A Valuable Piece of Kingston Heritage
Bluestone is part of what you picture when you close your eyes and think about Kingston and what makes it not Peoria or someplace else. Not only is it found in Kingston’s four historic districts but throughout the city where it was used for sidewalks, curbs and structures such as walls built before 1920.
The source was just outside of Kingston where huge stores of bluestone, a type of sandstone, were found in the early 19th century. The stone was quarried and hauled on horse-drawn wagons to Kingston, then down to the Rondout Creek where it was shipped to major cities such as New York. Bluestone quarrying was an important industry here well into the 20th century
Today, bluestone continues to be a valued part of Kingston’s visible character. About 60 to 80% of the city’s original bluestone sidewalks still exist. They are a visual feature that in a sense, hold the city together – uptown, midtown and downtown.
However, in recent years, a considerable amount of Kingston’s historic bluestone has disappeared and been replaced with asphalt or concrete. Concerned about this loss, the Friends of Historic Kingston is advocating for the preservation of bluestone in the city. If we allow bluestone to disappear completely from the city’s streetscapes, then, Kingston will be more like everyplace else.
As part of our effort to raise consciousness about this valuable resource that enhances the city’s beauty and character, we present this information and photos about bluestone
The Bluestone Timeline traces the evolution of this type of sandstone in Ulster County.
The Bluestone Glossary lists words and terms associated with bluestone.
How To Maintain Your Bluestone Sidewalk offers a quick guide to bluestone upkeep.
Lastly, download and print a copy of the Ulster County Bluestone Tour and enjoy a drive that takes you by significant or representative examples of bluestone.
A Major Ulster County Resource
In the early nineteenth century, plentiful stores of bluestone, a type of sandstone, were found to exist at various sites in the Woodstock-West Hurley-Saugerties area of Ulster County. Bluestone quarrying began about 1830 and became a major local industry well into the twentieth century. Wagonloads were hauled to Kingston and shipped from docks along the Rondout Creek. For years, Fitch Brothers, one of the largest local bluestone businesses, shipped tons of bluestone from its yards in the Wilbur section of Kingston.