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.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


Recently on All Over Albany

Debbie's Kitchen is returning (with Debbie)

There's wondrous sandwich news in Albany: Debbie's Kitchen is planning to return to its old location on Madison Avenue in Albany -- with Debbie herself... (more)

The Albany airport's getting terminal upgrades, a new parking garage, and a new connector road from Exit 4

The Albany International Airport is set to get terminal upgrades and a new parking garage as part of a $42 million renovation -- and there's... (more)

Same place, very different map

The history of Albany as a city stretches back 400 years. But the history of this land -- and people living here -- is, of... (more)

How to handle a situation involving a neighbor and uncertain future for a shared property?

Anonymous emails: Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with the situation below: We live in Center Square and we share a demising... (more)

Postmodern Jukebox back at Troy Music Hall

Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox is returning to the Troy Music Hall February 22. Tickets on on sale to the general public this Friday, August 17... (more)

Recent Comments

I don't understand how people give such leeway to expensive highway boondoggles like this one as compared to the scrutiny the Albany Skyway project is receiving. Sure, there's certainly things to criticize with the Skyway project, but this project appears to save drivers 30 seconds on their way to the Airport at the cost of $50 million dollars! How is this not receiving five times the scrutiny and outrage that the skyway project is receiving?!? Imagine how much good we could do if that $50 million were spent in the City of Albany...

Here's the proposed design for the Albany Skyway

...has 10 comments, most recently from james

Debbie's Kitchen is returning (with Debbie)

...has 1 comment, most recently from Jsc

The Albany airport's getting terminal upgrades, a new parking garage, and a new connector road from Exit 4

...has 4 comments, most recently from Mike

Follow up: Delaware Supply

...has 4 comments, most recently from Dave

How to handle a situation involving a neighbor and uncertain future for a shared property?

...has 2 comments, most recently from jsc