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…

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…

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…

We Try Harder

On August 1, 1961, the Temporary State Commission on the Capital City held the first of two public hearings on Albany’s rehabilitation. (Eight months later, of course, the Commission would approve Gov. Rockefeller’s plan to demolish 98 acres in downtown Albany for the South Mall.) The hearing, held on a sweltering night in the un-air-conditioned…

Hoax or Hope?

We are grateful  to Grant Van Patten for sharing his memories and photographs with us and to Sinclair Broadcast Group for permission to use footage from WRGB’s 1962 documentary. On the evening of Saturday, July 14, 1962—just days after the first South Mall demolition—WRGB TV, Channel Six, aired a half-hour documentary called The South Mall…