Daily Archives: March 16, 2015

The Alms-house

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almshousemap1876.pngThis Hopkins map from 1876 features the Albany County Alms-house (center left), which stood out in the wilds past Snipe Street. You’ll recognize the curving road (then a plank road) as today’s New Scotland Avenue (then Road), running between Snipe and Perry and then beyond. Snipe is gone today, and Perry is South Lake. The small pox hospital and pest house (for people infected with various contagious diseases) were on the grounds of what is today Albany Medical Center. The Alms-house was about where the Albany College of Pharmacy is today.

“The Albany Hand-book: A Strangers’ Guide and Residents’ Manual” from 1884 had this to say about the Alms-house:

Alms-House, The, is situated on the plankroad, south of Washington park and west of the Penitentiary. The Alms-house farm contains 116 acres of good land. The buildings include the poor-house, lunatic asylum, hospital, pest-house, etc. The city pays 60 and the county 40 percent. of the cost of maintenance. The average number of inmates is 250. State paupers (such as have not been residents of any county for 60 days) are received here and boarded at $2.50 per week. There are about 50 insane. Incurable cases are sent to the asylum at Ovid. A new pest-house, erected on the outskirts of the farm, will accommodate 50 persons. Cattle and geese are expounded here, and the unclaimed dead of the streets, the river and the Penitentiary find here a burial. Visitors are admitted every day except Sunday.

You might think that those visitors would have been few and far between, but apparently it was common enough that there was a standard fare, also listed in this guide, for hacks running from Broadway between State Street and Maiden Lane. By city ordinance, the cost for a ride to the Alms-house and back, with the privilege of detaining the carriage at the Alms-house for one hour, was $2. (Going to the nearby Penitentiary only cost 75 cents, but only waited half an hour.)