Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Old Rail Bridge

The old Livingston Avenue Bridge as viewed from Corning Preserve. The original bridge here was constructed in 1866 with the first train (called the Augustus Schell) crossing on February 18. The current bridge shown here was rebuilt in 1901, though I've heard that some of the stone supports from the original bridge were reused.

The main section of the bridge swings open on a massive pivot to allow tall boats to pass through.

Looking up at the underside of the bridge, it's easy to see the effects of a century of use and corrosion. But it's estimated that the cost to replace the bridge - which still actively carries both freight and passenger trains across the Hudson River - is well in excess of $50 million.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On James Street

I find this old building on James Street (just behind Tricentennial Park and a few doors away from a little coffee shop cleverly named Mug Shots Cafe) to be quite intriguing with its boarded-up windows and doors framing the remains of a cast iron facade that includes a pair of slender Egyptian-inspired columns.

Edited:  A more recent look reveals the architect's name.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pemberton Corner

Laid into the sidewalk at the corner of North Pearl and Columbia Streets, this plaque (a reproduction of a now lost Bicentennial tablet from 1886) is spotted with old gum, stepped on constantly, and often littered with cigarette butts.

It marks the location of a house built in 1710 by Colonel Jacob Lansing. Located just north of the stockade enclosing colonial Albany, it served for many years as a trading post for local Native Americans. By 1818, it had become a store maintained by one Eben Pemberton, hence the corner's name.

Photos of corner from the early 1880s show the Lansing House as a steep-gabled structure typical of early Albany. Signs painted directly on its walls advertise Pemberton's as a marketplace for provisions, family stores, and groceries. The original interior was described as having no two rooms on the same level (one had to step up or down when going from one chamber to the next) and fireplaces jambs decorated with painted porcelain Biblical scenes.

The Old Lansing House was torn down in 1886, ironically during the same year in which the City commemorated its Bicentennial and marked the spot with a plaque.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Rock of Horeb

Up close in this picture, it almost looks like a natural waterfall. But this little cascade is part of the Moses monument, one of the most recognizable features of Washington Park...and a popular wading spot for dogs and kids.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lacey Iron

Close-up of the iron railing enclosing the front steps of the historic Dutch Church on North Pearl Street.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Lathrop Angel

Half-hidden behind larger, more imposing Lathrop family monuments along the edge of the Moordenaerskill ravine in Albany Rural Cemetery, this graceful angel seems to be contemplating her own broken wings. Every so often, someone tucks a flower or two in her hands.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Harry Simmons

This building along North Pearl Street bears the name HARRY SIMMONS. The company billed itself in an 1898 ad as an "Old Established and Largest Auction House In The State" and offered "appraisals of personal effects and Merchandise of every description." The company was previously located on State Street before relocating to this building near Lodge Street around 1913.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Funky Tiles

This colorful wall of tiles is part of the massive building on North Pearl Street between Columbia and Van Tromp Streets. The structure houses both a large parking garage and the Capitol Repertory Theatre.

The space occupied by the theatre now was, a couple of decades ago, home to a small grocery story. While I've been to Cap Rep many times, I can only recall one visit to the old Grand Cash Market...and I think it was for a can of tuna.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chubby Cherubs

A pair of plump cherubs (with what seemed to be stylized fish tails) flank an elaborate monogram above the main entrance to McGeary's, a popular bar near the corner of North Pearl Street and Clinton Avenues.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Graceful Railings

Loops and swirls make for a very elegant railing along Broadway north of Clinton Avenue. Unfortunately, the other railing is missing and this one is beginning to rust.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eternal Sleep

This crumbling, but very distinctive monument in the Albany Rural Cemetery marks the grave of New York State Supreme Court Judge, Elisha Hurlbut (and namesake of Hurlbut Street).

Located close to the ornamental pond labeled as Cypress Water on old maps of the Cemetery, it's said that the monument is a replica of Hurlbut's own bed.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sunny Side Up!

These flowers along the western edge of Washington Park Lake bear a definite resemblance to fried eggs. All that's missing is some buttered toast and ham.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Starry White

A starry white flower outside an office building caught my eye as I walked down State Street near the Capitol.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Floral Details

Beautiful floral detail on the old Mechanics & Farmers Bank at the corner of State and James Streets. A graceful bird appears on one on the leaves, poised to pluck some berries. The former Mechanics & Farmers building, one of the loveliest structures on State Street, was designed in the 1870s by Russell Sturgis. A native of Baltimore, Sturgis was one of the founders of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and a noted author and editor on the subject of architecture.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Decay By The Tracks

Lately, I've become a bit fascinated by cast iron facades on older buildings. So, when I visited Silver Fox Salvage and the venerable Miss Albany Diner (both of which places I highly recommend) over the weekend, I also went a bit out of my way to photograph this vacant building.

This decaying structure is a raised block which overlooks Broadway near an mposing trestle that carries trains towards the former Central Warehouse and the Livingston Avenue Bridge. A gazetteer of local businesses from the 1870s lists this address as a grain dealer.

It's been vacant for as long as I can remember and has a very grim, spooky air about it. The slim cast iron columns with their elegant Corinthian capitals only add to the sense of ruin.

And, in a morbid postscript, last year, the body of a murdered man was dumped in this sad old relic of North Albany.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Forlorn Lights

A string of forgotten Christmas lights hanging on a fence around an empty lot somewhere near Erie Boulevard and Colonie Street.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Squirreling Away

This whimsical set of cast iron bars protects a window on the ground level of the old Home Savings Bank building at 11 North Pearl Street. The fabulous Home Savings Bank tower at 11 North Pearl Street is one of downtown Albany's most distinctive and elegant landmarks.

Built in the 1929s, the 19-story structure was called Albany's first skyscraper and - for a short time - it was Albany's tallest building. Though it was quickly surpassed in height by other buildings, it remains the fifth tallest.

The facade includes delicate Art Deco terra cotta decorations. The main entrance is surrounded by plaques representing figures from Albany's past. Dutch and Native American profiles surround the upper story. It's one of those buildings that is worth stopping to really look at, even if one passes it every day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Late Summer Rose

Summer is unofficially over now that Labor Day has passed, though actual autumn is still weeks away. The roses on the east side of the State Capitol are looking a little dull as their season passes, but there are still some beautiful blooms and buds left.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

River Service

This small plaque from the Weather Bureau is hidden on the rear wall of the Old Post Office, an 1883 building of gray granite on Broadway at the foot of State Street. Half- obscured by a large urn of flowers, I came across this marker while hunting for what's left of several dozen bronze tablets placed around Albany to commemorate the City's Bicentennial in 1886.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Water Jars

Details of a woman's water jars on the Rufus King Monument in Washington Park. The King Monument is better known as simply "The Moses Fountain."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"I was contemplating...a bug!"

This little critter was perched in the flower beds in front of the Albany Institute of History & Art on a hot Thursdays afternoon. Watching it made waiting for the bus a little more interesting.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Castle In The Sky

Medieval details and a tower-like structure on the roof give this Beaver Street building the imposing look of a fortified castle.