Category Archives: Albany

First Church, Albany

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First Church, Albany, originally uploaded by carljohnson.

First Church, the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany, dates to 1642, making it the oldest church in upstate and one of the very oldest in the country. This building dates to 1799, when the congregation moved from the stone church at Broadway and State Street to the outskirts of town, at Clinton and Pearl.

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You know what you don’t see much of anymore?

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Mimeographing 1940, originally uploaded by carljohnson.

Mimeographing services. For decades, mimeographing reigned supreme as the cheap, easy way to make quality copies of printed materials, and every office of any size had one. A typist would set up a stencil, which would then be attached to a spinning drum. Ink would be squeezed through the stencil and onto the sheet of paper. They’re now often confused in our nostalgic minds with dittos, the fragrant medium of school tests that also went by the name of “spirit duplicators.” Dittos worked more like offset, with a mirror-image wax-coated master that printed where the wax wasn’t, usually in a purple ink. Both technologies suffered a bit from the rise of the Xerox-style photocopier, but were truly put to death by personal computers and printers. They are still in use in the developing world, apparently because they don’t require electricity.

You don’t see a lot of typewriting services, either. And the bottom dropped right out of the multigraphing market.

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Hampton Manor Opens Tomorrow

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Hampton Manor Ad 1927, originally uploaded by carljohnson.

In 1927, Albany’s suburbs were just beginning their boom. More and more people had the means to escape the crowded, dirty, coal-choked city through the spread of trolleys and private automobiles, and outlands like Menands and East Greenbush became attractive alternatives, with the cleaner air of the country yet only a few minutes from downtown Albany, where most of the work was.

The lake is still a beautiful resource, well used by residents and visitors despite the loss of swimming facilities and lack of investment in the scenic park along the shore. On any pleasant evening, dozens of residents will be walking the mile loop around the lake, watching the anglers, geese and the occasional paddler. (You can no longer see the lake from the Pittsfield road, though, and few would call recognize the Columbia Turnpike by that name.)

The promised pure spring water still exists, and while it isn’t quite free, we don’t have water meters. Unfortunately, our water is so mineral-rich that many of us are pining for the day we finally connect to the county water supply. Modern appliances aren’t fond of hard water.

The trolleys haven’t run in quite some time, and bus service is limited but still runs right through the neighborhood. By car it’s still only 7 minutes to downtown, if you hit the lights just right. And it’s still a great neighborhood to live in.

“Don’t mind the ‘Detour’ signs. They don’t apply to Hampton Manor.”

Click here for more articles on Hampton Manor.

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Health fads, 1940

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George’s Health Club 1940, originally uploaded by carljohnson.

Proving that nonsense health fads and pointless pampering aren’t anything new: in 1940, you could take the elevator up to the fifth floor of the City and County Savings Bank Building (now the FedEx Kinko’s) to George’s Health Club and enjoy a luxurious pine needle bath, electrical vibration, or even a (gentle, one presumes) colonic irrigation. And there was a registered nurse in attendance, in case the pine vapor rays got to you.

“Let me just fuel up my headlamp”

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Troy and Albany Automatic Lighting 1895

1895 – a simpler time, when cars did not yet rule the roads, bicycling was all the rage, and all you needed to do to extend your riding pleasure into the evening hours was to bolt a kerosene lantern to your frame, light the wick, and off you went . . . .

Oh, wait. Maybe the lighting and the bicycle have nothing to do with each other. Never mind.

On the other hand, Fixie Pr0n for you flatland elitists. The Helical seems to have been the work of the Premiere Cycle Co. of New York, N.Y., and the tubes were made in a helical twist. The Zimmy was by the A.A. Zimmerman Manufacturing Co. of Freehold, N.J. When this ad appeared in a Troy directory in 1895, Arthur Augustus “Zimmy” Zimmerman had recently (1893) become the first amateur World Champion road cyclist. He was one of the greatest names in American sport a mere 120 years ago.

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Ghost bike, José Perez

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Ghost bike, José Perez, originally uploaded by carljohnson.

A ghost bike in memory of José Perez, at the connection of Broadway to Quay Street, Albany.

“José Perez, Bicyclist, killed by car 08-03-06 Albany, NY”

Located here.

Hopefully a reminder to everyone. Bicyclists need to ride safely – drivers need to give us a little room and courtesy. Also? Hang up and drive!

More on ghost bikes here:

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Bi-Centennial Tablets

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North East Bastion Fort Orange marker DSCN1123

No, not the bicentennial with the quarters and the barges – Albany celebrated the bi-centennial of its charter as a city (which came some 65 years after the initial settlers) in 1886. Celebrations were done in high style then, and for this one, 42 historic tablets were placed around the city to remind us of our past. Some of these tablets still exist, some have disappeared. I would have thought that this one, Tablet No. 1,  had disappeared, having never seen it, but a fellow Flickrite recently posted a photo of it and was good enough to share its location, on a wall among the tangles of highway, just down Broadway from the remodeled Holiday Inn Express, under one of the Dunn/I-787 flyovers. Its original location was “fifty feet east of the bend in Broadway, at Steamboat square,” on a granite block “with a slanting top to shed water and surrounded by an iron railing for protection.” The tablet, like its surroundings, has come down in the world, but at least it’s still there, reminding us. 

“Upon this spot, washed by the tide, stood the north east bastion of Fort Orange. Erected about 1623. Here the powerful Iroquois met the deputies of this and other colonies in conference to establish treaties. Here the first courts were held. Here in 1643 under the direction of Dominie Johannes Megapolensis, a learned and estimable minister, the earliest church was erected north west of the Fort and to the south of it stood the dominie’s house.”

My Dutch friend tells me the spelling was and is “dominee,” but all the histories here have it as “dominie;” Megapolensis was a Hellenization, quite the style at the time, of the family name, Van Mekelenburg. He was the first clergyman of the Dutch Church here in Albany, and after his posting here went on to New Amsterdam.


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