Newburgh really is a city of two faces. On the one hand it has wonderful old buildings; lovely parks; some great restaurants (especially on the picturesque waterfront); historic sites (e.g. Washington and Knox’s headquarters) etc. On the other a lot of it is run down, falling apart, and crime-ridden. Some parts of Newburgh are a delight to walk around in while you couldn’t pay me to walk around in others.

According to Wikipedia:

Newburgh, New York was ranked more dangerous than 95 percent of US cities by website NeighborhoodScout, based on 2012 FBI crime data. This group also ranked Newburgh as the 10th most dangerous place to live in the United States based on the same 2012 dataset. It was ranked at number 12 in the previous year’s rankings.

In 2010, The New York Times wrote an extensive article on gang activity in Newburgh.

In 2014, Newburgh began implementing a program called “Group Violence Intervention,” an example of focused deterrence. In 2017, Newburgh reported the lowest crime rates in 10 years.

As indicated in the last paragraph above, the situation has improved significantly and continues to improve. This situation is reflected in Downing Park. According to the City of Newburgh website:

The pergola, designed in 1908 by Frank Estabrook, was a focal point of the park for many generations. Elaborate formal gardens surrounded the structure until the 1960s. This area was fondly remembered for the masses of tulip gardens that bloomed each spring. As city budgets were cut and park funding suspended, the pergola was neglected and left in a deteriorated state. The Downing Park Planning Committee is currently raising money to revitalize this area of the park.

Much of Downing Park has been renovated and the area around the “Polly” Pond is a lovely place to walk. I’d like to go back on a nice day and sit outside the newly renovated and recently opened Shelter House Cafe.

However, other parts still need work. The picture of the pergola above shows it as it is today: cracked concrete steps, overgrown by vines and other weeds, covered in graffiti.

The picture below (Source: The impressive Newburgh History Blog) shows it how it once was.

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3.

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