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Newburgh P.O.: 1906

Newburgh P.O.: 1906

Newburgh, New York, circa 1906. "Post Office and Second Street." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Architect's liberties

The building as executed turned out different than the original drawings. The final result shows gargoyles on the tower, no broad window and entrance arches on the main floor, and even though there was little relationship to the incline, the building is still one of the better ones, on a par with the 1860's Newburgh Savings Bank. The B&W print has some great detail and the colored ink elevations are a wonderful discovery too.

Once upon a time

This almost looks like a scene out of a fairytale. Stunning picture.

Great minds

I'm catching up after a few weeks away from Shorpy, and the first thing I, too, thought of when seeing this photo in my RSS feed was, I wonder if anyone made a "Play with us, Danny!" comment.

Downhill horses

There is a brake for going downhill and discouraging a hungry horse from wandering. But also there is harness across the hindquarters that reaches to the front, where it fastens to the drawbars (wagon tongues). So the horse as well as the brake have control. It took planning and time to harness, way different than turning the key and pressing the gas.

To this day

George Washington is watching Mount Beacon for a sign.
(Washington's Headquarters, Newburgh, NY)

Designed for the Incline

I found an architectural drawing for this handsome Newburgh post office at The National Archives Web site. You can even order a print.

It's a pity we don't design them like this anymore. I love the look and feel of public buildings from this era.

Occupational Hazard

I am wondering just how many utility workers were electrocuted each year in the spaghetti of wires overhead.

Driving a horse-drawn buggy down hill !

When driving a horse-drawn buggy down hill the carriage brake is used to slow the carriage and the horses are mainly slowing it themselves through the harness breeching strap, which goes around the horse's hindquarters. A breeching strap is basically the driver's brakes. When the horse needs to back the carriage up, the breeching strap also comes into effect. Or, if the carriage suddenly lurches forward, the breeching strap catches on the horse's rear end, allowing him to be able to take the force of the cart and slow it down.

Post-Post Office

A few years ago, I did some work at the current Post Office. It's an enormous annex with a factory/warehouse look. At the time, it was one of the sites of the infamous "Anthrax in the envelope" attacks. I guess that's a little less charming than the photo.

Another Former Newburgher

I'm actually old enough to remember when that building still stood at Second and Montgomery. During World War 2, it was the HQ of the local Draft Board. It was taken down just after the War, and before "Urban Renewal" took down all of the riverfront area in about 1969. Its function as a post office ended when a new PO was built at Second and Liberty, two blocks west of the old one, in the late 1930's. Comments The latter still stands and is in use today.

Take a ride in 1902

In the distance is Mount Beacon, so named because signal fires of warning were set at the summit to alert the troops not unlike the lanterns in the Old North Church: the British are coming!

There was once an inclined railroad up the mountain that I remember well. Take a ride today, thanks to the magic of motion pictures!

Gravity of the situation

Having never ridden in a horse-drawn buggy, I'm curious to know how it stays behind the horse while rolling down a hill. The women riding away from us down that hill don't seem concerned, so I guess there's a logical explanation. Are they riding with the brakes on?

I am from Newburgh

Nothing in the picture exists anymore, except the train bridge, and of course the river and mountain. What a beautiful post office I never got to see, torn down in the 1960s.

Not what I thought of

I never would have thought of The Shining.

My conscious brain, with its antiquarian electrical interest (and slight familiarity with Newburgh) wanted to look at the boxes on top of the poles: Are they transformers, or fire alarm boxes, or what?

But first my unconscious demanded, LOOK AT THE LITTLE GIRLS!! who, for perfectly understandable reasons, are very interested in the camera, and for other perfectly understandable reasons, are also very likely now deceased.

The Shining never entered my mind, although of course I recognize it once it's pointed out.

They are interested in the camera, but they are hardly staring at you. They are dressed unremarkably for their time, but quaintly for ours, and their outfits are nearly identical.

The creepy things about the girls in The Shining are:

A. They're not supposed to be there.
B. When they turn around, they rotate on the same axis.
C. The freaky widow's peak.

These girls don't have any of those attributes, in contrast with this photo by Diane Arbus:

Heartbreaking and beautiful

Having recently become a resident of the City of Newburgh (I moved here five years ago and have been renovating an 1885 row house ever since), this photo pulls at my heart in a way that others from this era have not.

None of the buildings depicted here remain standing, having fallen victim to misguided attempts at urban renewal in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A grassy slope was left behind, along with a great deal of poverty and blight.

Newburgh is still a beautiful city, however, with more intact pre-1900 buildings and one of the largest historic districts in the state. We are still struggling to move forward and put things back together, but it's happening -- a little at a time. And we're trying to do it right.

My awareness of the mentality behind the demolition of the streets and buildings in this photo is what brings tears to my eyes, but I am so grateful to see such a clear picture of what once was. It gives me hope.

Wrong movie

This is obviously Mary Poppins. She is walking away across the street.


I saw this picture and the girls from The Shining were the first thing that popped in my head. Then I looked at the comments and three of the four are about it. It's amazing how 30 years later that scene is still in everyone's head.

What a combination!

I bet there isn't another photo on the Internet that combines elements of the movies "Bullitt"&"The Shining"!

Slightly eerie

Those little girls in the lower left are rather reminiscent of the recurring and menacing tots in Kubrick's version of "The Shining." I could wish they weren't looking so fixedly at the camera.

Drove through Newburgh last weekend

It was very sad to see the city's woeful decline in the period since the picture was taken.

Come and play with us, Danny

Forever and ever!

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