Urban Pioneers

Water Street, Newburgh Waterfront, 1970 – demolished

This article from the New York Times in September 2010 takes a look at an urban pioneer who bought a property on the Upper West Side at a time where the area was overwrought with demolitions, drugs and decay. It is quite inspiring for the Newburgh Urban Pioneer. Here are some of the best parts,

“If anything, they thought we were a little nuts — in the late 1960’s the Upper West Side was one of New York’s fastest-declining neighborhoods, rife with drugs, crime and decay. Yet where others saw risk, we saw opportunity: affordable housing, racial and economic diversity and a vision of a sustainable, vibrant community not yet on the urban demographer’s radar”.

“But property was cheap, and like so many of today’s frontier urban neighborhoods, it appealed to risk takers like my husband and me. We were willing to enter a problem-filled neighborhood for the value and quality of the available homes and the chance for a backyard in the city. We soon met other middle-class families, black and white, who had taken the plunge ahead of us. Most Upper West Side brownstones had been built in the late 1890’s for middle-class families but had been broken up into tiny apartments in the 1950’s and neglected since by absentee landlords. They were easily, if expensively, converted back to single-family or duplex dwellings”.

Newburgh shared the same destruction that NYC and many other cities experienced in the 60’s and 70’s. Newburgh really has come a long way and seen many improvements but, there are hundreds of abandoned buildings still left in Newburgh for the urban pioneer. Thanks Catherine for the article.

Photo ©Library of Congress, 1970