Dear Diary…It’s now been a week since my last entry and I secretly have to admit that even though I have so much on my day to day plate, my mind seems to drift at times to thoughts of Newburgh and my new found NEEDY Rowhouse. I am at a point where all of a sudden a visual of the simple yet ornate carved mantle in its first floor apartment pops into my head, and just the thought makes me smile. Or I can be deeply involved with work and in a flash the image of its ornate cornice puncutates the moment. And it’s at these times that I realize… YUP…I’ve found the needy rowhouse…THE ONE, I’m going to put an offer to purchase on! However, along with those periods of euphoria come the normal and customary deep pangs of angst that one musters up with regards to buying a late 1800’s home. (But I have MORE than enough time to concentrate on those thoughts diary at a later date LOL)
Back to the subject at hand… finding THE ONE was not just about selecting a tangible hunk of historic brick and mortar. Don’t get me wrong, that was paramount, but my search also involved the more abstract too. Choosing “a sence of place” where THE ONE is located within the myriad of neighborhoods that make up the city seemed to be just as (if not more) important. It’s great that Newburgh nabes all have names or descriptions (like SOBRO, NOBRO, WASHINGTON PARK, GRAND AND MONTGOMERY DISTRICT and THE HEIGHTS), where each generates an urban vibe as it rolls off the tongue.
As you know Diary, having my roots in Brooklyn and ironically finding a neighborhood named “The Heights” in Newburgh immediately made me think of breathtaking Brooklyn Heights (and its place of recognition as the quintessential historic downtown Brooklyn address), I figured, how cool would it be to say in social conversations, with glass of chardonnay in hand to announce…I have a historic rowhouse in THE HEIGHTS. 🙂
However, I came to learn in a very short time that even if you didn’t know anything about downtown Brooklyn and took the time to drive, walk, Google map search, Birdseye tour and research information available about The Heights in Newburgh…you would ALSO have a reason to say with pride….I HAVE A HISTORIC ROW HOUSE IN THE HEIGHTS! I have happily discovered that there is a passionate sense of community in the Heights, with dedicated neighbors who are continually working on making it a better place to live. Also Diary, there are long time residents and more recent arrivals (many of them ex-pats from my beloved Brooklyn) who have been painstakingly renovating, restoring or even just plain sprucing up the historic needy rowhouses and Victorians that line the streets and Bluffs. It seems that this revitalization effort started during the last decade and has ramped up even more so in the last couple of years.
And Diary, the AFFORDABILITY of my NEEDY ROWHOUSE (especially with its prime location that offers river, mountain and downtown Beacon views) is nothing short of astounding. I am lucky to have found out that The Heights is like a “best kept Newburgh secret”. (oops my bad lol) a historic peninsula so to speak, where you can find a wonderful balance of inexpensively priced needy (waiting to be loved) row houses next to wonderfully restored ones and also co-existing on blocks with vintage Victorians both grand and ones needing care by a new owner , and what this prized location offers are VIEWS to either covet in your own home (or stroll along on Bay View Terrace), that are nothing short of spectacular along the Bluffs. Plus it boasts a walkability to the Ferry (for easy and picturesque access to trendy Beacon and the train to NYC) only within minutes. And then there’s Washington Park with the burgeoning Liberty Street Commercial district just a few short blocks away.
And being my needy rowhouse is located close to the Liberty Street commercial corridor, Well…Dear Diary, I can’t help but feel a comparison to when I purchased my newly converted coop on Garfield Pl/6th Ave in Park Slope, Brooklyn in the mid 1980’s. And my inclination is also to compare walking along Liberty street to doing so to my 10 block walk along the 5th Ave commercial/residential district in Park Slope to and from the subway to my office in Manhattan. And though there were examples of revitalization in the 1980’s (a cafe here and boutique there) on that journey, 5th Ave also had three or four blocks that were landscaped by boarded up and cinder blocked windows in sad (rescue me) types of buildings. To many who are probably reading this, the thought of that visual of 5th ave as compared to the now bohemian /uber chic version of the same 5th Ave would seem like an improbable post apocalyptic movie set to them (lol). But I indeed walked along those blocks day after day in the mid eighties and stared at those historic monoliths that made the street sometime seem like a dismal cave and felt both fear and hope. Yes…fear for my safety, but also fear that it would never get any better and even fear that it would change too much.
But that fear was ALWAYS trumped by my stronger feelings of HOPE that would fill me each day that I saw a home along the way starting to be restored or a commercial building being renovated or simply, a neighbor sweeping their stoop or placing a pot of brightly colored flowers to beautify their garden. And one by one those sad buildings started to have the cinder blocks chipped away, like wounds finally healing.
And in closing Dear Diary…it’s THAT HOPE I feel for Liberty Street, for the Heights and for the entire city of Newburgh. I am by far not alone in my hope, (like I know was the case in Park Slope). I have not arrived first with hope and that hope will be building in Newburgh, long after I depart. But before I sound like a guest at a party who is leaving before they even take off their coat (lol)…I’m looking to enjoy the revitalization party (so to speak) as more guests choose to arrive. And with any party it only becomes as festive as you are open to and what you make it. And remember Diary…. for a party to reach the HEIGHTS….getting there is half the fun!!! Till next week ….I “HEART” Newburgh!