Saturday, November 26, 2016

Our Ever Quirky Little City

Recently, while doing research in Hudson newspapers from 1851, it struck me that the location of houses and businesses is never indicated by an address but rather by its relation to a well known building or business. For example, a house advertised for sale on Allen Street was said to be "a few rods from the Court House." Mrs. Bushnell announced that she had opened a boarding house "in the A. Hammond Building, fronting the Public Square." A barber informed his patrons that "he will continue to SHAVE and DRESS HAIR as usual at his stand in Warren street, directly opposite H. Gage's Crockery Store, and two doors below Bogardus & White's Grocery Store." An advertisement for E. Simpson, Physician and Surgeon, told those seeking his services: "His house can be found a few doors above the Mansion House, and nearly opposite the Presbyterian Church." Yet another ad announced that secondhand pianos where to be had at "Blanchard's, a few doors below Badgley's Hotel, Warren street." 

The reason for this bizarre manner of indicating location is intimated in this little item, which appeared in May 1851 in the Hudson Daily Star.

It appears that in 1851 houses and buildings in Hudson were not numbered. It is not known exactly when house numbers started being used in Hudson. It's entirely possible that the editorializing item in the Star was part of an effort to get Hudson to conform with what was done in the rest of the country. Soon after, in 1854, ads start appearing in the Star that give the addresses of businesses. The following is an example.

The headline for this ad indicates City Boot & Shoe Store is located at 317½ Warren Street. But old habits die hard, and at the end of the ad, readers are reminded that the store is "one door above Guernsey & Terry's, and directly opposite the Star Office." 

It appears that sometime in the mid-19th century--between 1851 and 1854, when the city had already been in existence for some seventy years--Hudson decided to adopt and use house numbers. Thirty-five years later--from 1888-1889--it was decided to change all the numbers on the city's west-east streets in order to introduce "hundred blocks." All done, we can assume, to make researching a building's history more challenging for us in the 21st century.

1 comment:

  1. i confinue to use this system when giving directions to my computer shop. When giving directions i tell people I'm two doors down from the Red Dot and half a block up from Steiners.