Thursday, April 27, 2017

Returning to the Public Square

It's been about three years since Cathryn Dwyre's re-imagining of the Public Square, also known as Seventh Street Park, met with what was at best misgiving and at worst outrage.

Dwyre dissed the original 1878 design of the park, calling it a Roman concept that was already out of fashion when it was inappropriately imposed on the Public Square--inappropriate because it pretended that the railroad tracks did not slice through the space. Despite that criticism, Hudsonians were ready defend their anachronistic park. The general consensus at the time seemed to be that the park should be restored to its 19th-century simplicity, with the original Venus fountain at its center.

Although there was much attention paid to the Public Square back in 2014, no plan to restore or alter the park was ever pursued, because the City didn't get the $250,000 grant it was seeking to finance the project.

The Public Square came up again last night at the Common Council Public Works Committee meeting. Peter Bujanow, public works commissioner, had earlier noted that the paving of the walks in the park was in such bad shape that it presented a public safety issue. In his report to the committee, DPW superintendent Rob Perry explained that in 2013 he had gotten a quote from T. D. Smith Stonemasonry to replace the asphalt surface with pavers. The cost, then estimated to be just shy of $40,000, was put in the proposed budget for 2014 but was removed by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. Perry said he would again ask that money to replace the asphalt walks with pavers be included in the budget for 2018.

Image: Google
The pictures that follow, showing a city park in Chesterton, Maryland, provided to Gossips back in 2014 by Joe Connelly, give evidence that replacing the nasty asphalt with brick pavers would go a long a way toward improving the appearance and the experience of our Public Square.


With new brick paths, all that would remain to make the Public Square the source of civic pride, as it was in the 19th century, would be to get rid of the pachyderm fence around the fountain and re-create the fountain in its original 19th-century design.

Evelyn & Robert Monthie Slide Collection, Columbia County Historical Society


  1. I can't tell from the pictures, but do we know what the original "pavers" looked like? Do we want another red brick walkway?

    1. I don't know how the paths were originally paved, but from the early colorized images of the park, it's clear that they were not red brick. Anna Bradbury makes reference to gravel, so it's possible that the paths were originally paved with gravel.

      "Another red brick walkway?" Where do we have one now?

    2. There is a short brick sidewalk run on the corner of 1 st and Union.

    3. And there's another one in front of 243 Union Street. Peter's question suggested to me that he was talking about red brick walks in parks and public spaces not on individual property owners' sidewalks.

  2. TSL has a brick sidewalk. $40,000??? Sounds like a hot air number without specifications and a site plan.

  3. Oh do it, for goodness sake. Stop waffling and save the park.