By Alberto Gilman
City of Newburgh residents and families, affected by the Urban Renewal process, will now have the opportunity to share their own stories and testimonies through a newly approved multimedia report project sponsored by a federal grant in hopes of sharing the story of the city back then.
On Saturday, July 16, City of Newburgh residents gathered at the Boys and Girls Club at 285 Liberty St. for an informational session and roundtable discussion on Urban Renewal land and story here in the city. The grant used for the approved report project was awarded to the city by the National Park Service African American Civil Rights Program Grant in the amount of $50,000.
Leading the discussion on the grant and providing an overview of the project was resident Corey Allen, born and raised in the City of Newburgh. Topics such as the Federal Housing Authority and redlining and breakdown of the project were discussed during the course of the presentation. “We want to tell the story of Urban Renewal. ” Allen said. “This [project] goes nowhere without you [the stakeholders].”
During the course of the 1960s, the City of Newburgh experienced the process of Urban Renewal and much of the waterfront and East End city properties were destroyed during the renewal process. Many of these properties were homes and businesses of Black neighborhoods in the city.
Through conservational advocacy, several properties along the waterfront remained and the East End of the city became known as the East End Historic District Along Water Street across from Hudson Taco and Pizza Shop, the hillside property that can be seen from the road was part of the Urban Renewal process and once had prominent buildings. Land across from Horizon-on-the-Hudson school was also a part of the Urban Renewal process.
With this federal grant, the funding will help the multimedia report project that will be done in a course of five phases. Recording, editing, data collecting and final approval from the families and those impacted by the renewal process will be undertaken before it is released to the public.
In March, Newburgh City Council approved the execution of a contract between the city and an organization known as Sound and Story Project of the Hudson Valley with the purpose of this organization to conduct interviews and collect testimonials from residents and families who had experienced the Urban Renewal process.
According to the city planning and development department, city youth and library staff will work with Sound and Story to collect oral history. Once that oral history is collected, it will be stored at the Newburgh Free Library. “We want to get your accounts. We’re going to need testimony from folks to connect with folks,” Allen said. “I need y’all to help me be well informed, help the city become more well informed, help others become more well informed.”
According to Allen in the coming weeks, City of Newburgh Historian Mary McTamaney will be hosting an informational Urban Renewal discussion at the library.