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Newburgh is a city located in Orange County, New Yorkmarker, 60 miles (97 km) north of New York Citymarker, and south of Albanymarker, on the Hudson River. The population was 28,259 at the 2000 census. Figures released by the U. S. Census Bureau in late June 2009 estimated that the population at that time was 28,101. Newburgh is a principal city of the Poughkeepsiemarker–Newburgh–Middletownmarker, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes all of Dutchessmarker and Orange counties. The two-county MSA had a population of 621,517 at the 2000 census. A July 1, 2007 estimate placed the population at 669,915. Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown is also a component of the larger New YorkmarkerNewarkmarkerBridgeportmarker, NY-NJmarker-CTmarker-PAmarker Combined Statistical Areamarker (CSA).

The City of Newburgh is along the Hudson River, between the Town of Newburghmarker and the Town of New Windsormarker.

Just east of the city, across the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, lies the city of Beacon, New Yorkmarker.

The City of Newburgh is surrounded on the north and the west by the Town of Newburghmarker, of which it was a part prior to 1865. Census estimates in 2005 indicate that the population of the City of Newburgh had dropped to 24,966 and increased in the Town of Newburgh to 30,508 thus making the Town more populous than the City for the first time in history.

The entire southern boundary of the City of Newburgh is with the Town of New Windsormarker. Most of this boundary is formed by Quassaick Creek.


Exploration and settlement

The area that became Newburgh was first explored by Europeans when Henry Hudson stopped by during his 1609 expedition up the river that now bears his name. He is supposed to have called the site "a pleasant place to build a town," although some later historians believe he may actually have been referring to the area where Cornwall-on-Hudsonmarker now stands.

The first settlement was made a century later, in 1709 by Germanmarker Lutherans from the Rhenish Palatinate, who named it the Palatine Parish by Quassic. By 1750, most of the Germans had been replaced by people of English and Scottish descent, who in 1752 changed the name to the Parish of Newburgh (presumably after one of the Newburghs in Scotlandmarker).

The American Revolution

Newburgh was the headquarters of the Continental Army from March, 1782 until the latter part of 1783. While the army was camped at Newburgh, some of its senior officers began the "Newburgh conspiracy" to overthrow the government. General George Washington was able to persuade his officers to stay loyal to him. The army was disbanded here in 1783. Washington received the famous Newburgh letter from Lewis Nicola proposing that he become king here. It drew a vigorous rebuke from Washington. In honor of his refusal of that suggestion, Kings Highway, the north-south street behind the Newburgh headquarters, was renamed Liberty Street.

In 1786-7, the first coins to bear the legend "E Pluribus Unum" were minted by Captain Thomas Machin at his mint in Newburgh, NY.

Growth of Newburgh in the 19th Century

Newburgh was incorporated as a village in 1800 and chartered as a city in 1865. At the time of its settlement it was in Ulster Countymarker and was that county's seat. When Rockland Countymarker was split from Orange County in 1798, Newburgh and the other towns north of Moodna Creek were put in a redrawn Orange County. Newburgh thus lost its status as the county seat to Goshenmarker. The former Ulster County courthouse still stands as Newburgh's old city courthouse building (currently used as municipal office space).

Newburgh became quite prosperous during the Gilded Age that followed. With its situation on the Hudson River, midway between New York City and Albany, it became a transportation hub and an industrial center. Its industries included manufacturings of cottons, woolens, silks, paper, felt hats, baking powder, soap, paper boxes, brick, plush goods, steam boilers, tools, automobiles, coin silver, bleach, candles, waterway gates, ice machines, pumps, moving-picture screens, overalls, perfumes, furniture, carpets, carburetors, spiral springs, spiral pipe, shirt waists, shirts, felt goods, lawn mowers; shipyards; foundries and machine shops; tanneries; leatherette works; plaster works.
Lower Broadway

The Development of modern Newburgh

It has been a city with many distinctions. It is home to the first Edison power plant and thus was the first American city to be electrified. . In 1915 it became one of the first American cities to delegate routine governmental authority to a city manager. Broadway, which at in width is one of the widest streets in the State of New York [34886], runs through the city culminating with views of the majestic Hudson River. Newburgh was one of the first cities in the country to fluoridate its water [34887].

Newburgh played a pivotal role in television history. In October, 1939, RCA chose to test-market televisions in Newburgh, which was within range of the television signal of RCA's experimental station W2XBS. 600 sets were sold in Newburgh at a deep discount. The test-marketing campaign's success encouraged RCA to go forward with developing the new medium. Additionally, with consumer television production ceasing during World War II, those Newburgh households which purchased televisions during 1939 and 1940 were among the few to enjoy television (albeit with a greatly reduced programming schedule) during the war.

Newburgh in the 20th Century

Newburgh was hit hard economically by several factors in late 20th century, and the subsequent decline was precipitous. The industrial base of the city declined as industries relocated operations south or to other locations with cheaper labor costs and lower taxes. The Hudson River, which previously served as the main means of transporting goods, lost much of its shipping traffic to trucking. The city's trolley system was shut down in 1924, in favor of buses. [34888] The nation moved to the automobile for transportation and as with many other cities there was a resulting migration to the suburbs. In 1963 the Newburgh Beacon Bridge [34889] was opened spanning interstate 84 across the Hudson River, bypassing the Newburgh waterfront. The ferry closed down soon thereafter – it was not revived until 2005 – and the waterfront area declined rapidly. In 1964, the Mid Valley Mall opened outside of the city limits in the Town of Newburgh, and other retail shopping malls soon sprang up, all also outside the City of Newburgh. The city continued to lose its previously well regarded retail sector along Water Street and Broadway.

In the early 1960s, the city's response to the economic decline was an ambitious urban renewal plan.The city's historic waterfront area, an area composed of several square blocks which included numerous historically significant buildings, was completely demolished. Residents were relocated, or were supposed to be relocated, to newer housing projects around Muchattoes Lake in the city's interior.

A grand complex that was planned for the urban renewal area was never built when state and federal spending began to dry up after the 1973 oil crisis. To this day, the blocks which slope down to the river remain open, grassy slopes, offering sweeping views of the Hudson but generating no property taxes for the city. [34890]Public sentiment is mixed on whether they should be built on again at all, and the city's view-protection ordinances make it less likely. Below, the waterfront was developed in the late 1990s after the city was once again able to secure grants from the state's Environmental Protection fund for riprap (a type of stone) to stabilize the shoreline.

In the early 1960s, city manager Joseph Mitchell and the council attracted nationwide attention and the admiration of political conservatives when they attempted to require welfare recipients to pick up their payments at police headquarters. Mitchell later announced a program aimed largely at blacks on welfare, who many in the community blamed for its economic problems. The program would have denied welfare payments to all after three months except the aged, the blind and the handicapped. Those affected would have largely been single mothers of young children, the only category in which blacks were predominant. The program also would have denied payments to single mothers who had working relatives living in the city. After opposition by both state and federal officials, the program created a national controversy and never went into effect(See The Despised Poor'(Beacon Press) by Joseph P. Ritz.)

Along with the failed urban renewal, the 1970s in Newburgh were also marked by race riots and other tensions. The last big one, in 1978, led African-American students at Newburgh Free Academymarker, the city's public high school, to boycott classes and ultimately to a major reorganization of the school system.

These tensions flared up again during the city's hotly contested 1995 mayoral election. Allegations of electoral fraud had dogged the city's first African-American woman mayor, Audrey Carey, since her 1991 victory in a four-way race. Supporters of Republican candidate Regina Angelo (now a Democrat herself) alleged that many registered voters in neighborhoods Carey had carried heavily used false addresses. In response, four years later deputy sheriffs were stationed at polling places and challenged voters to provide proof of residency and identity.

Although she won, Carey's supporters claimed that the deputy sheriffs had singled out minority voters for such challenges and accused the Republicans of voter suppression. These tensions were only aggravated when the council selected the county's Republican chairman at the time, Harry Porr, who had initiated the challenges (citation needed), as the new city manager. Animosity between Carey and Porr and their respective supporters (citation needed) dominated city politics in the late 1990s, until Porr was fired and Carey defeated in 1999 (Porr would later be hired and fired again).

Newburgh in the early 21st century is more racially diverse than it used to be, as a growing Latin immigrant (mainly of Mexicanmarker descent) population complements the city's sizable African American contingent. Economic development is a major concern, but poorly envisioned, as the good jobs once found in the local manufacturing sector have not been replaced. Pockets of poverty persist in the city, often mere blocks away from its many historical and architectural landmarks (some of which are themselves in serious need of repair). In addition to this, the city has been facing issues regarding illegal immigration like many other cities across the United States, ranging from overcrowded apartment buildings to mild racial conflict.

In spite of the current financial crisis in the US, Newburgh is experiencing a spurt of new businesses on its historic Liberty Street near Washington's Headquarters. An art supply store, a gourmet food market, an antique store, a used furniture shop, a souvenir shop, a flower shop, a bakery and a restaurant have joined an existing cafe, a graphic design shop and two additional antique stores in the final months of 2008 and January 2009. This is all in the midst of the redevelopment of East Parmenter Street in a partnership with Habitats for Humanity and a private developer to build 24 new houses. The city has completed the overhaul of the infrastructure of the street.

Preserving the Past

Newburgh's preservation history can be traced all the way back to 1850 when Washington's Headquartersmarker was designated a state historic site, the first in the country. Newburgh's Historical Society was founded in 1884. It purchased the David Crawford Housemarker, its museum, in 1958, saving it from being demolished to make way for a parking lot for a funeral home.
The Dutch Reformed Church, a National Historic Landmark.
The city's modern preservation efforts began when the Dutch Reformed Churchmarker, a Greek Revival structure designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, was slated for demolition as part of urban renewal after the congregation left the decaying building in 1967. The movement to stop it led to the development of a historic districtmarker, now the second largest in New York State. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places three years later, and in 2001 became the city's second National Historic Landmark after Washington's Headquarters.

The city was designated a Preserve America community in 2005 and it also signed an agreement with the State Office of Historic Preservation as a Certified Local Government community. Its East End Historic Districtmarker, recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as that and the Montgomery-Grand-Liberty Streets Historic Districtmarker, has the most contributing properties of any historic district in the state.

While the city's historic architecture, featuring historic designs by Calvert Vaux, Andrew Jackson Downing and Frederick Law Olmstead, has attracted a stable core of preservation-minded community activists willing to spend the time and money renovating houses, much work remains to be done. Part of the problem lies in the fact that the city government warehouses a large stock of in rem properties within its Historic District that have fallen into disrepair as a result of its inability to secure them.Despite progress from the early 1990s, poverty remains a major (and visible) problem. The 2000 census found that two of the city's five census tracts are among the poorest in the entire state. In 2004 the state declared it one of the state's five most "stressed" cities, based on a mix of statistics like families headed by single mothers, abandoned buildings, unemployment, residents under the poverty line and adults without a high school diploma. [34891] Local citizens and city officials blame the county's Department of Social Services for making problems worse by using the city as a dumping ground for its poorest clients. County officials respond that they are only sending people where housing costs are the cheapest.

Downing Park, the city's largest


The city is on the west bank of the Hudson River. Next to it, the land rises at first sharply to a bluff, where many historic homes are located due to the sweeping views it offers of the Hudson Highlands to the south, Mount Beacon to the east and the bridge to the north; then more gradually to a relatively level western half. There are some notable hills in outlying areas, such as Overlook Terrace in the city's southeast corner and Mount St. Mary's at the northeast.

The lowest elevation in the city is sea level along the river; the highest is roughly 690 feet (210 m) on Snake Hill along the city's southern boundary with the Town of New Windsormarker.

Newburgh is located at (41.503193, -74.019636) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.8 sq mi (12.4 km²). 9.9 km² (3.8 sq mi) of it is land and 2.5 km² (1.0 sq mi) of it (20.08%) is water.

New York State Route 32 and U.S. Route 9W pass through the city. New York State Route 17K and New York State Route 207 also reach their eastern termini within city limits. Interstate 84 passes just north of the city and the New York State Thruway is not far to the west.


As of the census of 2000, there were 28,259 people, 9,144 households, and 6,080 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,856.2/km2 (7,393.6/sq mi). There were 10,476 housing units at an average density of 1,058.8/km2 (2,740.9/sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was 42.33% White, 32.96% Black or African American, 0.71% Native American, 0.76% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 18.11% from other races, and 5.07% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 36.30% of the population.

There were 9,144 households out of which 40.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.1% were married couples living together, 25.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 27.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.97 and the average family size was 3.62.

In the city the population was spread out with 33.2% under the age of 18, 12.7% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 16.1% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,332, and the median income for a family was $32,519. Males had a median income of $26,633 versus $21,718 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,360. About 23.0% of families and 25.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.3% of those under age 18 and 16.1% of those age 65 or over.


Newburgh has five elected officials,a mayor and four city councilmembers, all elected at-large to four-year terms, staggered so that the mayor and two councilmembers are up for re-election one year and two others two years later. Currently, all four councilmembers are elected at-large, or citywide. It was anticipated that in November 2007, Newburgh voters would decide on whether to split Newburgh into eight wards and elect one councilmember from each ward. The City Council voted to disallow this referendum from appearing on the ballot pending further public input. [34892]

The mayor accepts all legal process and often serves as the symbolic head of the city, but other than that has no special powers or role. The city manager, who appoints all other city officials subject to council approval, serves at their pleasure.

City managers are frequently hired amidst high hopes, yet minimal criteria, and mutual resolve to do better; then fired a few years later, almost ritually and sometimes spectacularly. In January 2009, Jean Anne McGrane, the first woman to hold the position, was fired for, among other issues, withholding an unfavorable federal report on the city's mishandling of two HUDmarker grants from the City Council in the midst of the consideration of a $6million bond, the 2009 city budget and the 2009 CDBG funds. The city has had four mayors and six managers (four if two who served twice are counted only once) in the last decade. Two subsequent acting city managers quit. Currently Richard Herbek holds the job.

A recurring complaint has been that, rather than taking direction from council, some city managers have exploited divisions among members to turn it into a rubber stamp for their policies and actions and render themselves unaccountable. There have been proposals to change the situation by assigning council members to wards or eliminating the city manager's position. But they have been perceived as politically motivated, and thus have not been adopted. However, the current mayor, Nick Valentine campaigned in 2003 as being the "last mayor".


Despite demographics and urban trends favoring Democrats, the voters of the city have regularly voted across party lines. Valentine, several other recent and current mayors and councilmembers and Thomas Kirwan, a resident who served in the New York State Assembly until 2008, are Republicans. Currently, though, the Democrats hold a 3-2 majority on the City Council.

An independent documentary was made in 2004 about the mayoral race in Newburgh, called Saving Newburgh.

Fire Department

The city of Newburgh is protected by the professional firefighters of the City of Newburgh Fire Department which has over 70 members and operates out of two city-wide firehouses. The department runs a frontline apparatus fleet of four engine companies(including two reserve engines), two ladder companies(including one reserve ladder), one fire boat, one fire alarm truck, and seven support units.

Fire Station Locations and Apparatus

  • Fire Headquarters
22 Grand Street
    • Truck 1
    • Truck 2(Reserve)
    • Engine 1(Reserve)
    • Engine 2
    • Engine 3(Reserve)
    • Fire Boat
    • Car 4
    • Car 4(Reserve)
    • Support Units
  • Fire Station # 4
492 Broadway
  • Engine 4
  • Fire Alarm Truck

Famous Newburghians


  • E. M. Ruttenber, History of Orange County with History of the City of Newburgh, (Newburgh, 1876)
  • J. J, Nutt, Newburgh: Her Institutions, Industries, and Leading Citizens, (Newburgh, 1891)
  • L. P. Powell, (editor) Historic Towns of the Middle States, (New York, 1899)
  • J.P. Ritz, "The Despised Poor, Newburgh's War on Welfare", (Beacon Press, 1966)


Newburgh is served by the Newburgh Enlarged City School District [34893].


Stewart International Airportmarker serves the city. Metro North Railroad nearby in Beacon on the Hudson Line has hourly or more service to Westchester County and Grand Central in New York City. There is also service on Metro North Railroad nearby in Salisbury Mills-Cornwall on the Port Jervis line to Hoboken Terminal and Secaucus Junction in New Jersey with a connection to Penn Station in New York City. Shortline part of Coach USA has daily service down Route 32 to Central Valley and points in New Jersey and New York City.


Radio stations WGNY marker and WGNY-FMmarker are licensed to Newburgh.


The Hudson Valley Renegades are a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays. The team is a member of the New York - Penn League, and play at Dutchess Stadiummarker in nearby Fishkillmarker.

The Hudson Valley Bears are one of four founding members of the Eastern Professional Hockey League . They play their home games at the Mid-Hudson Civic Centermarker in nearby Poughkeepsiemarker. (Ice Time Sports Complex in Newburgh is listed on the EPHL website as a home playing location as well.)

The Hudson Valley Hawks is a team in the newly formed National Professional Basketball League. The team's home court is at Beacon High School, in nearby Beaconmarker.

The Hudson Valley Highlanders of the North American Football League play their home games at Dietz Stadium in nearby Kingstonmarker.


  1. Figures released by the census bureau and reported on on July 1, 2009.
  2. Orange County Ready Reference, issued by the office of the Orange County Clerk, 2007
  3. von Schilling, James, The Magic Window: American Television, 1939-1953 New York: Haworth Press, 2003

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