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Newburgh: The Heart of the City (NY) (Images of America)

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DeVita, whose unconventional aesthetic helped usher in the modern era of tattooing, died on April 5 at 85 at his home in Newburgh, N. In New York City, Mr. He was also arguably the first American artist to create tribal tattoos, abstract graphic designs, which he borrowed from designs he found in National Geographic magazine and an image he saw on a New York City manhole cover.

If a customer asked for a simple black panther, Mr.

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DeVita might add bright red scratch marks around the claws, or embellish an image of a rose with dark radiating spider webs. His tattoos were bold, stylishly crude, abstract. They are often replicated by tattoo artists today. Hardy said, referring to the stencils that tattoo artists display for clients.


If Mr. Harrison said. DeVita was also known for layering tattoos — an effect that mimicked the ripped posters and overlaid graffiti common on buildings in the East Village. His flash was displayed not on sheets of white paper, but on fruit crates and milk crates and pieces of plywood he found in the street. His father, Thomas DeVita, an immigrant from Sicily, worked in a butcher shop at a hospital.


His mother was Anna Traub. Thom dropped out of elementary school and never attended high school. He worked for a short time in a scrap metal yard but spent his late teens and early 20s in jail for armed-robbery in the Bronx in By the late s, he had moved to Alphabet City in the East Village, where he worked as a live model for art schools. He began creating art to impress a potential girlfriend.

DeVita never received formal training in tattooing.

On one recent freezing night, three people died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty boiler. Over decades, the city has also become the centre of gravity for various social service industries: hundreds of ex-prisoners and current and former addicts in one stage or another of the criminal justice system are warehoused there by the state in dozens of halfway houses and single-room occupancy hotels, creating a kind of state-sponsored Skid Row.

But the atmosphere has remained one of a place that time and opportunity had passed by. As low-wage jobs dried up young African-Americans found themselves ever more tempted by the lure of drugs and crime as a way to salve the desperate need for a livelihood in a city that offered none. Others in the community concur about how great the struggle for creating a societal and economic context for young African-Americans to thrive in the city has become.

He has lost a brother, a son and a nephew to violence. We have done the best we can do in terms of efficiency, but as we continue to lose resources we still get the job done. After two successive years of dropping violent crime, last year Newburgh saw only one recorded homicide. However, shooting incidents went up dramatically, with 44 bullet to body shootings reported in Police also recovered 70 handguns last year, many of them traceable to states with lax gun laws in the south.

Speaking to the Newburgh police, one gets a sense of the desperate patchwork of aid that is necessary to fill the holes in its budget, a situation common to many struggling police departments across the country. As Newburgh struggled in recent decades the group perhaps more than any other that kept it chugging along with any degree of efficiency has been the the Latino community, which historically had been Puerto Rican but today is mostly made up of Mexicans from the state of Puebla, and to a lesser degree Peruvians and Hondurans.

Money transfer services specialising in Latin America and taxi companies with names like Azteca abound, as do solidarity groups such as Latinos Unidos and Hermanos Unidos. Along with the Latino community, Newburgh has seen three waves of mostly white would-be gentrifiers in recent years. As signs of progress, Kennedy points to such developments as a proposed shrimp farm at the former site of a mattress factory, and a local land bank, an idea first floated in similarly deprived cities such as Camden, New Jersey and Flint, Michigan.

The bank is a body which can perform asbestos and lead abatement on abandoned properties after which individuals can buy them at a reduced cost, thus taking the burden of state and other taxes off the back of the city.

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As much as new blood is needed, as always gentrification has its less appetising side. The building the store is housed in where he also lives is old, reminiscent of something out of an Edward Gorey drawing. A pet tarantula lives up stairs. Which is not to say that the new white arrivals are all mere exploiters. On a recent snowy night, about people filed into the main building of Atlas Industries, a high-end furniture maker that relocated from Brooklyn to Newburgh several years ago.

The effect — the black and white film with the mournful music, as the snow fell on the old streets outside — was lovely. Built in by AJ Davis, one of the first internationally prominent American architects , the church was modelled on a Greek temple and, rising majestically from a bluff above the Hudson River, served as a beacon for travellers when the great river was the mode of choice for traversing the state.

We passed the thin metal fence that surrounds the building, still grand though dilapidated from the outside, and then unlocked the chained bolt affixed to the front door. Once inside, we saw the destruction.

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The smell of mildew and dust mingled and, on the stage where the altar once stood, were the mummified remains of a cat. But, as with much in Newburgh, there was more to the scene than met the eye. Much of the stage itself had been repaired by a grant from the National Monuments Fund that hired 12 students from a local high school, who in the process of restoring it learned carpentry.