Newburgh (city), New York

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City of Newburgh
Newburgh from the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge
Image:Newburgh city seal.jpg
Coordinates: 41°31′11″N, 74°1′10″W
Country United States of America
State New York
County Orange
Settled 1709
Incorporated (village) 1800
Incorporated (City) 1865
Government type Council-manager
City Manager Jean McGrane
Mayor Nick Valentine
 - City 12.4 km²  (4.8 sq mi)
 - Land 9.9 km²  (3.8 sq mi)
 - Water 2.5 km² (1 sq mi)  20%
Elevation sea level m
 - City (2000) 28,259
 - Density 1,058.8/km² (2,740.9/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP Code 12550
Area code(s) 845

Newburgh is a city located in Orange County, New York, 60 miles (97 km) north of New York city, and 90 miles south of Albany, on the Hudson River. In 1890, 23,087 people lived in Newburgh, New York; in 1900, 24,943; in 1910, 27,805; in 1920, 30,366; and in 1940, 31,883. The population was 28,259 at the 2000 census.

The City of Newburgh is along the Hudson River, between the Town of Newburgh and the Town of New Windsor.

Just east of the city, across the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge lies the city of Beacon, New York.


[edit] History

The area that became Newburgh was first explored by Europeans when Henry Hudson stopped by during his 1609 expedition up the river that now bears his name. He is supposed to have called the site "a pleasant place to build a town," although some later historians believe he may actually have been referring to the area where Cornwall-on-Hudson now stands.

The first settlement was made a century later, in 1709 by German Lutherans from the Rhenish Palatinate, who named it the Palatine Parish by Quassic. By 1750, most of the Germans had been replaced by people of English and Scottish descent, who in 1752 changed the name to the Parish of Newburgh (after Newburgh, Scotland).

Newburgh was the headquarters of the Continental Army from March, 1782 until the latter part of 1783. While camped at Newburgh, there was a conspiracy to overthrow the government by some of the senior officers of the Continental Army. General George Washington was able to convince his officers to stay loyal to him. The army was disbanded here in 1783. George Washington received the famous Newburgh letter from Nicola proposing that he become king here. The letter drew a vigorous rebuke from Washington.

Newburgh was incorporated as a village in 1800 and chartered as a city in 1865. At the time of its settlement it was in Ulster County and was that county's seat. When Rockland County was split from Orange County in 1798, Newburgh and the other towns north of Moodna Creek were put in a redrawn Orange County. Newburgh thus lost its status as the county seat to Goshen. The former Ulster County courthouse still stands as Newburgh's old city courthouse building (currently used as municipal office space).

Newburgh became quite prosperous during the Gilded Age that followed. Its industries included manufactories of cottons, woolens, silks, paper, felt hats, baking powder, soap, paper boxes, brick, plush goods, steam boilers, tools, automobiles, coin silver, bleach, candles, waterway gates, ice machines, pumps, moving-picture screens, overalls, perfumes, furniture, carpets, carburetors, spiral springs, spiral pipe, shirt waists, shirts, felt goods, lawn mowers; shipyards; foundries and machine shops; tanneries; leatherette works; plaster works.

It has been a city with many distinctions. It is home to the first Edison power plant and thus was the first American city to be electrified and have street lights. In 1915 it became one of the first American cities to delegate routine governmental authority to a city manager. Portions of Liberty Street are still paved in the original brick. Broadway, the widest main street in a US city[citation needed] runs through the city. Newburgh was also one of the first two cities in the country to fluoridate its water.

In the early 1960s, city manager Joseph Mitchell and the council attracted nationwide attention and the admiration of political conservatives when they attempted to require welfare recipients to pick up their payments at police headquarters. Mitchell later announced a program aimed largely at blacks on welfare, who many in the community blamed for its economic problems. The program would have denied welfare payments to all after three months except the aged, the blind and the handicapped. Those affected would have largely been single mothers of young children, the only category in which blacks were predominant. The program also would have denied payments to single mothers who had working relatives living in the city. The program created a national controversy and never went into effect after opposition by both state and federal officials. (See 'The Despised Poor'(Beacon Press) by Joseph P. Ritz.) Newburgh was hit hard by the economic setbacks of the late 20th century, as factory after factory closed down or relocated to somewhere with cheaper labor costs. In the early 1970s, the city's response was an ambitious urban renewal plan that was only partly completed. Old and decrepit housing along the city's waterfront was cleared and demolished. Residents were relocated, or were supposed to be relocated, to newer housing projects around Muchattoes Lake in the city's interior. The impact fell disproportionately on the city's black population, and community leaders feel this is a blow the city has not yet recovered from.[1]

A grand complex that was planned for the cleared area was not built when state and federal spending began to dry up after the 1973 oil crisis. To this day, the blocks of land that slope down to the river adjacent to downtown remain open grassy slopes, offering sweeping views of the Hudson but generating no property taxes for the city. Public sentiment is mixed on whether they should be built on again at all, and the city's view-protection ordinances make it less likely. Below, the waterfront was developed in the late 1990s after the city was once again able to secure grants from the state's Environmental Protection fund for riprap to stabilize the shoreline.

Along with the failed urban renewal, the 1970s in Newburgh were also marked by race riots and other tensions. The last big one, in 1978, led African-American students at Newburgh Free Academy, the city's public high school, to boycott classes and ultimately to a major reorganization of the school system.

These tensions flared up again during the city's hotly contested 1995 mayoral election. Allegations of electoral fraud had dogged the city's first African-American woman mayor, Audrey Carey, since her 1991 victory in a four-way race. Supporters of Republican candidate Regina Angelo (now a Democrat herself) alleged that many registered voters in neighborhoods Carey had carried heavily used false addresses. In response, four years later deputy sheriffs were stationed at polling places and challenged voters to provide proof of residency and identity.

Although she won, Carey's supporters claimed that the deputy sheriffs had singled out minority voters for such challenges and accused the Republicans of voter suppression. These tensions were only aggravated when the council selected the county's Republican chairman at the time, Harry Porr, who had initiated the challenges, as the new city manager. Animosity between Carey and Porr and their respective supporters dominated city politics in the late 1990s, until Porr was fired and Carey defeated in 1999 (Porr would later be hired and fired again).

Newburgh in the early 21st century is more racially diverse than it used to be, as a growing Latin immigrant population complements the city's sizable African American contingent. Economic development is a major concern, but poorly envisioned, as the good jobs once found in the local manufacturing sector have not been replaced. Pockets of poverty persist in the city, often mere blocks away from its many historical and architectural landmarks (some of which are themselves in serious need of repair).

Image:Chambers Street, Newburgh, NY.jpg
These homes on Chambers Street show the two faces of contemporary Newburgh: both historic, one newly renovated, the other exemplifying urban blight.

Newburgh's preservation history can be traced all the way back to 1850 when Washington's Headquarters was designated a state historic site, the first in the country. Newburgh's Historical Society was founded in 1884. It purchased the 1834 Captain David Crawford house, its museum, in 1958, saving it from being demolished to make way for a parking lot for a funeral home.

Image:Dutch Reformed Church, Newburgh NY.jpg
The Dutch Reformed Church, a National Historic Landmark.

The city's modern preservation efforts began when the Dutch Reformed Church, a Greek Revival structure designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, was slated for demolition as part of urban renewal after the congregation left the decaying building in 1967. The movement to stop it led to the development of a Historic District, now the second largest in New York State. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places three years later, and in 2001 became a National Historic Landmark.

The city was designated a Preserve America community in 2005 and it also signed an agreement with the State Office of Historic Preservation as a Certified Local Government community. While the city's historic architecture has attracted a stable core of preservation-minded community activists willing to spend the time and money renovating houses, much work remains to be done. Part of the problem lies in the fact that the city government warehouses a large stock of in rem properties within its Historic District that have fallen into disrepair as a result of its inability to secure them.

Despite progress from the early 1990s, poverty remains a major (and visible) problem. The 2000 census found that two of the city's five census tracts are among the poorest in the entire state. In 2004 the state declared it one of the state's five most "stressed" cities, based on a mix of statistics like families headed by single mothers, abandoned buildings, unemployment, residents under the poverty line and adults without a high school diploma. [2] Local citizens and city officials blame the county's Department of Social Services for making problems worse by using the city as a dumping ground for its poorest clients. County officials respond that they are only sending people where housing costs are the cheapest.

[edit] Geography

The city is on the west bank of the Hudson River. Next to it the land rises at first sharply to a bluff, where many historic homes are located due to the sweeping views it offers of the Hudson Highlands to the south, Mount Beacon to the east and the bridge to the north; then more gradually to a relatively level western half. There are some notable hills in outlying areas, such as Overlook Terrace in the city's southeast corner and Mount St. Mary's at the northeast.

The lowest elevation in the city is sea level along the river; the highest is roughly 690 feet (210 m) on Snake Hill along the city's southern boundary with the Town of New Windsor.

Newburgh is located at (41.503193, -74.019636)GR1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.8 mi² (12.4 km²). 9.9 km² (3.8 mi²) of it is land and 2.5 km² (1.0 mi²) of it (20.08%) is water.

New York State Route 32 and U.S. Route 9W pass through the city. New York State Route 17K and New York State Route 207 also reach their eastern termini within city limits. Interstate 84 passes just north of the city and the New York State Thruway is not far to the west.

[edit] Demographics

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 28,259 people, 9,144 households, and 6,080 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,856.2/km² (7,393.6/mi²). There were 10,476 housing units at an average density of 1,058.8/km² (2,740.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 42.33% White, 32.96% Black or African American, 0.71% Native American, 0.76% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 18.11% from other races, and 5.07% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 36.30% of the population.

There were 9,144 households out of which 40.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.1% were married couples living together, 25.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 27.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.97 and the average family size was 3.62.

In the city the population was spread out with 33.2% under the age of 18, 12.7% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 16.1% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,332, and the median income for a family was $32,519. Males had a median income of $26,633 versus $21,718 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,360. About 23.0% of families and 25.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.3% of those under age 18 and 16.1% of those age 65 or over.

[edit] Government

Newburgh has five elected officials, a mayor and four city councilmembers, all elected at-large to four-year terms, staggered so that the mayor and two councilmembers are up for re-election one year and two others two years later. The mayor accepts all legal process and often serves as the symbolic head of the city, but other than that has no special powers or role. The city manager, who appoints all other city officials subject to council approval, serves at their pleasure.

City managers are frequently hired amidst high hopes, yet minimal criteria, and mutual resolve to do better; then fired, almost ritually and sometimes spectacularly. As of 2006, the city has had four mayors and five managers (three if two who served twice aren't counted) in the last decade.

A recurring complaint has been that, rather than taking direction from council, some city managers have exploited divisions among members to turn it into a rubber stamp for their policies and actions and render themselves unaccountable. There have been proposals to change the situation by assigning council members to wards or eliminating the city manager's position. But they have been perceived as politically motivated, and thus have not been adopted. However, the current mayor, Nick Valentine campaigned in 2003 as being the "last mayor".

Jean McGrane, the first woman ever to hold the position, is the current City Manager.

[edit] Politics

Newburgh maintains a relatively strong local Republican Party, despite demographics and urban trends favoring Democrats. Valentine, several other recent and current mayors and councilmembers and Assemblyman Thomas Kirwan, a resident, are Republicans. Currently, though, Democrats hold all of the other four council seats.

An independent documentary was made in 2004 about the mayoral race in Newburgh, called Saving Newburgh.

[edit] Facts

  • 1952 - Given title "All American City" by Look Magazine
  • Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz debuted their act at the modest Ritz Theatre on Broadway in Newburgh - December 17, 1941.
  • Home to Mount Saint Mary College and SUNY Orange County Community College.
  • Karpele's Manuscript Museum is found in the City of Newburgh.
  • Highest ratio of houses of worship to residents of any city in the country.
  • Downing Park, designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted (designers of NYC's Central Park), is named after Andrew Jackson Downing, Vaux's partner and Olmsted's mentor.
  • Home to the House of God Hebrew Pentecostal Church at 149 William Street.
  • Home to Sweet-Orr (now defunct): quality work clothes turned popular, trendy carpenter pants in the 70s.
  • Home to now defunct Costa Beverage; a popular soda manufacturer through the 70s. Known for a range of flavorful sodas.
  • IBM had plans to build a plant on lower Broadway. This plant went to Fisnkill, NY instead.

[edit] Famous Newburghians

[edit] Literature

  • E. M. Ruttenber, History of Orange County with History of the City of Newburgh, (Newburgh, 1876)
  • J. J, Nutt, Newburgh: Her Institutions, Industries, and Leading Citizens, (Newburgh, 1891)
  • L. P. Powell, (editor) Historic Towns of the Middle States, (New York, 1899)
  • J.P. Ritz, "The Despised Poor, Newburgh's War on Welfare", (Beacon Press, 1966)

[edit] Education

Newburgh is served by the Newburgh Enlarged City School District [3].

[edit] External links

Municipalities and Communities of Orange County, New York
(County seat: Goshen)
Cities Middletown | Newburgh | Port Jervis
Villages Chester | Cornwall-on-Hudson | Florida | Goshen | Greenwood Lake | Harriman | Highland Falls | Kiryas Joel | Maybrook | Monroe | Montgomery | Otisville | Tuxedo Park | Unionville | Walden | Warwick | Washingtonville | Woodbury
Towns Blooming Grove | Chester | Cornwall | Crawford | Deerpark | Goshen | Greenville | Hamptonburgh | Highlands | Minisink | Monroe | Montgomery | Mount Hope | New Windsor | Newburgh | Tuxedo | Wallkill | Warwick | Wawayanda | Woodbury
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Newburgh (city), New York

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