This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of April 3

Highland Hose, ca. 1920. John Scott Collection
Highland Hose, ca. 1920. John Scott Collection

April 2, 1870 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

THROUGH IN SIX DAYS  Edmund White, formerly a resident of our county and brother of Mrs. Oliver Scott, called in to see us a few days ago, having made the trip from Chico, on the Sacramento river., Cal., to New York, in six days.  He reports the road over the continent in excellent condition and worthy of the great company who have it in charge.

OUR RAILROAD  Last Friday, the first passenger car came over the road as far as Judge Mansfield’s residence, to which place the road is partially ballasted. The party which the car contained was one of observation only and not the pioneer passengers. Owing to the fact that many of the sharp curves will have to be modified, the road straightened in several places, switches and a turn-table laid down, no passenger trains will run on the road until the new time-table takes effect some time in May.

LOST AN ARM  Last Saturday morning, while Mr. Aaron Wheeler, father of our friend, Alonzo Wheeler, was engaged in regulating some portion of the machinery connected with the elevator in the sugar refinery at Hastings, some of the workmen connected with the establishment, connected the belt with the pulley and set the machinery in motion. As it started his arm was caught between the wheels and crushed to a jelly. Having pretty good pluck, Mr. Wheeler walked home with pieces of the bone dropping from his arm as he went. A physician was called at the earliest possible moment who removed the arm about three inches below the elbow. He is attended now by two medical gentlemen and is doing remarkably well, having bright hopes of a speedy recovery from the injury as far as possible. We sympathize with our friend in his misfortune.

April 1, 1920 100 YEARS AGO
The Nyack Evening Journal

AFTER SPEEDING MOTORISTS WHO RACE TO FIRES — Chief of Police Furey Directs Bluecoats to Make Arrests in Future — State Law Provides That All Automobiles Must Pull Up at Curb  Because of the fact that the fire apparatus was hampered by automobile congestion in North Broadway Wednesday afternoon in responding to an alarm of fire, Chief of Police Furey today gave notice that in future when drivers of cars rush to fires he will cause arrests and have the offenders punished.
     A State law provides that at the sound of a fire alarm all automobile drivers shall pull up close to the gutter in all streets in order to give free passage to fire apparatus. This statute has never been observed in the Nyacks and it is a common sight to see cars being run to fires at an excessive rate of speed.
     When the fire alarm sounded Wednesday afternoon for a brush fire in Upper Nyack a number of car drivers on North Broadway turned their machines and joined the crowd running to the blaze. When one manic machine turned into the street and was on its way to the blaze a collision was narrowly averted at the corner of New street.
     Chief Furey, Thursday, directed all police officers to arrest any driver of a motor car who again violates the law and any person caught speeding to a fire before the fire apparatus has passed will be arraigned before Police Justice Haas and punished.

April 12, 1970 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

IT’S C-DAY  If you've not mailed back your census form, do it today. It's not too late to be counted in the 1970 Census of Population and Housing, Dolores Reirecke, district manager of the census in the Rockland area, said this morning.
     The Census Bureau has asked that all the forms be mailed today. However, they will accept them if they should happen to come in a day or so late.
     The census is meant to take a count of everyone as of this day. If your form should happen to be among the missing after the mail deadline, it will be necessary for census takers to call and pick up those not returned.
     Most questions will be answered by blacking in small circles with an ordinary lead pencil.
     On Friday night of this week, census takers will go out in a special drive to count persons who do not have fixed addresses. Persons without permanent homes will be included in the population of the place where they're enumerated.
     The 1970 census will be conducted throughout the nation by 185,000 persons. They will count an estimated 204.8 million heads (based on official estimates as of 8 o'clock this morning) and gather statistics on living patterns which will be used during the next ten years, or until the next national census.
     The Rockland office for the census operation is at 170 South Main St., New City.
     Three Rockland Community Action offices will aid anyone is need of help to fill out their census forms at 78 Ewing Avenue, Spring Valley; 216 Conger Avenue, Haverstraw and 78 Burd Street, Nyack.

HE’S CHANGING THE FACE OF ROCKLAND  An architect who has almost single-handedly radicalized the face of Rockland County—designer of more than 50 soaring, hanging avant-garde houses that spring from hillsides and nestle in hollows—now offers some modest proposals to make this area better for living.
     With the techniques and principles of contemporary architecture and urban planning, says Charles Winter of Grand View, Rockland could easily be changed from just-a-place-to-live into something quite different and far more enjoyable—real, human communities.
     In his ten years of working here. Winter has filled spectacular sites all over Rockland with his experimental-styled homes—20 in one single 3-mile stretch along the Hudson—and his clean crisp glassy boxes and towers are rising all over the Eastern seaboard, and down to the tropics.
     As the one designer of radically new housing that appears here, Winter has been hailed as the man who makes home-living a delight again. His work is all dramatic space and odd angles and glass and light.
     But he feels his own county of Rockland is strangling on traffic and "privacy" and isolationism so much that it has become cold, sterile, tense and unenjoyable.
     He and his assistants are working with about 50 new clients for new homes that will sprout here; but he is also moving beyond into total community planning in the so-called "visionary" manner, common in Europe and increasingly being built here in the U.S.
     A vacation community he has designed for the Catskills will use latest thinking from several disciplines to create an environment that is geared for humans to meet and mingle in. Crucial to this is the paramount right of the pedestrian to some peace and pleasure.
     There are underground tunnels for golf carts, hidden roads for the necessary but obnoxious auto, and special people-areas where the machine is outlawed. Housing takes tricky hanging, jutting, swooping forms to preserve space and privacy.
     This kind of approach, involving a simple re-ordering of physical structures and some imagination, could transform parts of Rockland into close-tight, happy-feeling places where people can get outside and walk, Winter feels walking is essential.
     Through the sweeping 40-foot glass walls of his office Winter can look down into the geographical bowl of the Nyacks below him. He feels problems and tendencies here are symptomatic of life in Rockland as it steadily gets worse.
     There is a mad dash toward more urbanization, Winter says, as Nyack tries to become more orientated toward new shopping and cars and business. There should be a stop to this. Moves toward developing the residential nature Nyack really has, and its specialized, localized good points, will attract more people, he contends.
     Winter feels urban renewal plans to make Nyack into a county-wide shopping center are doomed since Nanuet malls have better variety of shops and far less traffic problems. At rush hour Nyack is bottled tight with traffic snarls, Winter asserts.
     In his spare time Winter has developed plans and designs for a number of improvements that could be made in the communities, using modern design, techniques and recent thinking that elevates the walker, the pedestrian, into the most important thing.
     He has plotted meandering green-belts through the village to get people away from the cars and to encourage walking, a crucial step in establishing community feelings. He has plans for Memorial Park that would make it more attractive and tend to gather crowds for relaxation. Planting of trees and building of niches throughout the village would give people public places to congregate and form community spirit.
     Warning strongly against trends toward more isolationism and privacy, Winter says most of the recent construction in Nyack, especially apartment complexes along the Hudson, is catastrophic.
     The apartments have destroyed chances of public use of the river and have developed into little enclaves almost completely cut off, in spirit and location, from the rest of the village, Winter claims.
     "As a community the Nyacks have failed. Walking around here is unpleasant. Everyone drives everywhere if he can. But this trend can't go on. The streets are inadequate, and Nyack will choke on the congestion."
     While he feels that progress need not make living worse, as it often seems, Winter feels pessimistic about reform of present conditions, the anti-community physical, feel of Nyack that he says breeds tensions among residents. He says people have to commit themselves actively to change; but he finds them sluggish.
     So he continues to plan for green belts, for people-areas, for a development of Sparkill Creek in Piermont that could increase population density 20 times while improving the spot's charm and he continues to look out his 21st century office window onto Nyack's 19th Century living conditions.

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. To learn about the HSRC's mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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