The Charm House

In 1938, a builder named Primomo was advertising the “Charm House” in the Times-Union. Built in a newly developed section off New Scotland Avenue, these homes featured six rooms (!), copper piping, insulation, a basement lavatory and air conditioning. What did they mean by “restricted community”? Not sure if that was racial or religious, but …

Plus ça change

Around the turn of the century (no, the other century), there was some discussion of the City of Albany setting up a municipal insurance scheme. Similar to other public utilities, fire and hazard insurance for businesses and residences would be provided  by the city government. This came at a time when private insurance was hardly …

Columbia Safety Bicycles

This has nothing whatsoever to do with Albany, Schenectady or Troy history. However, my first two bicycles were Columbia bicycles, and so I was delighted to find this ad for Columbia Safety Bicycles, from the Pope Manufacturing Company of 77 Franklin Street, Boston, Massachusetts, in an 1890 edition of Scribner’s magazine. How fortunate that they …

Guns and automobiles

From the Schenectady Gazette,  December 31, 1923, comes this handy little fact about the driving and shooting inhabitants of Rensselaer County. 5,000 permits to carry revolvers had been issued throughout Rensselaer County. “Virtually all of these permits, it is said, were issued to persons who drive automobiles.” I have no idea what to make of …

Let your vital force flow

1923: Patent medicines were still going strong, and the practice of chiropractic, often tinged with quackery, claims that nerve pressure prevents the all-important Vital Force from reaching your organs. It has a diagram, so it must be scientific. The Friedman Building, where L.S. Blair practiced in Schenectady, is long since gone. It’s now the site …

Bureaucracy, 1844

Back in 1844, the Mayor of Albany was Friend Humphrey, a leather merchant whose home in Colonie still exists. The City Council was made up of two aldermen per ward. That much sounds pretty much like government today. But among the city officers were a number of positions that, for better or worse, no longer …

What to Wear on the Head

Apparently in 1894, what to wear on the head was a very important question with ladies, just at present. Frear, of Frear’s Troy Cash Bazaar, was quite willing to enlighten, if only you would pay a visit to his new and popular millinery department. And with every purchase over $5: souvenir spoons! A Google search …