Thursday, January 3, 2019

A New Year, a New Perspective

After reporting in November about the proposal being entertained by the Common Council in the fall of 1918 to rent the Kennedy dock to a company called the Concrete Ship Corporation, Gossips endeavored to learn the outcome of this proposal. A study of Common Council minutes for the end of 1918 and the beginning of 1919 yielded the following information regarding this proposal.

Recorded in the Common Council minutes for November 18, 1918--the night of the public hearing--was a statement by S. B. Coffin which was not mentioned in the newspaper account of the hearing. According to the minutes, Coffin said the dock "was the only dock which could be used without crossing over a dangerous railroad crossing at grade. . . . He questioned the legallity [sic] of such a lease in as much as the original proprietors of the city had deeded this dock to the city for shipping purposes only." It is commonly known that the Proprietors designated Promenade Hill to be "a public walk or mall" in perpetuity, but who knew they had also designated this stretch of riverfront, which the City illegally handed over to St. Lawrence Cement in 1981, to be a public dock "for shipping purposes only"?

The minutes of the Council meeting for January 30, 1919, reveal that the Council decided to "start off with a clear slate" and rescinded the resolution to lease the dock to the Concrete Ship Corporation. The following is quoted from the Council minutes:
Alderman Finnigan believed that some action should be taken toward securing a barge canal terminal for the City of Hudson. All other cities along the river had taken some action, but no move had been made here. He believed that the water front of the city was a valuable asset, and that it should be preserved by the city, and not leased or rented for any other purpose.
Alderman McLaren was of the same opinion, and stated that he had opposed the various attempts to lease the city docks to a corporation of unknown standing.
Alderman Finnigan stated that he believed this Council should start off with a clear slate, and should rescind the resolution adopted by the previous Council in so far as that same requested the City Treasurer to lease certain docks to the Concrete Ship Corporation. He therefore offered the following resolution which was unanimously adopted:
RESOLVED that the following resolution adopted by the Common Council at a meeting thereof held October 4th, 1918 be and the same hereby is in all respects rescinded; for the reason that the Finance Committee of the previous Council failed to make any report relative to the financial standing or business ability of the Concrete Ship Corporation. . . .
Having rescinded that resolution, the Council then unanimously passed a new resolution pertaining to the waterfront:
RESOLVED that the Hudson Harbor Association, The Civic Improvement Association, and all citizens who have the welfare of the City of Hudson at heart be invited to meet with members of the Common Council at 8:15 P.M. February 6th, 1919 for the purpose of bringing before the proper authorities of the State and Nation the harbor facilities of the City of Hudson, and for the purpose of taking such further action towards the formation of a Chamber of Commerce as may see advisable and timely.
The minutes go on to report:
On motion of Alderman Finnigan the representatives of the Hudson Evening Register and the Hudson Morning Republican were requested to make a vigorous campaign of publicity to the end that the contemplated meeting may be well attended.
Sadly, the Hudson Evening Register for 1919 is not part of the vast database of newspapers at, nor is the Hudson Morning Republican, and there is no mention of the meeting in the weekly Columbia Republican either on February 4 or February 11, 1919. Since it wasn't an official meeting of the Common Council, there is no record of it in the Council minutes, but the fact that a special of meeting of the Council, to elect a new alderman, scheduled to take place on February 6 at 8:00 p.m., fifteen minutes before this meeting, did not happen for want of a quorum, doesn't bode well.


  1. Carole, my geographic memory may be failing me but how was the Kennedy Dock "the only dock which could be used without crossing over a dangerous railroad crossing at grade"?
    Hadn't the Ferry St. Bridge been open for over a decade at that point (Seemingly giving access to all the south-side waterfront docks)?
    Or, what access would Kennedy Dock have had that others did not?

    1. I can't be sure what S. B. Coffin had in mind, but you're right, the Ferry Street bridge was built in 1905. What I thought Coffin was talking about was access to the dock provided by what was originally Fred W. Jones's mountain railroad, which followed the path that is now known as the "causeway." That seems to have had some kind of elevated path over the tracks that run along the river. The causeway, if it didn't curve to the right as it does now, leads straight to what was the Kennedy dock. What I found interesting was that Coffin's comment seems to suggest that this access was available to all who had goods to ship.