Albany Business College Albany N.Y.

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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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.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/375351089205442/606197369454145/?notif_t=group_comment

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The Old NYS Museum Albany NY

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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.

9353424451_b4ce44d14f_zBut 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.

Rotunda NYS Education Building
Rotunda NYS Education Building

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. 960x540 (1)

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.

Picture-23-600x364But 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.

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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.

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The fossilized sea life and shells were pretty nifty. I  still love a curvaceous wentletrap or a nautilus.

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G-11366Every time I visited, there seemed to be something new.. or something I’d missed. I first fell in love with

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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.

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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.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/375351089205442/606197369454145/?notif_t=group_comment

THE LAST FAMILY OUT OF ALBANY’S SOUTH MALL

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.

December 22, 1964

december 22 1964   leonard

Albany’s South Mall Part 5 Shovel Ready?

February 1961 

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

feb 1 1961 2

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

feb 6 1961

February 8, 1961 

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February 14, 1961

feb 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

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feb 2 part 2

February 4, 1961

feb 4 1961Although 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 

feb 4 1961 2

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.

February 8, 1961

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Albany’s South Mall Part 4 The Era of Good Feelings

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

jan 23 1961

Downtown merchants would be surveyed to determine what they saw as  their needs and the needs of the City.

January 24, 1961

 jan 24

 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

jan 26 1961

January 30, 1961

jan 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.

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.)

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Promise and hope was in the air. This was gonna work.  And so January 1961 ended in Albany.

January 30, 1061

jan 31 1961

January 30, 1961

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Muhlfelder’s Albany NY

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.)

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