As usual, the big fireworks display on the Fourth of July is at the Empire State Plaza. But because of construction at the State Museum end of the plaza, things are a little unusual this year.
The events for this year's July 4th celebration will be focused on the north end of the plaza -- AKA, the Capitol end. There's no seating at that end of the plaza, so the state Office of General Services is asking people to bring lawn chairs.
The image to the right is the plaza layout for this year's celebration -- don't worry, there's a larger version after the jump.
The events at the ESP start Saturday at 3 pm with a naturalization ceremony. Then it's music from 3:45 pm through 8 o'clock. (The headliner this year is South Side Johnny & The Asbury Jukes.) Fireworks are at 9:15 pm.
Road closures/parking restrictions: Here's the list of road closures and parking restrictions related the ESP event, from the Albany police department. (Note that some of the start Friday and really early Saturday).
The fireworks display draws a big crowd. So if you don't have to drive, we'd suggest either walking or taking the bus. CDTA will be providing extra service after the fireworks from the Washington Ave side of the Capitol.
Filed under "One of the no doubt many things we didn't know about NYS tax law": US flags, as well as many other types of flags, are exempt from sales tax in New York State, as are accessories sold along with the flags for their display. (So... flags are not sandwiches, apparently.) [NYS Department of Taxation and Finance]
A few months back as part of an AOA birthday week drawing asked people to name something that's a highlight o f their neighborhood. And there were a lot of things mentioned.
You can probably guess some of the things mentioned, either because they're popular or prominent. But there were also a lot of other things mentioned that are smaller or more out of the way, so maybe they're new to you.
Because we got so many suggestions, we figured it'd be useful to fold them into a clickable map.
The long days of summer are a good time to explore new areas -- so maybe the map will help you find a few new places to check out...
The state Department of Conservation announced this week that it will be restricting public access to Kaaterskill Falls in Greene County starting July 6 and running through the rest of the summer. DEC says the closure is that work on trail and safety upgrades can be completed. From the press release:
Access to the falls will only be allowed from the Kaaterskill Falls trailhead located on NY Route 23A. DEC will prohibit public access past the wooden fences at the base of the falls. The Laurel House Road parking area near the top of the falls will be closed and visitors will not have access to Kaaterskill Falls from the parking area for the remainder of the hiking season. Individuals found trespassing in construction areas will be ticketed by law enforcement personnel.
DEC staff and contractors will construct a new foot trail from the end of the marked Kaaterskill Falls trail at the base of the falls to the Escarpment trail at the top of the falls. This 0.2-mile trail will include construction of a new, approximately 260-foot stone staircase, with 200 stone steps.
In addition, an approximately 300-foot spur trail will lead from the staircase to a point above the middle pool of the falls. At the end of this trail, DEC and its contractors will install another shorter set of stone stairs to provide access to the middle pool area. The stone staircase will be designed to blend in with the natural stone of the area at a location that will limit its visibility from below. DEC will also build a fully accessible trail that leads to an accessible viewing area and overlook platform at the top of the falls.
The new trails and stone staircase will accommodate the public's desire for access to a better view of Kaaterskill Falls and the middle pool area, while also protecting public safety. In recent years, DEC has taken additional steps to prevent people from continuing past the end of the marked Kaaterskill Falls trail, including an increased number of signs warning of potential risks, but some people ignored the warnings and put themselves in danger by continuing past the fence at the end of the trail.
The falls are an impressive, beautiful site, and they're a popular hiking spot, just about an hour south of Albany. (It's one of those not-a-lot-of-effort/big-payoff hikes.) They've also been the scene of multiple deaths -- Watershed Post fills in some of the context.
Here's one we thought this one was interesting -- it's about the massive chilling system for the plaza, which relies on water pumped from the Hudson River and power from the steam generation plant over in Sheridan Hollow. The system cools 10 million square feet of space at the ESP. The plant could theoretically cool about 9,000 homes, according to the video.
By the way: The water in the reflecting pools at the ESP is also from the Hudson River.
New superintendent and rules for Clinton County, Malcolm Smith gets 7 years, dog runs for mayor of Schenectady
The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has announced that the Clinton County superintendent has been replaced with a former first deputy from Elmira Correctional Facility. Part of his job will be to enforce new rules, which include the closing of the honor block from which Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped. Meanwhile other inmates from Sweat and Matt's honor block are complaining about abuse in the wake of the escape. [TU][WNYT][NYT][WNYT]
David Sweat could be discharged from Albany Med by the end of the week[WNYT]
Richard Matt's family has finally agreed to claim the convicted killer's body. [WNYT]
How the search for Richard Matt and David Sweat helped the Dannemora economy. [NYT]
Smith gets 7 years
Former Senate Majority leader Malcolm Smith was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday for trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ticket for the 2013 New York City Mayoral Race. [TU][NYT]
Complaints about Cuomo
It seems NYC Mayor Bill DiBlasio isn't the only Democrat who is frustrated with Andrew Cuomo.[NYT]
The latest iteration of the third major attempt to redevelopment the 1 Monument Square site is down to a one building.
The development team aiming to build a residential/restaurant/farmers' market project on the prime spot in downtown Troy presented its latest plan Tuesday night to the Troy Planning Commission. And the commission gave the site plan a preliminary approval.
So, let's have a look.
A local author/historian is researching the backstory on the names of Albany's streets. All of them.
Schlimmer is posting updates and historical bits on a Facebook page for the project. Here's a sample:
Many streets in Albany, especially those downtown, do not retain their original names. Eagle Street is named for our national bird, a symbol of freedom and patriotism. It used to be called Duke Street after the Duke of Albany of the British royal family. Out with the British and in with the Americans.
Given all the histories of Albany, it's kind of surprising this hasn't been done before. It's total history nerd candy.
Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: patriotism, the media, art, crypto currency, a relay, Buck Mountain, the Ice Meadows, Venus and Jupiter, a culinary tour, disappointing mac 'n cheese, banh mi bread, serviceberries, and adulting.
This year's weather had been tracking along a path toward one of the driest years on record for the Albany area.
Then June happened.
The chart above was generated on the NWS Albany website -- it shows the normal accumulated precipitation for January through June (brown line), the accumulation for 2015 (green), and the highest and lowest accumulated precipitations on record (blue and red). You can see how this June marked a significant upturn in local rainfall.
June's rainfall total was 6.7 inches -- almost three inches more than the typical amount for the month. It was one of the wetter Junes on record for the Albany area.
This year is still about 3 inches (about 17 percent) short of the typical rainfall total to date for the Albany area.
For weather nerds: The NWS Albany website now has an easy-to-use option for looking up local historical weather data and generate graphs from it.
A dozen employees suspended at Dannemora in wake of escape, Saratoga County shooting ruled suicide by police, planning ahead for Avian Flu
Twelve employees were suspended from the Clinton County Correctional facility, including Superintendent Steven Racette, two deputy superintendents and nine corrections officers.[TU]
More breakout details
+David Sweat has told authorities that he and Richard Matt were sawing through the cell walls for about six months before their escape from Clinton Correctional facility, and that he did a dry run of the escape the night before. [NYT]
+Sweat told police no power tools were used in the escape, just hand tools and a sledgehammer. [WNYT]
+Sweat also told authorities that police almost caught him twice in the three week search, and that one officer walked by a tree he was hiding in. [News 10]
+Five days after he was killed by law enforcement officials, Richard Matt's body has still not been claimed from the Franklin county Coroner.[TU]
Meanwhile, inside Dannemora
Some prisoners are claiming they were violently assaulted by authorities in an effort to obtain information about the escape. [TWCN]
One report now shows that Clinton Correctional facility has had a history of violence by staff. But some officers say the escape doesn't surprise them because a fear of lawsuits and a push for inmate rights has limited guards. [TWCN][TWCN]
Have a Nice Day:the movie
Chris Churchill is already planning the movie version of the escape.
It takes a lot of chutzpah to start a hotdog joint in the Capital Region.
We know our hotdogs, especially mini dogs. While other parts of the state have their own spins on hotdogs -- Plattsburgh: Michigans, Syracuse: white hots, New York City: dirty water dogs -- mini dogs are the exclusive claim of the Capital Region. Others try to replicate, but few meet the standards we find here.
And as it is, we already have enough mini dog eateries to keep us well-stocked. From Famous Lunch to Ted's Fish Fry, one doesn't have to look far to find a decent mini dog.
But now there is one more: Pete's Pups, in Rotterdam. And while it may be easy to overlook a new kid in preference for an experienced veteran, this underdog doesn't just bark, it bites with full force, too.
Over at NY Mag there's a long profile of Lyft, the taxi-app service that's
The realization of your lifelong dream of owning a train caboose approaches: New York State is selling an old caboose via its state surplus eBay account. The auction ends Friday at 9 am. Current bid is... $81. (There's an unlisted reserve price.)
The caboose is currently at the Allan Treman State Marine Park in Ithaca and would need to be picked up by the buyer. Its condition is listed as as "poor" and "for parts or not working." And, judging from the photos, it does appear to be rough shape. It's being sold as is.
Bonus: The sale of the caboose includes 32 feet of train track.
Curious about the history of the caboose, we did some poking around and found a 2008 park master plan from a few years back that mentioned a caboose -- acquired from the state Office of Mental Health in Elmira -- as a potential trail interpretive and local railroad history center.
photo: NYS surplus eBay
There's a boom in solar energy installations right now, including in the residential market. And all sorts of companies have popped up offering home installations -- we see reps from various companies around the Capital Region all the time. But most people have never hired a contractor for a job like this, so there's a lot to learn.
That's one of the reasons an effort called Solarize Albany is interesting (there are similar efforts in other parts of the Capital Region). It's a cooperative effort to pick a solar contractor and buy at a bulk price. Blurbage:
The Solarize Albany campaign is on an approach developed by the Department of Energy (DOE) in 2007, supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and now being adopted by hundreds of communities around the Country. This is not a commercial venture. Rather it is a cooperative venture where purchasing is done on a bulk basis to bring down costs from a commercial installer. In addition, volunteers help people to understand solar energy. Public presentations are being scheduled, where questions about solar energy are answered. At these presentations, the specifics of how to request a solar proposal for your home are shared.
The project has picked Apex Solar as this year's installer. There's a kickoff event for Solarize Albany at the The Linda July 9 at 6:30 pm.
Even if you decide Solarize Albany way isn't the right choice for you, we're guessing the event will include a lot of info about the sorts of decisions someone interesting installing home solar needs to make. (Leasing or buying is a big one.)
As mentioned, there are also the ongoing a Solarize Troy and the new Solarize Saratoga. Solarize Troy has a string of events and info sessions listed on its website. And Solarize Saratoga's official launch is July 8.
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: Residential rooftop solar options?
One of the takeaways of an analysis of on-time flight arrivals and departures for ALB by the Biz Review's Todd Kehoe: avoid flying through O'Hare. Over at FiveThirtyEight Nate Silver recently called O'Hare "a nightmare for delays" after a large analysis of on-time flight performance around the country. [Biz Review] [FiveThirtyEight x2]
If you listen to the first three tracks and don't feel better about the day... then there's not a lot of hope for this day.
It looks like Oobleck's next local show July 29 at The Ruck in Troy.
More details on Dannemora escapees' flight and the search for them, "officer-invovled" fatal shooting in Saratoga County, long lines for Sonic
A few bits are surfacing about Richard Matt and David Sweat's time on the run. Andrew Cuomo said on the Capitol Pressroom that Matt and Sweat had split up days before they were captured, apparently because Sweat thought Matt was slowing him down. Cuomo also said the escapees' original plan was to allegedly meet Joyce Mitchell outside the prison and head for Mexico -- when Mitchell didn't show up, the plan changed to run toward Canada. [Capitol Pressroom] [TU]
+ Details are also emerging about the mechanics of the search for the two escapees, which the New York Times reports started off slowly, with a lack of communication and organization. [NYT]
+ "Law enforcement officials briefed on the probe" tell CNN, and "one official with knowledge of the matter" tells NYT, that the FBI has opened a corruption investigation into employees and inmates at the Clinton Correctional Facility. [CNN] [NYT]
+ "People briefed on the matter but not authorized to comment" tell the Times Union that the superintendent of the Clinton Correctional Facility and some other leaders of the prison have been placed on administrative leave. [TU]
+ Larry Levine -- who served 10 years in prison and is the founder and director of Wall Street Prison Consultants -- told TWCN he thinks "the staff at Clinton Correctional are sweating David Sweat" because the now-captured escapee knows about the inner workings and problems of the facility. [TWCN]
+ On Monday Albany Med announced that Sweat has been upgraded to serious condition, and doctors have determined he doesn't require surgery at this time. A Syracuse-area trauma surgeon tells the Times Union it's
Even the tiny wild daisies seemed less than convinced of this recent stretch of summer.
Testifying before the Senate on September 25, 1974, former New York State Governor and then-vice presidential nominee Nelson A. Rockefeller made at least two demonstrably false statements about the 98-acre area demolished for what was then called the South Mall and is now known as the Empire State Plaza. (Our thanks to Jack McEneny for bringing this testimony to our attention.)
First, Rockefeller declared that that the area "was one of the worst slums in the United States," asserting that it suffered from a distressingly high rate of infant mortality. Second, he estimated the area's population to be 9,000 persons.
In fact, these 40 blocks were home to a diverse population of 7,000 persons. And it was not one big "slum."
And you can always try searching for it: