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September 23, 2013

Oneonta saw construction, destruction in fall of 1973

Whether it was the sounds of a pile driver to start construction, or a wrecking ball to demolish old construction, decibel levels were pretty high at times during the month of September 1973 in Oneonta.

‘Cardboard Alley’ defied expectations

The wrecking ball was near for some buildings on the Hartwick College campus, well known to many as “Cardboard Alley.” The Oneonta Star of Friday, Sept. 14, 1973 reminded some readers, “Cardboard Alley isn’t made of cardboard.”

“It is made out of cheap, World War II vintage lumber and is held together more by sheer stubborn determination than the thousands of nails covered by dozens of layers of paint.” It was one of several military surplus buildings the college obtained to help handle the postwar student crunch. The buildings came from Sampson Naval Training Base on Seneca Lake.

When the Cardboard Alley buildings were reassembled on campus, college officials were told not to count on it having a life expectancy of more than five to seven years. Engineering inspections, however, always showed that the buildings remained solid. They weren’t too sightly though, and were never in the original design of the campus made in the late 1920s. Change for more attractive buildings was at hand.

River Street School razed

Over in the city’s Sixth Ward, it was reported on Thursday, Sept. 20, that another landmark would be razed next week.

“The venerable River Street School Building, which for the past few years has housed the Sixth Ward Athletic Club, will be torn down.” It had stood on the site, now occupied by the Oak Square Apartments, since 1888.

The Club had looked into the possibility of renovating the building but decided the cost was too great. Vandalism had been on the increase and the school was becoming an eyesore. River Street School had been in use through the 1965-66 school year. Riverside Elementary School opened in September 1966, replacing River Street and Mitchell Street schools, the latter once found where Nader Towers stands today.

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