As World War II ended, there was another building boom - the city's largest population of 32,000 was recorded in the 1950 census. The little airfield started to serve and train the young army air corps out of West Point became a major air force base and the center for the Northeast U.S. air defense shield.
A four-year college opened at Mount Saint Mary in 1960, and the New York State Thruway, Interstate 84 and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge centered Newburgh on northeast U.S. maps.
But the same growth that blessed Newburgh started to curse it as well. All those transportation routes turned the open countryside into suburbs, and America fell in love with its cars.
Shopping centers attracted more customers than the Water Street business district. Interstate trucking routes made the movement of goods across great distances cheaper, and manufacturing followed cheaper utilities and lower-cost labor in the South. The growth of chain stores made it too costly for family businesses to compete: many folded by 1970. The air force base at Stewart Field closed in the early 1970s, emptying many city apartments and taking away the customer base of many local businesses.