"Albany's Premier Food Center"

Empire Food Market 119 Hudson Avenue Albany undated

If you head over to the APL's collection at NY Heritage you can zoom in on the photo very close to read the signs in the window.

We stumbled upon this old Albany photo in the Albany Public Library History Collection online. It's the Empire Food Market that occupied a part of the big Lyon Block building on Hudson Ave that once stood alongside the public market space where the TU Center is now. The date of the photo isn't listed.

That big vertical sign -- "EMPIRE FOOD MARKET" -- caught our eye. Wonder what happened to it.

Empire Food Market was a local supermarket chain founded by Henry Schaffer in Schenectady in the 1920s -- it and would later expand to almost 200 stores around upstate and Western Massachusetts, and Schaffer would sell the chain to Grand Union.

Here's a 1932 full-page ad in the Times Union for the Hudson Ave location -- "Albany's Premier Food Center." (And here's another ad, which mentions Fort Orange Toilet Tissue.)

The Albany Muskrat has a post chronicling the history of the open air Albany Public Market area and the Lyons Block building. The building met its end in demolition for the Empire State Plaza project (which, at the time, most people called "The South Mall.")

And over at the Albany Postcard Project, there are cards depicting the old Lyon Block building and the market area.

Comments

So sad. Another example of how Albany was more livable and vibrant 100 years ago than it is today.

Hey, that's one of my photos! :) Well, sort of anyway - I was an intern in the Local History Room at APL last year, and this is one of the photos I digitized. Thanks for the mention of the library's collections! :)

Andrew - you're right. The ESP, SUNY and 787 really screwed this city but good.

Imagine if those three projects had been done right (in the case of 787, not at all).

Residents of any northeastern city of any significance, past or present, have earned the same rational lament as you see here, but Albany is still doing much better than many of those cities. Throughout much of the rest of the country, on the other hand, you have "thriving" cities of blank walls, parking lots, multiple freeways and virtually endless sprawl. Personally, I'd MUCH rather live in pretty much any city in this region, over a thriving car sewer like Atlanta or Phoenix any day.

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For print resolution, not-for-profit Albany-specific historic images (photos. prints, paintings and advertising) Dave's best bet would be the Albany Institute's website. They have a collections database of thousands of images to choose from, and depending on the size, reproductions can be made in a price range of $15 to $55 dollars.

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