Newburgh Removed: Urban Renewal in Newburgh, NY
Scope of Collection
Newburgh, NY was lured by the promise and money of the federal Urban Renewal program and began its first planning project in 1958. It stopped the demolition of buildings 12 years later as the community’s 1853 almshouse on the southern edge of the city and the elegant Palatine Hotel on central Grand Street fell to the wrecking ball in 1970. Over 50 acres were cleared, over 1,100 homes and businesses were taken and 7 entire streets vanished. Throughout that time, many plans were drafted and discarded that might have built safe and affordable housing and established new business blocks. Eventually in the 1970’s and 80’s some new public housing and a handful of commercial structures were built, but the neighborhood life and local enterprise that constituted old Newburgh was gone.
A half-century later, much of Newburgh’s downtown waterfront district remains empty standing as a large swath of grass where intersecting streets once contained buildings like those in this online collection.
These photos come from the appraisal inventory that was made between 1958 and 1966 to document the streets and structures that were being slated for removal. Almost every appraisal page carries derogatory comments from the hired appraisers that the building and the neighborhood show no signs of future improvement and that financing for such improvement is difficult to obtain – the standard “redlining” mindset that destroyed so many mid 20th century neighborhoods.
This selection of appraisals is 20% of those filed in the city’s archives. More will be added to this site over time.