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.
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.
This is the story of the Leonard Family, the last family to leave their home in the 98 acre area seized by Albany NY and the State of New York for construction of the Empire State Plaza. Thousands of other families were displaced – the estimates are between 9,000 and 13,000 people were moved. As well as hundreds of businesses. It took about 24 months to systematically destroy neighborhood after neighborhood within that almost 100 acre area. Neighborhoods that developed over 300 years and centuries of Albany history were wiped out in less than 2 years.
It was if once started , all traces of the the crime scene couldn’t be erased fast enough. It started in late in 1962 and ended in early 1965. The bulldozers and wrecking balls worked day in and day out.. non-stop, sometimes into the night and weekends.
The oldest daughter in the photo, Michele. was my best friend. She died about a month ago. Michele, here’s to you! Love ya, girl friend! Here is your story and that of your family.
The re-invention of New York’s Capital City was viewed by Governor Rockefeller as the renewal of Albany, but also as a pilot program. Albany would serve as a test case for a state and local partnership to reinvigorate the decaying cites of New York State. His ability to pull this off would serve be a feather in his cap when he ran for re-election in 1962, and when he sought his party’s presidential nomination in 1964, which he most assuredly would. Time was of the essence. The Harriman State Office Campus would be completed on his watch, the new State University at Albany construction would begin shortly and serve as a model for enhancement and expansion of New York’s public college and university system. It would rival, if not surpass, that of California, the best in the nation.
Albany would be the crown jewel, garnering national, perhaps even international attention. It would be a modern city, stripped of the old, surrounded by a modern transportation network of highways moving hundreds of thousands of people every day around the jewel. It would be a model of efficient government and public administration. It would provide empirical evidence of what Rocky could do for the country, as he reached for the national brass ring.
As I mentioned before, Rocky’s ideas weren’t new, they were shared by most governments in the Northeastern corridor and in the Midwest Older , rusting cities needed to be brought into the 20th century. Kennedy, the new president, was just as eager at a national level. if we could put a man on the moon, we could make it happen across the country. Money was no object. Massive re-development was the ultimate stimulus package for a sagging economy.
Feb 1, 1961
And JFK was more than willing to help Mayor Corning, despite Rocky’s being a potential opponent in the 1964 election. The Democratic Machine’s ability to deliver votes within the City and County of Albany was on a par with the great political machines of Chicago and Boston. Such was the power of Mayor Corning and Dan O’Connell, legendary political boss for over 30 years. During the days of the hard fought 1960 Democratic presidential primaries a special visit had been paid by close Kennedy aides to the Mayor and Uncle Dan (as he was known). (And since this is Smalbany, they went to visit Dan at his house, and of course the neighborhood was atwitter when we saw the limos on my street during that visit.
Additionally. Joseph Kennedy, JFK’s father, owned an office building on State St. and had been the major owner of RKO when it built the Palace Theater. Everything is intertwined.
February 6, 1961
February 8, 1961
February 14, 1961
The consensus of those who had moved to suburbia was that Albany needed many things to draw them back to the urban core – a convention center, better lighting , parking and removal of “eyesores”.
February 2, 1961
February 4, 1961
Although Mayor Corning had already commissioned a study and plan to re-invent the city, a housing survey conducted by the State was moving forward, designed to elicit formation about available housing stock at all income levels, deteriorated areas, community development needs, and needs of employees. All this information would be correlated with urban development activities all ready under way (cart before the horse?) . The results of the survey would not be made public (LOL- how times have changed), but provided to the Mayor to release as he saw fit.
February 4, 1961
The survey of downtown business was moving along as well. The urban planning firm of Candeub, Fleissig & Associates has been retained by city merchants . The Candeub firm has been retained by the Mayor two years prior to develop the urban renewal plan for Albany that had been made public only recently.
Candeub was the the largest and most powerful urban planning firm in the nation at time. As federal money for urban re-development became abundantly available across the country, Candeub was recommended to large and small cities everywhere by federal housing officials. isadore Candeub was the primary partner in the firm, and a 1948 graduate of MIT with a degree in city planning, Candeub was ubiquitous in municipal and environmental planning almost everywhere; Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina, California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey and even Alaska. Candeub’s approach to urban planning epitomized the time. It was all about the modern, the new, and efficiency, with the little thought to what we today call “social capital’. Candeub, i think, was the most influential single entity in urban planning throughout the 1960’s and into the 1970’s and put its stamp on America that would persist for generations.
(I’m not going into the a long discussion of the 1960’s approach to urban planning. For anyone who is interested, I recommend the work of Jane Jacobs, one of the first ( and most influential) activists in fighting conventional urban planning in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Get a copy of her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) and Robert Caro’s The Power Broker (1975), the story of Robert Moses.
On January 23, 1961, an Albany Knickerbocker News editorial was cautiously optimistic about the “New Albany”. Rocky and Nelson would get along and Albany would re-invent itself.
January 23, 1961
Downtown merchants would be surveyed to determine what they saw as their needs and the needs of the City.
January 24, 1961
Plans to create “by pass” highways in Delmar and Slingerlands were well underway. These roadsed would allow commuters to bypass Albany city streets to reach the their suburbs.
January 26, 1961
January 30, 1961
Another sign that things were moving along was the announcement on January 27 that about 120 applicants for the new the high rise projects had been approved. The first 100 apartments were scheduled for residence in March
January 27, 1961.
The optimism was contagious. Mr. Swartz , owner of Swartz & Levinson Shoe’s, was planning to open a new resraurant, Hugh Denniston’s, on Green St, . in the Capitol Hotel. (Hugh Denniston’s was the name of the tavern in which George Washington was presented with the keys to Albany when he and Marha came to the city for the baptism of the daughter of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler in 1789.)
Promise and hope was in the air. This was gonna work. And so January 1961 ended in Albany.
The first two weeks of January 1961 had been a whirlwind. Governor Rockefeller’s notice of his general desire to “improve” Albany and the Mayor’s revelation of his specific plans for the City caused a quite a stir. The rest of the month would be equally as newsworthy. Additionally, the face of Albany was changing, independent from urban redevelopment and renewal. New road and highway construction was moving at warp speed. Old buildings that had stood for years anchoring parts of neighborhoods had reached the end of their useful lives and were being demolished. High rise housing projects were almost completed in the South End and “slum clearance:” was moving ahead in North Albany.
On January 17, the Common Council authorized $250,000 to obtain rights to build the “Crosstown Arterial Highway”. Additionally the State was planning to build the “Slingerlands Bypass”. Construction of the State Office Campus, well underway off Washington Ave., and the planned construction of the new University site next door on Washington Ave., made these 2 highway construction projects more important to increase access to both the Campus and University sites.
January 17, 1961
People began dreaming the impossible dream. There were thoughts of riverfront development. Pretty much an impossibility as as the riverfront arterial was being constructed, cutting off access to the Hudson. But why let reality intrude?
In an address to a local American Legion post, Gene Robb, publisher of the Albany Knickerbocker News, proposed building a new Capitol on the Hudson River. And if that was not possible, why not a state museum, civic center or peace memorial, he conjectured. He said that this was the first time in recent history that residents, merchants, the city and the state all had an interest in re-development. He also indicated that additional resources would be necessary and suggested a sales tax for Albany!
On January 18, the other shoe dropped. Mayor Corning sent a “Dear Nelson” letter to Governor Rockefeller in which he proposed a permanent.. not temporary, joint city/state committee to deal with on-going state and city issues Nelson’s spokesperson responded to the Mayor’s letter by side stepping the request and saying that Albany still needed a “comprehensive plan”.
January 18, 1961
January 18, 1961
Ever the gentleman, Governor Rockefeller replied to the Mayor’s letter on January 18th. In his letter of response he thanks the Mayor for his welcome words about the Temporary State Commission and ignores the Mayor’s request for a permanent joint state/city committee on state and city issues. In his letter he also stresses the need for a “comprehensive plan” for Albany. (The implication is that the two year old study magically produced by the Mayor on the heels of the Governor’s announcement of HIS plans for Albany was neither a plan nor comprehensive.)
No More Rent Control in Albany…..self-deportation
Yet another master stroke. On January 20th, the State Rent Commission proclaimed that it would be ending rent control (in place since World War II) in Albany since a recent housing survey had demonstrated that the housing shortage had “abated”. (Seriously? I can’t stop laughing.) Every other report indicated dangerous over crowding in Albany!! Why that was part of the rationale for urban renewal !
Rent controls had already been eliminated on one family single homes and two family homes. In 1957, the City had been offered the option to remove rent controls, but had declined. Hmmm
The timing of this decision could not be better. Decontrol rents on multiple unit dwellings and you have a partial answer to at least one problem. Most of the multiple unit buildings were located in lower income areas. Those were the areas slated for “urban renewal”. Take away rent controls and tenants would be looking for alternative housing. There were really only two choices. They could move into the low income, high rise housing projects constructed by the city and for which there had not been great demand. Or they could move out of the area. If tenants moved out, there were 2 options; move outside of Albany or stay within the city limits.
A move outside Albany was possible, but not likely. In 1961 most of the jobs were still located within the city. Many lower income persons did not own cars and depended on buses to get around. Public transportation outside the city was poor at best and in the worst case, no existent. Nor were the many apartment options outside of the city, and single family housing was out of the financial reach of most current tenants of multiple dwelling units. So a move uptown, but still within the city, was most likely.
One way or another, many of the units in the multiple unit buildings would be vacated. Win/Win for urban renewal. There would be fewer families to displace through eminent domain when the property was seized. AND, vacant units in a multiple unit dwelling meant the property would be worth less when it was purchased to make room for urban renewal activities. Eliminating rent control really would be the impetus for “self-deportation”.