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