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…

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…

A Letter to Mayor Corning

Our thanks to Mike and Anita Mullen for their hospitality and their help with this post. On April 5, 1962 Elinor and Leo Mullen sat down to write a letter to Albany Mayor Erastus Corning 2d. They had read on the front page of the morning’s Times Union that the City had obtained a temporary…

The Waitress at the White House Restaurant

Our thanks to Gail and Danny Bahlatzis for their help with this post. We also wish to thank Angelo Kontis and Dean Karlaftis for inviting us to St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church and introducing us to Gail and Danny. Two years ago, we discovered a cache of South Mall negatives at the New York State…

Man-on-the-Street Interviews, March 27, 1962

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…

The Catholic Union and the Eagle Theatre

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…

Scene from a South Mall Bar

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…