Thursday, April 10, 2014

Back to 1965: The Hospital Neighborhood

We return today to the assessment of neighborhoods found in the 1965 Comprehensive Development Plan. Next up is the neighborhood ranked third best by the consultants who did the study almost fifty years ago: the Hospital Neighborhood.

This neighborhood contains some expected parts of the city--Prospect and Worth avenues, Rossman Avenue, Green Street, Columbia and Warren streets beyond Eighth Street--and some unexpected parts--Union Street above Seventh Street and everything south of Union Street from Seventh Street down to East Court Street.

The Hospital Neighborhood
While the population of the Hospital neighborhood is similar to that of the High School neighborhood, the character of the neighborhood differs.
Four-fifths of the structures are residential. Of the rest, most are commercial or mixed residential and non-residential. The neighborhood is largely bounded by open land uses, cemeteries and the New York State Training School for Girls, and contains the Hospital, nursing homes, numerous churches but no schools. The only park facilities are Academy Playground and the Little League Field.
The neighborhood contains 671 housing units, almost all of which are in one and two-family houses. Three-quarters are in standard condition.
The areas of blight or incipient structural blight are concentrated in a few blocks bordering the Downtown neighborhood. The most adverse environmental conditions were also located here. The Development Plan calls for a major new road to be located here. Rehabilitation should be accomplished in conjunction with this new construction.
The picture below shows the remnants of the "Academy Playground." The Little League Field still exists on Hudson Street, owned now by the Galvan Initiatives Foundation.

The most provocative detail in the description of the Hospital Neighborhood is the mention of "a major new road to be located here." This is what that's about. 

The Comprehensive Development Plan included a traffic study. Preeminent among the findings of the study was this: "The major street system of Hudson requires simplified access to the central business district and improved connections between major roads." The first of a series of proposals meant to simplify access and improve connections was this:
Route 9, entering Hudson from the south:
A by-pass is proposed, starting approximately at the juncture of the southern boundary line of the City and Worth Avenue and cutting diagonally across the property of the New York State Training School for Girls and then north to Columbia Street, meeting it at the small triangle known as Rogers Park. This new Route 9 would be west of Eighth Street and east of Varick Street. While it is preferable to have this Route 9 by-pass built in its entirety, the segment of the by-pass that connects Rogers Park and Union Street should be given slightly higher priority than the section cutting across the grounds of the Training School, as this northern portion is essential to the entire circulation plan for the City. . . .
At the time of the construction of the Route 9 by-pass, Varick Street would be closed, and a parking lot created between the new by-pass and the rear of the buildings fronting on Park Place. Worth Avenue would become a local street; if the Training School released their property, both sides could be used for residential purposes. Where the new by-pass meets Columbia and Green Streets, several street closings (Varick and State Streets, and Long Alley), a new one-way traffic pattern, and traffic islands would simplify traffic movements.
Below is the map that accompanied this proposal, showing the details of the intersection around Rogers Park, the little triangle where Hudson's "Olympic torch" is enshrined.

The planners were hoping that the State of New York would make the proposed improvements "as part of its arterial program." The document goes on to explain, "Under this program, the State pays 100% of both the right-of-way and construction costs." Obviously, what was proposed didn't come to fruition, for whatever reason. We somehow lost Varick Street anyway, but let's consider (thankfully) what we might have lost but didn't.

"New Route 9" would have cut across the grounds of the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, which there is good reason to believe is the work of early landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing. If it survived at all, the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, now a National Historic Landmark, would be tucked behind a highway lined with late '60s–early '70s ranch houses--a fate not unlike that of the Joab Center House in Greenport. As the "new Route 9" made its way toward Rogers Park, it would have taken out several little Arts and Crafts houses on the south side of Union Street and most certainly the buildings on the north side of Warren Street where Crimson Sparrow and Bonfiglio & Bread are located, as well as the building where Vasilow's is located on Columbia Street.

Thank goodness not everything proposed happens.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the C.D.P. had the same "experts" as Syracuse where they did run a highway through downtown. Poor Syracuse has never recovered.