AOA birthday drawing: Lark Street prize


Celebrate AOA's birthday with cupcakes (or something equally delicious) from Crisan.

Drawing is closed, but feel free to add your gift ideas for the Capital Region.

This week AOA celebrates our 6th birthday, but we're giving you the presents. Each day we'll have a drawing for some fun Capital Region stuff. You can enter to win a new "present" every day.

Today's drawing is a package of great gift certificates to Lark Street businesses:

+ A $100 gift certificate to Spa Virgo on Lark Street
+ Two $25 gift certificates to The Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark
+ One bottle of sparkling wine and a $50 gift certificate to Capital Wine (Must be 21 or older.)
+ A $25 gift certificate to Crisan Bakery on Lark.

To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments

If you could gift one thing to the Capital Region, what would it be?

Maybe it's an indoor water park, maybe it's peace -- whatever you'd like to give the region if you had the ability.

We'll draw one winner at random.

Important: All comments must be submitted by noon on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 5 pm on Wednesday, April 16 and must respond by 5 pm on Thursday, April 17.


dedicated bike lanes

I would give downtown a small, well curated grocery/deli like the ones I grew up with on Long Island, someplace where you could pick up a quart of milk, a loaf of bread and an awesome sandwich. It wouldn't have to sell everything but just enough to save a car trip to the grocery store.

Albany could use a music venue to replace all shows at Upstate Concert Hall

rooftop bars

Gift: the vision and resources to make the Capital District truly bike friendly.

A zoo!

An aquarium! It's an idea that's been tossed around for a few years, but it would be a huge driving force in tourism and the downtown economy!

Unlimited resources to Albany Public Schools to lower tax burden on residents and bring back the schools we used to know and love - music, sports, and anything the teachers need without cuts here, there, and everywhere.

I would like to gift the Capital Region consistently warm temperatures through Spring with only a touch of rain at night in order to bloom the most beautiful and vivacious tulip crop Albany has ever seen.

heated sidewalks (no shoveling)

Since you already took my world peace answer, I'll shoot for sensible liquor laws.

If I could, I would gift the capital region a huge no kill animal shelter/refuge center where any stray can be brought to either live out its life in a happy, loving and healthy environment or be adopted into a forever home. It would not be a shelter in the traditional sense. It would be a place that felt like a home, didn't have cages and where the staff treated the animals like family.

an aquarium, near the Hudson.

An edible forest like the one in Seattle...I daydream about walking down a wooded path and just picking food as I go.

I would give the region the gift of more parking at Trader Joe's.

flea markets in washington park

A real beach (none of this lake beach or "waterfront" shenanigans).

I would have to give the gift of health & happiness!

A revitalized Central Warehouse cold storage building. Anything so it looks better than it does now.

Filled in potholes!

I would love to give Albany a magical remote to fast-forward or rewind the seasons! Spring is so beautiful when the trees start blossoming and the tulips come out in the park (but there can be too much rain!), summer is fantastic with ice cream stands and swimming holes (it gets reaaal hot here), fall is breathtaking driving up to thacher for a hike (but what type of jacket do you even wear?), and the first snow is always beautiful (after that i'm done). With so much diversity, I wish I could have only the best of the seasons on any given day.

I would love to give Albany a real downtown! This would be a place where people would like to go day and night for retail shopping (a mixture of small chains and unique local businesses), restaurants and eateries for all meals, and other outdoor events. It would be a unifying place for the city much like other towns and cities already have. (ie. Saratoga, Burlington) I think with this the city and local businesses would thrive.


I'll second the bike lanes idea!

Removal of 787 so the City of Albany can actually benefit from being on the Hudson River.

I would gift each town in the Capital region a dog friendly local beach, with plenty of parking, and bonfire pits, and a mandatory beach bar with great live music from local artists (yes this may be geographically impossible I know; but it's what I would want!)

Huge Outdoor Go-Kart track

Newly repaired and paved roads.

Movie studios!

A heightened sense of self-esteem as a region.

Increased low-cost local and long-distance public transportation. I 'm looking at you, Amtrak and CDTA.

Evict the cold & snow!

If I could give one fantastic thing to the capital region, it would be (better) waterfront access --goodbye 787, hello walkable city!

I would give great restaurants/bars with outside patio seating (including a fantastic Mexican option) along this accessible riverfront. There would surely be food truck permits aplenty. I'd also give the capitol region paddleboats and rowboats on the river, a baseball diamond, tennis court, and a playground.

A dueling piano bar. And not one that catered to tourists.

I would gift the Cap Region, a cleaner river to really enjoy!

A deli on Lark Street!

Mandatory Willy Wonka viewings at the ESP during the summer.

The Husdon River

A boardwalk/beach area.

A better national/international reputation. I'm an Albanian by choice, and I adore my adopted city, but mention Albany or Schenectady outside of the Capital Region and brace for ignorance! The Capital Region has so much to offer, yet somehow it still feels like our little secret.

A functional, regional taxi service!

A gift of unlimited resource to improve schools and libraries.

A shorter winter.

Because heated sidewalks are already take, I'd give it the gift or reliable, affordable and "civilized" public transportation.

I would give a gift of shared transportation - a vision and implementation plan to make car and bike sharing possible, feasible, attractive and profitable for the city and beyond. With all the college students in the area, it's hard to understand why this hasn't happened yet.

A better taxi/transportation service. One that is reliable, safe, and affordable.

Well that's an easy one. I'd give the Capital Region a Wegmans or two.

Bike lanes for cyclists!

I'd give us the gift of reliable, affordable, and civilized public transportation.

I would create a free zone such that connection between each section of the city within the zone were free. There would be additional Zones that radiate out, basically rings. Rings outside the center zone would have increasing costs to ride.
Right now the city is fragmented. Demographically the areas are not integrated and transportation would allow for this process to begin to take place, plus businesses would benefit and traffic reduced.
We can continue to focus on each section as isolated units or a combined entity.

Portland Oregon serves as a good model.


life casino free

I would plant bushes of berries and fruit trees all around, so in the summer and fall everyone could pick up a quick snack!

A downtown with the empty store fronts filled with flourishing small businesses! And an accessible waterfront park!

A subway from Albany to Schenectady.


A zen rose garden

More and better parking

The dedicated bike lanes is a great idea. But for the sake of appearing original, I would gift the Capital Region more cooperative housing units and community gardens.

A restaurant of Ethiopian food

Less winter :)

Clean water for the Hudson River so you could actually eat the fish and not be afraid to swim.

i would gift a wine section at Trader Joe's!

Id improve the public transit system to make it more accessible to everyone and make commutes easier

So, umm.. Bike lanes are taken. USABLE bike lanes are taken. Fixed roads are taken. Better mass transit is taken.

How about a subway like London's tube system, but better. I don't know how it could improve, but I'm sure it's POSSIBLE. ;) Mostly, I want to be able to get to work in the winter without shoveling out my car first. Also, I don't want to have to stand out side for oh, 20-90 minutes... Sorry buses. Ah, dreams. :)

I would reverse all pollution in the Hudson so that fishing, swimming, boating and the like were permitted, enjoyable and safe. And then I would build a beach.

high-speed rail service to NYC

An Ethiopian restaurant.

Much better public transportation!!!

I would gift the Capital Region with a Zaxby's franchise. If we must have fast food, it can be good fried chicken!

Magically remove 787 opening up access to the riverfront.

I'd bury 787 and beautify the waterfront on both sides of the river.

One word: monorail

A music venue - basically the same size and atmosphere as Rev Hall when it was still booking shows, but in downtown Albany.

A zoo.

Streets without potholes. I lost a hubcap this have many others...

shorter winter season (sorry ski resorts)

more parking around Lark St.

Since bike lanes have been bestowed by others, I'll give a botanical garden.

A nice waterfront, boardwalk, beach.

A better/closer place for swimming in the summer!

High speed rail to NYC and Boston.

An In-N-Out Burger would be nice too! ;)

An airport that is, you know, actually international.

Free Cable Car for State Street!


High-speed rail

I know a few other people said this but I would also give an aquarium. It's such a fun concept that would set Albany apart from cities for miles around.

better parking in downtown albany

A shorter winter!

I would gift several solar fields, wind turbines, and get rid of the oil tankers!

An ocean view!

I would instantly give it all of the things that would make it the most appealing and popular location/destination for hundreds of miles.

More available FREE parking everywhere! I often don't go to a lot of things because I know parking will be impossible without paying at least $10! And that is sad.

I'd gift the capital region 2 weeks of utopia ... where goods and services can be bartered/traded as well as bought. Where the streets are safe from crime. Where people cared about others near as much as they cared about themselves. Where honesty really was the best policy, and fairness abounds.

I say 2 weeks because .. a) forever gifts can be quickly taken for granted, and b) perhaps the taste of utopia as a gift would actually inspire people to strive for it as a permanent reality.

Walkable city markets. Stands where people can sell their goods/food stands/stands of amazingness. Have you been to Philadephia/Charleston/Portland? That would be fun to have here. And not just one day week....

A flourishing downtown that is more welcoming and beautiful waterfront park.

A Korean barbecue restaurant.

More shopping and restaurants downtown!

Light rail between the tri-cities and Saratoga

Monorail! Monorail! Monoraiiilllllll!

A professional soccer team

I would like to gift the Capital Region more soup kitchens, helping to feed the hungry. More awareness about non violence & anger management classes. A team of social workers that walk around helping those who want to talk.

shorter winters, or at least city wide heated sidewalks

A non-stress inducing taxi service.

Driving lessons.

Green/Solar rooftops to help keep those heating bills down! Also free city-wide wireless service. Happy Birthday AOA!

I'd gift a Wegmans and a new highway to replace 787 (one that is not on the water). Oh, and maybe lower taxes too!

No more 787 along the river.

Oh, and private karaoke rooms, of course.

Outdoor Patio Dining!

A public park built on a historic freight rail line, similar to NYC's High Line.

an architectural salvage shop that has everything!

A Rita's!

I love all the bike lane mentions!

My gift to the Capital Region would be that it gets some respect. There are a lot of great things here, and the world should know it!
Although - oftentimes (especially when reading comments), it seems that the locals don't appreciate it here either...

An open water front in Albany!

A second Trader Joe's would help resolve the parking concern, preferably somewhere you could walk to. DelSo? I know I'm dreaming...

a factory museum. there's such a rich manufacturing history here. photos and models are great, but it would be truly amazing to be able to walk through a building and see old machinery at work to get a better understanding of all the steel, bells, collars, beer, ships, and everything else that used to be made here, and the role people played. given how big a focus tech valley is, I think it would be great to see some old tech, just for comparison, and maybe even to instill a little bit of pride in this area.

Better landlords that took better care of historic buildings and apartments.

a beautiful waterfront park with a bike path


A Korean BBQ restaurant, we need one!

A walk-able city would be the greatest gift of all.

An NFL team

I would gift the capital region a metro system connecting Albany, Troy, Schenectady, Saratoga and all the little towns in between. It would ease traffic during Track Season and hopefully allow us ease of travel between traffic, pollution and potholes!

I am from the Northeast Ohio area, so I would gift the capital region one of Ohio's most delicious eateries: Melt Bar and Grilled. Yummy gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches!

Center turning lane on Madison!!!

A boardwalk and entertainment area down by the waterfront in Albany!

Better parking! I think it would make urban life easier and encourage suburbanites to patronize downtown's businesses.

A subway

Return of the Giants.

Costco :)

Underground transportation.

Bike escalators for Middleburgh Avenue, Peoples Avenue, Congress Street, and Mill Street in Troy.

A larger tax base

A bike lane from downtown to Guilderland

A Public Mural Arts Program

A weekly farmers market in Washington Park.

A local version of Accomplice, like they have in NYC! It's a bunch of fun - who doesn't like some hybrid of theater/scavenger hunt/mystery?

Better allocation of school fundings/ out of school activities.

I gave some silver Go-Go boots to Mrs Mattoon who ran that robotic giant clam on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. We had no idea of her age. She cried. So happy. "These boots are made for walking," she said, "and that's just what I'm gonna do." Nobody had the heart to tell her they were actually made for dancing. She took off one day and made it all the way to Cincinnati where she became a licensed real estate agent. She sent us some of her shiny business cards, her picture in the top left hand corner. That's what you do in that game. This was about the time she started to look a lot like Dan Rather and she became quite successful. Mr Mattoon took over the clam but didn't have the patience to stay up nights fending off the vandals. One night a gang called the Warriors set it aflame and rolled it off the pier. Since then I give Go-Go boots to everyone; shiny gifts of inspiration.


I would give a roller coaster that zips through downtown.

honest politicians

a sense of being a unified city instead of an auto-necessitating sprawl.

Money to support not for profit programs for kids (sports, music etc.) too many programs out there that are struggling but doing good work with the kids.

A korean BBQ and a medium sized music venue.


Restaurants on the waterfront in Albany!

I would gift the Capital Region a walkable marketplace on the riverfront. I might need to move some pesky highways, but I'd just plop it all right down there in the parking areas behind Quackenbush Square. People could live there and it would be a darn pretty place to spend a weekend wandering in shops and enjoying a farmers market.

A cleaner, swimable Hudson

another vote for an ethiopian restaurant!

Relentless urban gardens and a community kitchen to cook the harvest

an IMAX movie theater. Not a converted IMAX theater, but a true IMAX theater that not only shows the most recent blockbusters but a variety of educational films that IMAX films.

self confidence: Albany has an inferiority complex but this is a great city with everything to recommend it that our flashier neighbors have (Montreal, Boston, NYC)

Free wifi!

A Pro Sports team!

A happy, business-friendly civic structure like Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market :-)

Well-funded public school systems across the region. There are so many things the public schools can't do here because of a lack of sufficient funding.

A second Robert Burns statue for Washington Park. Right next to the original, but only smaller, like 1/8 the size. It'd be the Lil' Robert Burns statue.

A really good banh mi place!

New trees for Washington Park to replace the ones that have been lost.

My gift would be to fix or add everything mentioned instantaneously. And if its not right, have the ability to tweak it just as easily.

A bridge over the Hudson that allows you to see and celebrate the river, like 90% of those south of here. Ideally something like the Walkway Over the Hudson!

Buy back the Aqua Ducks!

A set of amphibious landing craft. Maybe they could be used for tours or something.

A 787-less, vibrant Albany waterfront!

A speedy commute from saratoga to albany

An Ethiopian Restaurant


I'd gift to Albany a rapid and irreversible contraction of the charter school movement.

Free parking for everyone - all the time!

The best gift I can think of, and one that would keep giving, would be to wave my want and create gerrymandering free political districts, with a process to keep them that way.

What everyone else is thinking, haven't said: a gondola ride from the Hudson all the way up State Street!

More bike lanes!

Definitely a few 7-11s ... SLURPEES, PEOPLE!

I love the edible forest idea! But better public transportation is a huge thing for me - I used to live in Boston, and there's nothing here to even come close to rivaling the T. Cars are such a pain, and the northway on any given day... ugh.

So, if I could gift Capitaland one thing, it would be a good subway/commuter rail system.

Trolley service between all the cities!

better weather

Light rail

I would gift the capital district a monorail or subway system that extended from Hudson all the way through to Saratoga.

A more cost-effective rapid rail system for commute to NYC and back.

A wellness and positive youth development program for underserved youth populations.

Revitalization and restoration of the area's beautiful historic buildings and local downtown businesses.

Capital Region-wide TED talks.

A real NY bagel place!

I like the indoor park idea. Someplace the kids can run, jump, climb around in the winter months.

More receptacles for garbage and recycling in Albany. There is so much garbage on the streets when I run up and down Madison and western aves. It's gross and sad.

Trolleys/light rail.

A brand new shopping plaza with a Wegman's, Ikea, and Costco!

expanded public transportation options

High speed train to NYC and Boston

If I could gift the Capital Region with one thing it would be our own version of a Smorgasburg food fair every weekend!

Every season would be apple season!

The regions mayors should get together and attempt to come up with a committee to study the feasibility of marketing the Albany, Schen. Troy area as one unit. We are the 47th largest market in the US, and with all of the diversity if the area worked as one area, collectively bring a dimension to make us noticed on a regional/national scale. What we don't need is another Crossgates type of development, but we could upgrade the level of sport and the art scene could become a regional draw, something like The Clark in Williamstown. Lets forget the Smalbany moniker and give the Capitol District a plug.

A dialogue with the local supermarket that is in the neighborhood to begin stocking more healthy (affordable for all) food choices. We all use the supermarket because of the convenience but it is in serious need to be more aware of the lack of choice to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The capital area is a hell ish area for alternate transportation. Whether it is a more bike - friendly commute or an easier public transit system, this area is difficult to get around for those without cars. On top of that, our highway structure sucks with only three lanes, two north - south highways and highly corrosive snow removal methods.

I would give the city officials of Albany a gift of a tour of the most progressive and innovative cities in the world. In hopes that it would inspire them to develop better ideas than old timey convention centers and soul killing casinos.

A nice bar/restaurant downtown with a happy hour geared toward singles my age (55+). :)

Better marketing for our area. Albany has a great deal to offer as far as tourism. We are blessed with so many wonderful and historical places in our area. Unfortunately we do not market ourselves well. In all of those tourism surveys our area is sadly seen as a pass through and not a destination. I wish someone with a love for this area and fantastic marketing skills would step up and "sell" the Albany area as the wonderful place that it is.

Better partnering between the city and its suburbs.

I would wish for a change in the myopic tunnel vision of the leaders and the citizens of this city and area. I would wish that they would see the inherent beauty of a well planned and well run city. I would wish that the mindset here would change so that instead of "driving" around the Clifton Park and Wolf Road areas they would consider "walking" around beautiful architecture, parks, and life. I wish that we could see the difference between getting married in a Vegas drive thru chapel and the Cathedral of Notre Dame!

I'd give Albany a dedicated composting and recycling program. (have you seen the landfill?)

More indoor activities during the winter- an aquarium, a big indoor park with artificial sun so I don't get so depressed during our long winters.

Truly, reunite Albany with it's birth mother, the Hudson River

A mall with Nordstrom, Ikea, Costco and Crate & Barrel

Better access to the Hudson, through the removal (or at least reimagining) of 787.

To go back in time and never have 787 built!

An all-in-one doggy daycare and gym in downtown Albany. The gym would have both a pool for humans and a pool for the pups.

a music venue on Lark Street



Year round warm weather!

A waterfront! The destruction of 787.

I am so sad that I missed this, but how about some pride, Albany?

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For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

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