Ogdensburg, NY tries to recover from urban planning disaster of 50 years ago

The concept of urban renewal never fully delivered on its promise in parts of the north country to revitalize communities by attracting economic development projects.

Embarking on the program nearly five decades ago, Ogdensburg (New York) created more problems for itself than it solved. Officials signed off on a plan to raze more than a dozen blocks in the center of the city in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

The perceived economic development never occurred, and the city lost many historic structures in the process.

This also left the city with contaminated properties on its hands along the St. Lawrence River. These sites wouldn’t be suitable for redevelopment until they were cleaned up — and that would cost a lot of money.

Urban planners cannot turn back the hands of time and reverse the misguided decisions of prior policymakers.

But residents have joined with city officials in devising ways to move beyond the mistakes of urban renewal and spark a rebirth.

Photo by P199.

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