Six years ago this fall, PBS aired Two Square Miles, a one-hour documentary about Hudson in the tumultuous years around the turn of the 20th Century. The film is not readily available on DVD, nor found on Netflix, Hulu, etc.
But on Friday at 7 pm, Basilica Hudson will screen this film about how the Hudson of today was forged in the kiln of of the cement plant struggle. After appearing to have a “done deal” in place, Swiss-owned St. Lawrence Cement spent $60 million to impose its will on a small community, and failed.
For those who were not around during these endlessly trying times, the screening is a rare glimpse into the making of the Hudson of today, whose steady improvement is easy to take for granted. And with much pug mill water down the sluice since the fight ended in 2005, those who have seen it before may see some of the events and characters in a different light.
One sees former Alderman Quintin Cross in combative, charismatic and reflective modes—above saying “I dislike you, Sam”. (The local viewer now knows that Cross’s path of transformation was soon disrupted by a conviction for stealing from the City via credit card, and by a new arrest more recently for allegedly breaking into City Hall.) Red Dot owners Perry Cooney and Alana Hauptmann getting into it with 5th Ward Alderman Doc Donahue. Rick Scalera talks about his “sputtering political machine.” The Walthours talk movingly about their ambivalent family history with the Atlas cement company, which went out of business here in the 1970s.
And Linda Mussmann of TSL engages in what now looks an awful lot like situational ethics, taking her then-nemesis Scalera to task for accepting campaign support from the cement company while negotiating contracts with them. (Mussmann of course went on to lose her hard-won position as Democratic chair after negotiating in private with St. Lawrence to hand them the keys to the Waterfront, and eventually even to get married by Scalera himself.)
Basilica Hudson is located just south of the Amtrak Station near the Hudson waterfront on the east side of the tracks.