10 Miles of Historic Streets
And if those streets could talk, the stories they’d tell…
The General Worth Hotel, located at 215 Warren Street, between First and Second Streets, was said to be Hudson, New York’s finest. Called Hudson House when it was built in 1837, the hotel was known to provide the best accommodations available to the 19th-century traveler. On a visit one evening in 1905, writer Henry James arrived for dinner at the Worth “with two ladies and a French poodle.” Told by the establishment that the dog was not welcome, James chose to leave and “found dinner at a cook shop.” The building was demolished in the 1960s; Hudson Electric Supply now occupies the site. .
“Odds Against Tomorrow,” a 1959 film directed by Robert Wise and starring Harry Belafonte, was shot in Hudson. The film ended with a dramatic finale staged on the city’s waterfront. Based on the novel by William P. McGivern, “Odds” was the first film noir of that period to feature a black protagonist. The story centered on three men – a former cop, an ex-con and a nightclub entertainer – who come together to rob an upstate bank (the present day Bank of America located at the southwest corner of Warren and Sixth), only to find themselves battling the racial tensions that place the trio at odds. Hudson has served as the backdrop for several other films, including “Ironweed” and “Nobody’s Fool.”
The State Training School for Girls, formerly the House of Refuge for Women at Hudson, was established in 1887 as a state reformatory for young women between the ages of 15 and 30, convicted of petit larceny. In 1904, it became the State Training School and was placed under the control of the state Department of Social Services. In 1931, the school was made part of the state Education Department. It was rumored (but never confirmed) that at the age of 17, Ella Fitzgerald was sent to Hudson after she dropped out of school. The facility eventually closed in 1975, but reopened in 1976 as a medium security adult male facility under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Correctional Services. Located on East Court Street, the Hudson Correctional Facility currently houses 400 inmates.
The family home of Hudson River landscape painter Sanford Robinson Gifford was located at Diamond (now Columbia) and Sixth streets. Probably lesser known today than his colleagues Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, Gifford’s works were very popular during his lifetime. He was born in Greenfield, Saratoga County, in 1823, but the family moved to Hudson in 1824, where Gifford lived and worked most of his life. His father, Elihu Gifford, owned a large ironworks in Hudson. Although the younger Gifford was raised in wealth, according to historians, he disdained luxury and maintained a barren studio. He would sketch in the wild and then lock himself in his Diamond Street work space for hours on end. Gifford was buried alongside his wife Mary in the Gifford family plot in Cedar Park Cemetery. A local effort to repair and restore Gifford’s grave is currently underway.
Up until the mid-20th century, no fewer than six schools served the children who resided within Hudson’s two square miles. The road to a fully consolidated city school system was a long one: Common Council resisted the proposition until 1882, when the Board of Education authorized the creation of a city academic department. Hudson High School was approved by the state Board of Regents in 1884.
Hudson enjoyed a surge of prosperity at the turn of the 20th century and during that time business diversified. As a result, customers visiting stores along Warren Street could find almost anything they needed or wanted – harnesses, carriages, paint, hay and feed or leather goods. But the economic surge did not last and the city began to decline during the early part of the 20th century. Businesses closed and by the mid-1920s – before the Great Depression hit – Hudson was solely dependent on the cement industry. During the Depression and the decade that followed, some of Hudson’s businesses were lucky to survive, while many others closed their doors for good.