Wall Street: Kingston, New York
Strolling down Wall Street in Kingston, New York, it's easy to become mesmerized by the thoroughfare's rich political, military, and religious history dating back to the 17th century. When walking among its dense concentration of pre- and post-Revolutionary buildings, it requires little effort to become fully versed in city and state history. As New York's first capital, Kingston —and specifically Wall Street — played an important role in the state's formation.
Eight blocks of Wall Street between Franklin Street and North Front Street.
In 1777, patriots fleeing the British in New York City convened in the Ulster County Courthouse on Wall Street and signed a new state constitution, choosing George Clinton to lead them. Within six months, the first session of the New York Supreme Court was being held in this very building. By October 16, 1777, the British had reached Kingston and quickly destroyed 326 buildings in the city, sparing only the Tobias Van Steenburgh House at Wall and Franklin streets. Old Dutch Church, designed by Minard Lafever in the Renaissance Revival style in 1852, sits at the corner of Wall and Main streets and is home to a congregation that traces its roots to 1659.
Wall Street is not defined only by its history, however. Preservation guidelines enacted by the City of Kingston ensure that any architectural changes to Wall Street are harmonious with the Italianate, Classical Revival, and Art Deco buildings that front the street. Events year-round attract residents and visitors alike to the street's bluestone sidewalks, providing an economic boost to the city. In his 2012 State of the City address, Mayor Shayne Gallo referred to Kingston as a model city, evidenced, in part, by Wall Street's rich cultural heritage, well-preserved architecture, local businesses, and weekly and seasonal festivals.
Defining Characteristics, Features
History and Architecture
- Dutch colonial governor Peter Stuyvesant constructs stockade (1658); its streets form grid used today and some places still have raised earth where walls once stood
- Tobias Van Steenburgh House, built ca. 1700; one-and-a-half story limestone rubble building exudes Georgian feel with symmetrical facades, gabled roofs, central hall floor plan
- Ulster County Courthouse (285 Wall St.) where state constitution signed April 20, 1777, and Kingston becomes New York's first state capital
- The Fred J. Johnston House at Wall and Main streets (1812); excellent example of the late Federal style with its symmetrical facade, fanlights, six-over-six windows, cornice dentils
- Clermont Building, Wall and John Streets; late 19th century commercial building with metal cresting on slate mansard roof; recent $20,000 restoration includes repointing all masonry
- Old Dutch Church cemetery on Wall Street has graves of city's forefathers including George Clinton, New York's first governor and Vice President for Thomas Jefferson and James Madison
Planning and Revitalization
- Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission (1969); reviews proposed changes to property exteriors within Stockade Historic District
- Stockade Historic District includes two blocks of Wall Street (Main to North Front streets); added to National Register of Historic Places (1975)
- Declining sales lead city to introduce Pike Plan (1976); calls for porticos to be erected down Wall Street to spruce up Victorian facades and help revitalize economy
- Kingston named one of New York's 16 Urban Cultural Parks (1982); designation helps increase Wall Street's urban population and encourages more economic activity
- Zoning updated 1984; 62-foot height limit so Old Dutch Church steeple remains tallest structure
- Matching grant program ($75,000) enacted 2007; at least six buildings on Wall Street renovated
- Sidewalk bump-outs along street improve pedestrian safety, allow for benches and landscaping
- Refurbishment of Pike Plan porticos including renovations to canopy; installation of standing seam roofs, skylights, improved lighting (2010-2011)
- New curbs, sidewalk bump-out improvements and sidewalk repairs, installation of new benches, bike racks, planters, trees, flowering plants (2010-2011)
- Climate Action Plan (2012); proposed goals affecting Wall Street include reducing energy consumption, new lighting ordinance, sidewalk repairs, bicycle master plan
- Farmers Market plus arts and crafts on Saturdays; attracts up to 2,000 people (May-November)
- Wall Street Jazz Festival (North Front and Wall streets), musicians across U.S. (August)
- O+ Festival, free medical care for artists of all types from participating health care providers; art bartered along Wall Street from North Front to Main Street (October)
- Bi-annual Revolutionary War battle reenactment (October)
- Memorial Day parade route (May)
- Internationally renowned Woodstock Film Festival award ceremonies and events at Backstage Studio Productions, 323 Wall St. (October)
- Holiday Parade with caroling, ice carving, horse-drawn carriage rides, fireworks, and Santa (December)
- Local project, "Movies Under the Stars," provides free outdoor movies throughout the city, includes one showing scheduled for Wall Street