Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Heigh-Ho! Come to the Fair!"

Tomorrow is the last day of the Columbia County Fair for 2013--the 173rd annual Columbia County Fair. Fittingly, a reader just sent me the link to an article from The New York Times for September 26, 1863, which provides the information that 150 years ago, the Columbia County Fair took place not in Chatham, as it does today, but in Hudson. 

The fairgrounds in Hudson were located just west of Fairview Avenue and north of Oakwood Boulevard, around the site of the Montgomery C. Smith School. In fact, Fairview Avenue got its name not because it afforded a belle vue or a buena vista but because you could see the fairgrounds from there, and Paddock Place was named not for the Paddock family, Stephen Paddock being one of the original Proprietors, but because the paddocks for the horses at the fairgrounds were located there.

A year earlier, in September 1862, the Hudson fairgrounds were the site of Camp Kelly, where the 128th Regiment was organized and mustered into service to fight for the Union in the Civil War.

The picture of the fairgrounds, which is probably later than 1863, is from Historic Hudson's Rowles Studio Collection.

1 comment:

  1. The Fair Ground Boulevards

    Thanks for the terrific image of the Fair Grounds you posted, which I'd not seen before. But your placement of the Hudson Fair Grounds "north of Oakwood boulevard, around the site of Montgomery C. Smith School," is beside the excitement of driving "the wooded boulevards" upon the old half-mile race track itself -- for the Fair Grounds occupied all of the area that is now Glenwood, Parkwood, and Oakwood boulevard. Glenwood boulevard extends along the home stretch of the old race track to the end of the grounds (work was started in 1910 to extend it into the city, meeting North Seventh street through Arthur Farrand's attendant Oakdale Park development.*) Parkwood boulevard extends west from Fairview avenue along the back stretch of the race track, meeting Glenwood boulevard where the former race track turned into the home stretch! Oakwood boulevard extends from Fairview avenue, where the old Fair Grounds horse gate was formerly located, west and then south, meeting Parkwood boulevard.

    The Fair Grounds of the Columbia County Agricultural and Horticultural Association, built in 1860, was sold for $5,000, under foreclosure proceedings, in December 1904, to John Van Tassel of Hudson, The 50th and last Hudson fair was held there on September 1-4, 1909, and the grounds were sold, in January 1910, to Schenectady real-estate developers George and Charles Van Schoick. The Van Schoicks' "grand opening sale of choice residential lots" on the new Fairground Boulevards was held, with free band concert, on August 20, 1910. (Eighteen lots were sold that day to "Hudson and out of town people" for $400 each.)

    Motor forth out Glenwood boulevard toward Fairview avenue and know one is driving down the race-track home stretch, and that the grandstand stood on the right (or south) side of Glenwood boulevard as one goes by.

    Heigh-ho in the know toward the ‘View!

    Sources: Hudson Morning Republican, December 14, 1904, August 20 and 22, 1910, and August 19, 1915; and advertisement for Oakdale Park Realty Co. in the Playhouse
    Theatre program of May 2, 1916.

    * Farrand’s Oakdale Park development included 27 acres known as “Power’s Woods” adjacent to Underhill Pond, and the creation in the summer of 1916 of an artificial lake of four and one-half acres in the center of the park that we know as Oakdale Lake, all based on plans made by Hermann W. Merkel, Landscape Architect of the Zoological Park, and the Bronx Parkway Commission of the City of New York.