Kingston Industry—Ups and Downs
Kingston, especially its Rondout neighborhood, has been home to a variety of industries. Boats on the D&H Canal transported coal for 70 years from Pennsylvania through Rondout and then on to New York City. Other industries included shipbuilding, cement, brickmaking and ice-cutting. Bluestone, extracted nearby, was shipped at Wilbur, adjacent to Rondout, to cities like New York.
Gradually, as the D&H Canal closed and the 20th century dawned, industry declined. One bright spot was the arrival of the West Shore Railroad in the 1880s, which encouraged the construction of factories in Midtown Kingston. They housed manufacturers of items like shirts, lace curtains and cigars. By the 1950s and 1960s, those businesses had declined as well.
Kingston was stagnating. In the years between 1880 and 1890, the population grew by nearly 16%. By 1960, the growth rate had plummeted to an anemic 1.5%. There was so little development that, by 1950, 74% of all houses in Kingston had been built before 1920 and 90% before 1930. Younger residents were moving out to find opportunities elsewhere.