Ilion Urban Renewal Collection

This collection consists of historical photos, newspaper articles, postcards, and some personal notes of people, places, sports, and businesses pertaining to the Town of North Elba and Village of Lake Placid as created by Town and Village Historians Mary MacKenzie (1964-2001) and Beverley Reid (2001-present). Mary MacKenzie accumulated an array of materials in her 37 years as Town and Village Historian, and all around aficionado, dating back to the pioneer days focusing on telling the history of the area.In April 1965 a Master Plan was written to study a potential Urban Renewal Project for the Village of Ilion, New York. A Village Planning Board, the Village Board, and citizens of Ilion collaborated with Federal and State Governments to develop a project that would revitalize the central business district and improve the streets/highways. The plan was to replace the substandard, near century old buildings with pedestrian malls, plazas, and better off-street parking. The Urban Renewal Agency, with Donald Hall as Executive Director, was created to oversee the project, which broke ground in 1968 and concluded in 1974. A dedication was held on June 20, 1974 with Chairman of the Urban Renewal Agency, Harold H. Riddell, as Master of Ceremonies. Also speaking at the event, were Ilion Mayor James F. Garnsey, Donald Hall, Executive Director, and dignitaries Edwyn E. Mason, New York State Senator and Anthony J. Casale, Administrative Assistant to U.S. Congressman Donald J. Mitchell. A major effect of the Urban Renewal Project was a change in the street pattern, previously an east-west route through the village, to a north-south direction. As a result of Ilion’s Urban Renewal, the historic Main Street, with its renowned building blocks such as Powers/Thompson, Union, and Hotaling, was gone, but a small pedestrian shopping plaza called the Keystop Mall had become the new face of the village.

The Urban Renewal Collection contains photographs of several locations in the village of Ilion, New York affected by the revitalization project. The photos are dated from 1967-1973 with the majority of them from 1972. Various businesses and individuals produced the photos including the Remington Arms Company, Alan Studio, the Utica Observer-Dispatch, John Berberik, and some unknown sources. Many photos in the collection were taken within the Central Business District, primarily Main Street, Otsego Street, and areas within the vicinity of these locations. Taken before and during the project, the photos show the razing of buildings, the construction of new ones, and the rerouting of streets.

Collection owner: Ilion Free Public Library