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Fa2017 poughkeepsie cover

Preservation as a Tool for Social Inclusion in Poughkeepsie, NY

Student Authors
Allison Arlotta, Ethan Boote, Yiyang Li, Adam Lubitz (Teaching Assistant), Morgan O’Hara, Siri Olson, Ziye Tang, Katherine Taylor-Hasty

A small, post-industrial city on the Hudson River, Poughkeepsie has stood witness to transformations both paradigmatically American and uniquely site specific. The convergence of these histories throughout the built and social fabric of the city presents a series of ongoing challenges and compelling opportunities.

The most commonly cited obstacles with which Poughkeepsie must grapple today are the legacies of twentieth century urban renewal and economic fallout from the loss of industry. In exploring the roots of these legacies, it is clear that the city’s urban form and social configuration have undergone permutations in tandem, though often to asymmetrical effects. Understanding these conditions requires an in-depth consideration of the city’s kaleidoscoping demographic composition, the organizing role of community institutions, infrastructural connectivity both within the city and to the surrounding region, efforts to preserve the city’s historic resources and narratives, as well as Poughkeepsie’s capacities for political will.

Beyond this wider historical and contextual framework, this studio paid particular focus to Poughkeepsie’s Main Street as a subject. The findings presented here highlight the significance of Main Street as a mixed-use commercial corridor, the strength of which resides in its diverse community of small business owners. The social-spatial dynamics that have contributed to the evolution of this urban artery underscore the imperative for integrating explicitly inclusionary practices into preservation work writ large.