Saturday, November 28, 2009

Down In The Hollow

This is the view west along Sheridan Avenue just above North Pearl Street. This street was once the bed of a stream, the Fox Creek or Vozenkill. After the stream was moved underground (not unlike the Beaverkill across town), the area known as Sheridan Hollow was built over with small, shabby flats and the area became one of 19th-century Albany's slums.

The area became home to immigrant families, mostly new arrivals from Ireland. Unemployment in the Hollow was estimated at 20%. Despite a then-modern sewer created when the Vozenkill was buried, sanitation was poor and many of the houses relied on privies. Water- and sewage-borne diseases such as cholera were all too common afflictions. Overcrowding was so extreme that an 1850 census showed 84 people (from less than twenty families) living in only three two-story homes.

The area remains very shabby to this day. A hotel and upscale restaurant (Yono's at the right of this photo), a nice cafe (the Victory) do well enough at its eastern most end. But venture up the street - past the gloomy bulk of the old ANSWERS incinerating plant and a small assortment of industrial buildings and parking facilities for the State offices on the hill to the south - and there's very little to see. Just rows of abandoned wood-frame row houses with boarded windows and NO TRESPASSING signs. The area was rough enough around the edges when I was a child and my favorite great-uncle lived on Sheridan Ave. at South Swan. But it's gone down since then.


  1. Is/was that stream also know as Patroon Creek? Or is that elsewhere?

  2. 84 is a lot of people for 3 houses. We have ares that were and indeed perhaps still are pretty bad but not sure quite that bad.
    It is easy to not notice or forget the streams or becks that still flow under our feet. There was one than ran at the bottom of the garden when I was a boy and it disappeared underground next door and flowed under the city of Oxford not sure where it went. I fell in once and had to be rescued by a policeman from the station across the road. Paul at Leeds in Yorkshire daily photography