The New Albany, 1891 — No. 2

City Hall tower 2So, more from “The New Albany’s” list of things that made Albany wonderful in 1891.

6th. Rapid transit. What New York has  been clamoring for these twenty years Albany has well nigh in perfection, in the splendid equipment of the Albany railway. New York still clings to the antiquated horse cars; Albany has banished them to Greenbush.

Okay, so the Big Apple was a little slow on getting its mass transit rolling, but once the subway system opened in 1903, I think they may have had the last laugh. Happy to report, however, that Greenbush has regular diesel buses just like Albany now.

7th. The redemption of State street. Nothing is more striking than the difference between the old, filthy market which so long disgraced the principal approach to the Capitol, and the handsome, well-paved street which, from its breadth and surroundings, is to-day worthy of the majestic building to which it leads.

I’ve written before of the efforts to Elkanah Watson to have State Street paved, and the old Dutch who opposed it.Another century later, things had degraded again, and a new paving was the answer. And just these past few weeks, as yet another repaving wraps up (are they really on a once-a-century schedule?), State Street is again looking lovely and shiny. 

8th. The Market Place. Growing out of this change is the roomy, convenient and well-adapted market place, where producer and customer meet, as is not their privilege in any other city in the country.

Sadly, Albany’s tradition of the public market is lost, reduced to the various farmer’s markets and the Regional Market in Menands . . . nothing like the once-vibrant bazaar downtown. And the space the market occupied is just rubble-strewn parking waiting for a convention center to be plopped down on it.

9th. The City Hall. The handsomest exterior for a public building to be found in America. Richardson, the greatest architect of his time, regarded this as his masterpiece.

Happily, Richardson’s masterpiece still stands, it’s still used for its intended purpose as the seat of city government, and its bells still ring out over the city at lunchtime. Compare this to Troy, which has for some reason decided to be the only city in upstate New York that believes a city hall to be a nuisance, an unnecessary expense, and nothing to be proud of. One of the few things about which Troy is just plain wrong.

10th. Capitol Park. The improvement of Capitol park has changed an eyesore into a beauty spot. Another year will see the eastern porch to the Capitol under way, when for the first time that enormous building will take on the beauty which is yet to make it as famous in the future as its cost has in the past.

No argument there. Both Capitol parks are lovely and fitting for the seat of government of the Empire State.


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