08/07/13 9:30am

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Here is an article that will be shared this Friday on the Weekly Link Round Up, but I thought it was so interesting that it deserved it’s own blog post. The National Journal posted this article titled, “How One Family Made Cleveland (Yes, Cleveland) Cool.” There are many similarities between Cleveland and Newburgh in their quests to revitalization. Both are old manufacturing cities on waterfronts that have experienced economic crises and riots. Both were named All-American Cities. Both have seen a large drop in population. Many people who grew up in Cleveland leave for larger cities and rarely come back home. Some how though, downtown Cleveland has been making a comeback over the past decade largely in part of the efforts of one family. Today the East Fourth neighborhood is an entertainment district and is home to one of America’s voted 10 best restaurants, the Greenhouse Tavern. The neighborhood is a walkable mixed-use area and residential occupancy rates are over 95 percent. Pretty amazing for a neighborhood that used to be a haven for drug dealers and prostitutes!

The article is an excellent read and I encourage you to read the entire thing.

How One Family Made Cleveland (Yes, Cleveland) Cool National Journal
Published August 1, 2013

Photo: Courtesy of Downtown Cleveland Alliance

09/04/12 10:30am

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

12/28/10 10:30am

Baker, Michael Allen ©Robert Mecea

A few days ago I mentioned that I will be sharing some articles I’ve been looking at that show the redevelopment of urban neighborhoods. There was this intriguing article on Clinton Hill in the Daily News. Here are some points that I find are interesting when you look back at the neighborhoods transformation.

  • “A gritty Clinton Hill corner once known for an open-air drug market and shootings has been reborn as a hot spot for trendy nightlife.”
  • “I wouldn’t send my daughter to the corner store,” said youth counselor Shawn Walker, 38. “But crime is not as prevalent as it once was. You still get petty crimes, but not the major stuff.”
  • “A neighborhood is just like a human body: if you don’t nourish it, it will die,” said baker Michael Allen, who opened Desserts by Michael Allen around the corner on Fulton St. in 2008 and has lived in Clinton Hill for 25 years. “If you want to stop crime and drugs, you have to clean and build.
  • “Newcomers look at the lively strip and can’t believe the the intersection was not too long ago down on its luck.”

The article also expresses the fear of local residents with the coming change. Change is scary and it will always make some people unhappy. I am not looking to be controversial or debate about change, yet I am just looking to share the hope that other neighborhoods have experienced after years of negative histories. My family who has actually lived in a Brownstone in Clinton Hill over 20 years is even seeing the change. Buildings that were boarded up for as long as my cousin can remember are now being fixed up and occupied. Newburgh has also been down on its luck. But there are plenty of opportunities for different ideas and people to bring change to Newburgh.

12/13/10 9:30am

Greene Street, SOHO 1970's © Allan Tannenbaum

Greene Street, SOHO 2010 ©Google

I read quite a lot of news and a lot of blogs. From the bit of reading I do, it seems that there is a rekindled sense worldwide that historic cities and towns deserve attention. The trashy is now becoming trendy. Interior design magazines and blogs are filled with people restoring commercial and residential spaces into new rejuvenated homes.

In comparison to after WWII when everyone was fleeing the city life for the newly constructed suburbs like Levittown, it seems that many people today are looking to move back to the very places their parents and grandparents left – even if that means living in an urban seedy part of town. Cities are ever changing places that go through cycles all the time. What was once an infamous, dangerous drug infested block, is now considered “hip” and full of young families who feel safe. At times, the change is baffling and it makes you sit back and think, “Wow, who would’ve thought?”

Triangle Building in Meatpacking District 2010, 2002© dicegirlsnapz, flickr

Going through Brooklyn and Manhattan my Dad tells me many stories of what the streets used to be like in the 70’s and the 80’s.  Some places have been notorious for decades as “bad neighborhoods” to live in. Newcomers are considered “insane” or “crazy” to buy a home in that part of town, and then, something happens. People start catching on, fixing up old homes, small businesses open, the garbage is cleaned up, and little by little the neighborhood becomes desirable.

Each place that goes through this transformation has it’s own factors that have made it possible. I’ve been collecting a few articles on other neighborhoods, towns, and cities, that have gone through or still going through the same cycle. I find them inspiring and I hope you will be inspired too. Whether you live in Newburgh or not, old homes and rundown cities deserve to revived and saved with the same love and care with which they were built. It’s time to get the ball rolling in Newburgh!

PS- Click on this amazing photo documentary to see photos of NYC, NJ, and CA through different decades.

Harlem 1990, 2007 © Camilo José Vergara

Harelm 1991, 2007 © Camilo José Vergara

Harelm 1991, 2007 © Camilo José Vergara

Cherry

Newburgh Vintage Emporium is Expanding with Ware-house