A century of soldiers at war – and those who marched for them

By Mary McTamaney

November is the month when hostilities ended in the “war to end all wars,” World War I. That bloody conflict ended in 1918 with an agreement to stop the fighting on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November and the date was henceforth commemorated as Armistice Day. Today we call it Veterans Day and, tragically, we remember many millions more who went to war after 1918. “The Great War” of 1916-18 didn’t turn men’s hearts and minds away from battle as a way to settle world affairs as it was hoped it would. Ironically, the National Guard that was our main line of civil defense before World War I has become an essential and mobile defense force again as more and more of the violence that threatens America is erupting within our borders, as it did this week in Texas. Continue reading

When Newburgh Produced Pianos

By Mary McTamaney

Imagine walking to the foot of Broadway in the decade before the Civil War. Newburgh was still a village. The harbor was full of sloops and schooners. The clop of horse hooves was heard moving in every direction. Wagons hauled every kind of material along the wide dirt road: bales of hay, bars of iron, bags of flour, yards of cloth, sacks of groceries and so much more. Among the wagonloads of goods were pedestrians wending their way among herds of pigs and sheep. Continue reading

Historian Puts a ‘Premium on Empathy’

By Matthew Colon

During a recent visit to the Captain David Crawford House, headquarters of the Newburgh Historical Society, Dr. Kevin M. Burke became another of many natives to admire the award-winning exhibit, “Growing Up in Newburgh.” Unlike most visitors whom may have been motivated by nostalgia, Dr. Burke as a professional historian is equally interested in how the historical record becomes the starting point for a conversation. Continue reading

Video: Newburgh Now and Then

by Joe Santacroce

To celebrate the City of Newburgh’s 150th anniversary in 2015, City Historian Mary McTamaney and Society member Joe Santacroce collaborated on an exhibit at the Newburgh Heritage Center (Old Newburgh Courthouse). The exhibit featured “Newburgh Now and Then.” Photos comparing Newburgh today against photos from years gone by — a suggestion by Mary McTamaney that exemplifies both the status and growth of the city today and the beauty of yesterday. Joe has put some of the images together into a wonderful video.

Thank you, both!

The price of beauty: birds, feathers, eradication and conservation

By Matthew Colon

The price of beauty commonly refers to an individual’s cost of attractiveness. It frequently becomes the punch line as we force ourselves to accept discomfort. The “price” can also refer to the large amount of money one spends on maintaining attractiveness, how health may be affected by certain beauty practices or, more broadly, society’s role in it all. Sometimes, however, the demand for attractiveness goes beyond individual sacrifice and takes a toll on the environment enough to lead to extinction, murder, prison and inspire acts of conservation. Continue reading

Celebrating the Life of David Crawford

By Mary McTamaney

October may not be the month we think of gathering at the river the way we do for the River Swim in July or the Waterfront Festival at summer’s end but in 1825 there were big crowds gathered along Newburgh’s shore to witness something that would change our community forever. A flotilla of sailing boats and steamboats paraded past our shores toward New York City’s harbor having started out in Buffalo along the new Erie Canal.

The Erie Canal was an engineering marvel carved through the southern tier of New York State that connected the world port of New York City to the nation’s western frontiers beyond the Great Lakes. Goods could be exchanged along this waterway on barges that floated everything from farm produce to mineral resources down to hungry markets. Continue reading

Connecting Highways for Newburgh Prosperity

By Mary McTamaney

Delays are expected on parts of Interstate Route 84 this week as connecting ramps for Exit 5A are completed that will funnel traffic directly in and out of Stewart Airport. Drivers on both Route 84 and the New York State Thruway will soon be able to reach the airport for flights or freight services without traveling our local roads. Stewart Avenue (Route 747) was recently opened giving drivers a way to cross between Route 207 and Route 17K, a trip that used to require a miles-long loop east or west of the airport property. Continue reading

A Need for Water

By Brandon Doerrer

People care about where their water comes from. If there was some sort of contamination at a water source, chances are you’d want to know if it affected your faucet, especially considering the potential health risks. This is why learning about the history behind the water you drink is important beyond simple fascination or being able to impress friends with trivial facts. Tracing a local water supply provides comfort from knowing the details of its sources and routes. Continue reading

Our Early Nineteenth Century Port

By Mary McTamaney

This is the high time of year for seeing cruise boats o the Hudson. All sizes and types of boats are taking people out for sightseeing, for dinner or for a longer trip up the valley and back again. Newburghers enjoy counting the many new boats they see passing our shores (and hoping more of them will stop at our shore in years to come).

Watching a couple of attractive-looking long-distance river cruisers go by this week prompted me to look back at some of the chronicles written about river trips of long ago. From the days of sail and booking a berth on a packet sloop through the days of the grand “floating palaces” – the steamboats – the Hudson River has been our road through eastern New York and the water road into the interior United States for many decades. Continue reading