(DoNorth/Jessica Blondell) Plattsburgh City Beach THEN: Judging by the beach attire and the cars scattered along the beach, Roger Black, Clinton County Historical Society volunteer of historic photos, estimates this photo was taken in the early 1920s. When the weather warmed up and the beach welcomed visitors, people from the surrounding Plattsburgh area and into Canada would park their cars on beach and bask in the sun with friends and family. NOW: The Plattsburgh City Beach is one of the largest freshwater beaches in the United States, according to the City of Plattsburgh Parks and Recreation Department, and has views…
- Open Air
- April 19, 2017
- by Jessica Blondell
Plattsburgh City Beach
THEN: Judging by the beach attire and the cars scattered along the beach, Roger Black, Clinton County Historical Society volunteer of historic photos, estimates this photo was taken in the early 1920s. When the weather warmed up and the beach welcomed visitors, people from the surrounding Plattsburgh area and into Canada would park their cars on beach and bask in the sun with friends and family.
NOW: The Plattsburgh City Beach is one of the largest freshwater beaches in the United States, according to the City of Plattsburgh Parks and Recreation Department, and has views of both the Adirondack Mountains of New York in the West and the Green Mountains of Vermont in the East. It is largely used for sunbathing, kitesurfing, kayaking, boating, beach volleyball and walking. Hundreds of visitors flock the beach, especially on the weekends, to absorb some of that sunlight people who live up north sometime miss a little too much during the harsh winters. While cars are no longer allowed on the beach, people still flock to this location for a beach without the long trip to the coast.
THEN: The trolley cables running above the street indicate that this photograph was taken somewhere between the late 1800s and early 1900s when the city of Plattsburgh had a functional trolley system running through town, according to Black. The pharmacy on the left no longer exists and the building on the right burned down after this photo was taken, so Clinton Street has changed quite a bit since then. The hats and suits worn by the businessmen in the photo were also customary of the time.
NOW: The pharmacy on the left side of the photo is now Pizza Bono on the corner of Clinton Street and Margaret Street – a popular place to order a slice of pizza late at night in Plattsburgh, especially the popular poutine pizza. The building that housed the cigar shop on the right side of the photograph still stands today, but it is now Fred Villari’s of Plattsburgh, a martial arts studio. Today, Clinton Street is a one-way road that allows for parking on either side, but instead of early-1900 model cars, visitors usually see a street packed with cars from this century with no trolley cables.
THEN: The Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Railroad that ran along Lake Champlain opened more trade and travel access for Plattsburgh outside of naval transportation. Smith Weed, a prominent politician and businessman, was instrumental in connecting Plattsburgh to surrounding areas, according to Kelly Julian in her book “Images of America: Plattsburgh.” In 1982, the D&H Railroad House was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and the building still stands today.
NOW: The Plattsburgh Amtrak station not only serves as a train stop, but also holds offices inside for local law personnel. Passengers on board can head north toward Montreal, Quebec, or south toward New York City. For those stepping off the train, Lake Champlain is directly behind the tracks, offering views of sailboats, mountains and water landscapes. Downtown Plattsburgh is also close by within walking distance for restaurants, entertainment and more.
THEN: Paul Smith, a prominent Plattsburgh figure, owned the Fouquet House on the corner of Bridge Street and McDonough Street and formed it into a resort. Smith Weed, a New York assemblyman, would bring other politicians to the Fouquet House for luncheons during his time in office. Before the top floors burned, the Fouquet House boasted beauty that locals and visitors adored.
NOW: With the original top floors gone, the Fouquet House now stands only three stories high. The inside of the house is now composed of apartments managed by EZ Properties.
Masonic Lodge and Strand Theater
THEN: This photograph shows the Masonic Lodge and Strand Center Theatre during the 1930s or 40s, according to Black. Throughout the years, the Masonic Lodge has served as a home for Freemasons and a Salvation Army building before it’s demise.
NOW: The Masonic Lodge building no longer stands adjacent to the Strand Center Theatre, but the lot where it once stood now serves as a parking lot. The Strand Center for the Arts still stands today, and it houses many art classes, galleries and shows. Placement on the National Register of Historic Places has added to the center’s profound impact on the community.
THEN: In the early 1800s, according to Peter Palmer, Clinton County history author, the Academy served as a school before and after the United States government leased it to use as barracks for soldiers during the War of 1812. During the spring of 1814, Spencer Wall became the principal, and the building was once again restored to be a place primarily for school, but also for worship and public meetings.
NOW: The original building burned in a fire, but some of the Plattsburgh Academy remains still exist under the Plattsburgh Public Library. Sitting on top of the academy site, the library basement has some elements of what once was a large school buried inside of it.
THEN: Completed in 1908, the Young Men’s Christian Association building on Brinkerhoff Street opened to the public as a gift from one of the city’s most generous benefactors Loyal Smith, according to the Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company. Renovations to the building in 1963 caused a dramatic makeover, which is why visitors today won’t see the same building front. The structure, however, is still used in today’s Y.M.C.A.
NOW: Visitors can purchase a day pass to experience the many programs and events the organization hosts. Aquatic activities, adult and youth fitness classes and personal trainer services are all available inside.
THEN: In the early 1900s, Plattsburgh still utilized dirt roads and wooden sidewalks to navigate around the city. This photograph is one of the oldest the Clinton County Historical Society has in its collection. Black points out the light that can be seen in the foreground of the photograph in front of the old courthouse, telling people now that electricity existed at this time.
NOW: Margaret Street is the center of hustle and bustle in downtown Plattsburgh. With numerous restaurants, shops and businesses, visitors and residents are able to make a day out of wandering down the street. City zoning laws allow the restaurants to offer outdoor seating as well, which gives Margaret Street the extra vibrancy visitors love when the snow melts and spring temperatures start moving in.
Smith Weed Mansion
THEN: Smith Weed lived in this house at the corner of Sailly Avenue and Cumberland Avenue. Weed left his mark on many organizations, buildings and political movements around Clinton County. When well-known local political figure and semi-retired businessman Mark Barie shared his research about Weed in an interview with the Press-Republican newspaper in 2014. Barie shared that Weed connected Plattsburgh to Whitehall via train, lobbied for the Normal School, which later became SUNY Plattsburgh, planned meetings with presidents and other federal government politicians who visited Plattsburgh, directed the Plattsburgh Free Library and served on the school board for more than 50 years, among other things.
NOW: The Smith Weed Mansion now houses law offices and does not have the same park in the front yard because of landscaping changes and expanding the width of the road. Across the street from the house, a steep bank leads down to the Saranac River overlooking iconic Plattsburgh scenes, such as the Macdonough Monument.
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