Monday, May 25, 2015

Back When It Was Called Shantytown

On his blog, Hudson River Zeitgeist, Billy Shannon has published the transcript of an interview with Greenport resident Leo Bower, who grew up on North Front Street and has a "deep personal history" with the shack colony at North Bay: "A People's History of the Furgary."

Photo: Leo Bower


  1. Mr. Bower's assistance was invaluable when we conducted the historical mapping of individual shacks for our report to the state.

    We were also assisted by an older generation - nearing 80 years - which provided documentation on individual shacks.

    Then, an even older generation of shanty-dwellers - in its mid-90s - acknowledged the historical value of select shacks.

    Beware of anyone who sets themselves up as spokespeople for Furgary and the shacks. For motives unknown (political? personal?), you'll hear that no Furgarian cares about the structures themselves. They're flat wrong.

    Anyway, now it's for the state to decide.

  2. Thank you William Shannon for your brilliant, sensitive interview with Leo Bower - a true Furgary native! I have printed this out for safe keeping. One of the Bowers took the Hudson Athens Lighthouse Committee members out there in his Tin Boat when it first formed - 1981. Good fortune to the Fugary.

  3. Very little mention that Navigators started converging at N Dock well over a hundred years ago, when the HRRR entrapped the entire eastern shore. They met there because it was the only place left to wade into the Hudson, it still is. No mention of the surge in boat houses built during the Great Depression, when the Empire state declared "not starving" a lawful pursuit and municipalities selling waterfront property unlawful.

    Also not mentioned, one of Urban Renewal's downfalls, that many historically significant areas were leveled and replaced by cement, glass, blacktop and cookie cutter housing that dispirited urban areas.

    The Historic Preservation Act was then changed to require that any project using federal funds had to accommodate both historical and the prehistoric use of the project area. Might that be why, the city never bulldozed byproducts of the historic use, when building the treatment plant in the seventies?

    The "zeitgeist" now is one of governance by grant. So long as Albany sends boatloads of stimulus into New York's inner cities, Hudson's landgators will do just fine and history will never repeat.

  4. The (Hudson) river is navigable under federal law, for Commerce Clause purposes, because of its historical and current usability. No official designation is needed, because rivers that are navigable in fact are navigable in law. - See more at:

    All that matters is that you can get back to doing what you like to do: Kayaking, fishing, canoeing, rafting, and hunting on rivers, including rivers that flow through a patchwork of public and private lands, and including scouting rapids and portaging where necessary. That is the goal of the National Organization for Rivers. - See more at:

    Third, some river groups advocate for river usage for only their particular river user group. This has created rules that allow only one type of use on a section of river, and keep other users out. Examples include allowing only fishing on the upper Chattooga River in the southeast, and only canoeing on the Jackson River in Virginia. Such policies do not add up legally, because for centuries courts have consistently confirmed public rights as a whole package, including navigation, fishing, and hunting (such as duck hunting.) This is why NOR works for all river users, instead of one particular type. It is much better for river users to remain united in support of long-established law, so as to keep all rivers open to the public, rather than supporting theories of exclusive rights for one type of use. - See more at: