Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sun On Beaver Street

Fantastic cast iron details on a facade along the alley-like block of Beaver Street running north from Broadway and just around the corner from the old Argus Building.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Patroon Street

This sign on North Pearl Street marks the historic boundary between Albany and the vast estate belonging to the descendants of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ten Broeck Street Doorway

A beautiful, but deteriorating doorway on Ten Broeck Street. This entrance features classically carved stone and intricate cast iron framing a graceful barrel-vaulted ceiling just inside the fanlight.

Other Ten Broeck Street posts:

The Five-Sided House
The Ten Broeck Mansion

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

President Arthur's Grave

View of the monument at the grave of the 21st President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur. President Arthur is buried in the historic Albany Rural Cemetery.

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.

Monday, August 23, 2010

City Hall Grotesque

Yet another carved creature on City Hall. This one, just to the right of the front entrance, is quite busy chomping on his own tail.

Other decorative figures on City Hall include:

City Hall Lion
A Mysterious Owl
Another Stone Face

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Little Monster

I remember a very, very hot night. I was about two or three and it was so terribly muggy that we had to sleep on the floor under the open bay window. Even the huge old fans didn't help. It was also a very bright night, though I don't know if the light came from the full moon or from the street lamp outside.

I woke up quite suddenly that night. There was an enormous green thing on my white cotton nightgown. A lanky thing with oddly jointed legs, fluttering wings, and quivering antenna. It was on my nightgown and looking right at me. Needless to say, I screamed. And, even once the creature was gone, I refused to ever wear that nightgown or sleep under that window again.

That was my first encounter with a praying mantis and, to a little child, it seemed like a hideous monster. It was also my only encounter with one until yesterday when I spotted this one on a granite platform on the State Street side of the Empire State Plaza. It was hanging on against the wind...and stayed still long enough for me to dig my camera out of my cluttered backpack and take a photo.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Dust and grime obscure the ornamented doors to Barnaby's Restaurant. Located in the old DeWitt Clinton Hotel at the corner of State and Eagle Streets, Barnaby's has been closed for several years now.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I've walked past this building adjacent to the old Kenmore Hotel many, many times. The building itself is quite lovely, maybe even more so than the Kenmore itself. But I'd never noticed this pretty plaque on the wall just to the right of the building's empty store front.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


A beautiful monarch butterfly - one of the largest I've seen in years - pauses on the marble pavement of the Empire State Plaza.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The twin spires of the historic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception are reflected in a window in the "base" of The Egg at the nearby Empire State Plaza.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Curious Figures

A mysterious trio of figures stands just opposite the Whitney M. Young Health Services complex in Arbor Hill. Each figure has two faces, one looking outward and one looking inward.

They have stood at this corner of Lark Drive for at least twenty-five years since I remember seeing them once or twice when I was still in grade school. The faces were clearer then and I vaguely recall the outer faces might shown phases of the moon.

After I took this picture recently, I looked around the statues, but here is no plaque or marker naming this odd sculpture or its creator.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Street Signs

Two vintage street signs above an old store front at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Beekman Street.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Wallenberg Memorial

Monument honoring Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during World War II and died under still mysterious circumstances while in Soviet custody. The monument stands in a small park off Clinton Avenue between Broadway and North Pearl Street, just south of the Leo O'Brien Federal Building.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


A cluster of vividly colored foliage in the flower beds in front of the Albany Institute of History and Art.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dancing Giants

And, no, I'm not speaking of the New York Giants football team taking a break from their training camp at the SUNY Albany campus to hit a local disco!

This Victorian couple, like the Ladies of Liberty Park, is yet another part of the Sculpture In The Streets exhibit. But, unlike those two women frozen in place on a bench off of Hudson Avenue or the blue-suited man asleep under a newspaper across the street from City Hall, these two are not life-sized. This pair towers above passersby and traffic, easily over ten feet tall or more.

With very modern 677 Broadway and the Department of Environmental Conservation looming behind them, the romantic pair waltzes at Clinton Avenue between North Pearl Street and Broadway.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ghosts In The Bricks

The eastern wall of 132 State Street shows traces of a long-demolished building next door, including old wall-ties and the outlines of a roof and floors.

Monday, August 9, 2010


A grimy, but almost elegant window on the old ANSWERS steam plant on Sheridan Avenue. The plant, which was built to generate power from burning trash, has a troubled history of releasing toxins into the area.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


The signs leave no doubt about it...this Columbia Street ramp is clearly not the entrance to the parking garage at the corner of North Pearl and Van Tromp Streets.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Oppenheim Block

This stone block has stood in front of a house on Madison Avenue for as long as I can remember and, also for as long as I can remember, no one has really explained why it's there.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Old Station Metalwork

The blue sky is framed by the elegantly detailed ironwork on the rear of the former Union Station on Broadway.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Forgotten Fountain

This small and, apparently purely decorative fountain is mountain on a rear wall of the old Union Station.

There is little foot traffic behind the handsome old train station except for people going to and from the parking garages and the fountain seems like a ghost of the massive renovation of the former station in the 80s.

I posed for a photo by this fountain around 1986 and, at the time, there was some sort of metal lions head attached to the wall above the stone basin. Now, only the mounting holes remain.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Ladies of Liberty Park

From a distance, it seems like two elderly ladies are having a friendly chat in Albany's oldest park. But, like the gentleman napping under a newspaper in Academy Park, these women are statues...very life-like statues placed around downtown as part of the 2010 Sculpture In The Streets exhibit.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Very Large Tulip

A popular symbol of Albany, this giant tulip greets motorists as they exit 787 near Broadway and Clinton Avenues. In the background are glimpses of the Corning Tower and the Old Dutch Church.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

An Elegant Entrance

This graceful old door opens into a sort of alley or service passageway on Columbia Street between Pearl and James Streets. The old-fashioned barber's pole is for an adjacent business.