Then & Now
West Point cadets and the sex-and-drug ’60s; IBM, Luckey Platt, and ice harvesters; airports, bridges, and those famous ferries. Join us for a look back at the last 100 years of Valley history
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Reprinted with permission from Newburgh by Kevin Barrett
Then: The city of Newburgh has a long — and controversial — history. During the 19th century, Newburgh’s riverside location (halfway between Manhattan and Albany) helped it grow into a transportation and manufacturing powerhouse, with waterfront companies producing everything from bricks to felt hats. By the 1960s, however, the pendulum had swung in the opposite direction. Industries began to relocate to states with cheap labor and lower taxes; as automobiles became less expensive to own, more residents moved from the city to the suburbs. Slowly, Newburgh’s once-vital (and historically significant) waterfront buildings fell into decline, and were eventually demolished as part of an ambitious (and some might argue misguided) urban renewal plan. The complex slated to replace them was never built, a victim of the cash crunch resulting from the 1973 oil crisis.
Photograph courtesy of Orange County Tourism
Now: After years of coping with urban blight, Newburgh is once again on the upswing. The Front Street area has been reinvented as a dining and nightlife destination, with a wide variety of upscale restaurants and a marina lining the shore. In October, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the expansion of SUNY Orange’s Newburgh branch campus, which will add classrooms, laboratories, and a library. And plans are moving forward on a waterfront building project set to include residential housing, commercial development, retail stores, and open space areas.
If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.
Next: The Poughkeepsie Regatta
Click on any image below to view more historic photos from 'round the Valley