I brought the new-to-me Kodak digital camera downtown today around 9 am to shoot some pictures as The Wellington Annex was demolished. The city must have thought that people were there to celebrate because they set off fireworks:
I wasn’t there to celebrate the demolishing of the Wellington to make way for a convention center. Like many in Albany, I went downtown more with sorrow for all the historic buildings Albany has lost over the years –many of which live on in my personal collection of photos. Since at least 2003, I have been taking photos of abandoned and neglected Albany properties with a cobbled-together collection of cheap digital point-and-shoots, and 35mm film SLRs I find at garage sales.
When I first moved to Albany, The Wellington Hotel was still standing, and preservationists were actively trying to save the building. The main building on State Street was (at…
There are 37 names on the Vietnam Wall from Albany, NY.
USA Capt. Thomas J. Bergin, 30, 3/14/64
USAF Maj. Theodore R. Loeschner, Jr., 37, 4/24/65
USMC Pfc. Hans Jorg Rudolph Lorenz, 21, 4/26/66
USA Spec 4 Keith Knott, 19, 5/9/66
USA Pfc. Robert G. Burrell, 19, 8/2/66
USA Pfc. Arthur J. McNally, 23, 10/17/66
USMC Lance Corp. William F. Ditoro, 22, 1/7/67
USA Spec 4 Richard J. Mosley, 20, 1/27/67
USA Spec 4 Donald J. Sheehy, 20, 5/5/67
USMC Lance Cpl. Rich Rockenstyre, 18, 8/31/67
USMC Capt. William M. Van Antwerp, Jr. 30, 9/16/67
USA Pfc. Frank Maleca, 20, 10/13/67
USA Spec 4 Ralph J. DiPace, 20, 10/21/67
USA Spec 4 Gerald H. Slingerland, 10/26/67 (a day after his 19th birthday)
USA Spec. 4 Robert J. Winters, 22, 11/9/67
USA Spec. 4, Edward A. Finlay, 19, 12/6/67
USA Corp. Willam M. Seabast, 22, 1/31/68
USMC GY Sgt. Anthony N. Valente, 38, 2/27/68
USMC Cpl. Bertram A. Deso, 20, 3/1/68
USMC Lance Cpl. Michael G. DeMarco, 21, 4/11/68
USMC Corp. John J. Vennard, 34, 4/17/68
USA Staff Sgt, Robert J. Smith, 22, 4/18/68
USMC Pfc John C. Fiffe, 18, 5/8/68
USN, Fireman, Joseph S. Ott, 20, 7/14/68
USMC Pfc. Kevin J. McArdle, 18, 8/18/68
USMC Maj. Harold S. Lonergan, 39, 2/23/69
USA Spec 5 Christopher Brow, 23, 2/26/69
USMC Lance Cpl. Richard J. Leahy, 22, 3/6/69
USMC Pfc. 1st class, Clifford G. LaBombard, 19, 4/15/69
USA Spec 5 Charles Chandler, 20, 4/18/69
USMC Pfc. John W Gladney, 19, 7/4/69
USA, Spec 4, Thomas K. Ryan, 18, 8/2/69
USA 1st Lt. Stanley A. Brown, 23, 11/1/69
USA Spec 4 Lewis C. Ouellette, 19, 4/13/70
USA Corp. Samuel W. Williams, 21, 7/26/70
USA Staff Sgt. Daniel E. Nye, 25, 11/28/71
USN Lt. Ralph P. Dupont, Jr., 24, 5/16/72
USMC Lance Cpl. Ashton N. Loney, 5/15/75
They came from all neighborhoods – Pine Hills, Arbor Hill, North Albany, West Hill, New Scotland and the South End. They lived on Myrtle Ave, Livingston Ave., Clinton Ave., Second Ave., Emmett St., Madison Ave., First St., Washington Ave., Lark Dr., Magnolia Terrace, Hunter Ave., So. Main Ave. and Ontario St.
A very small number were college graduates. Most had just completed high school when they joined the service – they were graduates of Albany High, Philip Schuyler, Milne, Cardinal McCloskey, and VI.
Most were impossibly young… 18, 19, 20. (There is an old Bellamy Boys lyric, “..they sent him off to Vietnam on his senior trip”.)
Some enlisted, some were drafted and, and in the time honored Albany tradition, several had brushes with the law and Albany’s justice system offered them the “choice” – jail or the Army.
Their deaths span 11 years. The first to be killed was an Army captain “observer” who died in 1964. One was an MP who died defending the US Embassy during the Tet offensive of 1968. Most died in the harsh and unforgiving provinces of Vietnam during the War’s brutal years of 1967 -1969. One was a medic who went borrowed a gun and went into save other men. The last one to die was a Marine killed in the Mayaguez “Incident” by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. His body was never recovered. He was not even a US citizen (he was from Trinidad, but his mom lived on Lark Drive). His name, as well as the others killed in the “Incident”, are the last names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
An astonishing number died within their first 4 months in Vietnam. Johnny Gladney, who was a year ahead of me in Jr. High and High School, was killed after being in Vietnam less than a month – on the 4th of July.
During the 10 months of my junior year in high school, 15 boys died. This is Smalbany, so you always knew the boy, or you knew his sisters/brothers or his cousins, or a friend of a friend.
The City moved on, but underneath, people felt a sadness and then they went numb – just like the rest of the country. The killing seemed inexorable. There was no way to stop it – it went on and on and on.
They are more than names.. each one has a story. One was a long distance runner who could fly like the wind. One was an avid reader; he won a Boy’s Club prize for reading the most books when he was 11. Another was fascinated by flying, so he became a helicopter pilot. Some were quiet and reserved, some were outgoing and boisterous.
8 boys were from the same class in Albany High and all members of the same Hi-Y club, They all enlisted in the Marine Corps. The bond between 2 of the boys was so strong, that after the death of one, the other, sensing his own imminent death, begged to be buried next to his buddy when his time came. They rest together in St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery – one Catholic and one Protestant. A third boy from that same group died a year later. ( See Semper Fi – In life and Death for the store of Rich and Mike.)
Yesterday (2/24/14), Albany lost a legend – Pat (Pasquale) Rocco, chef extraordinaire and all around mensch.
Pat started out with a small restaurant on upper New Scotland Ave.
Pat then went on to become the Executive Chef at the legendary Ambassador Rstaurant – first on State St. and then on Elk St. when it was forced to move by South Mall demolition.
After the Ambassador closed, he served as executive chef to Governors Carey and Cuomo. Chef Rocco was instrumental in the development of the pastry department of the well-known culinary division of Schenectady County Community College. Pat subsequently moved to Las Vegas and worked his magic there, before returning to Albany.
Pat was perhaps most known for his magnificent and spectacular sugar creations; extravaganzas of pastillage. Pastillage is the art of creating decorations and objects from sugar dough, and dates back to perhaps the 16th century.
Pat was the master. He exhibited at the International Culinary Food Show in NY, Societé Culinaire Philanthropique, for many years. In 1972, he won the silver medal in the pastillage category in the World Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany. His pieces were amazing!
Pat literally wrote the book, in 1998.
He was an astonishing talent, in addition to being a much beloved husband and father.
The Albany Business College was a private, for profit educational insitution and was a maintain of the city for over a century. It was established in 1857 as a subsidiary of Bryant and Stratton in 1857 by C.E. Prentice, John Carnell and Benton Hoit. In later years it severed its affiliation with Bryant and Stratton and was privately owned.
It was originally located at 51-53 North Pearl St. In 1889 it moved into a grand building, designed by Edward Ogden at the corner of North Pearl and Columbia Streets in downtown Albany.
The College moved twice more in the 2oth century; first to Washington Ave,. 19 133 and then to Central Ave outside the City limits, to an old Vallee’s restaurant site in the 1970s. It closed in 1988, and was purchased by Bryant and Stratton, coming full circle.
ABC, as it as known, was sort of a family tradition. A great grandfather from Cohoes attended in the 1880s, a great uncle graduated in 1890, a great aunt in 1918 and another uncle in 1956.
If you are on Facebook, consider joining “Albany.. the way it was.”, a FB Group devoted to memories of Albany, NY. Here’s the link.
The old NYS Museum in the wonderfully iconic State Education Building was a garden of earthly delights. Tens of thousands of NYS school children visited the museum during its 60 some odd years, until it closed when the “new” Museum in the Cultural Center in the Empire State Plaza opened in the 1970s.
But for the children of Albany, especially the baby boomer kids of the ’50s and ’60s, the Museum was special. It was a source of infinite wonder; it was our own very, very cool playground. The Museum was on bus lines; it was located within walking distance of two ethnically diverse neighborhoods, Arbor Hill and the South End,; both teeming with children. And it was free. When kids in Albany sighed, “I’m bored”, many an Albany mother replied, “Go to the Museum”. That was the big deal about the old Museum.. it was kid friendly.
The Museum was on the 5th floor; to get there you passed though the grandeur of the State Ed Building. The exterior of the building is magnificent and imposing with its massive 36 Corinthian column colonnade. But it’s even more gorgeous inside. The scale is part of it; but it’s also a stunning example early 20th century Beaux-Arts architecture. The central rotunda with a barrel vault ceiling and stupendous chandelier are awe-inspiring. It never failed to take my breath away. Even the rowdiest kids calmed down, lowered their voices and stopped fidgeting, sensing they were in the presence of something special.
When you reached the Museum floor, the first thing you saw was a replica of the Gilboa prehistoric forest, filled with ancient fossilized tree stumps and wonder of wonders, a waterfall. I don’t know about other kids, but for me, it was so peaceful, it was the equivalent of a Zen garden.
But then the fun began. The old Museum was really a museum of natural history. Just up the street was the Albany Institute of History and Art. It had an excellent collection of old Dutch paintings, china, furniture and artifacts, and 2 Egyptian mummies! But other than the mummies, the Institute held little attraction for most of us kids. So when I think about the old Museum, it’s impossible not to think of the movie, Night at The Museum.
Where you went next depended on your mood.. did you want to go visit the Iroquois Indian diorama exhibits? I remember the first time I saw them; I swear it was if the pages of a National Geographic had come alive. There were Native American artifacts… huge pots and best of all, arrow points and arrowheads. Arrowheads were part of our Akbany childhood. Between digging in back yards and playing in the residential, commercial and public constructions sites that dotted the city for 2 decades, kids were always finding, them. They were a staple of school “show and tell”. But the Museum placed them in context.. you understood that cool thing you found dated back thousands of years. And then you looked back at the Iroquois exhibits and began to have a better understanding of the people who used them.
You could visit the huge Cohoes mastodon; one of three on display. or maybe a stroll through the taxidermy animal collection (which I found sort of creepy.) The paleontology collection was amazing.. rows upon row of cabinets of miilion year old fossils, There were botany and biology exhibits; beautiful illustrations of the birds, flora and flowers we saw in our yards and park, and those funky mushrooms we saw growing in the woods.
The fossilized sea life and shells were pretty nifty. I still love a curvaceous wentletrap or a nautilus.
Every time I visited, there seemed to be something new.. or something I’d missed. I first fell in love with
sedimentary rocks; fascinated by the layers and strata in limestone and shale. But there were so many choices.. the sparkling Herkimer Diamond, the “man made diamond”, iridescent quartz of all hues, meteorites, minerals and rocks that shimmered like gold or looked like coral.
The was a tall (maybe 4′) pillar of rock salt that showed the tongue depressions of decades of New York school children who had licked it. And we licked it too, just like our parents and aunts and uncles had done before, (I always called it Lot’s Wife.)
There was a bunch of rocks that glowed in the dark in a small room. Recently someone said that the State Museum was the perfect “group date” for young teen kids in Albany. You could go into the little dark nook and steal a first kiss. The Museum had it all.
A friend’s father was the building superintendent of the State Ed Building; I’m still jealous.
If you are on Facebook, you might want to join the Facebook Group, “Albany …the way it was”, to share your memories of Albany, NY with others. Here’s the link.
The first Fair was sponsored by the Albany Agricultural Society in 1813.
From then until 1892, fairs were held in Albany and other surrounding towns, including Bethlehem Center and Slingerlands.
The Altamont Driving Park and Fair Association was incorporated on May 20, 1893. The Board of Directors voted to establish a grandstand (which would be the first permanent structure on the fairgrounds) and also instructed him to draw up plans for a front gate.
Within a month the Board of Directors also approved the purchase 24.5 acres of land in Altamont originally owned by George Severson now held in trust by Isaac Reamer to be known as the “Altamont Fair Grounds.” This is the site of the present fairgrounds.
The first fair to be held at the Altamont location was from September 12 through 15, 1893. Admission was 25 cents for adults, and the net receipts for the four days was $884.13. A racetrack was built in front of the Grandstand, and horse racing was held at the first fair and continued at the Altamont Fair until the mid 1990’s.
In 1896 the Board of Directors appointed a committee to travel to the Cobleskill Fairgrounds to obtain plans and cost estimates of duplicating Cobleskill’s two story Fair Building to be used at Altamont for the “exhibition of Domestic, Manufacture Art and Fancy Work and Fruits and Vegetables.” On August 26, 1896 the Board examined the completed Exhibition Hall and voted to approve and accept the structure, which thy felt had been built with “superior workmanship.” This building is now known as the Flower & Fine Arts a Building and has recently been named to the State and National Register of Historic Sites.
In 1897, the Altamont Driving Park and Fair Association changed its name to the Albany County Agricultural Society and Exposition. Over the next 20 years, more property was acquired and more buildings were constructed, including the Poultry Building in 1899 and a Ladies’ Building (now the Vegetable Building )
In addition to the the agricultural, animal and domestic arts competitions and exhibitions, the Fair has, through the years, incorporated other attractions. Auto racung was started in 1915 and continued through the 1990s. Other feature events included wrestling, boxing, a rodeo, a fall out shelter exhibit in the 1960, dramatic readings and plays, an Atlas Missile exhibit in 1962 and, in 1964, a raffle for a house. Of course, Fair queens have been crowned. Here’s smattering of Fair ads from the 1920’s through the 1960s.
If you are on Facebook, you might want to join the Facebook Group, “Albany …the way it was”, to share your memories of Albany, NY with others. Here’s the link.
There once was a little jewel of a church, the Church of the Assumption, located at 107 Hamilton Street. In its location there is now a parking garage for the Empire State Plaza. It was known as the Roman Catholic French Church. It was originally named L’Assumption de la Ste. Vierge.
The church was formed in the early 1860’s by a group of French Canadian emigres who left Canada t come to the United States.
The Church was established in 1869 . The first structure burned and it was re-built in 1892.It was demolished in 1963. Early records were maintained in both Latin and French. The parish was re-created as Our Lady of Assumption Church in Latham. Here are some photos of the 1892 church interior and a photo printed in KN on August 15 1944; a man giving thanks for the American liberation of Paris. There is also a poignant interview with the long time Pastor of the Church.. just before it went under the wrecking ball.
In the early 1800’s Albany’s open air public market was located at the intersection of State and Market Street (now Broadway).
Over time the market are moved north, as real estate in the City center became more costly. By the early 1880s it was held once a week and located at the top of the State St. hill, just below Eagle St. and the State Capitol.
By the late 1880’s it was re- located near the base of the Madison Ave . In the early 1890s, over some opposition who wanted located closer to the Hudson River and railroad lines, it was relocated to the Lyons Block. This was a large open area below the Lyon’s Printing Company Building. It was bounded by Grand, Hudson, Beaver and Daniel Streets. In the early 1930’s, there was again sentiment to move the market farther south,closer to the River. Those efforts were unsuccessful, and in the mid 1930’s the market was enlarged, through the demolition of buildings on Philip and Grand Streets. The market remained in that location for about 30 years. However, the Lyons Building was demolished in early 1964 to make way for construction of the Empire State Plaza, and the land around it appropriated for the same purpose.
I think my last visit to the Market was in 1963, when I went with my grandfather to buy flats of petunia to plant for my grandmother for Mother’s Day. I was about 12, and had no idea I would never see it again.
Here’s a reminiscence by Charlie Mooney, a columnist for the Albany Knickerbocker News, about the old Public Market.