Today it's an unassuming office building. But if the walls of the old Kenmore Hotel on Pearl Street could talk, they'd tell stories of bootleggers, big bands and gangsters.
Here's a little of the back story:
In the late 1920s, when Prohibition was in its full throes, bootlegger Jack "Legs" Diamond was part of the New York street gang called the Hudson Dusters (If the name sounds familiar, it may be because there was a bar named after them in Troy).
Legs Diamond traveled up and down the Hudson quite a bit and was a frequent patron of the Kenmore's night club "The Rain-bo Room." The club was named for The Rainbow Room in NYC and had a sort of contract deal where performers would come up to Albany to play after playing in New York.
Anyway, back to Legs. After spending a couple years in jail for federal charges stemming from a kidnapping in Catskill, he was put on trial in Troy for the theft of a rival bootleg truck. The day he was acquitted, he headed to the Rain-Bo Room for a celebration. It would be his last. That night he was murdered in a Dove Street boarding house. No one knows exactly who killed him, but there was suspicion that local Albany political big wig Dan O'Connell may have ordered the city police to do it. Other suspects include longtime rival Dutch Schultz and local thugs, the Oley Brothers. Diamond's wife was murdered two years later.
The building's storied past has given way to a comparatively boring present. For a while The Albany College of Pharmacy used the hotel for their banquets and one of the college's fraternities, Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, held dances in the Rain-Bo. These days it houses offices and retail space.
If you want more of the glory days of the Kenmore and characters like Legs Diamond, you're best bet is to check out "Legs" and the other novels in William Kennedy's Albany cycle. Then find a patio table with a view of The Kenmore building, order up a highball and read.
The Kenmore Building
74 North Pearl Street
Albany , NY 12207
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