Thursday, September 19, 2013

Days Gone By on Albany Street

Grocery store on Albany Street, circa 1910. Photograph from Larry Hart Collection. 

Albany Street, and its cross streets from Schenectady Street up to Edward Street, has been associated with the scores of German immigrant families who moved there as the city expanded from the 1880s to the 1920s. Many German-American organizations, such as the Turnverein and Liederkranz, maintained their halls and offices on or near Albany Street. People frolicked and gathered in nearby Brandywine Park, which had its entrance where Albany Street met Elm Street.

Family members cluster in the windows of the grocery and home of Henry J. Terpening at 912 Albany Street and the home of John Begley, 910 Albany Street, around 1890.  Photograph from Larry Hart Collection. 

Hazel Swartz Forst, who lived most of her 90 years on Albany Street, remembered her early childhood days at what is now 1344 Albany Street, around 1900: "Across the street from us was a pine grove . . . the pine needles on the ground were so thick and smooth, we kids could slide on them. The street wasn't paved -- all dirt -- and after a heavy rain the mud was all gooey and we kids had fun walking in the road, much to the chagrin of our mothers."

A 1915 view of businesses on Albany Street, near the intersection of Brandywine Avenue. Photograph from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 

Adelaide O'Connor, whose mother grew up on Albany Street, shared recollections of visits to the Albany Street Pork Store (then Kemner's) and of the delicious apple kuchen at Pitts' Bakery on Schenectady Street. The Grau family also ran a popular bakery called the Rolling Pin Bakery, on Albany Street near the corner of Craig Street. Gert Purcell remembered Gus Grau, a German immigrant, making "absolutely delicious" coffee cakes, cookies, bread, and rolls. "We'd go in about every day," Purcell recalled. "They were very warm, wonderfully warm people, always ready to hand a child a cookie."

The hall maintained by the German-American gymnastic club Schenectady Turnverein, ca. 1905. The building, located at 837 Albany Street, was also known as Turn Halle or Turner Hall. Photograph from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 

Albany Street near the intersection of Paige Street, circa 1945. Photograph from Larry Hart Collection. 

Hazel Forst also remembered the water tower that was on Albany Street, between Hulett and Schenectady Streets. Made obsolete in 1914 by the construction of the Bevis Hill Reservoir, it was torn down in 1928. After the tower was taken down, Forst recalled, "we missed all the shade it gave us that kept us cool in summer."

This water tower once stood on the south side of Albany Street, between Hulett Street and Schenectady Street. It was demolished in 1928. Photograph from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 

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