This morning's post about Promenade Hill and the construction bids that came in way over budget unexpectedly inspired a contentious debate in the comments about another DRI project: the historic fishing village, a.k.a. the Furgary Boat Club. For those who don't see the value in the site, this event, happening next Thursday, may be of interest.
The Hudson Area Library History Room on Zoom presents "The History of Shantytown (a.k.a. The Furgary) in Hudson," Thursday, March 25, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Gary Sheffer, member of the library Board of Trustees and chair of the History Room Committee, interviews Leo Bower, lifelong local and a resident historian with a special expertise in Hudson's Shantytown. A question-and-answer period follows the program, which is our first live History Room on Zoom. Visit hudsonarealibrary.org for Zoom registration link or contact Brenda Shufelt at (518) 828-1792, ext. 106 or email@example.com.
Most locals are familiar with the fishing shacks at the end of Dock Street in the North Bay area of Hudson just past the Kite's Nest River City Garden but many do not know the history of these shacks and how far back they go. They are part of a 14.4 acre parcel that was purchased originally in the 1600s by a German immigrant from Indigenous people. There have been businesses on the land including gristmills, slaughterhouses and tanneries. The first Shantytown shacks were constructed in the 1880s and through the middle of the next century they functioned as sites for shad, sturgeon, and herring fishing. Active use of Shantytown continued into the 21st century until the city decreed that the shacks could no longer be used. A project to demolish most of the shacks and restore a few is part of the city's 2017 NYS Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.
Shantytown was known specifically for shad fishing enterprises, which were important in sustaining local families through the Great Depression and World War II. Furthermore, Shantytown now represents one of the few shad fishing sites, an important cultural and economic phenomenon along the Hudson River, still existing. Consequently, Shantytown has been deemed a site eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Daria Merwin, co-director of the Cultural Resource Survey Program at the New York State Museum in Albany, and Linda Mackey, a historic preservation specialist, have written that Shantytown has "the tangible remains of a traditional way of life that is rapidly disappearing," which "represent[s] a time when sturgeon and shad were abundant in the Hudson River and people made their livelihoods fishing the river and selling their catch on the shore."
This library's program will concentrate on the height of the Shantytown's shad fishing culture in the mid-20th century and the families and lifestyle during this time. Progress and obstacles to the preservation of Shantytown will also be discussed.
The preceding was quoted from the press release about the event distributed by the Hudson Area Library.
Gossips Disclosure: My first visit to the shacks was in 1995, on a walking tour of the waterfront led by John Cody, who then chaired the Waterfront Committee of the Vision Plan Task Force. At that time, the site was known as the Furgary Boat Club, and approaching the cluster of shacks, I felt as if I had wandered onto the set of a Northeastern remake of Deliverance. Since then, after learning about the site's long, rich history, I have become an advocate for the shacks, and in 2015, as an interested third party, I submitted an official request to the State Historic Preservation Office for an eligibility evaluation of the site. That request resulted in a determination that the site met the eligibility requirements for listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places.