Historic Ordinances of the City of Hudson
The history and culture of a city are reflected not only in its architecture and geography, but also in the codes and ordinances it writes to regulate its inhabitants. For those interested in the ordinances of the City of Hudson governing its daily life from 1841 through the turn of the twentieth century, herewith some favorite selections from the City Charter and Ordinances of the City of Hudson, NY: from 1841, 1859, and 1905 respectively. The complete texts of the City ordinances for each of these years follow this introduction. Browsing them in the chronological order in which they were written gives an indication of how the City, and technology, evolved during this period.
Sample of the 1905 Ordinances: (1905 Ordinances):
Par. 5: Swimming. No person shall bathe or swim in the Hudson river in front of the city limits between sunrise in the morning and nine o’clock in the evening unless clothed in a proper bathing suit.
Par. 10: Regulating the Leaving of Horses in the Streets. No person shall leave any horse or horses in any street, alley, public ground or square within the city, unless such horse or horses are securely tied or fastened or in charge of some competent person.
Par. 11: Coasting. No person shall coast or slide upon any sleigh or sled upon any of the sidewalks of the city.
Par. 12: Fast Driving. No person shall ride or drive on any highway in the city at a greater speed than a moderate trot, nor with greater speed than a walk while turning the corner of any street or passing to or from any yard or other place across any sidewalk.
Par. 13: Use of Bicycles, & c. No person using a bicycle, tricycle, velocipede or other such vehicle of propulsion shall propel such machine at a greater speed than eight miles an hour; nor ride such machine with his or her feet off the pedals thereof; nor ride such machine upon any sidewalk within the limits of the city; nor shall any greater number than two persons abreast ride the streets of the city on such machines, unless upon parade, with the written consent of the Mayor.
Par. 22: Animals Shall Not Run at Large. No owner of any cattle, horses, swine, sheep, goats, geese or fowls shall suffer or permit either or any of such animals to run at large over or upon any street, alley, public ground or square in the city.
Par. 23: Exhibitions, Shows, & c. No person shall exhibit, maintain, engage or take part in any theatrical, operatic or acrobatic performance, concert, circus, feat of legerdemain or necromancy or other exhibition or entertainment given for money, unless he shall have and exhibit a license therefor granted by the Mayor and attested by the City Clerk.
Par. 35: Regulating Quantity of Powder. No person shall keep within the city, in any place except in the city powder house, more than twenty pounds of gun powder at one time, nor shall any quantity of gun powder over ten pounds be kept within the limits of the city, unless the same is secured in safe tin canisters holding not over ten pounds.
Sample of the 1859 Ordinances (1859 Ordinances ):
At what points Bathing is unlawful: (Sec. 1): It shall not be lawful for any person to bathe or swim in the river, opposite this city, between sunrise in the morning and nine o’clock in the evening, within the following limits:
- At the canal through the flats, between this city and the village of Athens, or within fifty rods of the same.
- Or between a point one hundred feet north of the north opening or cut in the Hudson River Rail Road, north of the City, ad one hundred feet south of the dock of the Hudson Iron Company.
- Or in the pond called “Underhill’s Pond,” within four hundred feet of the public road.
Fish Carts not to remain standing in the streets: (Sec. 6)” No person shall allow his cart or wagon used in peddling fish or shell-fish to remain standing in ay place in Warren Street for a longer time than fifteen minutes, and in no case shall the refuse or offal of fish be thrown into the street, under a penalty of two dollars for each offense.
Firing of Guns, & c., prohibited: (Sec. 21): No person shall fire or discharge within the compact part of the City of Hudson, any gun, rifle, musket, pistol, cracker or any kind of fire works, under the penalty of one dollar for each offense. (Exception: Sec. 22: The preceding setion shall not be construed to prevent their firing on days of public rejoicing or parade.)
An Ordinance for the suppression of Vice and for the preservation of Peace, and Good Order, passed My 26, 1859, as amended:
Noise and Riotous Conduct: (Sec. 1): Any person or persons who shall make, aid, countenance, or assist in any riotous conduct, improper noise, or diversion in the streets, alleys, public grounds or squares, or in any public or private premises of this city, or shall be found intoxicated or disorderly in said city, or assembling in large bodies or crowds, to the annoyance and disturbance of the citizens, or travelers, or who shall be engaged in any malicious mischief, shall forfeit not less than $5, nor more than $20, unless the offence shall have been committed in the night time, in which case the penalty shall be not less than $10, nor more than $20.
Bowling Alleys (Sec 6): No person keeping a billiard table or bowling alley or floor shall permit any game to be played on Sunday or at any time between eleven o’clock in the evening and six o’clock in the morning, under the penalty of five dollars for each offense.
Sample of the 1841 Ordinances (1841 Ordinances):
Article II: Of Pilots on the Ice: (III): The Ice Pilots shall be appointed by the Ferry Committee, and be removed by them at pleasure, and the pilots thus appointed shall have the exclusive right of using ice boats for the transportation of passengers, & c., between this city and the opposite shore of the river; and every person acting as such pilot, without such appointment, shall incur a penalty of one dollar for each offense.
Article II: Of the Safekeeping and Transportation of Gun Powder: (1): No person shall keep in any plance, within the compact prt of the city, more than twenty-eight pounds of gun powder at one time, nor shall the quantity of twenty-eight pounds be kept within said limits, unless the same is secured in at least two tin canisters; and the penalty for a violation of any part of this section shall be twenty-five dollars. (ii) All quantities over twenty-eight pounds shall be immediately conveyed to the powder house, and shall there be under the care of an Overseer to be appointed by the Council.
Article III: Of the Manufacture and Sale of Bread: (i) All bread baked and offered or exposed for sale in the City of Hudson, shall be made of good and wholesome flour or meal, in loaves weighing in avoirdupois weight, at any time within eight hour after baking, one and a half pounds or three pounds, and every loaf of such bread, except twisted loaves, shall be marked with the number indicating the weight of the loaf.
Article III: (cont’d) Of Nuisances: (1) Two Scavengers shall be appointed by the Common Council, one for each ward, who shall hold their offices during the pleasure of the Council…whenever there is a nuisance in or upon any house, yard, barn, premises or enclosure, it shall be the duty of the Scavengers, (1) Immediately to direct the owner or occupant of any such house, yard, barn, premises or enclosure to abate or remove same….
Article V: Of Shows and Idle Feats: (I): The Mayor or recorder, or in case of their absence, sickness or other inability to act, any two of the Aldermen, may license or permit any person or persons to exhibit or perform for gain any puppet show, wire dance, circus riding, or any other idle acts or feats, which common showmen, mountebanks, circus riders or jugglers usually practice or perform.
Article III: Of Immoderate Driving: (i): No person shall wantonly run or gallop, or immoderately drive any horse or horses in any of the streets of the compact part of the city, under the penalty of five dollars for each offense.
Article V: Of Animals Runnning at Large: (III): The Council shall, from time to time, appoint two Hog Howards, once for each ward, who shall hold their office during the pleasure of the Council….it shall be the duty of such officers (1) to take up and convey to the public pound all geese and swine found running at large contrary to this ordinance; and unless the same shall be redeemed within twelve hours of public notice (by the common Crier), such geese or swine will then be sold at the upper market at public auction. Any inhabitant of the City may exercise without appointment the powers by the preceding section given to the Hog Howards.