Two Families, A Shared Story

Our thanks to Tonia Skinner Hannemann and Leah Strong Schenkel for reaching out and sharing their stories with us. The Radrizzi and Strong family stories have been intertwined for almost a century—beginning before they became neighbors and lasting long after their block of Jay St. was demolished. It all began when Ethel Strong, a Yiddish-speaking…

Home of the Irish Potato, Part II

Our thanks to Mike and Mary Ryan for their help with this post. 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 is about change, the events that prompted the…

Home of the Irish Potato, Part I

Our thanks to Mike and Mary Ryan for their help with this post. 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. Their shop at 104 Hudson Ave. was on…

A Sad Discovery

While searching for a photograph of The Point Grill, we discovered something unexpected. We had been looking for a four-story, mixed-use building with an impressive mansard roof on the corner of Eagle and Daniel streets, kitty corner from the Catholic Union. Instead, we found a single-story, flat-roofed commercial structure. But looking closely, we noticed that…

You’re Fired!

Our thanks to Dean Herrick for his help with this post. 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…

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. On March 28, 1962—one day after the State of New York appropriated 98.5 acres in downtown Albany—the City’s planning consultant, Isadore Candeub, denounced the State’s action at a luncheon hosted by…

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

A guest post by Sandra Pierce. Our thanks to Sandie for sharing her childhood memories with us. 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. I was only two years old, when they adopted me in 1957. Their…

Return of the Queen

Everyone in Albany knows the story of Princess Beatrix’s 1959 visit to our city. It has become an origin story of sorts, representing the end of an era and the beginning of a “new Albany.” Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller’s decision to clear and redevelop 40 city blocks (98 acres) was reportedly sparked by the ride…

Nixon in Albany, Rocky in Washington?

Our thanks to Scott Christianson for bringing this story to our attention. 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. He ran as a liberal, during an era of urban upheaval, and (for the second time) lost the…