Friday, January 9, 2015

"Mont Pleasant's Main Street": A Look Back at Crane Street

Postcard of Crane Street, ca. 1915. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Postcard Collection. 

In a long letter of reminiscences about the Mont Pleasant neighborhood in Schenectady to Schenectady Gazette reporter Larry Hart, S.S. Stern wrote that Crane Street "always has been Mont Pleasant's main street." Stern listed a number of businesses that populated Crane Street in the 1920s and 1930s, from Hank Fligel's drugstore at the corner of Crane Street and Main Street, to Harry Checheck's department store at Crane Street and Fifth Street, to the Van Dyke Coffee Shop on Crane Street between Fourth Street and Main Street.

The neighborhood was first populated around the turn of the century. Italian and, especially, Polish immigrants flocked to the neighborhood, which was more spacious than other city wards. By 1910, more foreign-born Polish people resided in Mont Pleasant (the Ninth Ward of the city) than in any of the city's other wards. Hungarian and Czech families also moved to the neighborhood during the early 20th century.

The Mont Pleasant neighborhood lies roughly between the CSX railroad line to the west; to the east by Interstate 890; the Rotterdam town line serves as the neighborhood's southern boundary; Broadway serves as its northern boundary. Crane Street runs through the neighborhood, from Broadway to the Rotterdam town line.

Shared here are a number of historic photographs of Crane Street. Interested in learning more about the history of Schenectady through photographs? Visit our Library or contact our Librarian.

The intersection of Crane Street and Van Velsen Street around the turn of the 20th century. "Stop paying rent," a billboard proclaims. "Own your own home -- Buy a building lot." Home construction in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood accelerated around 1900. An Evening Star article from 1899 noted that "the sound of saw and hammer [could be] heard on all sides of the hill suburb." Image from Larry Hart Collection.    

The intersection of Crane Street and Chrisler Avenue, looking south, ca. 1915. From the neighborhood's earliest days, this has been one of Crane Street's major commercial intersections. Image from Larry Hart Collection. 

Mont Pleasant neighborhood residents crowd outside the Empire Market at 1012 Crane Street for the business' grand opening on April 5, 1950. Image from Larry Hart Collection. 

The Crane Street railroad overpass bridge in 1957. The J.C. Dearstine Lumber Company, on nearby Catalyn Street, is visible in the background. Image from Larry Hart Collection. 

The intersection of Crane Street and Chrisler Avenue, looking north on Crane Street, in 1965. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 


  1. I grew up here in the 60s and 70s. The surprising thing is how recognisable it is even in the oldest photos!

  2. Its since lost most of its luster unfortunately.

  3. Great photos. I grew up in Mt Pleasant on Third Ave. 😢