Protecting Downtown Newburyport

Downtown Newburyport being destroyed in 1968. (Photo courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library)
Downtown Newburyport being destroyed in 1968. (Photo courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library)

On The Newburyport Blog’s Facebook page I put up an album of the photos I took from the Archival Center at the Newburyport LIbrary of Newburyport from 1967-1974, the time of Newburyport’s Urban Renewal.

The photos are so shocking to me, what we lost back then and what we almost lost.

People think it couldn’t possibly happen again, no need to protect our historic assets.

But tastes change.  In 1967, and it wasn’t just Newburyport, people felt that old buildings, historic old buildings, were a symbol of economic stagnation and economic collapse.  The favored architecture of the time was minimalist, low to the ground, “modern.”  It symbolized economic rebirth, economic vitality.

Right now we appreciate our historic buildings, but taste in what makes small cities vibrant change.  We need to protect downtown Newburyport.  It was almost destroyed once, it can happen again.  We’ve come too far not to have an “insurance policy” on all that we have accomplished.  The greatest protection for downtown Newburyport for us and for future generations is a Local Historic District (LHD).

Modern architecture favored in the 1960's
The kind of modern architecture favored at the time of Newburyport's Urban Renewal

I love really good modern architecture.  It’s actually one of my passions.  I just don’t happen to think that it’s right for this place, for Newburyport.  And it’s almost what the entire downtown of Newburyport would have looked like (we came so close).

(If you download the image at the top would you please give The Archival Center at The Newburyport Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)