A perspective on Hudson's renaissance

Hudson Gate.jpg

AOA's summer tour is headed to Hudson this weekend, so we thought it'd be fun to have Hudson Week on AOA. Each day we'll be featuring posts about things to do, see, and sample in this city on the river.

Carole Osterink has her eyes on Hudson. The creator of The Gossips of Rivertown -- a blog of news and commentary about the city of Hudson -- has been writing about the city for more than four years, and has observed its evolution over two decades, including some time on the Hudson City Council.

There's been a great deal of change over those 20 years, and while Hudson has only recently made it onto the radar of many people outside the city, she says the "overnight success" has actually bee a long time in the making.

Osterink took some time out this week to answer a few questions and share some of her observations about Hudson's renaissance.

Hudson Week 2014 in-post ad Olde Hudson

Hudson has changed quite a bit in recent years. Why has it changed so much and so quickly? How did the changes begin?

Carole Osterink.jpgHudson has been changing for thirty years, ever since the first antiques dealers came to town in the late-1980s and set up shop on Warren Street. The change has been cumulative and exponential, which is why, if Hudson has only appeared on someone's radar in recent years, it seems to have changed "so much and so quickly." For every new and exciting enterprise that comes to Hudson, there are many things that went before that laid the groundwork, made Hudson appealing, created the vibe, and provided the context to enable what's happening now.

Who was behind the revival?

There is no "who" behind Hudson's revival. There are many "who"s -- all the people who over the past 30 years made their homes here, opened businesses here, and invested money, energy, and creativity in the life of Hudson.

For every new and exciting enterprise that comes to Hudson, there are many things that went before that laid the groundwork, made Hudson appealing, created the vibe, and provided the context to enable what's happening now.

But there is, I believe, a "what" behind it all, and that is Hudson's architecture. According to legend, James Marston Fitch, who was one of the founders, in 1964, of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia, used to take his graduate students on field trips to Hudson back in the 1960s and 70s because he considered the city to be the best encyclopedia of architectural history in New York State. And it is that. In cities like Albany and Newburgh, you see whole blocks of townhouses, built at the same time and in the same style. In Hudson, you can find examples of Federal, Queen Anne, Greek Revival, and Second Empire architecture all on the same block and a Gothic Revival mansion just down the street from a row of Italianate townhouses.

People who have lived in Hudson all their lives often don't appreciate the city's historic architecture, but there is no question that the architecture is central to Hudson's appeal and has been the driver of the city's revival. It was the architecture that drew people to Hudson in the 1980s and 90s to reclaim buildings in the oldest parts of the city, and it is the architecture that continues to attract visitors and new residents to the city.

Has the change benefited the whole city, or just certain parts of it? 

These days, the notion that a rising tide lifts all boats is usually considered a pro-wealth myth, and there are many people in Hudson who think what's happened in the city is not "for them," but I'm of the opinion that it is far better for everyone to live in a city where things are happening and there is vitality, optimism, diversity, and a continuous infusion of new energy.

One of the great things happening in Hudson right now is the influx of people in their 20s. Some of us used to describe Hudson, because of its size and sense of community, as a college campus for the middle aged. Now the demographic is changing.

One of the great things happening in Hudson right now is the influx of people in their 20s. Some of us used to describe Hudson, because of its size and sense of community, as a college campus for the middle aged. Now the demographic is changing.

What other changes do you see on the horizon for Hudson? 

I moved to Hudson in 1993, and in twenty-one years, I've learned that it's a mistake to try to predict what's going to happen. What actually happens -- in the private sector, at least -- is always surprising and usually better than what you imagined or hoped for.

One thing I do see is a growing involvement of people in the community -- especially the newer, younger residents -- with the public schools and the education of Hudson's kids. There are after-school programs offered by Kite's Nest, the Hudson Sloop Club (They're building boats with the kids!), and Perfect Ten; there's the Power Lunch program which pairs people from the community with schoolchildren to read together at lunch time; there's the summer Band Camp created by Helsinki Hudson, and probably more things that it hasn't occurred to me to mention.

All of these initiatives give kids some pretty remarkable learning experiences outside the context of the classroom. That's a less obvious consequence of the change that's occurred in Hudson, but an enormously important one for the health and well-being of our city.

This interview has been lightly edited.

More Hudson Week:
+ Shopping Hudson with Jess and Kaitlin
+ Eating in Hudson: 5-10-15-20

photo: Mara Estribou

Comments

I think Carole is right on; the architecture drew the original pioneers to Hudson and still draws many. I don't think it's fair to label people who grew up here as unappreciative. I grew up here and I have always delighted in it The DAR Library was my favorite haunt as a girl and loved to wander down Willard Place after religious instructions at St . Mary's.
I credit courageous early restaurants like Red Dot for starting the dining scene here. The celebrity chef driven newcomers steal the thunder, but The Dot has been here for 15 years.
Food and shelter magazines have featured Hudson frequently and more and more people have come to town, to visit or live.
I don't think you can discount the easy access to Amtrak either.
What has happened here has happened organically, and that's why it works.



My LIthuanian grandparents settled here in the early part of the 1900s, my father was born here and he, a chemist and violinist, and my teacher mom raised 5 of us -- a priest, a teacher, a violinist, a writer and me. I love love the architecture in Hudson, love the river, DAR, Hudson LIbrary on Tuesday nights, Oakdale,Spook Rock, from childhood. Now very happy to see the streets alive with people. When I grew up you knew everyone on your street, I still live on the same boulevard and recall all the family names. Yes, times change, many of the people I do not know, but I feel good inside everytime I see a house reborn. And the river -- my father saved a man's life there. He has passed now, but was born here in 1913 and could tell lots of stories.......It has been a great place to live

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

The Gallery on Holland

A quick update another apartment project in Albany: The rendering above is for "The Gallery on Holland," a 125-unit apartment building planned for 25 Holland... (more)

Recommendations for hardwood floor refinishing?

Courtney emails: We've recently purchased a Victorian home approaching it's 150th birthday! We'd like to have the original hardwood floors refinished and restored to the... (more)

Sweet map

Check it out: Troy-based artist/author Jess Fink illustrated this fun "United Sweets of America" map for Slate. (She was not responsible for picking the desserts.... (more)

Drawing: Capital District Community Gardens' Autumn Evening in the Garden

Capital District's Community Gardens' annual Autumn Evening in the Garden culinary event returns September 11 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy. We have two... (more)

Pretty Much the Best Comedy Show

A new monthly comedy series called "Pretty Much the Best Comedy Show" starts this Wednesday, August 27 at Proctors. The show's at 8 pm and... (more)

Recent Comments

... I actually like modern/comtemp architecture (and lots of glass), but this is just "play it safe" public design and pretty boring.

Drawing: Capital District Community Gardens' Autumn Evening in the Garden

...has 50 comments, most recently from daf

Albany Capital Center rendering

...has 18 comments, most recently from BS

The Gallery on Holland

...has 2 comments, most recently from Big 'Vic' Proton

Recommendations for hardwood floor refinishing?

...has 3 comments, most recently from Nancy

Where to get stickers made?

...has 5 comments, most recently from Jeff M