How the train station ended up where it is now

Kiernan Plaza former train station Albany 2016-May

The old Union Station on Broadway in Albany (AKA, Kiernan Plaza) has since found new use as offices.

The fact that Albany's train station is over the river in Rensselaer is one of those things that prompts a lot of "What... why... huh?" reactions from people. (Even though the new version is actually pretty nice.) And it can be especially puzzling since the old train station in Albany still stands -- and is a rather grand building at that.

Over at Hoxsie, Carl recently took up this topic and it's the best account we've seen of how things ended where they are today. Here's a clip:

Those who remember Albany's Union Station as a glorious destination in the '50s and '60s most likely benefit from the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. A 1969 column in the Knickerbocker News acknowledged that "In its dying days, Albany's Union Station was an odiferous and dingy cavern, but still, if you looked hard, you could see traces of the station's earlier grandeur." If you grew up later than the '70s, you may not be able to understand just how dingy cities were back then - between coal ash, diesel fumes, and the horrendous exhaust that came out of each and every automobile, every structure was covered in soot. Likely the exterior of Union Station had never been cleaned, and by some accounts the same could be said of the inside. ...
The Rensselaer station opened sometime in 1968, a box next to a grocery store that served as the region's rail station until 2002. That Knick News columnist who in early 1969 called Union Station "odiferous" also said that
"In contrast, the Penn Central's new Albany-Rensselaer station in Rensselaer is - with all due respect to our neighboring city - a rude comedown and a ride to the new station is a dispiriting experience. Situated at the northern edge of Rensselaer, the station is reached after a bumpy ride over narrow streets. It looks more like a small-town depot for short-haul buses than a railroad station and is tucked away in a shallow ravine as if the Penn Central were ashamed at what it had done, as well it might be. Let us hope that the railroad's new Albany-Schenectady regional station on Karner Road in Colonie has more class."
Well, one could hope.

A train station in Colonie? Yep! That's one of many interesting bits in Carl's series of three posts about the topic (they're all quick reads) -- here are parts two and three. It's a story of railroads that weren't all that interested in railroading, the midcentury planning obsession with cars, and decisions that elicited "What the...?" reactions from the start.

Earlier on AOA:
+ A miniature version of Troy and its past
+ Riding the trolley -- everywhere>
+ Thinking about high-speed rail in New York

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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...

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