Urban renewal came to Kingston in 1961, part of a utopian federal program that sought to inject millions of dollars into cities for modernization and revitalization. The neighborhood principally targeted was the Rondout, a former bustling port in the 19th century, which was home to the city's poor and working class. Entire blocks were acquired by eminent domain, families were displaced, and over 400 historic buildings were bulldozed. By the time President Nixon ended the program in 1974, the Rondout was unrecognizable as its former self, and a close-knit community had been torn down. But the urban renewal bump never made it to the Rondout. Much of the cleared land sat vacant for years and many of the residents were eventually relocated into two massive housing developments, one more like a prison in appearance than an apartment complex.
At the time of the demolition, local resident Gene Dauner sought to document as much of the Rondout's landscape as possible before its destruction. The hundreds of photographs he captured of a community about to disappear inspired Chronogram contributors Stephen Blauweiss and Lynn Woods to make a documentary film. Two years later, Lost Rondout: A Story of Urban Removal will be screened at the Arts Society of Kingston on November 21 at 7:30pm. In conjunction with the film, a multimedia exhibition of photos, maps, postcards, video clips, and other ephemera curated by Blauweiss will be exhibited at the Arts Society of Kingston November 7 through December 1, with an opening reception on November 7, from 5-8pm. Lostrondoutproject.com.