Thursday, February 1, 2018

Slingerlands' Suburban Roots

Oh my how times have changed.  Or not.  That is the thought that crossed my mind when I stumbled upon this article while looking for something else.

It was published in the April 21, 1911 issue of the Altamont Enterprise, 100+ years ago when the word suburban did not have the negative connotation of "suburban sprawl" attached to it.


Albanians Seeking Homes Here - Lots are Being Sold and Several Houses Will be Erected at Once - Advantages Unexcelled as an Ideal Suburban Locality.

In 1911, Slingerlands is described as an "ideal suburban residential section with numerous advantages being but eighteen minutes from Albany by steam...village water, electric lights...paved sidewalks...telephone and telegraph service..."

It goes on to note that several properties have come on the market at reasonable prices "thereby giving outsiders the opportunity to locate here... to take advantage of this welcome."  Of note was the Blessing Land Improvement company that was developing the Blessing farm by selling building sites, laying out streets and sidewalks to make the "most desirable location to build homes."  (This is the area around today's Union Street)

Sound familiar?  The tone of the article is pure rah, rah booster-ism.  And yet, the last line...

"The boom is on in Slingerlands! It's up to our citizens to help push it along.  Don't knock - Boost! with a big B"

The implication is that someone was knocking all this development. Perhaps fighting it, desiring to preserve open space and the old farms.  Sound familiar?

This is still an issue for modern day Bethlehem to wrestle with. Personally, I recognize the tension between the rights of property owners and my desire to preserve every, single old house, barn, and landscape setting.  Every one.  Well, I am realist enough to know that that is not possible, nor is it fair to the owners of these properties. We've got an excellent planning department that enforces zoning codes and provides an open process on development.  We've got a  new conservation easement program.  But most importantly we have a committed citizenry that keeps these issues on the forefront working towards an equatable balance that preserves the quality of life in our town.

And while we are on the topic of Slingerlands, how about this poem that mentions its brief time known as Ruxton. (Thank you Chris P. for passing along this gem.)

"Old Slingerlands, is a lovely place
And the people we prize very dearly,
For we always find them running over with grace
And that is why we live here yearly.

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