also was to compete with the expansion of RT 9 with shopping centers to keep shoppers in Hudson since there was always a battle between the two towns. Candylane is still in photo (Now Providence Hall built around 1979) and the big lot west of highrise which now is Skyler Court which I recall being built around 1984 was a field and unused except for gardening by locals in neighborhood. Downtown was slipping downhill economically and socially in the mid to late 70's due to industry disappearing and loss of many many jobs over time (V&O, Canada Dry, Mephisto Tool, Lorbrook, Atlas, etc). To answer the question of where did all these buildings go? The same mentality exist today with certain folks and instead of finding solutions, they decide to destroy and rebuild without ever addressing the core issues correctly. Looking at Front street at the time which I barely recall those buildings, I bet front street was a very active community with many active businesses and homes. To reconnect the waterfront with the rest of downtown, you would have to bring back what was there which is not all that difficult. Unfortunately, the Terrace which was all T-111 sided back then (Meltz from Stockport got contract to vinylize Terrace in late 80's) is poorly designed and totally disconnected aesthetically from anything else in area. If you note, many areas that are outside the norm from the city also house a different environment which also creates a different culture with no flow into the historic and natural surroundings. Things are destroyed do to closed door meetings from some whom never traveled and think of a cruise as a dream vacation or Las Vegas as the perfect vacation and looking for undertable hand outs. Anyways downtown is a memory to some and gone in a scoop of a Bucketloader and D-8. Today we have the product of a seed that was planted by a select few which history has show is caused by poor planning and listening to your neighbor for the remedy of cancer.

  8. The great aerial picture at the head of this post of the Hudson waterfront can be found in "Hudson From The Air: A Series of Fifteen Aerial Photographs Covering The Entire City of Hudson, N.Y.," published and printed by The Hudson Press, Hudson, N.Y., in 1931, a copy of which can be found in the History Room of the Hudson Area Library.