Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Where we would be without plastics? I could go on and on for hours about the countless everyday things that rely on plastic...cellphones, laptops, cars, coffee-makers, pens, lip balm tubes.

Poking from the weeds beside a boarded-up former Friendly's restaurant on Delaware Avenue near Whitehall Road, this sign boasts of plastic's early history. The factory that once stood here manufactured ivory billiard balls, but the invention of celluloid here provided them with a less-expensive substitute that became the first industrial plastic. Hyatt went on to found a celluloid company that produced not only billiard balls, but piano keys and false teeth.

Legend says these early celluloid balls were unstable and could explode during vigorous games. There's no word on whether the false teeth or piano keys ever exploded with rough use, though.

Another legend says that this billiard factory would dump its imperfect balls in the Hudson and that a stretch of the River is littered with thousands of rejects.


  1. Paula -

    There was another Albany-based factory that no longer exists today. That factory produced celluloid recordings, with celluloid being an early form of plastic.


  2. Weirdly, this marker is actually at the LAST location of the factory, not any of the earlier locations, all of which were downtown.