Monday, July 27, 2009

Beneath Our Feet

by Judy Chamberlain

The Hastings waterfront in 1929.

In a recent post, I wrote about walking on the bluestone slabs and asphalt hexagon tiles that lined the sidewalks of Warburton Avenue. Initially, I wasn’t aware that two local industries, which began in the 19th century and were located side by side along the Hudson, provided Hastings with its variety of sidewalks -- and a number of jobs.

In 1882 Hurst and Treanor, dealers in bluestone, established a yard and mill on the waterfront, on the site that would later become Anaconda Wire & Cable Company. While Hurst ran the New York City end of the business, James Treanor moved to Hastings to oversee that operation. By 1885, brother Frank had joined the business of Treanor Stone Works, which had become one of the largest employers in the village.

Detail of an 1889 insurance map showing the Hastings Pavement Company and Treanor's Stoneworks.

Originally, the bluestone was brought from Oxford, NY, via the Hudson River. Oxford was strategically located on the Chenango Canal, an important waterway that went from Binghamton to Utica, and the water access helped in transporting these tremendous stones down east to be cut. In the 1870s, the railroad lines were improving, but the weight and size of the stones presented problems. However, the situation was remedied by James Treanor. He designed a special railroad car that held a stone up on its edge and away from the sides of the railroad car. His ingenious invention helped perfect the stone shipping business and, no doubt, contributed to the success of Treanor Stone Works.

Milled bluestone was very popular in its day and was used for sidewalks, curbs, and architectural elements. The village benefited from this local resource and used the milled stones for many of its sidewalks. You can still find them in certain parts of town.

Employees at the Hastings Pavement Company, ca. 1890.

Another waterfront business that provided Hastings with jobs as well as sidewalks was the Hastings Pavement Company. In 1880 a factory was built to begin manufacturing asphalt blocks, a process that combined crushed stone with asphalt and molded it into uniformed sizes and shapes for sidewalks. In 1897, the Hastings Pavement Company employed 30 men, and in the following year it gave work to 50 men; by 1907, 214 men worked for the company.

With asphalt brought in from Trinidad, limestone from Verplanck Point up the Hudson, and later trap rock from the Hudson Palisades, Hastings Pavement manufactured the 8-inch hexagonal and rectangular paving blocks that remain on some sidewalks in the village today. Unfortunately, a fire in 1928 destroyed the building. The company remained in Hastings until 1936, when it moved to Long Island. It is still in operation, and even though its headquarters are in Islip, it has retained its original name – the Hastings Pavement Company.

Machinery in operation at the Hastings Pavement Company, ca. 1910.

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1 comment:

  1. I am doing a genealogy project and have discovered that my 3x Great Grandfather is James Treanor. I would love to have the opportunity to speak with whoever posted this information. I am looking for pictures, documents or whatever is available that I am able to add to my project. Any help is greatly appreciated!!! you may email me at