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Columns

May 19, 2014

Sidney saw major housing booms in 1940 and 1964

We’ve learned in recent weeks about grants received in Sidney to attempt to buy out flood ravaged homes to demolish many of them, relocate some residents to higher grounds and then turn that lowland area into green space for recreation. The damage came from major floods in 2006 and 2011.

This isn’t the first time current or would-be Sidney residents headed for the hillsides for new homes, away from the potential dangers of flooding. The village expanded some neighborhoods on the elevated southern end in 1940 and 1964.

The Oneonta Herald reported on Oct. 24, 1940, that Howes & Farrell, a contracting firm from Sidney Center, had been awarded a contract by Sears, Roebuck and Co. to construct 17 of their brand-name homes on a 26-acre tract of land as soon as possible. Forty-seven other privately built homes were also eventually constructed here. This is the area we know today as Pineview Terrace and Overlook Drive.

“As this plot is outside the village limits,” the Herald said, “a special election to vote on the question of taking this land into the corporation has been called for Thursday from noon until 6.”

The Sidney Enterprise called this area Sidney Heights. Voter turnout was very light on Oct. 31, as 67 voted for boundary expansion and seven voted no.

There was obviously a need for housing in Sidney in 1940. An Enterprise article of Oct. 3 said that a recent survey of Sidney by three government agencies disclosed that the village needed 400 houses to care for the present employees of Sidney’s industries.

“When the war defense plans get fully in operation over 700 homes would be needed to take care of the workers,” the Enterprise added. Scintilla Magneto, known today as Amphenol, was preparing for heightened manufacturing abilities as World War II was well underway.

More than 70 years later, there are still many of the Sears, Roebuck and Co. homes still standing in that south side neighborhood. A Daily Star article from Aug. 17, 1990, said that Sears began its “Modern Homes Program” in 1908 as a way to get Sears products into more homes. The program creators figured people who ordered Sears homes would also buy furnishings and appliances while they were at it.

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