Glimpses of the old Central Ave

Townsend Park and Central ave  1930 Albany NY
Townsend Park in the 1930s.

The Albany Group Archive on Flickr is a very deep rabbit hole of local historical images. Stumble upon something there and it could be hours before you find your way back out. Because, OK, you're going to look at only one more photo... and then another and another and another.

So it was that we ended looking through the archive's big collection of Central Ave images. One of the things that's interesting about flicking through the photos and old ads -- many of which are from before 1950 -- is that the format and streetscape of Central Ave is more of less the same as it was almost a century ago. That makes it easy to recognize places that still exist, but with different designs or uses. (Also: The photos are full of great old signs and storefronts, which you know we love.)

Here are a few quick things that caught our eye...

harry a lozier automobiles c1921
An automobile dealership in the 1920s, this building is still on Central Ave near Lark Street -- and still looks very similar.

Northern Blvd  (Henry johnson blvd) looking towards central ave 1930s  albany ny
Looking toward Central in the 1930s from what's now the Henry Johnson Blvd bridge. (It was called Northern Boulevard then.) The building shapes in this view still look very similar today. Here's looking back the opposite way in the 1930s.

Trading Port supermarket  albany ny  1930s  albany ny
A bunch of small grocery stores pop up in the old photos. It's interesting that these sorts of small markets have made a comeback on the street again, serving the recent influx of immigrants to Albany.

hub quail central albany ny
The corner of Central and Quail. The building in the middle is now houses a Subway and other storefronts. The building to the back in the left now houses WAMC.

Quail looking towards central  1935  albany ny 1930s
Quail Street looking north toward Central Ave in 1935.

phil's steakhouse 1939
Gotta admit we couldn't place this building (maybe you can), but the billboard design caught our eye.

central ave overpass 1930s  albany ny
The overpass that's at the city line with Colonie, in the 1930s. Note the separated tracks for street cars.

Colvin Ave and Central ave  1941  albany ny 1940s
This isn't Central -- it's Colvin Ave near Central in 1941. It's remarkable how undeveloped that part of the city was then.

Comments

The Phil's Tavern site might be at what was 326 Central Avenue, according to this newspaper ad (see far left channel):
http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn84031266/1950-10-06/ed-1/seq-10.pdf

Yes Phil's - southwest corner of central and quail

Regarding the Phil's Tavern location, I didn't believe it at first, because there's nothing left on that corner except a parking lot that looks too small to have been a restaurant, and the next building up Central ("The Central") is dated 1890 on the facade. But the building next to Phil's, with two sets of three distinctive arched windows, can be seen on the left in the Quail Street photo just above, with the current Linda Norris Auditorium just beyond.

And now I'm deep in the rabbit hole. Thanks, AOA...

The horse trough in that picture of Townsend Park is gone, but the granite bowl survives and is in front of Hudson Valley Tile on Central Ave.

We have over 22,000 images in the Flickr site and we add new images almost every day. As a reminder, the site is keyword searchable, including by decade (e.g., 1870s, early 1900s, 1950s) and images are also arranged in albums by neighborhood, decade or subject, so you can browse.

Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate these pictures. They are wonderful. Thank you. Rosemary Marchitell born and raised in Albany and haven't been back in years.

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