Thursday, September 18, 2014

A crown for Warren Street

Above: Route 9 (solid line) currently jughandles through Hudson because a narrow,
two-block section of roadway prevents a simpler, straighter route (dashed line).
Below, the existing intersection of Warren Street with Worth and Prospect.

In a recent post, I looked into rerouting U.S. Route 9 as a way of reducing truck traffic within the Hudson street grid. I raised the possibility of simplifying the route by widening a narrow, two-block stretch of Prospect and Fairview Avenues, and as an additional option, merging Prospect and Fairview into a continuous street.

In this post I'll look at the intersection where my rerouting began, the meeting of Warren Street with Prospect Avenue and Worth Avenue. Some Hudsonians complain about this intersection because of the three-way stop signs. Personally, I find communal value in the eye contact and informal coordination they call for, but at rush hour, when I almost never drive, such charms are perhaps lost.

Whether or not the intersection is a failure from a traffic standpoint, it is most definitely a failure from a civic standpoint. This is an important intersection in Hudson. It marks the head of Warren Street, the cultural and commercial spine of the city, a street celebrated for its architecture, restaurants, and galleries. But while the bottom end of Warren Street is anchored by a promontory overlooking the Hudson River, here there is no indication of the street's significance. There is no major building or space to complete the street axis and pull walkers to its top end; the strongest architectural gestures are an auto repair garage and a marginally maintained, 1870-ish flop house. Besides presenting a significant aesthetic problem, this represents an economic and cultural problem, as properties at this end of Warren Street have tended to languish.
Warren Street is the commercial and cultural spine of Hudson. It is is received by a park at the Hudson River, but it lacks a
significant marker at its upper end.

Below I offer a suggestion for anchoring the top of Warren Street. I've realigned Prospect and Worth Avenues into a continuous street, and extended Warren to meet them in a T. I also rerouted the alley behind Worth Avenue to connect with Prison Alley. These changes would result in the loss of two houses (one architecturally undistinguished) and the auto repair garage. The gain is a clear beginning/end to Hudson's main street and a large, developable parcel to the southeast.
A street realignment and new building and plaza offer a civic gesture at the head of Warren Street.

Portland, Maine
On the new site I've suggested a large building and plaza to preside over Warren Street. The location lends itself to a public building such as county offices, a police station, or a library. Unfortunately, these functions are all in the process of being relocated to other sites in Hudson. A church, grand hotel, or apartment building might work, and the proximity of the hospital suggests an administration building. However, some of these uses might not lend the right civic note. But it's fun to imagine something new and impactful at this location. A good street should have a good beginning. And a good end.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. Although it's unlikely to happen for any number of reasons, I like the idea of a smallish conference center/hotel there that maybe doubles as community kitchens, meeting rooms, something that can house social and civic gatherings for the people who live here. As long as we're dreaming, it'd be nice, if there ever were such a bold move, to think that a "crown" could be about more than the building itself. Civic purpose to me includes things such as use of solar or other alternative energy, grey water recycling, rooftop gardens, a revolving showcase of Made in Hudson stuff, ability to serve as an emergency shelter, and so on.
    Anyway, interesting stuff. Keep the posts coming.