What is it about Hudson that inspires so many would- be urban planners; worst of all, would-be urban planners who want to make an “original statement?” One of these is being seriously discussed; the other is actually under construction as we speak. The plans for the 7th Street Park, for instance, proffered generously and sincerely by landscape architect Cathryn Dwyre, are reminiscent — not of the wonderful High Line in New York City, as was perhaps intended– but of the Robert Moses alterations to Bryant Park, Madison Square and Union Square in New York City in the 1930s and 40s (changes that were happily corrected in extensive renovations many decades later). Dwyre’s plans counter-intuitively throw out the footprint of the original as well as the idea of re-installing the central fountain statue of Venus (still in storage in a Department of Public Works garage) that once stood in the spot of a newer, unadorned and quite ungainly replacement. Dwyre has offered an asymmetrical plan that is disruptive of the simple but essential purpose of a central town square — to impose a moment of tranquil visual order and delight a midst the commercial hubbub (and visual blight) surrounding it. Dwyre has called the original 1878 layout a “default park design,” and has packed her new one with so many varying features –other than the original fountain — that tranquility will be the last thing attained should these plans somehow come to fruition.
Less noticed but far more bewildering perhaps is the “linear park” –i.e. promenade — being constructed from the already existing concrete vest-pocket park across the street from the Opera House, up a steep staircase on Columbia Street, and all the way to State Street, where it ends abutting a vacant apartment building owned by Housing Resources on one side and a heavily vinyl-sided house on the other. A Baron Haussmann marvel of urban grandiosity this is not.(All of the photographs here are of the linear park, not of the 7th Street Park.) Made up of concrete paving and various concrete structural elements (and two nice wood benches), the walkway, the last element of a grand housing scheme designed by Teddy Cruz and financed by the PARC Foundation’s David Deutsch, is a surrealist vision of urban sterility and purposelessness. It’s difficult to imagine that, once completed, it will become popular with neighborhood parents and their children, except for those who routinely carry around Bactine, Band-Aids and strongly protective head gear; more likely it will be favored by drug dealers and prostitutes not wanting to be spotted by police who patrol 3rd Street in cars.
Mistakes like these were hallmarks of urban planning from the worst days of Moses through the 1970s; one can only wonder why and how this phenomena has reappeared in Hudson, which offers block after block of examples of how well things used to be done long ago, “by default,” in towns and cities all across the nation. –Scott Baldinger
OK, we all need a little fun these days. Due to unprecedented demand (OK, just one person, who expressed mock regret at not being included, and another, who was included and said he “liked the way my mind worked”; plus a lot of new subscriptions after the first version ), herewith is the second installment of my comparison of various Hudsonites who, to me at least, are dead ringers for famed historical or entertainment personalities. For more serious and compelling fare, please read my positive review of Stageworks’ last presentation of the excellent Tomorrow in the Battle, which the company is reviving now, written for Rural Intelligence. It’s a play that had my mind atinglin’ then and shouldn’t be missed now. — Scott Baldinger
Carole Osterink of The Gossips of Rivertown /Geraldine Page, ingenious film and theater actress
Dan Seward, musician, owner of John Doe Records/Rasputin, mystic, faith healer and private adviser to the Romanovs
EllenThurston, Supervisor, 3rd District/ Queen Elizabeth I of England
Nancy Horowitz-Felcetto, Halstead realtor/Catherine Keener, film actress
“Dying is easy, retail is hard,” the maxim about comedy could be amended to read. The Darwinian struggle to stay in business, particularly if you are an independently owned shop selling objects of that ephemeral element—style – has been displaying itself in Hudson more noticeably in recent weeks. In addition to Harvey’s Counter, whose closing Carole Osterink mentioned in today’s Gossips, there has been the recent (and almost overnight) disappearance of the megaplush antiques store NP Trent, which Word on the Street has heard will be moving to Kindherhook; last month’s closing of Mark Frisman 20th Century Design (after a steep rise of his rent at 527 Warren, Frisman decided to move his operation to St. Petersburg, Florida), CM Cherry, and now, Culture + Commerce Project (at 428 Warren), which for three years featured warmly modernist furnishings, lighting, and artistic objects created by talented local artisans such as Rob Williams, Joshua Howe, and Jules Anderson. “I’m very into brick and mortar, but it’s time to be more 21st century,” Culture + Commerce’s owner Sherri Jo Williams says, adding that the last two weeks of the store’s existence this month will be devoted to work by artists Kahn and Selesnick, and that C+C will be a continuing presence in pop-up shops and on the internet.
Happily, many of the historic structures on Warren Street have signs announcing new businesses, demonstrating its continuing desirability as a retail destination through tough times and despite rising rents. Classic Country will occupy the beautiful piece of stone and mortar (now, grayer than ever) at 431 Warren; Talbot & Arding Cheese and Provisions will (hopefully!) be opening at 323 Warren; and Hawkins New York, a modern home-furnishings store, will be the new occupant of the venerable Leader building at 339 Warren. Elegant gold lettering and bordering in The Leader’s storefront window is just about the only change the Hawkins people will be making to the fabulously intact original signage and window details, according to the fellow who was doing the taping—presumably the owner— who said he loved and wouldn’t think of camouflaging it; all I can say is, whoever you are, WELCOME! — Scott Baldinger