Albany's old soles

Shoe case.JPG

300 years of shoes worn or made in the Capital Region

This weekend we wandered over to the Albany Institute of History and Art to check out "The Shoe Show." While we loved the very cool and conceptual "shoe art" that's part of the traveling exhibition, the local history geek in us was really drawn to the Albany Institute's own collection of old shoes worn or made in the Capital Region.

We couldn't help but wonder about the people who wore and made these shoes. Where were they worn? And what did they say about the people who wore them.

The exhibit isn't huge, but there are some neat shoes and it does make you think a bit.

Here a peek...

Considering the weather and terrain in the Capital Region, some of these shoes must have been for indoor use only. Like these fancy dress slippers meant for a party or ball. Which got us thinking about fancy dress balls in Albany. Where were they? Who had them? Who went?

The Red Shoes

The pink shoes

These were from the 40s, and they're not much more practical. But we can just picture the outfit they went with and the woman who wore them:

Shoe case

These may have been our favorite pair:

Baby boots

We found a few pair of guys shoes, like these 1950s alligator numbers:

Men's alligator shoes

And from the 70s, these "Annie Hall" womens flats inspired by the 1940s:

Calve shoe 1970's.JPG

The Old Soles exhibit and the Perfect Fit show run through January 2.

Yep, the Albany Institute of History and Art advertises on AOA. We thought the shoes were interesting, and something you'd want to see.

Find It

Albany Institute of History and Art
125 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12210


Oh goodness how did I miss this! Ahhhh! I want to hug the ones from the 40s.

I know what I am doing tomorrow!!!!

The inmates of the Albany Penitentiary were employed extensively in the manufacture of shoes. A private manufacturer contracted with the penitentiary for the labor and produced large numbers of cheap shoes, as many as 2500 pairs per day, that were primarily sold into the southern market. They were known by a racially derogatory name.

There were a number of other shoe manufacturers through the decades, of various sizes and names. In 1876 the shoe manufacturers in Albany included Willard Bellows' four-story factory on Broadway; Woolverton & Company; Fearey Manufacturing Company; East New York Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Co.; M.W. Dodge; Shoemaker & Pabst; and Herrick & Freeman, which claimed the distinction of being the first company in America to use steam power in the making of shoes.

As for the balls, they were at the fabulous hotel ballrooms -- the Kenmore, Keeler's, the Delevan, the Ten Eyck. There wasn't a weekend for decades when there wasn't a band and dancing in any or all of the hotels in downtown Albany, or any other city in the state.

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