Home of the Irish Potato, Part II

The first part of our story emphasized continuity: Over several decades, William F. Ryan Sr. built a produce business that his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren have carried on to this day. The second part of this story is about change.

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Home of the Irish Potato, Part I

Ryan’s Farmers Market is an Albany institution, in business for over a century and still run by the same family. In 1901, 24-year-old William Frederick (Willie) Ryan began selling produce with his brother, Jimmie.

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You’re Fired!

Of the more than 90 prime contractors and hundreds of subcontractors at the South Mall site, only one was ever fired by the State of New York: The Foster-Lipkins Corporation, builder of the Corning Tower and the Swan Street Motor Vehicle Building. The contractor’s performance on the 44-story tower was, at times, dangerous and embarrassing.

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An Alternative Plan for Albany

All over Albany recently invited us to write a brief alternative history of the South Mall. This is the real story behind that fiction.

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Whose Extravagance?

Acting on a tip a few months ago, we contacted architect Daniel Pratt. At age 22 in 1970, he was a draftsman for the Buffalo architectural firm, James, Meadows & Howard, which designed the Legislative Office Building. Dan’s job was to draw the interior office spaces, even though many interior wall frames were already in…

Lancaster Street Hullabaloo

Many knew Mae Carlson as Albany’s rooming house queen, but I called her Mamay— Mother Mae, as I grew older. Bill Costigan, I called Dad.

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Nixon in Albany, Rocky in Washington?

On September 8, 1968, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller returned to Albany, after a 3-week vacation and a summer spent campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.

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A Letter to Mayor Corning

On April 5, 1962 Elinor and Leo Mullen sat down to write a letter to Albany Mayor Erastus Corning 2d.

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The Waitress at the White House Restaurant

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.

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More about Mrs. Abarca

Readers of this blog may recall that Francisca Abarca—along with her tenants and two youngest children, Anna and Antonio—was the first South Mall-area resident to be displaced by the State.

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98 Acres Media Blitz

Our blog has been quiet this summer, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy!

On June 21, the 50th anniversary of the South Mall cornerstone ceremony marking the beginning of construction of the Empire State Plaza, we published an oped in the Times Union.

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