Urban Renewal: Utica, NY

After World War II cities across the nation were looking to dust-off their old neighborhoods; preparations were being made for a brave new world filled with modern advancements.

Throughout the 1940's and 1950's urban centers embraced "urban renewal" emboldened by federal legislation. City populations, enabled by increasing modes of transportation, had long been migrating to suburbs. Outward migration only increased after the war. Inner cities were increasingly challenged by large legacy buildings and old neighborhoods.

In Utica the story was no different, it just arrived a little later.


Following are Utica's urban renewal projects. This is a work in progress as BUD works to fend-off another urban renewal round at the hands of MVHS's New Hospital Concept. Some headings are place-markers, other just an introduction, and others offer links to larger explanations. One may wish to consider Utica's urban renewal in the context of Utica's Major Milestones.

The Marcy-Utica-Deerfield (MUD) Project

DATE - TITLE, MAYOR, CONCEPT or CARRIED OUT?

Redevelopment Project 1

September 26, 1959 - Urban Renewal director Ray B. Martin (held position from May 1958 to July 1965), stated on September 26, 1959, "22 acres west of City Hall calls for complete razing of all buildings, sale and development of all cleared land by private investment. This led to a new City Hall just west of Genesee Street.

As recalled on December 8, 2018... This Week in History: 1958 Utica's First Urban Renewal A

Photo caption: First urban renewal area This 1958 photo shows the 22-acre area; looking west from Genesee Street – scheduled for demolition to make room for Utica's first urban renewal project. The area was bounded roughly by Court, State, Columbia and Washington streets. That is the Saving Bank and its gold dome on the lower left and the old city hall just to its right. Columbia Street is on the extreme right. Demolition began in 1959 and, as a result, Pearl Street, which ran east-west along city hall, was eliminated as were Spring and Cooper streets east of State Street. The area later became the home of the new city hall, the Kennedy Plaza Garage and the Kennedy Plaza Apartments. [O-D FILE PHOTO]

Urban Renewal Project No. 1 began in 1962. By the summer of 1964 much had been demolished. However in 1963 power was removed from the city by Oneida County and distributed to the suburbs via a new legislature. Population had started to move out of Utica and roads and infrastructure supporting them in the suburbs hurt downtown immensely. Project No. 1 sat idle as the main developer defaulted on loans.

"What happened in Downtown Utica during urban renewal was similar to what was happening across the country. While it wasn't appreciated at the time, urban renewal was destroying essential elements of the city's character and creating an identity crisis that would last for generations.", Brian Howard, Oneida County History Center, Executive Director

Utica: Proposed Hilton Inn

The failure of Project No. 1 is responsible for the current state of Haberer Building, which certain parties hold out as justify for a huge Hospital Concept. However, this concept equates for further urban renewal thinking.


Redevelopment Project 2

1959 - ....

Urban Renewal

1952 -

First urban renewal project approved

1954 -

Thomas E Dewey Thruway opens and McConnell Field leveled for Thruway Exit 31

1956 -

Grand Union Shopping Center opens on Genesee Street

1957 -

St. Luke's-Memorial Hospital opens on Champlin Avenue

1958 -

Work begins in West Utica-on first urban renewal project in city. North-South Arterial opens

1959 -

Memorial Auditorium ? Construction begins on new City Hall

1960 -

Munson-WilliamsProctor Institute opens new Museum of Art Construction on Chicago Market Plaza on Mohawk Street begins

1961 -

Utica College opens new campus on Burrstone Road, Mohawk Valley Community College's new campus is opened New Route 49 between Uitca and Rome completed Boston Store builds addition

John Bleecker Urban Renewal Project

1963 - Work begins on John Bleecker urban renewal project

East Utica, in vicinity north of Bleecker Street, between John and Mohawk Streets. A April 17, 1950 newspaper article reported it may be one of three possible projects.

This project took down many factories and homes, to also make way for the East-West Arterial project. Federal monies were used to take the land and it was given to the state for the $3.9M, 4.1-mile highway. (Newspaper clipping, 7/27/65)

Lost to this project was also the International Heater factory along Broad Street at corner of Park Avenue. (Newspaper 5/6/66). (Newspaper clipping, 5/6/66). Still standing, the three-story Myers-Laine Heating building looks threatened, as well as a single story building with a "Dunlop" sign. (Newspaper clipping, 7/27/65).

Lost to this project was also the International Heater factory along Broad Street at corner of Park Avenue. (Newspaper 5/6/66). (Newspaper clipping, 5/6/66). Still standing, the three-story Myers-Laine Heating building looks threatened, as well as a single story building with a "Dunlop" sign. (Newspaper clipping, 7/27/65).

1965 -

Work begins on Oriskany Plaza urban renewal project.

1966 -

Work begins on the Industrial Park urban renewal project. State Upper Division College (State University .College of Technology) opens Baggs and Bleecker schools close

1967 -

St. Elizabeth Hospital constructs new school of nursing and a dormitory.

October -The new City Hall was dedicated. The New York City-based Barnaby Concrete Corporation submitted plans to restart the stalled "Project No. 1" site, in October, it was called "City Center Mall".

Utica, 1967: Proposed City Center Mall

1965 -

Old City Hall razed

St Patrick's Church demolished

Boston Store garage completed.

1970 -

Kennedey Garage completed

NewYork state and Oneida County office buildings completed

1972 -

Kennedy Apartments are completed

Route 5-S to 11 on completed

1974 -

St Elizabeth Hospital parking facility completed.

1977 -

La Promenade is completed

1978 -

Work begins on Sheraton Hotel

St. Elizabeth Hospital's new amhiitafnr y C3~S '.'.1r,£ Completed

1979 -

Sheraton Hotel opens

Faxton Hospital completes major renovation and makes addition to building

1980 -

Chicago Market Plaza East opens

1981 -

Marcy site selected for Utica-Rome SUNY College of Technology

New Butterfield Post Office opens on Seneca Street (new regional mail processing center opens on Pitcher Street)


We're not opposed to a new hospital, just do not bulldoze Downtown Utica's Historic Columbia-Lafayette Neighborhood... "Build It At St. Luke's!"



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