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Local News

August 14, 2010

Reporter's Notebook: Broad Street's history a great story

Lots of fascinating Oneonta history was discussed while I was working on a recent story about an upcoming exhibit at the Greater Oneonta Historical Society. Organizers are looking for people with memories or memorabilia about the street that was removed from Oneonta's downtown during the urban renewal project started in the 1960s. The show is scheduled to run Sept. 19 to Nov. 16.

Kay Bashaw, collections manager and chairwoman of exhibits for GOHS, said that one of the themes will be citizenship participation in the rise and fall of Broad Street.

It was developed for business reasons and taken down for the same reasons, she said. It was originally farmland owned by E.R. Ford, one of four businessmen who encouraged railroad development in the city.

If they hadn't opened Broad Street, information shows that the railroad depot would have opened on the corner of River and Main streets, said GOHS volunteer Susan Plantz, who is coordinating the collection process.

The street was built in 1865 as part of a development plan that included the arrival of the first passenger train.

It included restaurants, hotels and bars in the area where passengers and employees could have easy access.

"We are trying to show how community activity and various laws had an impact" over the years, Bashaw said. When it was time for the demolition, all of the decisions were made by task forces and city officials, guided by public opinion.

Initial plans for urban renewal were to take out Main Street stores to allow for the widening of the road, but public outcry changed that, Bashaw said.

There are lots of photos of the demolition of Broad Street available, and they have planning maps for the project that included the widening of Chestnut Street, Bashaw said.

Anyone with information or material can reach Plantz at 432-6989.

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