Monday, June 30, 2008

Poltergeist 3 in New Hartford, NY?

The skeletons not in the closet at least in New Hartford. Stop the next time your in New Hartford if you have a moment. In front of the high school on Oxford rd
you'll find markers on the spot
of one of the first graveyards in the Mohawk Valley with the remains of many of the original settlers. Many of the names you'll see on street signs in South Utica (originally part of New Hartford) and in New Hartford. The story goes that in 1953 the powers to be decided that
to build the school on the location of the former cemetery, they would dig up all the graves
and place the remains in the spot now marked by the 2nd monument above. The names above were taken from the grave stones and is probably not an accurate reflection of the number of
bodies that were removed and placed in the mass grave. It was not unusual back then to place graves one on top of another and there could have been several sets of bones in one grave site.
Further poor people or criminals were often buried without markers or buried on top of a freshly buried wealthier person. How many skeletons are buried there??? No one knows for sure.
Anyway, there is more information at the historical society in New Hartford if you're interested in additional details contact them at

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Uptown Utica, NY "Change For Better or Worse"

White Tower, Utica, NY (torn down mid-late 90's)

Walking around the Uptown area recently, I couldn't help but notice the way new businesses like Price Chopper and the hodgepodge of drug/convenience stores have "shoe horned" themselves into their locations. Little thought is placed on trying to retain the character and quaintness of the community, unless the community has the foresight and stringent controls to maintain them. We moved to Emerson Ave when I was a kid in the the 70's , and remember many of the small businesses that were local institutions then. Few of these businesses survive today. This seems all too typical in not just Utica but surrounding communities as well. Local government seems to sell out and give in all too quickly to attract a tax paying business without concern for maintaining the character, history and charm of an area. Planning is an afterthought.
The things that make an area special are often the first things given up when things get tough and the lure of immediate tax revenue outweighs long term planning and development.
Although Uptown South Utica will probably never be remembered for its landmark historic buildings, it nevertheless is remembered for the businesses that shaped this area for many years, and became landmarks for area residents as Utica annexed this area from New Hartford and grew in the early 1900's. Businesses like Dan Dee Donuts, Hemstoughts, Dave Hayes, Brian Barr, Uptown Theatre, Jean's Beans, Uptown Grill, White Tower, Last Unicorn and so many more, are names that most Uticans over 30 easily remember and can recount their own favorable experiences there. I doubt that many people years from now will reminisce about going to the Chopper or Rite Aid. My own great grand father even had a butcher business in between where the China Wok and Uptown Liquors is now sometime around the 1920-30's (if any body has anything they can share w/me about him..would appreciate it) .
I walk past a quaint aromatic coffee shop with tables in front of it. This is where the Village Toy Shop used to be I think to myself as I look across Genesee Street and see that the Uptown Theatre across the street seems to be holding it's own. I jump into my car and as I drive off, I look at a couple sitting at one of the tables in front of the coffee shop, and I think that this is what Utica needs to plan around, and encourage more of.