Thursday, March 28th noon I stood on the corner of Lander and South Street with the anticipation of an explorer in unfamiliar waters. Mother nature was having some interesting mood swings offering a brilliant blue sky one minute and then billowing clouds bringing hues of grey the next and then back to various blue shades of wonderful again.
I could not help but notice as I walked down this section of Lander Street just how quiet and serene it was on this “often singled out” NOBRO block and absolutely beautiful and quintessentially urban in its presence. This part of Lander Street has been the recipient of extensive restoration and historic preservation. A number of the brick rowhouses and brownstone style buildings here have been wonderfully rehabbed and meticulously managed by PathStone of Newburgh in order to create The Lander Street Apartments. This “neighborhood building” project has been on-going for a number of years and PathStone is currently in the process of leasing “Phase Three”.
I spoke to a gentleman who was renting at one of the rehabbed buildings and he shared with me how happy he was with both the ongoing progress being made in working to make Lander Street safer and his appreciation for his generously sized and attractively appointed apartment. He also told me that he was drawn to Lander Street specifically because of the historic preservation there. He pointed out to me that the late 19th century buildings renovated as part of the PathStone project were easy to identify as they all shared the same style of prominent gold address numerals (in vintage block design) located on the transom window above each exterior entry door. What also makes this project interesting is that there are a few different historic building styles that were chosen for restoration along the way.
As our conversation ended and the man entered his building, I was totally alone again. Mind you, I did not feel alone in an abandoned way, but in a way when one is thoroughly aware of their place within the solitude and obvious quiet. I looked up and down the empty street, marveled at its time honored beauty and then whimsically thought to myself at that moment, if only Edward Hopper (the iconic American painter who was part of the Ashcan School) were alive and could see what I am seeing here in Newburgh. I imagined him capturing this solitude and starkness, the historic details and linear perspectives of Lander Street on canvas as he did with much of his work and in particular his urban masterpieces “Nighthawks” and “Early Sunday Morning” or his classic “Sunlight on Brownstones”.
For those that may not know this, Edward Hopper was no stranger to the Hudson Valley as he was born and raised in Nyack NY. Though famous worldwide, the majority of his works were depictions of urban landscapes and “urban slice of life moments” in and around New York City. With Mr. Hopper long gone, the truth is that we will never have any way of knowing if he would have ever painted Lander Street or Liberty Street or any Newburgh Street for that matter. But, as I stood there that afternoon, I wanted to think that maybe, just maybe, he would have. So with that, as you view my photo images (squint as you stare at them, and think of Edward Hopper’s style), and see if we share a feeling that they respectfully capture a bit of his urban spirit while paying homage to his remarkable talent. Let’s also try to recapture a deep appreciation for this visual and visceral historic street in Newburgh.