Over the weekend, a reader sent Gossips this detail from a 1889 Sanborn map of the Hudson waterfront. It shows a Standard Oil facility located on the 2.4-acre parcel that is part of the 9.968 acres being conveyed to the City of Hudson.
Wanting to learn more about Standard Oil's operation on our waterfront, I did some online research and discovered the Industrial Directory and Shippers' Guide, published in 1921 by the New York Central Lines. Close to a thousand pages long, this compendium of information, advertising, and self-promotion for the New York Central railroad system provides a fascinating look at industry in the United States at the beginning of the 1920s. Of particular interest is this description of Hudson.
HUDSON, NEW YORK, the head of deep water navigation of the Hudson River, a rapidly growing city of 11,745 population, offers many features of location and enterprise.
Hudson is 114 miles from New York, 33 miles from Albany, 324 miles from Buffalo and 195 miles from Boston.
Hudson has superior transportation advantages with rail, river and road service. The city is on the main line of the New York Central Railroad, giving service to New York City, the south, Export, the west, or Canada. The Boston & Albany Railroad is the outlet to New England.
This city is the real head of navigation of the Hudson River, with a twenty-eight foot channel from New York to Hudson. It is a New England rail and water transfer point.
The Albany Southern, an electric and freight line, runs from Hudson to Albany.
Hudson is a center of the New York State Highway System, with improved highways leading in every direction.
The State Board has recommended the construction of a large canal terminal, fully equipped for loading and unloading barges carrying all kinds of freight, to cost $300,000.
Besides numerous freight and passenger trains each day on the New York Central and the Boston & Albany, there is a 45-minute ferry service across the Hudson and an even hour trolley service to Albany.
Leading IndustriesThe present industrial activity of the city centers in fifty industries; two of the largest cement plants in the world; large conveyor and ice tool concern; marine life saving equipment plant; railway car wheel company; three large textile mills; beverage-making plants; lumber yards; immense brick plants; furniture, paper box, cut glass, mattress, garment and other factories of varied nature. Annual shipments of products close to one million tons. Recently a large builder of automobile bodies has located there, and other firms are considering the city. The Chamber of Commerce of the city is now developing a tract of 175 acres for industrial purposes.
Labor and HousingThe predominant nationality is American, the majority of residents being descendants of the early Dutch settlers and Nantucket whalers.
The city is open shop, free from labor disturbances.
Houses rent from $14 to $40. A housing project will give a six-room brick house, modern, at approximately $33 per month on rental purchase basis. Building and Loan Association to finance individual home ownership.
With products grown at the doors of the city, living costs are low.
Water supply is from large reservoir, with filter plant furnishing pure mountain water at all times. No residential charge. Industrial rate, 5 cents per thousand gallons, with large discounts.
Located on land sloping to the Hudson River and swept by water breezes, Hudson has an agreeable temperature, is unusually healthful and free from epidemics.
Two national banks, one trust company and a savings bank. Resources over $15,000,000.
Hendrik Hudson landed at this point from his ship, the Half Moon, in 1609, and ascended the river in canoes. Hudson was then and is today, the natural head of navigation. A lighthouse marks the landing point.This fascinating account of Hudson as a vibrant hub of industry and transportation in 1921 raises some questions. Did the construction of a "large canal terminal" ever happen? Where were the 175 acres the Chamber of Commerce was developing for commercial purposes? Where was the "housing project" consisting of modern six-room brick houses built? And, of course, there remains our original question about Standard Oil and its activities on the waterfront.