The Big A

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.

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What Happened to Albany’s Arch of Freedom?

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.

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Growing up on the “Street of Regret”

I was six years old, when my family moved from Ballston Spa to Albany, NY in 1942. My father, Morris, found a war job in Schenectady, and we lived in a rented 3-room apartment above Dinty’s Tavern….

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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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Our Name Means Shoemaker

Hudson Shoe Rebuilders was more than just a shoe repair store. It was also a variety store, selling inexpensive socks, shoes, shirts, and other sundries to residents of Albany’s rooming house district. At the back of the store, Greek immigrants could find cheese, olives, and oil imported from their native country.

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Hunter’s Pharmacy

Like most of the roughly 400 businesses that once served the 98 acres, Kenneth Hunter’s pharmacy was a neighborhood institution. In business for over thirty years at the same location, he filled thousands of prescriptions for the area’s residents and served sodas to two generations of children.

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Hardhats and the Microskirt

Elke Sommer, the German actress who played opposite Paul Newman, Peter Sellers, and James Garner in popular 1960s films, donned a microskirt and a hardhat in August, 1970, to tour the South Mall construction site.

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The Morning of March 27, 1962

On the morning of March 27, 1962, 11-year-old Eddie Nicholas walked up the block from his family’s home at 158 Elm Street to Muraven’s grocery store on the corner of S. Swan. As usual, he purchased a copy of the Times Union for his family. But this was no ordinary day. The headline read: “State Buys 40 Blocks in Heart of Albany.”

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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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On the Street of Regret*

The regulars at Dinty’s Tavern referred to Hudson Avenue as the “street of regret,” after the song first made popular by The Sammy Kaye Orchestra. A version of the song on Dinty’s jukebox—perhaps Dinah Washington’s from her 1962 album Drinking Again—seemed to describe their lives.

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Three Days before Christmas

Jim and Emma Leonard knew that they would have to move before the end of 1964. Yet they had hoped to spend one last Christmas in their 93 Park Avenue home. But on December 22—three days before Christmas—a McArdle & Casazza moving van arrived at their door, courtesy of the State of New York.

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