Explore Newburgh

Explore

Newburgh

  • words jacqueline raposo
  • photography larissa fatseas

Explore Newburgh

Sixty miles north of Manhattan sits the crumbling historic city of Newburgh, New York, where layers of Americana await exploration.

Here, on the shores of the Hudson River, General George Washington negotiated the end of the Revolutionary War, refused to don a crown, and set in place an epic future that would forever dub Newburgh the “birthplace of the republic”. A major port in the 19th century, manufacturing, shipping, and trade boomed, and the streets teemed with full-skirted women, top-hat capped men, and boisterous children living full, raucous lives. Buildings by master craftsmen and world-renowned architects dotted the city. Through war and industrialization, commerce and culture ensured robust populations, pride, and patriotism for the people of Newburgh.

It seemed like the city on the river might always be one of prosper and promise.

 

Explore Newburgh
Explore Newburgh

But in the 1970s, suburban sprawl and infrastructure redirected traffic from downtown, and the community suffered. Most family-run businesses couldn’t compete, and so closed. Jobs grew scarce, and those looking for them moved elsewhere. The city Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison once hailed for its contributions to social and economic progress today has some of the highest crime rates in the country.

But residents have never given up on Newburgh.

Alongside preserving national treasures—like the stunning Calvert Vaux and A.J. Downing-designed 1851 Newburgh City Club, Washington’s Headquarters, the cavernous Dutch Reformed Church, and countless sagging Victorian brick houses–dozens of abandoned factories and vacant storefronts tell the story of centuries of the American dream. And that dream mixes and mingles with those who keep the city alive and loving.

Opened in 1935 by George Courtsunis and George Striphas, Commodore Chocolatier is one of Newburgh’s oldest remaining businesses. While some favorited sweets may have fallen out of fashion over the last eighty-years, generations of families still come in for candy cane making demonstrations, hand-enrobed bonbons, and holiday ribbon candies. Opened in the 1970s, the family-run Torino Bakery serves classic Italian biscotti, cannoli, chewy loaves of bread, holiday king cakes, and thick cappuccinos, enjoyed in the comfort of a well-worn diner booth under the glow of an aged fluorescent sign.

Wander down Broadway—quite literally an extremely broad avenue where once the crème de la crème of fashion, art, and high society crowded—and new businesses stir, too.

Palate Wine & Spirits, 2 Alices Coffee Shop, The Wherehouse Pub, and Ann Street Gallery occupy buildings revived with refortified bones and fresh paint. Nearby, Newburgh Brewing Company found the vast space they need to brew thirty-plus craft beers in an abandoned paper box factory. Atlas Studios continues a 55,000 square-foot renovation of a former textile factory built in 1920, the ample light and space blending with the grit and vigor of Newburgh’s community and the company’s creative ethos.

These buildings, businesses, and people live in Newburgh in layers and folds and intricately connected communities. A meandering drive leads you to the doorsteps of four-thousand historic buildings in the east end of the city alone. Centuries of art, architecture, politics, food, and family unravel with every conversation. Communities organize against gentrification and mass commercialization, fighting for both Newburgh’s past, and its future.

Drive an hour north of the Hudson, and explore both.

Explore Newburgh

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