Thursday, April 29, 2010

One-Year Anniversary

Today marks the first anniversary of Albany (NY) Daily Photo. Thanks to everyone who follows this blog, post comments, links to it. It's been a fun year...I've spent so much time staring at ornamental gutters, storm drains, old plaques, and just plain random things. Even when I don't have my camera with me, I'm always looking for pictures to take.

Click here to see the very first post.

The Door

This seldom, if ever, used door on the east side of St. Peter's Episcopal Church features ornately elegant strap hinges.

St. Peter's is one of Albany's oldest churches with a history dating back well before the Revolutionary War. The present structure is the third and features some exquisite details, including a stunning rose window and a marvelous carved lectern. Located at State and Lodge Streets, St. Peter's is open during lunchtime on weekdays and well worth a visit.

The church's site gives a brief history. Click here to read it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Art on the Maiden Lane Bridge

When the Maiden Lane pedestrian bridge opened to connect downtown Albany with the Hudson River waterfront, I wasn't too interested. At the time, I wasn't too fond of the Corning Preserve, mainly because my primary memory of the park was of watching scores of dead fish float downstream one evening.

Eventually, though, I did go back to the Preserve and did make use of the Maiden Lane walkway. The bridge is decorated with trompe l'oeil artwork. Each painting is a still-life representing the history of the region, beginning with the prehistoric and continuing to the present. The one shown above, representing the region's Native American heritage, is one of my favorites. It depicts fresh squash, a piece of pottery, and a powerful symbol of the Haudenosaunee...the Hiawatha wampum belt

Next time you walk across the bridge from Broadway to the River, stop and look at the paintings.

Monday, April 26, 2010


This slab of stone brings to mind some ancient monolith, but it's actually part of the Geological Rock Park tucked beside the Thomas O'Brien Academy of Arts and Sciences inside Lincoln Park.

The Park consists of rows of boulders lining a path running roughly southeast of the school and just a stone's throw (pun unintended) from the shale-lined Beaverkill gully. Close to the school there is a sign identifying the specimen boulders which include various types of limestone, dolostone, garnet, and slate.

The Park's location is appropriate since this was once part of the estate of Professor James Hall, a man remembered as one of the country's leading 19th-century geologists and paleontologists, and the boulders are overlooked by the building that once housed Hall's work.

Another monolith of sorts, the soaring Corning Tower, looms in the background, along with the New York State Museum (which now holds Hall's collections) and the twin spires of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Taking Hold

A bit of greenery stubbornly growing from the side of a stone bridge at the Corning Preserve.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Old News

It wasn't easy to get a clear picture of this old newspaper propped up in the grimy window of a cluttered used bookstore on lower Broadway. It's the December 5, 1941 edition of the still-active Times Union. The end of World War II was still a few years away, the price of the paper was three cents, and the weather forecast was mild with showers.

It's interesting to note the story to the right of the headline about the Japanese rejection of peace terms. It's a piece about a carillon concert at City Hall. Things like the price of a newspaper have changed, but those bells still fill downtown Albany with music.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Here Comes The Sun

Sunny architectural detail on Hudson Avenue just west of Swan Street and the Empire State Plaza.

Monday, April 19, 2010


As a child, I romped a lot around the Lincoln Park playground (and, after, would stop for a popsicle or bag of shelled sunflower seeds at the nearby Lincoln Pharmacy) quite a bit. But I didn't notice this plaque - one of a matching pair - until a few years ago when I took a short cut through the park on the way home from work.

I remember Med-O-Land quite well, though I didn't know that's what it was called. Lots of bulbous metal shapes with round holes to be used as footholds for climbing or for peering out of like portals. Some looked like giant clam-shaped pods. There was definitely an outer space look to them, appropriate to the era, I suppose. And I'd actually forgotten Med-O-Land entirely until a 2006 visit to Seattle when I looked up at the Space Needle and something about its design suddenly made me recall the Lincoln Park playground of my childhood.

Med-O-Land has been replaced by modern, safer playground equipment which doesn't quite have the excitement of those holey blue metal shapes. And the Lincoln Park playground, in its various incarnations over the years, is actually Albany's first playground...according to yet another plaque nearby.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Out of Fashion

Located on Hudson Avenue, just a door away from the former Hudson Theatre, this vacant building was once home to a cleaners.

In more recent years, it seemed to house some sort of antique store. At least, that's what it appeared to be with vintage and quasi-vintage items piled indifferently in the windows. I don't know if the two items in the cleared patch of window - a religious portrait and a heavy felt banner - are leftovers from the shop or not. It was one of those little stores that was never open and never had hours posted.

Now, the windows are soaped over and there's some signs of life in the form of a work permit for roof repairs.

The main attraction here, though, is the lemon yellow and brown vintage sign. Even with a word missing, it still maintains a bit of retro style.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stained Glass on Jay Street

I discovered this window - one of three - on the facade of a modest-looking brick church tucked away on a very quiet block of Jay Street just east of Swan Street.

Its frame is badly in need of a little care and it seems as if the painted details on the glass may have faded, but I do love old stained glass and, even though this example is rather worn, it still caught my eye.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Hudson Theatre

When I looked up the Hudson Theatre at an on-line database of old movie houses, it was listed as "demolished." In 2007, for that matter. Well, the database was wrong. The former Hudson Theater is still standing on the avenue of the same name, just west of the Empire State Plaza's Swan Street tunnel entrances and exits.

Of course, it's no longer a theatre. The days of movie theaters and vaudeville stages spread throughout Albany's downtown are long gone, with the exception of the historic Palace Theatre, of course...and there's the former Madison, a former silent-era theatre further uptown. The Hudson ceased operations as a theater in the 1950s and all the theatre fixtures and furnishing were torn out as the building was converted to a warehouse.

This building on the 200 block of Hudson Avenue was built in 1872 as the Albany Card & Paper Company factory. It wasn't until 1916 that it became a theatre. I don't know what films played there, but 1916 was the year of D.W. Griffith's controversial epic, Intolerance, starring a beautiful young Lilian Gish.

Movies came to an end at the Hudson in 1933, a time when my family lived just down the street. The building remained vacant for about twenty years before being turned into a warehouse. It was renovated some years ago and now contains apartments.

The former entrance with the letters HT above and the word HUDSON inlaid below are the last remnants of a theatrical past.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sidewalk Mosaic

I've noticed the initials MBC more than once, but never really connected the pink and green tiles to the building they're in front of...the old Matthew Bender Company offices at 109 State Street.

Founded in the 1880s as a dealer of law books, the company still exists today as a publisher, though they moved from this building in 1950s.

The building at 109 is a beauty with an ornate light gray cast stone facade that includes pilasters that terminate in open books, a nod to the Bender business.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


A trio of enormous pipes at the old City Fuel & Ice Company building at the corner of Swan Street and Park Avenue.

The old Fuel & Ice Company stands next to the former Hinckel Brewery complex and just across the corner is the eastern entrance to the Beaverkill gully in Lincoln Park.

A family member told me an unpleasant story about this place which used to supply ice to local restaurants. One day, a large rat was found embedded in a block of ice. Rats weren't too uncommon in Albany, especially around the breweries and buried streams. Rather than discard the block, the workers merely chiseled out the dead rodent and sold the remaining chunk of ice to a restaurant.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Hudson River Telephone Company

Located on Quail Street, the carved lettering above the door identifies this building as the old Hudson River Telephone Company. Founded in 1883, this company provided telephone service to New York counties along both shores of the Hudson River.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Stylish Column

This is yet another one of those details I've seen a thousand times, but never noticed until now.

The bathhouse, which overlooks the round 1930 Lincoln Park swimming pool, was designed by architect Thomas L. Gleason. His name still appears on a plaque on the building's east facade. It serves as the pool's street entrance and locker rooms. In the past, it also served skaters when the level "bowl" of Lincoln Park was used an ice rink and the building has also been used in the off-season as extra space to ease overcrowding at a nearby homeless shelter.

I grew up a few blocks from this swimming pool...which is located just below the former Beaverkill's falls and very close to the site of a long-gone natural swimming hole called Rocky Ledge pool...but never paid much attention to the Georgian Revival bathhouse. It was just a place to quickly change into a swimsuit before rushing out to the pool.

It wasn't until last weekend when I was crisscrossing the park east of Swan Street (looking for any other remnants of the Beaverkill, of course), that I actually looked up and noticed the distinctive terra cotta columns with their spiral shafts and elegant floral capitols.

Monday, April 5, 2010


This group of figures cut from metal stands on the north facade of the New York State Legislative Office Building just across State Street from the West Capitol Park.

I used to dislike this sculpture, but it's grown on me in recent years. And I like the 70s look of these silvery shadow people by artist Larry Kagan.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lions In Waiting

There's a new Asian restaurant opening at 69 North Pearl Street soon. Actually, if you go by the signs or the updates in local dining blogs, they were supposed to open in "late March."

About a week ago, I saw these two imposing lions waiting to be put in place by the new doors.

Just across from the old Kenmore Hotel, this building used to house an OTB.