Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Trains were long a vital part of Albany's culture and economy. You could say that people here were, in a sense, "early adopters" since the country's first chartered railroad had its starting point near the junction of Madison and Western Avenues. Prominent families such as the Cornings amassed fortunes in the rail and related industries. Trains were a vital part of the West Albany stockyards, bringing in cattle from western states. Passengers trains departed from the handsome Union Station until the 1960s. Freight trains still haul goods in and out of the Port of Albany.
There are plenty of obvious reminders of the railroad heyday, both the commercial and the passenger lines. The Union Station is still a visible (though again vacant) part of Broadway, weathered old rail bridges can be seen here and there. On cloudy days, the sound of train whistles sometimes carries as far as my house near Lark Street.
This very short stretch of track goes nowhere...emerging from the gravel in a litter-strewn lot across from the old U-Haul Building on Broadway just north of the Port.