Swing City

A guest post by Michael Catoggio, co-author, Capital District in the Swing Era website. It all started with a couple of photographs. My family photo album had the usual shots of aunts, cousins, grandparents.  It contained photos of summers on Adirondack lakes, holiday celebrations, and visits to California relatives. Five or six photos were starkly…

You Can’t Demolish Memories

A guest post by Barbara Lucas-Roberts, who fondly remembers the African-American community on Jefferson Street before her childhood home was demolished to make way for the Empire State Plaza. I was 5 years old when my family moved into our first Jefferson Street apartment. My childhood memories are so vivid, and the Jefferson Street memories…

The People’s Palais

by Kathryn Gallien The 1964 photos of 100-102 Jefferson Street in downtown Albany reveal a building whose better days are well behind it and whose days ahead are seriously limited. Indeed, the building next door has already been torn down to make way for the coming South Mall project, later renamed the Gov. Nelson A….

The Dairy in the City

A guest post by Kathryn Gallien. Our thanks to John Garman and Susan Garman Hess for sharing their photographs and memories with us. When Hopalong Cassidy visited Albany in 1951, his famed horse Topper found comfortable lodgings on the second floor of the Norman’s Kill Farm Dairy plant on 120 South Swan St. Hoppy’s visit…

The Many Lives of 283 Madison Ave.

A guest post by Kathryn Gallien. Our thanks to Kathryn for sharing her family’s story with us. Before I even knew it was my ancestors’ home, 283 Madison Avenue was demolished. Back in the 1970s my grandmother told me it had been across the street from where the State Museum now sits. It had been…

Famed for Friendliness (First Methodist and the Inner City Mission Part I)

The congregation of First Methodist Church had long prided themselves on their welcoming atmosphere. Its letterhead proudly proclaimed that it was “famed for friendliness”, and its church bulletin urged visitors to feel “welcome to worship with us” and to “spend a few moments at the close of the service in greeting. At this time the…

July 4, 1976

The Empire State Plaza opened to the public, July 1-4, 1976, during an era of fiscal austerity. Then governor, Hugh Carey, was a critic of Nelson Rockefeller’s priorities and excesses, particularly when it came to Albany’s futuristic new capital complex. Nevertheless, Carey and his administration took responsibility for ensuring that the Plaza would become a…

Wally’s Vision, from Clay to Concrete

“It is hard,” said Wallace K. Harrison, the chief architect of the South Mall, quoting Italian engineer Pier Luigi Nervi.  Harrison wasn’t referring to the tons of concrete poured for the structures; instead, he was referring to the numerous design and construction complications faced by the architects and engineers of the South Mall.  He believed…

Every Day an Earthquake

Monday, November 25, 1963, a day of mourning after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, provided a brief respite from the noise and dirt of demolition. “No clouds of dust, no crashing sounds rose from the South Mall demolition area,” Dick Weber observed in the Knickerbocker News. The following day, demolition resumed. And conditions…

Selling the South Mall

On March 30, 1962, the Times Union editorial board urged readers, who harbored “doubts” about the wisdom of the State of New York’s plan to seize and redevelop the South Mall area, to “drive slowly—or walk—up and down these once proud streets. Then decide for yourself.” The implication, of course, was that anyone who viewed…