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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
The Billiard Ball factory was in my neighborhood when I was growing up. It was located on Delaware Ave. just south of Whitehall Rd. There’s a strip mall today. It was a fixture of my childhood, belching smoke (God only knows what was in it.)
John Wesley Hyatt (1837-1920) was the inventor of the celluloid billiard ball. Celluloid, besides being the base of photographic film, was a substitute for ivory, long the prime substance in billiard ball manufacture. The Hyatt “composition” ball, with a celluloid base, dominated the sport until the 1960s.
It went out of business in the mid 1980’s.
Early Photo of Factory
Women inspecting and packing billiard balls in the 1930’s.
For three years, the Paradise Show Boat Club was THE place to go in the Capital District. It booked some of the biggest acts and exuded a glamour and vitality unique to the 1930’s.
The Paradise Show Boat started out as a 5 masted schooner called the “City of Portland”. When she was launched in 1916 she was the largest single-deck wooden vessel ever built in the United States. She weighed more than 4000 tons and was over 300 feet long. The City of Portland was commissioned into the United States Navy during World War I. After the War end she hauled cargo. mostly in southern waters near New Orleans, various Florida ports and Central America.
However, in 1924, on trip in the Northeast, she became water-logged in the Hudson Highlands off the New Jersey coast. She ended up, badly damaged, at the docks in Perth Amboy, N.J.
In late 1930, she was purchased by Edward Berry and John Moncello with the intent to turn her into a floating pleasure boat in Albany. She was towed up the Hudson to the port of Albany, near the Albany Yacht Club. Her 5 masts were reduced to 3. Major renovations were envisioned. There would be a dining room, dance floor, miniature golf course and tennis courts; all the amenities one might find at the time on an ocean-going cruise ship.
Lloyd Vanfbenscoten, a local man from Altamont (a small town outside of Albany), was engaged to decorate the ship. While he was waiting for the ship to be ready for his work, he set up camp in Albany and painted the wonderful old murals on the walls of the old Boulevard Cafeteria (now Ristorante Paradiso – how coincidental is that?) on Central Ave. and Robin St.
In the photo below, the City of Portland is docked in Albany, near Madison Ave and Riverside Park.
The intended renovations did not materialize quickly. For a while she lay at anchor in the Schodack Creek. The proposed fittings were much scaled back to a just dining room and a dance floor. Finally, in 1933, she was anchored and ready for business in Troy, not Albany. Albany City officials would not permit her to be moored in the Port of Albany. She was towed across the River and found a home at the bottom of Fulton Street in Troy. The Paradise Show Boat was open.
The Paradise soon became a wildly popular local venue, offering major talent and drawing large crowds. The major headliner to play the Show Boat was the wonderful Cab Calloway and his Cotton Club Orchestra.
Another headliner was Ina Ray Hutton and her Melodears. She was one of the only female band leaders, with an all female band. Hutton toured with the Melodears for five years. Known as the “Blonde Bombshell of Rhythm,” she often danced and sang as she conducted. Ina was known for fabulous gowns, ranging from the glamorous to the almost scandalous. The audience expected sex appeal and she gave it to them, often changing costumes 3 times within a show.
INA RAY HUTTON
Most of the other bands that played The Paradise were well known, from their recordings and radio broadcasts. They included Ted Blake and Bennie Meroff, who had close connection with Jack Teagarten and Bix Beiderbeck , and the Blue Barron, who would go on to have one certified hit in the late in 1940’s, “Cruisin’ on the River.
But there were other acts. Some nights the lineup looked like a Broadway revue of the time, and others, more like a classic night club floor show. There was a “house band” comprised of local musicians; it played regularly on WGY. There were fan dancers and vaudeville acts like the Gould Sisters from the old Orpheum Circuit who sang and did musical impersonations. Carlton and Juliette were a Latin dance duo from Havana who were said to have popularized the Cha Cha in later years. Phil Regan was the “singing Irish Cop”, a handsome tenor who went on to appear in a number of movies in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Gypsy Nina was a well-known dark beauty who sang and played the accordion.
Most often the acts made the circuit in and around New York City, Long island, Upstate New York and New Jersey in night clubs and supper clubs. Some, like Edith Murray, a singer, appeared in one of the first one reel “talkies”. Others, like Mildred Roselle, a blues singer, appeared in Broadway revues, clubs, and was a recording studio singer.
Some of the music was sweet, perfect for dancing “cheek to cheek”. but there was plenty of jazz, swing and blues. There was something for every audience; “society singers” to acrobatic acts. While some performers were ‘regulars”, most of the acts changed regularly so there was always something new. There were tea dances on week-end afternoons; charities and club booked the Paradise for fund-raising and special events.
I think my favorite act is Elvera Gomez and her Canadian Rockets.. if only for the name.. but there is a great graphic in the ad too.
In the Show Boat’s last summer season, 1936, the
In summer, 1936, the Paradise moved to Crescent Beach, about 5 miles north of Albany, up Route 9, to a site on the Mohawk River. However, it appears that, while she was towed back to Troy in fall, 1936, she never re-opened.
It was the Hudson River itself that did in the Paradise. She survived the spring floods of 1936, and being smashed by millions of tons of ice that clogged the River in the winter. But it was the possibility that she would break her moorings and smash into the Congress Street Bridge, destroying the only direct automobile and bus route into Troy that made the Mayor of Troy and his Police Commissioner demand that the Paradise be moved in December, 1936. By this time the Paradise seems to have been acquired by new owners. The demands for her removal went unheeded several times. Finally, in 1937 the Paradise was sold at auction for scrap.
Muhlfelder’s was a woman’s clothing store on North Pearl Street in downtown Albany. It was established in the early 1900’s, and closed the early 1970’s. It was known for good quality, moderate to expensive clothing. It was one of the few clothing stores that had an extensive cosmetics department, as well as excellent costume jewelry and hats.
(Ads from the Albany Evening Journal and the Albany Knickerbocker News via fultonhistory.com.)
DAVID’S was a major woman’s clothing store on North Pearl St. in downtown Albany established in 1929. In the early 1960’s it opened a second location in Latham, NY. A third location was opened in Colonie Center. The Albany location finally closed in the early 1970’s, as did the Latham location. The Colonie Center location closed in the early 1980’s.