Arthur Koweek

July 31, 2013

Hudson, NY


Melinda Braathen

Melinda Braathen
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Part One:

Arthur Koweek was born to Morris and Anna Koweek. He grew up in New York City and Red Hook, New York before moving to Hudson in 1950. He also attended Washington University and enlisted as a bombardier in the U.S. Air Force. He married Janice Silver at the former General Worth Hotel in Hudson.They had three children, Richard, Joan, and Jim Koweek. 

In the first half of the interview, Arthur describes Hudson in the 1950s. Arthur discusses the shifts that took place on Warren Street as industry changed and shopping centers and strip malls began to drive retail business out of Hudson. Parts of the city were characterized as abandoned, industry was more or less dry and factories were closed, but retail was still very strong. Arthur discusses the construction and development of the boat launch along the waterfront. 

He then proceeds to describe in great detail every building, starting on Front Street and continuing up Warren. He recounts where the buildings were located and how they were occupied by department stores, grocery stores, furniture stores, barber and beauty shops, kids, sports, automotive shops, hotels, doctors’ offices, etc. Arthur Koweek owned the Town Fair, an exclusive toy store, located at 555 Warren Street. 

Part Two:

Arthur discusses projects under the Urban Renewal Agency and their influence on the city of Hudson. In 1961, when small mills and industry, such as the two cement plants closed, Mayor John Kelly proposed a planning commission for Hudson. Arthur Koweek was elected chairman. Later Arthur became chairman of the Urban Renewal Agency, which later became Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency. 

Arthur describes conditions of downtown Hudson in the 1960s. The Urban Renewal Agency acquired 178 parcels from their owners. Koweek describes the Agency’s strategy to reshape and replace housing. The construction began with Bliss Towers, followed by the adjoining low-rise project on 2nd and Columbia Streets, the complete replacement of Front Street businesses and residences with moderate-income Hudson Terrace apartments, and Providence Hall for senior citizen use. 

Arthur describes each project under the Urban Renewal Agency, starting with the Warren Street Façade Easement Program on 1st and 2nd Streets. The Agency acquired and renovated facades of various properties on Warren Street and then returned them to the original owners provided that they maintained them. They also redesigned and replaced street lamps and sidewalks on Warren Street. Arthur describes other projects under the Urban Renewal Agency, including demolishing five buildings on North Front Street for middle-income buildings, a small shopping center, and additional façade-easements between 1st and 2nd Streets on Warren Street. He also outlines the various parks, parking lots and spaces that were created under Urban Renewal. In 1975, the Agency assisted in the construction of twenty townhouses below Bliss Towers. In this part of the interview, Arthur discusses Bliss Towers and the various projects over the last 40 years. 

Near the end of this interview, Arthur discusses The Town Fair, the toy store located at 555 Warren Street, which he ran with his wife Janice for many years.   

Interviewer Bio:

Melinda Braathen

Melinda Braathen is a resident of Hudson, NY. She graduated from Bard College in 2007. She worked in publishing and the arts for three and a half years in Berlin, Germany and Oslo, Norway. She conducted a series of interviews with her own Norwegian grandmother, who worked underground in the resistance during WWII. She completed Suzanne Snider’s Oral History Summer School in 2012 and currently co-hosts the Monday Afternoon Show with Sara Kendall on WGXC Community Radio. The show is interview-based and focuses on people and cultural events.

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