Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Spirits of the Place

From the beginning, cakes and ale have been readily available in Hudson. Captain Franklin Ellis, in his History of Columbia County (1878), had this to say about the state of things just a year after the City of Hudson was incorporated:
The individuals and firms licensed in 1786 "to retail all kinds of spirituous liquors" were Gorton & Frotlingham, Cotton Gelston, Joseph Barnard & Co., Thomas Jenkins & Co., Teunis A. Slingerlandt, Greene & Mansfield, Alexander Coffin, John Thurston, Gano & Wall, William G. Hubbel, Seth Jenkins, Benjamin Folger, Reuben Folger, Worth & Dayton, Stephen Paddock & Son, Dayton & Chase, and David Lawrence.
It would seem that, at that time, the retail liquor trade must have been a highly respectable business, for we find here, in the list of those engaged in it, the names of the mayor, the recorder, and four of the councilmen of the city, and fifteen of the solid men known as the original proprietors of Hudson.
In 1909, Anna R. Bradbury, writing about the founding of the Young Men's Christian Association in Hudson in May 1866, expressed a rather different attitude toward the subject in her History of the City of Hudson:
A city which, from the proportion of saloons to the population has won the unenviable distinction of standing second on the list in the state, should sustain "The Christian Association" in self defience [sic]. Let the stranger who invariably comments on the number of saloons on our principal thoroughfare, be enabled to observe at least one public effort to provide a proper, and congenial place for our young men to congregate.
The YMCA, 435 Warren Street, in 1905

On the subject of establishments that offer "spirituous liquors," there are two local developments worthy of note. The first is a new bar being planned for 702 Columbia Street. The bar, which will serve only bar snacks and not have a restaurant, is proposed for the downstreet half of the building. There are also plans for a patio in the rear.

The project was presented for the first time to the Planning Commission on November 14. Since it requires adding a door in the facade of the building, which is located in a locally designated historic district, the project will need both a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission and site plan approval from the Planning Commission. 

The second story involves yet another liquor store--not in Hudson but in Greenport. As the story goes, the New York State Liquor Authority denied a liquor license for the package store proposed for Greenport Crossing, Harbalwant Singh's fast food-convenience store-gas station-family entertainment complex on Route 66. The reason for denial reportedly was that the area already had an adequate number of liquor stores for the population and adding one more would create an unsustainable situation. But where there's a will there's a way, and the way Singh found was to buy Key City Wine & Liquor in the 600 block of Warren Street and move the business, liquor license and all, to the new building on Route 66. Gossips sources report that this proposal has been approved by the SLA.


  1. Was Ellis being highly facetious, or intensely naïve? The other obvious explanation would be that Hudson politics were disreputable from the start, rather than liquor-dealing being highly repectable.


  2. I think that the preponderance of "spiritous liquors" in Hudson may have had more to do with poor water quality generally in the 18th century than the personal tippling habits of the Proprietors and their neighbors.

  3. Lots of bars in a port town.

    I'm shocked, shocked!

    -- Jock Spivy