Daily Archives: April 20, 2011

The cure may be worse than the disease

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Surgery Eye and Ear.pngOr not, because look at that disease. I’ve posted this image from an 1860-something Albany directory before over on My Non-Urban Life, but it deserves a second look. I don’t know what’s wrong with
the eye on the right, but I’ll say this: I don’t want it. Also, whatever
the surgical cure would have been in the time of the Civil War, I don’t
want that, either. Catarrh (excessive buildup or discharge of mucus in the nose or throat) was practically a blessing compared to the other ailments that Dr. Liston treated in his offices on Grand Street. I’m not saying he wasn’t a good doctor, I’m just saying there may have been a reason he had the largest selection of artificial eyes in the country.

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Walker’s – for everything

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1862 Schenectady Directory Walker Groceries.png

In the 19th century, Schenectady’s main business district was all concentrated west of the canal. And it would seem that most things that were for sale were concentrated in James Walker & Co., wholesale and retail dealers in groceries, agricultural implements, house furnishing goods, wood and willow ware, rope, twine and cordage, coal oils and lamps, bird cages, fishing tackle, brushes, &c., &c.

In 1862, he was located on the main business block on State Street between South Church and South Ferry. It wasn’t until the turn of the century that the downtown we know, between the filled-in canal at Erie Boulevard and Crescent Park, began to form.

At the time of this ad, James Walker was near the end of his run. In the 1870 census, he was listed as a 61-year-old retired merchant, living with wife Mary, with real estate worth $40,000, and another $40,000 in personal estate. (Depending on how you calculate it, that might be a comfortable $8 million to $18 million today.)

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