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…

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…

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…

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. On July 12, 1962, a wall in her Hamilton Street home collapsed after the demolition of a vacant structure next door. The 55-year-old mother of…

The Morning of March 27, 1962

Our thanks to Peggy, Lynn, and Mary Anne Nicholas for their help with this post. 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…

On the Street of Regret*

Our thanks to Barry Levine for his help with this post. 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…

Three Days before Christmas

Our thanks to Mark Leonard for his help with this post. James (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…

Frederick “Primrose” Binseel and the Temporary Commission

As a young man, Brooklyn-born Frederick “Primrose” Binseel traveled the United States and Canada on the Vaudeville circuit before settling in Albany. At first, he was part of a comic duo with James McIntyre, Jr., son of a famous blackface performer. Mr. Binseel probably took his inspiration as well as his stage name from George…