Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It Was Ever Thus

The front page of the Hudson Evening Register for August 29, 1913, where the proposed name for South Front Street was discovered, contained another article of interest--about the Common Council's discovery in 1913 of a land swap with the railroad that happened forty years earlier. The article is especially interesting given the ongoing exploration of the history of land ownership on the waterfront.    


Council Transaction of 1874 is Recalled.

N. Y. Central Claims Part of South Front Street.

At the meeting of the Common Council last night Alderman Finigan said that as a member of the street committee in connection with the repaving of South Front street it was found that almost half of the street as at present in use was claimed by the New York Central railroad. It seems that in 1874 the Council, according to the Alderman, gave a piece of Front street to railroad and for it got a piece of land "way out by the dump." He classed the transaction as one of stupidity, the members of the Council being either blind or else corrupt, to give away such a valuable piece of land, one of the principle [sic] approaches to the river, and showed that West Cross street had been closed entirely, this being another street leading to the water-front. Front street had been eighty feet wide, but only about fifty feet would be left, if railroad moves out to what it claims its property, which comes out to near street track. The Aldermen had the Clerk read the members of the Council in 1874. They were C. H. Evans, Mayor; Edward P. Magon [sic], Recorder; and Aldermen Aldcroftt, Connor, Ganley, Macy, McArthur, Saulpaugh, Townsend, and Waterbury.   

Alderman Gillette said from what he knew of men named he would not consider that they had done anything corrupt, but conditions at time might have been different than now, and what present Council would not consider good policy might have considered from a different viewpoint back forty years.

Alderman Finigan said that he felt the city should have searches made and find out just what it owns. The railroad puts up line monuments and fences and claims property. The matter was referred to Street committee to look into.

E. P. Magoun, who was Recorder in 1874, was seen this morning at the County Clerk's office. He stated that the action of Council was a public one at the time. Cross street, which then continued westerly to Water street, made a dangerous crossing over Central tracks and it had been closed from Front to Franklin, but from Franklin to Water left open. In exchange for this the city received a large slip of land adjoining Broad street on easterly side. To lesson curve and move its station out easterly the railroad was granted a strip of land along west side of South Front street, and for this the railroad gave a piece of land on the easterly side, more than was granted. Following this South Front street was opened from Broad street to end of city on map, and then Power avenue was laid out from Front to Third.

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