Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Hudson in 1871

The History Room of the Hudson Area Library recently acquired a rare 1871 map of Hudson, a gift from a generous donor.

Text on the map indicates that it was published in 1871 by J. H. Lant, surveyed by Sherman Van Ness (who we learned recently was the city surveyor and lived in a house that stood at the northeast corner of Union and South Second streets, now the site of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church), drawn by Alex S. Rowley, and engraved and printed by H. J. Toudy & Co. Steam Lithography, 529 Chestnut St., Philadelphia.

Brenda Shufelt, program director at the Hudson Area Library, reports: "In researching the map, historical institutions were consulted, including Historic Hudson, The Gossips of Rivertown, the Columbia County Historical Society, the Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the DAR, the New York Archives, and the Library of Congress, and there does not appear to be any other known copy of this map. Its current condition is legible but extremely fragile."

The map measures 4' x 5' and features, bordering the map of the original four wards of Hudson, nineteen images of prominent buildings. One of those buildings is the home of Casper P. Collier, the house, now missing, that stood at the eastern end of the 300 block of Allen Street, next to the courthouse, where today there is a parking lot.

The house, then owned by Columbia County, was demolished sometime at the end of the 1970s or beginning of the 1980s. Until seeing the image of the house from the 1871 map, this photograph, taken by Walker Evans in the 1930s, was the best visual documentation I knew of the house.

Walker Evans Archive|Metropolitan Museum of Art
The map is currently at the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, MA, awaiting treatment to clean and stabilize it. The treatment plan involves removing the old varnish in a solvent bath; additional treatment to reduce staining, discoloration, and acidity; and replacing the the damaged existing linen cloth backing with new Japanese paper and cloth backing to provide stability. Tears and voids in the map will be aligned and in-painted.

A high resolution copy of the map will be made and displayed at the library. The original will be protected and stored in the appropriate archival manner and will be available for access or display on special occasions.

The cost of the restoration is $7,500. To raise that sum, a GoFundMe campaign has been created, which so far has raised $3,175. Click here to make a contribution to the restoration. Everyone who makes a donation will have a unique opportunity to see the original map when the restoration has been completed.


  1. Notice the state-owned underwater lands where the North Bay extends south from the future corner of Front and Dock Streets.

    Since then it's all been filled in, but as the North Dock Tin Boat Association learned at a staggering cost, the state had never relinquished that land. And the way the NDTBA's lawsuit was decided, that's still the case at Front and Dock Streets.

    How 'bout doing a title search on that?

    Fat chance.

    1. One rule for sunny side of Warren, another for county fisher folk with rod and steel. Where a little old fisherman from Claverack was recognized by all without a $100,000 grant.

  2. As with the 4.4 acres in South Bay, the city (/HDC) had no right to sell the formerly underwater lands at the corner of Front and Dock Streets.

    But whereas the 4.4 acres were actually city-owned, at North Bay the sale was illegitmate because the New York state has owned the land since the state's founding.

    Since the 19th century, the families at North Dock sold or passed down "deeds" to the shacks and land beneath them in the same manner.

    Then, in 2012, the state determined that none of the deeds were real; the land beneath them had always been owned by the state (land which the state promptly transferred to city ownership a mere seven years ago).

    The 1871 map clearly shows that the same circumstance applies at the corner parcel, and that leads us to conclude that it's no more than a double standard which preserves the alleged ownership of the one parcel while denying occupancy at the now municipally-owned North Dock.

    Shouldn't there be one standard for all?

    I'd hoped that the end of the old boys' hold on city government would end Hudson's rule by shifting and shifty standards, but it seems the more things change the more they stay the same.

  3. When a billionaire breezes into town looking for a golden parachute, one of Hudson's honest "developers" will gladly launder the property and cook up a deed, just as they did for Power Boat.

    If the end goal is to fill in the bays, why beat about the bush?

  4. If you want a good laugh Mapmaker, look into the ping pong transfer of the Foster's riverfront & Pizza's Bus property.

    The County IDA and HDC"s "wild deed laundry." They sell out the locals, then move to Mt. Marino...