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Vivian Yess Wadlin

The Era of Oscar of New Paltz

Oscar Tschirky, aka, Oscar of The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, NYC, NY […] was a man of the world. His featured Waldorf domains were the Palm Gardens, the Empire Room, Peacock Alley, The Sert Room (murals by Jose Maria Sert), the Grand Ballroom, and the private supper rooms, all part of the hotel’s iconic dining scene… This [Read More…]

Poughkeepsie’s Woodcliff Pleasure Park

July 14, 1927, at 7 pm, it opened. Finally, Poughkeepsie had something to compete with other famous amusement parks up and down the Hudson, and in nearby cities and states. Poughkeepsie welcomed the Woodcliff Pleasure Park… This pictorial layout is presented here as a downloadable PDF file: Poughkeepsie’s Woodcliff Pleasure Park (PDF)  

It’s Snow Time

Whether or not we get snow, ‘tis the season for it. And that means hiking, snowshoeing, ice climbing, snowmobiling, ice skating, plowing and shoveling…or a warm toasty fire and a good book. After checking the forecast and the wind-chill chart below, decide your day’s itinerary from the possible alternatives listed. See Fireside Reads, and Out [Read More…]

Jean Vanderlyn Unvarnished

My friend, Ken Ericksen, and I were talking about the race track that was on the flats west of New Paltz back in the 1920s. “You know,” he said, “there used to be a little girl from New Paltz who was a great trick rider back in the thirties. She still lives in New Paltz.” [Read More…]

New Paltz Village: Then & Now

In that other lifetime, before we all learned the name, structure, and pitilessness of a virus, I was preparing a presentation titled Then And Now for the New Paltz Historical Society in November. Here are a few of the images I was planning to share…   This pictorial layout is presented here as a downloadable PDF [Read More…]

Opening the Gates to Wellness

Anyone heading east on the Mid Hudson Bridge or driving on Route 9 south of it can’t be faulted for thinking the huge shining edifice cropping out of the stone cliff above the roadway is a dazzling new hotel. The almost completed construction of the Vassar Brothers Hospital takes modern design and the institution’s facilities [Read More…]

A Little Kingston TLC History

Care of the sick in Kingston, as in all communities and throughout history, began with home care as alternatives were few, expensive, and far away, not to mention, often not effective or downright deadly. It is only in the last half-century that we take good hospital care as a given. The earliest reference I found [Read More…]

Postal Roots

Karen Berelowitz and Stephen Blauweiss’ comprehensively researched, beautifully written, and lushly illustrated account of The Life and Death of the Kingston Post Office should be in the library of anyone who appreciates historic architecture and works to preserve it. The book is a memorial to that most beautiful post office building as well as a [Read More…]

Early Ulster County Post Offices Appearing in Postcards

Most of the cards below are from about 1910-1930, and the postmarks from 1908 to 1950. Any that are postmarked will be given that date, but the cards could be older. Offices moved around frequently, often because the postmasters were patronage positions until as recently as 1969. The Woodstock card above is postmarked October 5, [Read More…]

The Shoe Magnate of Marlboro

Many an immigrant was drawn to the beauty and fertility of the hills of New York’s  Town of Marlborough. Most seekers came as laborers, stonemasons, and farmers, but others put down roots here after already attaining prosperity in other fields. United States Patent Office patent # 92,966 was awarded to Dominick La Valle regarding “Design [Read More…]

Roebling’s Gifts

Unlike today, fame once equated with substantial achievement—overcoming disease, taming natural barriers, death-defying exploration, tweaking the laws of nature. Fame was once the province of the world-changer. In that rich vein of past boundary-pushers are many inventors, entrepreneurs and scientists who saw better ways of answering the needs of their fellow humans. Henry Ford, Jonas [Read More…]

Five Locks Walk

It is difficult to imagine how William and Maurice Wurts developed the concept for and then actually constructed the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal System that ran from Honesdale, PA, to Kingston, NY, using the power and technology of the day–primarily men & draft animals and picks & shovels. The Wurts brothers’ main objective had [Read More…]

A Ferry Tale

Midnight, New Years’ Eve, 1941. Its light shining into the darkness of the Hudson River, the Brinckerhoff Ferry left its berth in Highland making one last crossing. Its forty-year Hudson River history sealed. Its future uncertain. Prior to the American War for Independence, crossing the Hudson River between Yelverton’s Landing (today Highland) and Poughkeepsie meant [Read More…]

Other Ferry Tales

Captain William Tompkins I love it when things come full circle. One of the last ferry men, William E. Tomkins, was the chief engineer of the Poughkeepsie Highland Ferry Company. Captain Tompkins was the grandfather of local resident Linda Smith. Linda and her husband, Matt Smith, have been instrumental in reclaiming the land that once [Read More…]

Patrons of Husbandry

“Its primary object is to bring about a union among the farmers of the Republic, for it is its cardinal maxim that only in union can the agricultural class show its strength and make it felt.” History of the Grange Movement (Edward Winslow Martin, 1873)     1867 The United States Civil War had disrupted [Read More…]

Through Time: Perrine’s Bridge

About Town was founded in 1984 by Liz Weisz, Elena Erber, Karen Thompson, and Vivian Yess Wadlin.  Stories from 2001 to the current issue are in the archives. As we closed the books on Winter 2018-2019, ending our 35th year, we take the opportunity to look back on some of our favorite stories from earlier [Read More…]

Schools of Thought

I chose “Luminari” for the title typeface of this article because it captures the spirit of the camps, colonies, and schools that have fed the minds and imaginations of countless students from every socio-economic strata. Some of those schools evolved (above B&W postcard of the Mt. St. Alphonsus Seminary, now The Mount, a private high [Read More…]

Levi Calhoun

based on a previous About Town article

As I look at this photo of Levi, I am suddenly a five-year old standing at the edge of an unpaved road. It’s 1949. “Poison ivy,” Levi says knowingly. His incredible aquamarine eyes survey the ravages of the plant’s oil on my arms. “Stay,” he commands, and carefully lays his bicycle on the grass next [Read More…]

Racing Hearts

This article honors the historic racing spirit of Ulster County. This September, two unusual races take place here. The Catskill Conquest Pilot Rally partially follows the historic auto-endurance race of 1903 sponsored by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (original 800 miles from NJ to PA). The September 22nd race starts in Ulster County and [Read More…]

What Might Have Been

Twenty years ago, American Demographics magazine published an article titled “Strong Home Towns.” It was based on a study of the 3,600+ counties in the United States detailing the civic connectedness of citizens in each county and ranking them more or less “strong home towns.” Some of the data they looked at were lengths of [Read More…]