The fishing shacks at the end of Dock Street in the North Bay area of Hudson, NY, (just past the Kite’s Nest River City Garden) are part of a 14.4 acre parcel that was purchased originally in the 1600s by a German immigrant from Indigenous people. There have been businesses on the land including gristmills, slaughterhouses and tanneries.
The first Shantytown shacks were constructed in the 1880s and through the middle of the next century they functioned as sites for shad, sturgeon, and herring fishing. Active use of Shantytown continued into the 21st century until the city decreed that the shacks could no longer be used. A project to demolish most of the shacks and restore a few is part of the city’s 2017 NYS Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.
Shantytown was known, specifically for shad fishing enterprises, which were important in sustaining local families through the Great Depression and World War II. Furthermore, Shantytown now represents one of the few shad fishing sites, an important cultural and economic phenomenon along the Hudson River, that still exists. Consequently Shantytown has been deemed a site eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hudson Area Library will host “The History of Shantytown (aka The Furgary) in Hudson,” a History Room on Zoom presentation set for Thursday, March 25th.
From 6 to 7:30 pm, Gary Sheffer, member of the library Board of Trustees and chair of the History Room Committee, will interview Leo Bower, lifelong local and a resident historian with a special expertise in Hudson’s Shantytown. This program will concentrate on the height of the Shantytown’s shad fishing culture in the mid 20th century and the families and lifestyle during this time. Progress and obstacles to the preservation of Shantytown will also be discussed. A question and answer period will follow the program.
This program is free and open to the public, registration is required. For more information or to register, contact Brenda Shufelt at (518) 828-1792 x106, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Hudson Area Library website.
Photo of young boy in the front of Shantytown courtesy the Leo Bower Collection.