Block by block, Washington Place is back together

washington place troy

The new/old street -- level again.

How do you rebuild a street? In the case of Troy's Washington Place, the answer is: one stone at a time.

The street -- which runs along the picturesque (and private) Washington Park in Troy -- is made up of Belgian block pavers (sort of like cobblestones, but square and a regular size), that were first laid during the 1800s. About 35,000 pavers. And reconstruction of the road required every one of the pavers to be removed and then re-installed -- by hand, like installing a giant patio.

When the street got to be in such bad shape that it was nearly impassable (undulating would have been a kind word), the Washington Park Association rallied support to preserve the pavers -- and the historic look of the streetscape. Now the association reports the job is finished. The official ribbon cutting will be August 3.

WPA reports that the job cost $200k, and a handful of organization contributed services -- including the City of Albany, which donated 8,000 pavers to replace blocks that had broken.

Here's a photoset covering the reconstruction project.

photo courtesy of TAP, Inc via Duncan Crary Communications

Find It

Washington Place reconstruction
Washington Place
Troy, NY 12180


Why is the city of albany donating money to improve the view from rich people's houses in troy?

A house on Washington Park is currently on the market for about a half million dollars. It's an amazing building, but these people should pay for their own cutesy quirky cobblestones if they want them.

I hope at the very least the city of Albany extracted 8,000 pavers worth of access to their private park

@Ike: I suspect the blocks were left over from another project in the city. I don't know that for a fact, though.

Anyone from Albany can drive or walk on it anytime they want to!

Seems to me that the park itself and the residences facing it -- really the whole footprint of Troy's Washington Park area -- must be in near-constant shade, especially when the trees aren't bare. I've never observed any street life there, nor ever seen anybody in the park (I live seven blocks away).

So while one's first impression of the area is that it's kinda cool and genteel-retro-urbane, I suspect it's lifeless or, at best, insular, and I know it's light-starved. At this latitude, IMO, none of this commands a premium.

Hey, the folks who've invested there probably like it. To each his own.

But private money restored it, so private money can maintain it. The public's not obliged to invest in an urban cul-de-sac. And think twice about sunlight before you move there.


Maybe Troy could reciprocate and fix Jay Street here in Albany.

@Pam I was kind of hoping that Crisafulli Associates foots the bill for fixing Jay St.

Ironically, I was just there on Sunday to visit a friend who lives on Washington park. He took us on a little tour of the square and the park, which is undeniably lovely. The trees are huge and hundreds of years old, and it was quiet. It really does look the way it looked at the turn of the 20th century, and I love that.

However, I will concur with Lou that the place was deserted, and I thought it was sort of a drag that there were no dogs allowed. I get that they may not want poo in their park, but still...

As a resident of Washington Place, hello. :)

While I'm sure it's frustrating to watch your resources be spent on someone else, that street really did need to be fixed and I'm quite glad it's finally done. My home office is ground-level and faces the street being repaired so I woke up to jackhammers and men walking through my apartment quite often. (I live in the basement so many of the pipes for the building are located in my apartment). It's a relief to have it finished. The street was barely walkable before, let alone drivable.

It's not deserted and it's not totally in the shade. I can tell you that because I live on the street. I would like to see more park activity, but I think the fact that dogs are not permitted is a bummer to a lot of people. I wish they'd change that. That said, I often see families in there during the weekend and there were actually a few tents set up last weekend, which I found rather cute. Any time there is a neighborhood event, it's held in the park. It is insular but I also think that's the point. It's for that tiny neighborhood.

It's a little sad to see people getting so angry over the money that was spent to fix it. It's a historic spot and it makes sense other neighborhoods would pitch in. I thought it was chivalry that was dead, not community. I've always been proud to be part of Troy and this region, and that means re-building, some times brick by brick.

Don Ritner has a great blog post about the historic streets of Troy, including this restoration project.

What's all this hate for Washington Park about anyway? It sounds like the WPA raised the funds to repair the street, no? Good for them!

I'd also just like to point out that the native cobblestone that Rittner mentions in the link above is IN NORTH CENTRAL, BABY! So if you're made that the rich folk downtown have a nice historic street, don't forget about the one not quite gone from view in the forgotten part of Troy.

Washington Place used to be a mere shell of itself back in the early 90's. Kudos to rebuilding that beautiful block!

I agree with Kim and Lisa. I am a strong advocate for historic preservation and applaud all efforts to maintain this area's gorgeous architecture and history.

How do you lay a Belgian paver?

It helps to get him drunk first.

The Friends of Washington Park raised the necessary funds from public and private sources to restore the 1800's street. Washington Place is a public street and has been since 1892.It is accessible to all (although until the street was restored AAA would not enter it in the winter).
Washington Place pavers are also a contributing element of the Washington Park Historic District. Without our effort, the street would most likely have not been repaired or restored. To expect a city with limited financial resources to restore a paver street is not realistic. The Friends undertook the project at the request of a homeowner on Washington Place. It was a daunting project, requiring a lot of cooperation and collaboration with the state grants folks, engineers, Water Dept, National Grid, Talham, and JJP Slipforming who laid the stones.
The City of Troy contributed a new water line as part of the project. The water line was old, deteriorating and was scheduled to be replaced as part of the project. National Grid's gasline was inspected and determined to be adequate for the next 100 years or so.
The City of Albany donated excess pavers to the City of Troy, at the request of the mayor of troy, not to a private group (which is not permissable). Albany's DGS was more than happy to get rid of the pavers which were stored in a city lot. It was a wonderful example of intermunicipal cooperation and the only way the public street could be restored.
For better or for worse, Washington Park is a private park, funded and maintained by the property owners deeded into it in 1840. Sponsored activities include picnics, family camp out, pumpkin carving contest, pirates treasure hunt, etc. Dogs are not allowed (we see the poop on the sidewalks that many don't pick up - we prefer not to step in it on the grass). It's thought of as your front yard, not your back yard which implies different uses. It's a great place to relax, contemplate life or your navel, etc. We usually call it the "no fun park".
The income ranges of the owners and residents are very wide. There are $400 apartments and $1,500 apartments; there are owners in their 90's who have spent their whole lives on the park and newer folks from the suburbs starting families in the city; there are residents who don't have a care in the world, others who receive services from Unity House or other providers - that's what makes the neighborhood great.
Lynn Kopka, president, Washington Park Association

Some of the buildings on Washington Park are rentals. I lived in an apartment in one for a few years. I'm not rich, and I'm fairly certain none of my neighbors were (well, maybe my landlord). The park is private, but residents have keys. I had a key when I lived there -- and it really is a beautiful park, like an oasis in the middle of the city. Yes, it's exclusive to the people who live there, but that also means it's quiet, well-kept and hasn't been trashed.

I also worked nights and parked on Washington Place when no other street parking was available. It was in bad shape then; I have four-wheel drive, and even I had trouble driving over it. So for the people who live there now, I'm glad it's been redone.

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