Newburgh (City)

November 1, 2010

Newburgh (city) is in Orange County, NY, which is 60 miles north of New York City and 90 miles south of Albany.  The city is in between the Town of Newburgh and the Town of New Windsor. Henry Hudson stopped by during his 1609 voyage and deemed the city “a pleasant place to build a town.” The population was reported by the Census as 28,300 in 2000. The demographics of the city are about 45% white and about 35% black. The median income of the city is approximately $30,000. Many people within Newburgh work in the construction industry and there is an opportunity in real estate development. The citizens have five elected officials, a mayor and four city council members that are all elected for four-year terms. Currently all four council members are elected city-wide and Newburgh voters decide whether or not to split Newburgh into eight wards and elect one council member from each ward. Newburgh maintains a strong local Republican Party, despite the demographics and urban trends favoring the Democratic Party. Valentine and several other recent current mayors and council members, as well as Assemblyman Thomas Kirwan are Republicans. Currently, though, the Democrats hold a 3-2 majority on the City Council and an independent documentary made in 2004 was made about the mayoral race in Newburgh called “Saving Newburgh.” Economically, the city is known for its manufacturing of cotton, woolens, silks, paper, felt hats, baking powder, soap, paper boxes, brick, steam boilers, tools, coin silver, bleach, candles, ice machines, pumps, moving-picture screens, overalls, perfumes, furniture, carpets, shirts, lawn mowers, and automobiles. Surprisingly, this is not even the complete laundry list of things that the city manufactures. The city is also home to the first Edison power plant, which means that it was the first American city to be electric-powered. Another interesting fact about Newburgh is that it is home to one of the widest streets in NY State, which is Broadway at 130 feet wide. The industry took a hit in the 20th century as industry moved south or to where taxes and labor were cheaper. The urban renewal plan of the 60s and 70s tried to counteract the economic decline, but failed. This failure was partly due to the 1973 oil crisis, because there was no funding left for the project. There were also historical boycotts and race riots during this time period, which was not advantageous to the urban renewal plan. Environmentally, there are also issues. The city has a combined runoff and sewage system, and the city is known for dismantling automobile motors. Breaking automobile motors into their separate parts is problematic because leaking fluids into the local environment often follows. In particular, there was an engine fluid spill in 1994 at the Jonas Automotive site, which contaminated the local soil. In addition, there was another spill in 1998. Brownfields are also an issue in Newburgh, which are abandoned or idles properties that if they were redeveloped, they would cause the dredging of hazardous materials which would lead to environmental contamination. The ultimate goal of the city’s urban renewal plan is to curb urban sprawl development that involves the movement or expansion of the suburban area. They are also trying to improve air quality, reduce traffic congestion thereby reducing emissions, and preserve open or unused land.

–Ashley and Ian


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