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When we reached out to South Mall construction workers last year, we were surprised that the first response came from Mary Dwileski, the wife of a carpenter. Since then, we have conducted oral histories with many men who worked construction at the South Mall and have come to realize that this first contact was not so strange.
Beginning with missionary Charlotte (Neely) Resper’s 1927 revival meeting at Union Missionary Baptist Church, Albany’s First Church of God in Christ is rooted in Mississippi and the Great Migration, when millions of African Americans left the rural South for Northern cities.
On April 5, 1962 Elinor and Leo Mullen sat down to write a letter to Albany Mayor Erastus Corning 2d.
Two years ago, we discovered a cache of South Mall negatives at the New York State Archives. Among them were several candid portraits of people who once lived and worked in Albany’s lost 98 acres. We’ve identified some of these subjects but most remain nameless.
On March 27, 1962—the day news of the state appropriation became public—Knick News reporters Kurt Wachenheim and Edward Swietnicki walked the streets of Albany’s 98 acres to gauge public opinion. What they found was a mix of “elation, indifference, disappointment, and hope.” As a group, small business owners were particularly upset by the news. The…
Two generations of Albany children remember the Eagle Theatre, on the corner of Eagle and Hudson. It opened in 1926—a year before The Jazz Singer inaugurated the sound era—and remained in business for over thirty years. The theater was housed in an antebellum armory, owned by the Catholic Union. Akin to the YMCA, the Union…
In July 1963—a year after South Mall demolitions began—Times Union reporter William Kennedy stopped in Charlie Milham’s Grill, on the corner of Madison and Mosher, to hear what area residents and business owners had to say about the State’s redevelopment plan. Phil Milham, a brother of the owner, was tending bar that day. Behind him…
Reading in the New York Times yesterday about exploitative contracts for deeds to dilapidated houses in places like Akron, Ohio, we were reminded of a similar practice once prevalent in Albany.
In May 1962—as Democrats scrambled to find a candidate to run against him in November—New York State Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller arrived in the Capital District for a whirlwind pre-election tour.
On March 31, 1962—4 days after the State of New York seized Albany’s 98 acres— the Knickerbocker News “Night Owl” column reported that Ambassador owner Marvin J. Sherman and his regular customers were “thinking of forming a Citizens Society to Exempt the Ambassador” from demolition.
When plans for the Empire State Plaza were unveiled in April 1963—more than a year after the State of New York appropriated Albany’s 98 acres—one of its most dramatic features was a 336-foot-high arch.