Ten years of the Veggie Mobile...

The slow population arc of upstate


Check out the map embedded above depicting the era in which municipalities around the Northeast reached 3/4 of their current size. The green marks the era before 1855 -- and, as you can see, there's a lot of green around Upstate New York.

The map is the creation of Benjamin Schmidt, an assistant professor of history at Northeastern. He discusses the map over at his blog, touching on how it highlights the 19th century shift away from agriculture, the later de-industrialization, as well as the rise of suburbs -- and zooming out, one of the ways the Northeast is different from the rest of the country.

Anyway, this map reminded us a little bit of something one of the national consultants who worked on neighborhood-specific assessments for Rezone Albany said to us, that this part of the country is like the Europe of the United States -- there's a lot of history and slow growth. The challenge is finding a way to embrace that and work with it.

[via @sandypsj]

Halal options at Zaitoon Kitchen

zaitoon kitchen chicken wrap

By Deanna Fox

How bold is this claim: The best new dining hotspot in the Capital Region is that area around the Latham Circle.

I mean it. When was the last time you dined there? I bet you opened social media in the last week and found a photo of someone eating in that area. Superior Thai, Chinese, Eastern European, and pub food can all be found just off Exit 6.

Now there's halal food, too, with the recent addition of Zaitoon Kitchen, another example of why this spot is becoming a premier local food destination.

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Good swimming spots for dogs?

summer2008_otto_swimming.jpgLaura emails:

We added a puppy to our family this spring and now that the days are hot and humid, I was hoping someone would have a suggestion on where to take our pooch swimming. We are looking for a place where we wouldn't be breaking any laws by letting our guy in the water.

Following the rules is an important consideration, and we'll add another one: water quality.

So, got a suggestion for Laura and her dog? Please share! And sentence or two about why you're suggesting a spot can be helpful.

Move toward paid family leave for state employees, Troy police turmoil, Commisso takes top spot in mayoral race fundraising period, the principal who was "the man"

Paid family leave
New York State's new paid family leave law takes effect in 2018 -- but it doesn't apply to public employees, though a benefit could be available through collective bargaining. The Cuomo administration says it will offer the benefit to state employees starting January 1 if their unions choose to opt in. [TU]

Troy police
+ A look at the administrative-, discipline-, and labor-related strife involving the Troy Police Department right now. [TU]
+ Citing crime in Troy, state Assemblyman (and Rensselaer County exec candidate) Steve McLaughlin is criticizing the Cuomo admin for deploying 200 state troopers to New York City, which he says could compromise coverage of areas upstate. [Troy Record]

State Police in Albany
The Albany Police Department/State Police joint patrols are set to start this week. [Spectrum]

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Talking about the Veggie Mobile on its 10th anniversary

veggie mobile side

Capital Roots is celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Veggie Mobile -- its rolling green market on a truck -- with a party called The Big Veg this Friday, July 28 at the org's headquarters in Troy. There will be music from a bunch of acts, food trucks, and drinks.

The Veggie Mobile is an established part of the food landscape, making stops around the Capital Region each week, selling fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods that don't have easy access to such products.

But a decade ago?

"Everybody I talked with afterwards thought it was a crazy idea," Eric Krans said to us recently about taking the job back then. He helped start the program and headed it up for almost eight years.

Eric -- who's known as EJ on the Veggie Mobile -- has since moved on to a job at UAlbany, but he's still involved with Capital Roots. And he'll be playing The Big Veg as part of The Parlor, the band he and his wife, Jen O'Connor, have had for many years.

We got together with Eric to talk about the early days of The Veggie Mobile, the power of relationships, what it was like to move on from something he helped build, and what's up with The Parlor these days.

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The beautiful State Education Building will be open for regular public tours

State Education Building late sun 2016-September

The State Education Building will be open for public tours on the second Saturday of each month starting in August, the state Education Department has announced. Tour blurbage:

New York State Museum staff will lead the 45-minute Education Building tour, and visitors will have the opportunity to explore the historic Chancellors Hall, Regents Room and the Rotunda adorned with murals by Albany native Will H. Low. The State Education Building is located at 89 Washington Avenue, Albany. This is the first time the building has been made available for regular public tours since the State Museum and Library were moved from the Education Building to the Cultural Education Center in the 1970s.

The tours are being offered at 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm. They're free, but you must sign up ahead of time via the same site used to register for the Saturday state Capitol tours. The tours are limited to 25 people.

The State Education Building is beautiful, but, as mentioned above, the opportunity for the general public to get a look at the inside is rare.

Earlier: Saints vs. The State for Washington Avenue

Melancholy, arriving on track 2

union station waiting room   sept 1968  albany ny 1960s

Check out this photo of the old Union Station waiting room in downtown Albany, via the Albany Group Archive. It's dated to 1968, which is the same year the other train station opened across the river in the Rensselaer.

There isn't anything super remarkable about this photo, but there's something about the mood that caught us when we happened upon the pic, like the station itself was feeling melancholy. (Though we do kind of want to stop by the snack bar for a patty melt.)

The building, of course, is still in downtown Albany, but it's been used as offices for various companies for decades, and is now known as Kiernan Plaza. It's currently owned by SUNY Poly, though like with everything else related to that institution, there seems to be some uncertainty about the future.

As we've mentioned before, the Albany Group Archive on Flickr is an enormous rabbit hole of local history images. Start clicking through and you might not surface for days.

Earlier: Gawking at Kiernan Plaza

Colonial ice cream day at Crailo

Crailo State Historic Site Rensselaer exterior 2017-JulyThis could be interesting (and delicious): The Crailo State Historic Site is hosting a "Colonial Ice Cream Discovery Day" August 12. Blurbage:

[D]iscover how colonists in the Hudson River Valley prepared ice cream on hot summer days, long before electricity made it easy to keep things cold. Watch as interpreters in period costume use colonial era recipes, ice cream molds, and a reproduction 18th century ice cream maker called a sabotiere to prepare this summer treat the old fashioned way. A scavenger hunt will highlight items in the museum related to Dutch colonial dairy production, the sugar trade, and more. Visitors of all ages will also learn how to make their own ice cream at home, using basic ingredients and simple techniques.

The events are from noon-4 pm that Saturday. Admission is $3 / free for kids under 12. The museum's exhibits will also be on display that day.

The Crailo State Historic Site is in Rensselaer on the aptly-named Riverside Ave (there are some beautiful homes along that stretch). It was once a home for the Van Rensselaer family and now serves as a museum of colonial Dutch history in the Hudson Valley. It was named after the Van Rensselaer's estate in the Netherlands -- Crayloo or Cralo -- which meant "crows' wood" in Dutch.

Where to get a hybrid or electric car serviced?

electric vehicle charging station Market32

Mark emails:

I've been on the hunt for a mechanic that specializes/is-well-versed in electric/hybrid cars, but have failed to bag anything.
I have taken my traditional vehicle to a shop that I am very pleased with, but I hesitate to bring this new space-age vehicle to the same place, because...well, I don't know. Am I overthinking this? Is a car just car? ...
P.S. Dealerships are sure to be the knee-jerk answer to this, but, you know, they're dealerships.

This is something we hadn't really thought about before. And the fundamental question Mark seems like a good one: Is a hybrid or electric car "just" like any other car when it comes to getting it serviced, or is there special expertise involved.

So, got experience or thoughts or a suggestion on this topic? Please share! If you're recommending a shop, a sentence or two about why you're recommending a place can be helpful.

Earlier:
+ Capital Region Recommended Mechanics
+ New York State is now offering a rebate for electric cars

Scrutiny of health care in Albany County jail death, arrest in fatal Troy stabbing, spotlight on buildings at former convention center site, a big lift

Scrutiny of Albany County jail death
Brendan Lyons looks into the 2014 death of a man in the Albany County jail in an episode in which representatives of the private contractor running medical services at the jail appear to have let the man's condition spiral downward over many hours. [TU]

Shooting in Albany
Albany police say responding officers found two men with gunshot wounds in their legs Saturday night just off Second Ave (area map). [APD]

Arrest in fatal Troy stabbing
Troy police say they've arrested a 51-year-old man for the fatal stabbing in a residence on Oakwood Ave earlier this month. An hours-long standoff preceded the Friday night arrest. [Troy Record] [TU]

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The week ahead

Phantogram 2016

Phantogram is back in town for a show at The Egg this week.

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (cool start), to The Track, to the stage, to movies, to science, to art, to comedy, baseball, to music...

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A quick recap of the week

week review 2017-07-23

Here are a few highlights from the past week on AOA:

+ We took a few minutes to take in the murals in Rensselaer's Riverfront Park.

+ A chalked message in the street prompted another discussion about traffic safety in Albany.

+ A roundup of county fair season in the Capital Region, which has already started.

+ We gave away to tickets to Murder Mystery Night at the Takk House by asking: What's something mysterious about the Capital Region?

+ What was up in the Neighborhood this week: A festival of fungus, Thomas Elkins, William Seward, the Court of Appeals, churches, the Albany mayoral election, answers, trust, sharing food, Saratoga restaurants, French food, beer, and the magic pocket gene.

+ Greg on walking Myrtle Ave in Albany end to end, and a little bit about how walking changes the way we view a place.

+ KGB asked about people's local experiences using Lyft and Uber so far.

+ And a video critique of the 1 Monument Square design, and a quick thought about how we all discuss these sorts of things.

Here's the whole week in one place.

Thanks to everyone who posted a comment or shared an idea this week!

One critique of the proposed 1 Monument Square design, raised up one level

The conversation over the design of the proposed movie theater at 1 Monument Square is ramping up again, and will continue to do so as the project goes before the Troy Planning Commission July 26. [TU]

One of the criticism of the design is, essentially, a big, windowless box that blocks the river from the street (a wide outdoor stair would connect to the street level and riverfront).

So we thought the video clip embedded above was interesting -- it's by an architectural designer from Niskayuna named Tai Xi posted the design and video earlier this year as a way offering feedback. (It was highlighted by the We Care About the Square Twitter account this week.) In the design, the movie theater space would be raised up one level to create a covered plaza that extends from the the street out toward the river.

Here's a bit more about Xi's design, and a quick thought on how we all discuss these sorts of things...

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Experiences with Uber and Lyft so far?

Lyft app screenshots side by sideKGB emails:

I was wondering if any of your readers have tried ride sharing locally, and if they wanted to comment on their experiences. I'm going from Albany to an event in Berne. I'd love to be able to have more than one drink (old friends, good times). Should I try?

We're curious about people's experiences so far, too -- specifically about prices for trips and wait times, and whether you picked Uber or Lyft (and why).

So, if you tried one of these services locally, please share!

Stuff to do this weekend

elvis costello

Elvis Costello is at Brewery Ommegang this weekend / photo: Andy Gotts

Hi there. Welcome to a midsummer weekend's list of stuff to do. Pick a few things that sound fun to you, or just read it under a tree with a glass of lemonade.

If you're doing something you don't see on our list, share it in the comment sections so everyone can see.

And whatever you're up to, remember your sunscreen, and have a fantastic weekend.

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Sentencing in murder of Troy official, fatal fire in Saratoga Springs, surge of applications for Excelsior Scholarship, a medium-sized key to the city

Sentencing in murder of Troy official
Joseph Vandenburgh -- convicted of fatally stabbing Troy city offical Bill Chamberlain near his home in North Greenbush -- was sentenced to 35 years to life in prison Friday morning. [TU]

Fatal fire in Saratoga Springs
One woman died, and a man suffered serious injuries, in a fire in a residence in the Geyser Crest section of Saratoga Springs Thursday. A Navy veteran who was staying a nearby home kicked down the door and rescued the man from the fire. The man's wife had a leg injury and had trouble moving. Four dogs also died. [Saratogian] [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Spectrum]

Excelsior Scholarship
The deadline for applying for the new free-tuition Excelsior Scholarship is Friday night, and the state has already gotten more than 75,000 applications -- and more than 40,000 of the applicants have been notified they're eligible. The Cuomo admin budgeted for about 23,000 qualifiers -- and officials say they still think many who are eligible won't end up accepting. [Politico NY] [TU]

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The return of the blue snowflakes

Karner Blue butterfly Albany Pine Bush

The Albany Pine Bush is an unusual example of an inland pine barrens, and it's one of the few homes to an unusual inhabitant: The tiny, beautiful -- and endangered -- Karner Blue butterfly. And it's making a comeback.

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission announced Thursday that conservation efforts in recent decades have apparently had a big effect on Karner Blue populations in the Pine Bush. In 2007, the preserve was estimated to have fewer than 1,000 of the butterflies. And in 2016: more than 15,000.

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New York State Bike Summit

New York State Bike Summit logo 2017

The first New York State Bike Summit will be at the Hearst Media Center* September 15. Blurbage:

This Summit will provide a forum for advocates, industry, policy makers, government officials at all levels, planners and engineers, allied environmental and other non-profit organizations as well as concerned individuals to meet, network, strategize and prepare for the transformation of New York into a leading state for safe and shared bicycling, pedestrian and active transportation.
Biking is on the rise in NYS. The challenges facing the bike movement have shifted from explaining why biking is important to how we can move toward more complete, shared and connected roads and trails throughout New York State. This cultural shift has primed the state for a "big tent" event - bringing together advocates, planners, engineers, public officials, legislators, business interests, concerned citizens, environmental and conservation interests, and law enforcement.

The attendance fee is $110. It's an all-day event -- here's the schedule of talks, panels, and whatnot. It looks like there will be a bunch of interesting bike-related topics up for discussion, many that often pop up here. It's organized by the New York Bicycling Coalition.

* It's the new venue Hearst built to host events at the Times Union building on Albany Shaker Rd near the north end of Wolf Rd.

Walking Myrtle Ave, end to end

Myrtle Ave at Grand Street

Where Myrtle Ave starts at Grand Street.

By Greg

One of the best ways to get to know a city is to walk it. That's true for cities in which you've just arrived -- and cities in which you've lived for years. It'll change how you see a place.

And to have the chance to walk across a city, mile after mile, at a leisurely pace, taking in what's around you? That is a rare opportunity. You might even consider it a luxury in a time-crunched world.

One morning during AOA's recent summer break, I had a block of blessedly free hours. So I got together some friends and we walked Myrtle Ave in Albany -- one end all the way to the other.

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Here's how New York State's new paid family leave program will work

NYS paid family leave explainer site screengrab

A screengrab from the state's explainer site.

New York State's new paid family leave program will allow people to start taking leave January 1. And this week the Cuomo admin released a walkthrough of how the program will work. Press release blurbage:

Starting January 1, 2018, Paid Family Leave will provide employees with wage replacement and job protection to help them bond with a child, care for a close relative with a serious health condition, or help relieve family pressures when someone is deployed abroad on active military service. Employees are also entitled to be reinstated to their job when their leave ends and to the continuation of their health insurance during their leave.

The program will be phased in over the next four years. Starting in 2018, employees will be able to take eight weeks of leave at 50 percent of their weekly wage. Those numbers will increase annually until 2021, when it's 12 weeks at 67 percent.

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Recent Comments

Mine is a plug-in hybrid, and so perhaps I didn't have as much angst about this question as I might have with a wholly electric vehicle, but I had full confidence in Larry's Foreign Auto from their work on my prior vehicle, and they were not daunted by a hybrid. ...

Good swimming spots for dogs?

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Talking about the Veggie Mobile on its 10th anniversary

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Where to get a hybrid or electric car serviced?

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Melancholy, arriving on track 2

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Experiences with Uber and Lyft so far?

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