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.

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.

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…

No Down Payment

Reading in the New York Times yesterday about exploitative contracts for deeds to dilapidated houses in places like Akron, Ohio, we were reminded of a similar practice once prevalent in Albany.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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….

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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.”

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE