Sunday, February 8, 2015

The More Things Change . . .

There is talk these days of charter revision and broadening the tax base. It seems such talk has been going on for more than a hundred years. This morning, Gossips discovered this proposal for charter change that appeared 121 years ago, in the Hudson Daily Evening Register for February 21, 1894. It advocates annexing much of the territory about Hudson, fifty-seven years after the original area of Hudson was significantly diminished by the creation of the Town of Greenport in 1837.

The Ancient City Must Keep Up with the Advancing Procession--Suggestions that Might be Embodied in the Proposed New Charter--A Plan that is Not Patented
The tendency of the age is to make cities greater cities. New York and other ambitious towns in the State have bills before the Legislature looking to the accomplishment of this object, by annexing all the surrounding territory that can be reached by the long arms of monopoly.
Hudson must not be behind in this progressive age. We are a "great city" in everything except territory and population. Let us overcome that by advocating "a Greater Hudson." Let us contemplate, in framing our new Charter, the annexation of Jonesburg, Greenport Centre, Greendale, Athens, Mt. Merino, Claverack village; and, with the extension of the trolley system, we might take in Ghent and Chatham villages as desirable suburban residences.
By the consummation of this feasible scheme, we would acquire an extent of territory, wealth and population commensurate with the loftiest ambition of the most enthusiastic politician, and have plenty of room to "grow and stretch ourselves." We would outrank our neighboring settlements of Albany and Troy, except, perhaps, the desirable adjuncts of the unfinished State capitol and protected collars and cuffs. But these could be overcome with the proposed new jail and enlargement of the House of Refuge.
Hurrah for a "Greater Hudson"! Hoop 'er up, boys! Make it an issue in the new Charter and the next Charter election.
Work on the State Capitol, which began in 1867, was not completed until 1899. Why the writer refers to Troy's principal industry as "protected" collars and cuffs is not clear. It's also not clear if the piece is meant to be satirical or not, but either way, it's interesting that the writer suggests that "the proposed new jail and enlargement of the House of Refuge" would make Hudson competitive with Albany and Troy. Ten years after this piece appeared in the Evening Register, the House of Refuge closed, as a consequence of a series scandals and a declining population.

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