Category Archives: Albany


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Nehi Beverages receiptI ran across this 1958 receipt for Nehi beverages from my grandfather’s short-lived drive-in restaurant at Aqueduct, and it made me wonder where Nehi had gone. Nehi was once a well-known soda brand, which in 1955 became Royal Crown.Growing up, Royal Crown was always something of the consolation prize when what you really wanted was a Coke. Locally, it was bottled at 1240-1242 Broadway in Albany; it looks like the building still stands. I’m not sure just when local bottling of Royal Crown ceased; a tax case shows they continued at least until 1976.

To judge by this, their offerings in 1958 were: Royal Crown Cola; Fruit Orange; Fruit Punch; Root Beer; Ginger Ale; Blk. Raspberry; Upper 10; Cream; Black Cherry; Grape; Sparkling Water. And apparently there was some other option that my grandfather took delivery of a case of. “V.B.”?

Apparently there is still Nehi soda in some areas ; the brands belong to Dr. Pepper/Snapple.

Dunn Memorial Bridge

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Dunn Memorial Bridge postcardAlways nice to see a view of the old Dunn Memorial Bridge, named in honor of posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Parker F. Dunn, Morton Avenue’s bravest son. But it’s also nice to see the kinds of messages people used to spend a penny to send:

“Thats a railroad bridge that I go across on     Bob”

Of course, it was never a railroad bridge. He may have been confusing it with the Maiden Lane bridge just to the north, which carried the tracks over the river to Union Station.

In 1971, the old Dunn blew up real good.

Trolley disaster at Greenbush

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Trolley Crash.pngThe 1890 railroad sabotage at Greenbush miraculously took no lives. But a 1901 trolley crash outside Greenbush (which is now part of the city of Rensselaer) was much more serious, killing at least seven people.

It was May 26, 1901, and the trolleys were at the start of their summer runs. In those days, most local trolley companies had amusement parks way out at the ends of their lines; the Albany Fast Line’s destination resort was Electric Park in Kinderhook.

“Electric-cars racing for a switch while running in opposite directions at the rate of forty miles an hour, cost five lives yesterday afternoon by a terrific collision in which over forty prominent people were injured, some fatally, and others seriously.” The five killed immediately included the two motormen; two more died shortly of their fatal injuries. At least 11 others were seriously injured.

“The lobby of the post-office filled with dead and wounded, hysterical women and children looking for relatives and friends, surgeons administering temporary relief, and ambulances racing through the city, taking the wounded to hospitals … The scene of the accident was a point about two miles out of Greenbush, on the line of the Albany and Hudson railway. The point where the cars met on the single track was a sharp curve, and so fast were they both running and so sudden was the collision that the motormen never had time to put the brakes on before South-bound Car No. 22 had gone almost clean through North-bound Car No. 17, and hung on the edge of a high bluff, with its load of shrieking, maimed humanity.”

Fortunately for the sensitive readers of the age, the newspaper accounts were reserved and tasteful:

“Fully 120 men, women, and children formed a struggling pyramid, mixed with bloody detached portions of human bodies and the wreckage of the cars … The few women and children who had escaped injury and death were hysterical, and added their cries to the shrieks of the dying and mutilated. Men with broken arms and bones, dislocated joints, and bloody heads and faces, tried to assist others who were more helpless. Help had been summoned from East Greenburg [sic] and vicinity, and in a little time the bruised mass of humanity, with the mutilated dead for a gruesome and silent company, were loaded on extra cars and taken to Albany.”

Trouble on the Tracks

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Tried to Wreck a Train.pngIn the late summer of 1890, the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad fired 78 members of the Knights of Labor “for cause,” the cause primarily being that they were union agitators. This action caused 3000 (or 5000, depending on the source) trainmen to go on strike. The trains, of course, continued to be run, and the strike petered out over the course of about six weeks as strikers were replaced.

Late on the night of September 4, 1890, a Montreal-bound sleeper consisting of eight cars and an engine was derailed about four miles south of Greenbush (now known as Rensselaer). “Barring the shaking up of the passengers and the bruising of a half dozen or so, nothing more serious than the wrecking of the train resulted….

“The escape of a large number from death was miraculous. The train … was running at the rate of thirty miles an hour. When the engine struck the obstruction on the track it was lifted upward into the air and the whole train was thrown from the track. The forward part of the engine was suspended in the air, and it looked as though it might topple over into the ditch at any moment. The engineer and fireman both stuck to their posts.

“The first sleeping car contained twenty-two passengers. It slid down the embankment and came to a standstill on its side. None of the passengers in this car was injured except by being bruised. The second coach fared worse than any of the others, turning a complete somersault and landing in the ditch bottom side up. In this car there was only one passenger, Mrs. Jenkins of Brooklyn, the conductor, and a porter. Mrs. Jenkins was at first thought to be seriously injured, but it was afterward found that she was more frightened than hurt.”

There was no question the derailment was intentional. A rail, timbers and plates were arranged so as to lift the train clear off the track, and a similar obstruction was found on the south-bound tracks. Suspicions immediately turned to strikers, as the general superintendent of the railroad said:

“The wreck was clearly the work of the strikers. It seems to me that there is no possibility that it was anything but a deliberate attempt at murder. A reward of $5000 has been offered for the conviction of the wreckers. This has been posted in Albany all day, and printed circulars for every town along the Hudson River are now ready to be sent out. Other means to sift the matter have also been employed, and precautions to protect the trains have been redoubled.”

The specific individuals responsible appear not to have been caught.

Frank Jagger, the literate lumberman

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Frank_A_Jagger_Lumber_Boat_at_Albany_Lumber_District.jpgIt’s Friday, so let’s look at a pretty picture. From the Albany Institute’s collection, this is a shot of the Frank A. Jagger, a lumber barge, somewhere in the the canals of the lumber district, which started about where Albany’s north boat launch is today. North of Ferry Street was a network of slips; the Institute has a wonderful map here.

Turns out Franklin A. Jagger, who may be pictured on this boat, was a well-known figure of the lumber district. Here’s what the New York Lumber Trade Journal had to say on his death in 1916:

Apr. 26, 1916: Franklin A. Jagger, a famous character in the Albany Lumber District, died here Saturday night, after an illness lasting eighteen days. The funeral was held yesterday from his late residence, Gilderland [sic]. He was 62 years old.

Mr. Jagger had been connected with the Albany trade for many years. For thirty-three years he was in the employ of A.S. Kibbee & Son in a position of responsibility. He was hardly absent a day because of illness until recently, when a severe cold developed into pneumonia, which resulted in his death.

Mr. Jagger was the [New York Lumber Trade] Journal’s news representative, and in this capacity he was in close touch with all the dealers at all times and had, as a result, a wonderful store of trade history and anecdote. He witnessed the passing of the district’s men of another generation and saw new ones take their places in the famous lumber market of the State capital. The news of his death was a shock to the entire trade, whose respect and confidence he held to a high degree.

And the Albany Board of Lumber Dealers passed a resolution just two days after his death:

Resolved, The death of Franklin A. Jagger has come as a shock to the Lumber District. Most of us did not know that he was ill until two days before the news of his death came to us. For thirty-five years he had been associated with the firm of A.S. Kibbee & Son, and many of us came in contact with him almost daily. He was a man of genial manner and uniform courtesy. A graduate of Union College, he was interested in English literature and read much. He was fond of books, and his conversation frequently showed the he remembered a good deal of what he read. For several years he had been the Albany correspondent of the New York Lumber Trade Journal, and we all looked forward to his semi-monthly letters with pleasant anticipation.

We extend our condolences to his wife and sons in their great bereavement, and direct that this resolution be spread on the minute book of this board, and that a copy be sent to the family.

Just for the record, the builder of the boat, Ira M. Rose, was from out west on the Ellicott Creek, and was fairly notable himself.

The Albany Egg Auction

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Egg Auction Learned Street Altamont Enterprise 1935.pngThe Altamont Enterprise in 1935 had high praise for Egg Auction, Inc. of Albany (praise inspired by the company’s advertising in the newspaper’s special section — common practice then and now).

“In North Albany at 10 Learned Street is one of the reliable institutions of this section and doing an extensive business throughout this territory. It pays the top market price for eggs and is one of the popular dealers in this line. This is one of the institutions that has materially aided in the development of this section of the state and has especially been instrumental in aiding the progress of diversified farming in the community. They furnish the farmers with the most advantageous market for eggs, and therefore operate an institution that is of great commercial value to the public.”

Well, really, there’s only so much you can praise you can heap on a place that buys and sells eggs.

“The management has been closely allied with the large business interests of this section of the state for some time and has been instrumental in upbuilding their section of the country and the institution should receive the patronage of the entire people.” Note a failure to even mention the eggs.

In fact, the egg auction was a big deal, having been formed in 1933 after two years of organizing efforts by poultrymen in area counties, forming a cooperative that would provide a uniform method of grading and selling eggs. The Learned Street location was meant to be temporary, until space could be procured at the new regional market in Menands.

10 Learned Street is now part of the outside lot of Silver Fox Architectural Salvage. It’s been some years since any eggs were to be found there. But when this article was written there was significant food wholesaling going on in the former lumber district, including the Central Warehouse (does anyone else miss the warehouse fire?) and a number of food wholesalers.

If it quacks like a duck

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Dr Teller.pngAgain from an 1872 edition of the Troy Daily Whig, we have an advertisement for the “Old Established Hospital” at 5 Beaver Street, quite near Broadway, in Albany. “Hospital” didn’t necessarily mean then what it means today, and in fact this was the practice of a single physician, or maybe not even that.

“Young men addicted to secret habits, who have impaired their health, and destroyed the vigor of their minds, thus depriving themselves of the pleasures of married life, are notified that in consulting Dr. Teller they will find a friend to console and a physician who has cured thousands in almost every part of the United States, who applied to Dr. T., broken down in health now rejoice in all that makes life desirable and man happy. The reader is of course aware that the delicacy of the subject will prevent a more minute description of this terrible disease.”

For just 25 cents, he’d give you his great work, including hundreds of secrets never before published. Persons at a distance can be cured at home!

“Dr.” Teller appears to have been trained by a charlatan named Ezra Reynolds. They both make an appearance in the story of Dr. Francis Tumblety, titled “Prince of Quacks.”

The “New Woman” Denounced

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Bishop Doane denounces the New Woman 1895.pngWilliam Croswell Doane: first Episcopal Bishop of Albany. Driving force behind the Cathedral of All Saints, the little church tucked underneath the State Education Building. Dead ringer for “The Princess Bride’s” Vizzini. His thoughts on women’s suffrage? “Inconceivable!”

As this 1895 article indicates, the Right Reverend  Doane was not such a fan of the ladies, at least not the newfangled ones. As “one of the most prominent anti-woman’s rights men in the country,” he felt the need to tell the graduating class of young women at Albany’s St. Agnes School, the Episcopal school at Elk and Hawk, that:

“One gets sick and tired of the way in which the talk of woman’s vocation fills the air, not merely in the wild vagaries of its blatant assumptions, but in the parade and push of its claims for recognition of what are called ‘its rights.’ I have had occasion to say what wrong to womanhood these woman’s rights would be, and I have no desire to recall a word.”

To be fair, he was only looking out for their best interests, concerned as he was that “constitutions shall have been altered, to disturb the equipoise of the relation between man and woman, when motherhood shall be replaced by mismanaged offices, when money shall buy the votes of women, as it does now themselves ….”

I think he called all women whores, there. So great that we’ve progressed, in just a century and change, to a time when no religious leader would presume to pronounce what is best for all women.

(This was also perhaps the last graduation speech in captivity in which the speaker told his audience not to aspire to change.)

State Normal School, 1909

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State Normal School 1909.jpgWe’ll wrap up what turned into “School Fortnight” with this 1909 view of the State Normal School. These are the three buildings, Administration, Science, and Auditorium, that started the school’s first true campus, after a long history of moving from one Albany building to another. Today, these are Draper Hall, Husted Hall, and Hawley Hall, and the State Normal School, once devoted to the training of teachers, is the SUNY Albany Downtown Campus.