Category Archives: Albany

The Cans Opened.

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Can’t resist another ad from Thepure Baking Powder Company. Hoxsie agrees that ladies should know which baking powder retains its strength until used, and that the housewives of the land are fit to decide upon the proper course to pursue. 8.33 percent more leavening gas than the Royal! How much leavening gas would your baking powder create in the middle of a hot loaf? Well?

Comment is unnecessary. All grocers sell Thepure.

Thepure Baking Powder

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Wow. From the land of overheated advertising copy comes this wonder from “The New Albany,” Vol. 1, No. 1 (and perhaps the only one) from Brandow Publishing, 1891. And right on the front page is this paean to the marvels of baking powder. “If there is any one product of the New Albany in which its citizens take pardonable pride, it is THEPURE BAKING POWDER. Two years ago the name was unknown — it was not even invented . . .”

“Backed by Albany capital, pushed with Albany enterprise, and indorsed by twenty thousand Albany house-keepers, it was sent broadcast into the world with the home stamp of hearty approval.”


This marvel of Albaniness was made by the Albany Baking Powder Co. at 17-19 Green Street.  Why was it “Thepure”? Because it was free from adulteration, and no alum. There are still collectible trade cards to be found on the internet, and this wonderful old receipt.


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Another wonderful ad from Hoxsie! George W. Hoxsie, “The Genuine Original,” ran the largest bottling establishment outside of New York (well, if it weren’t true he couldn’t print it, right?) at 25 Hamilton Street in Albany. That’s either the land of parking lots now, or it’s just possible that the Hoxsie bottling plant still stands. More research must be done!

Joel Munsell

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It’s not possible to be interested in Albany history and not to owe a debt of gratitude to Joel Munsell. He was a Massachusetts native who came to Albany in 1827 and established himself as a printer and publisher. In 1850 he began the publication of his “Annals of Albany,” which along with numerous other publications preserved the history of this ancient city at it was known in the mid-19th century. We happened upon his tombstone in Albany Rural Cemetery today while out for a bike ride. It’s been 131 years since his passing, and yet he is one of the authors I read the most. That seems accomplishment enough.

If you want to know more about the man, the wonder of Google books, which  presents us with his “Annals,” also presents us with a brief biographical sketch.

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Albany Beef

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In my experience, no one who has ordered a fish dinner in Albany, least of all someone who has ordered it in a pleasant riverside setting, appreciates being reminded that sturgeon were once so plentiful and such an important part of the food supply that they were referred to without irony as “Albany Beef,” nor do they appreciate the intimation that that fish fry on their plate might have more river sturgeon than ocean haddock to it. But once they’re fried they all taste the same.
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The Railroad Fireman’s Dream

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The Albany Journal printed an article in August, 1884 titled “The Railroad Fireman’s Dream”:

“A remarkable accident occurred to Mr. Douglass M. Irish, a resident of No. 49 Colonie-street, about 10:30 o’clock Wednesday night. He is employed as a fireman on the Central Railroad, and as he sat asleep by an open window he dreamed that he heard a shrill whistle of danger from a locomotive, which was blowing for a signal to cross the upper bridge. Instantly, without awakening, he leaped forward through the window, dreaming that it was his own engine, and that he was to reverse its motion. He landed about 10 feet below upon the sidewalk, at the very edge of an embankment 10 feet high. Several persons who resided down stairs were sitting upon the piazza near by and saw the man fall. When they reached him he was unable to rise. He sustained serious injuries both to his knee-pan and internally.”

Just a note for those who don’t know — a railroad fireman makes fires, he doesn’t put them out. The “upper bridge” is the Livingston Avenue Bridge, which features prominently in local history and my psyche. And the thought that there could be anything that would be described as a “piazza” on Colonie Street is a little mind-bending.