Lost Rondout, a 69-minute documentary directed and produced by Lynn Woods and Stephen Blauweiss, chronicles how a federally funded 1960s urban renewal project devastated the waterfront district of Kingston, New York, a microcosm of the urban destruction that occurred all over America with particularly devastating consequences for small cities. Nearly 500 buildings were destroyed, and thousands of people were displaced, many of them African Americans who had difficulty finding new housing.
Through the slides of Gene Dauner, who took nearly 1,000 photos of the area just prior and during the destruction, as well as images by other photographers and archival footage, the film vividly captures the vanished streetscape of historic 19th century buildings, then defined as “blight.” Interviews with former residents and family photographs bring the destroyed neighborhood back to life — its bars, clothing stores, and bakeries —and commentary by historians, urban planners, and city officials reveal the federal policies that encouraged suburbanization and worked against people of color in urban areas.
As people strive to re-create the walkable, retail-rich communities that once characterized the nation’s downtowns, the story of Lost Rondout is instructive, showing how a neighborhood survived despite the misguided top-down planning efforts that nearly destroyed it and the on-going challenges posed by gentrification.
Following the film, co-producer and co-director Lynn Woods will join Ben Schulman, Outreach Director, Small Change, for a discussion on urban renewal in the Hudson Valley.
Lynn Woods is a journalist and painter who moved to the Rondout district nearly 20 years ago and has been fascinated by the torn-down city ever since. Following a career as a business travel reporter, with articles published in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, American Demographics, the Wall Street Journal, and other national publications, she has written extensively for Ulster Publishing and Chronogram, covering the arts, environment, and urban revitalization in the mid Hudson Valley. She is co-author of Adirondack Style: Great Camps and Rustic Lodges, Universe Books, a division of Rizzoli International, published in 2011. Woods holds a degree in art history from Barnard College.
Ben Schulman, is a writer and editor with a focus on architecture, urban planning and policy. His work has appeared in The Atlantic’s CityLab, ARCHITECT Magazine, Belt Magazine, ICON Magazine, Metropolis Magazine, New Geography, Streetsblog, and numerous others. He’s served as the editor of Chicago Architect magazine, as well the Design section of Newcity Chicago, and was the co-host of the “A Lot You Got to Holler” podcast on architecture, design and urbanism. Previously, Ben was the communications director for the urban think-tank, the Congress for the New Urbanism. Currently, he works with Small Change, a real estate equity crowdfunding platform that connects investors to developers dedicated to building better cities.