Albany's rooftop U-haul

uhaul building

Hey, how'd that get up there?

By Jessica Pasko

You've seen it from 787, from Rensselaer, from the port of Albany.

Sure, by now it may just be a part of the A-Town landscape, but when you first noticed it you thought, "How the hell did they get that thing up there?" A big moving truck? On top of a seven-story U-Haul storage building in downtown Albany?

Any guesses? I finally broke down and asked.

Turns out, it's not a real truck, and well, I'm a little disappointed about that. It might look like a truck on the outside, but inside, you'll find no motor or any other workings. It's just a shell. A shell that got a little bit of a makeover last year.

Yep, if you thought something was missing in the skyline, you were right. The three-ton, full-size, gutless truck was removed from it's 20-foot metal post on the top of the old Albany Iron building and fitted with a new motor to make it spin. Apparently when the truck was originally installed on the roof about 30 years ago, it was intended to spin but the mechanism that made it go kept burning out when winds were strong. It also got a little bit of cleaning and some new decals.

So it's not a real truck, but at least it's one of a kind, right? Almost. The design is reportedly found on only two other U-Haul rooftops in the country.

Still, for my money, Nipper makes a much cooler local landmark.

Find It

U-haul truck
139 Broadway-- look up.
Albany, NY 12202


Motor or not, it's still impressive. I still kinda wish it was a giant weathervane.

So there really is a truck up there. Never looked... usually too busy trying to avoid the pot holes.

> Turns out, it's not a real truck,

Shocking :)
Turns out, Nipper is not a real stuffed animal either :)

Jessica, I heard a rumor that the boat weathervane on top of the SUNY admin building was big enough to fit a person. I challenge you to find out if that's true...

Sorry, Jess, but they lied to you. It was me-- I put it up there. I'm just a really bad driver.

@Katherine: The rumor is true. The boat weathervane on top of the SUNY admin building is actually a to scale replica of Henry Hudson's Halfmoon. If taken down, it would be large enough to fit at least 1 person. Now, I don't have any literature to back this up but, I used to work for a tour company in Albany and that was part of the tour (which was very well researched and documented by someone before being put together...just not me).

Thanks, Emma! Do you know how they got it up there? Crane?

When I was a little kid I loved the "houses with stuff on top" (as I called them). The Halfmoon replica atop the D&H Building, U-Haul and Nipper where practically characters from my youth.

The Halfmoon is big enough to fit a person? REALLY?! It doesn't look THAT big...

I'm not really sure how it got up there. I have to assume that it was a crane. Although a friend on mine goes by the theory that it was really small when they put it up there and then it expanded when it rained like one of those bathtub toys. Of course, he also says they put Nipper up there when he was a puppy. I know that at least once a year it gets an inspection which is interesting to see if you can catch it.

I gotta admit, I did feel a little bit exploited when I noticed the truck spinning around. Like it was selling out the city's subtle character. It would be like FAO Schwartz opening a store underneath Nipper & wiring him up to dance to the Jonas Brothers.

It's better than leaving it on their front lawn, like so many of our countrymen.

To be honest, I always felt it was more of an eyesore than a landmark.

From the SUNY website:

"The weathervane located at the top of the center tower of the building was also designed by Reynolds. It is a replica of the Half Moon, the ship that Henry Hudson sailed to the site of Albany in 1609. Local legend has it that the Half Moon landed on the place now occupied by the D & H building, which is why Reynolds chose the ship. According to the Smithsonian Institution, it is the largest working weathervane in the United States. Its dimensions are 6' 9" in length, and 8' 10" high, keel to tip of mast; it weighs approximately 400 pounds. It was manufactured by James Akroyd and Sons of Albany and was installed on January 26, 1915."

I always thought the truck was an artifact from some horrible, horrible elevated cloverleaf accident, left there to remind us all to slow down around that curve ...

actually my father put it up there,I was a little kid at the time and he owned a towing business in Troy and rented UHauls,I can't remember exactly how it was done and to be honest we moved to Az in 81 and I forgot about it but I visited the area in 99 and my cousins took us to a museum there and you could see it out the window and my cousin who is my parent's age said,remember when your father put that up there and I did have a vague recollection.So it was somehow done with a towtruck!

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