Other Timelines

The Cohoes Mastodon Park

alternate history Cohoes Mastodon Park

A vintage postcard for the park. / image: Matt Malette/Albany Archives

It's Other Timelines week on AOA, in which we'll be looking at alternate histories of this place, about big and small things that did or did not happen.

This year marks the 110th anniversary of the official formation of the Cohoes National Wildlife Refuge -- or, as most people here call it, the Cohoes Mastodon Park.

So we thought it'd be interesting to talk with Laura Claverack, manager of the refuge, about the history of the park, charismatic megafauna, and what the future holds for the park's population of mastodons.

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Other Timelines: The Chair

other timelines esp sour cream

By Big 'Vic' Proton

It's Other Timelines week on AOA, in which we'll be looking at alternate histories of this place, about big and small things that did or did not happen.

BVP has been dropping delightfully weird, tiny stories in the comments here at AOA for years, so we thought it'd be fun to have him write a few super short stories based on this week's alternate history theme.

My ex-wife, Olga, has moved to another dimension.

I found this out when she called and said she wanted me to bring her chair over.

Although it's a four-story hump down the narrow winding steps of my building, I was elated.

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Pivotal moments in our personal histories

other timelines personal alternate histories

It's Other Timelines week on AOA, in which we'll be looking at alternate histories of this place, about big and small things that did or did not happen.

Everyone has them -- moments and decisions that could have gone differently. The choices you made put you on the timeline you're on, but what if things had gone differently?

For Other Timelines Week, we talked with a few people about their own pivotal moments and personal alternate histories.

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Other Timelines: 4th of July

sparkler Union Jack

Fireworks for the holiday, of course. / flag photo: Flickr user Rian (Ree) Saunders (CC BY 2.0 - cropped for photo illustration)

By Big 'Vic' Proton

It's Other Timelines week on AOA, in which we'll be looking at alternate histories of this place, about big and small things that did or did not happen.

BVP has been dropping delightfully weird, tiny stories in the comments here at AOA for years, so we thought it'd be fun to have him write a few super short stories based on this week's alternate history theme. Today's micro story is about celebrating the events of the Fourth of July...

Chatsworth has a perfectly fabulous flat on the corner of North Lake. He and his wife have a ripping do every summer to watch the Albany Fourth of July parade. Everyone is there.

On the way over, I stopped at the bottle shop and picked up a case of Boodles gin. Digby already had the shutters up.

"Expecting some fireworks, are you, Digby?"

"Aye, Mr. Hobbes. The telly showed them up at Beverwyck Park. Off their collective trolleys, they are!"

"Well, stiff upper lip, and all that, Digby."

"Thank you, sir."

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A brief history of the Capital Region's much-admired light rail system

Madison Ave light rail alternate history

The light rail line along Madison Ave -- following an old trolley route -- has proven to be very popular, carrying students and neighborhood residents to work, shopping, and entertainment along the busy corridor. / streetcar photo: Wikipedia user Pi.1415926535 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

By Sandy Johnston

It's Other Timelines week on AOA, in which we'll be looking at alternate histories of this place, about big and small things that did or did not happen.

It's 2017. As the Capital Region looks back on the first fifteen years of the 21st century, it can be proud of its transit system -- and the inextricably linked patterns of land use that it has built -- even as the rest of the country debates the merit or even the very concept of public transit.

Looking back at the past eight decades, there were a few turning points -- inflection points, one might say -- at which regional leaders made choices that could have resulted in a very different future if another path had been taken.

So how did Albany, Schenectady, and Troy end up with a transit system that would be the envy of cities many times their size?

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Other Timelines: The Portal

portal on SUNY plaza

By Big 'Vic' Proton

It's Other Timelines week on AOA, in which we'll be looking at alternate histories of this place, about big and small things that did or did not happen.

BVP has been dropping delightfully weird, tiny stories in the comments here at AOA for years, so we thought it'd be fun to have him write a few super short stories based on this week's alternate history theme. Here's the first, about what happens when you arrive late to the past...

The Albany Portal had already been open for about three years before I had a chance to go.

By that time there were about 30 around the world, maybe more, so it had become pretty normal.

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Six huge institutions that set up here... almost

Stanford campus

Not the Capital Region, obviously... but maybe it could have been. / photo: Flickr user Daniel Hartwig (CC BY 2.0 cropped)

By Carl Johnson

It's Other Timelines week on AOA, in which we'll be looking at alternate histories of this place, about big and small things that did or did not happen.

Nationally-famous universities, a coordination point for the modern world, huge centers of industries, tech, and the economy -- they all happened here... almost.

For Other Timelines week, Carl Johnson shares a handful of huge institutions that almost ended up in the Capital Region...

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Other Timelines drawing: basket of Albany prizes OR basket of Troy prizes

roundabout pavement arrows

Which way to go?

Drawing's closed! Winner's been emailed!

Congrats to Marshall, who won the Albany package of prizes because his randomly-selected comment was #94 -- an even number. If the randomly selected comment had been odd number, the winner would have gotten the Troy package.

It's Other Timelines week, so we thought it'd be fun to have a drawing -- with a little bit of a twist.

There will be one winner of this drawing, but two baskets of prizes:

Albany basket: $50 gift card for New World Bistro Bar, two tickets for a movie at The Spectrum with popcorn, a gift card for ice cream at Emack & Bolio's.

Troy basket: $50 gift card for Peck's Arcade, $50 in drink tickets for The Hill at Muza, a gift card for ice cream at the Dutch Udder.

Which basket will the winner get? The fickle hand of fate of will decide!*

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

What's a local "what if" question that you'd love to know the answer to?

It could be something about a big event that did or did not happen, it could something in your neighborhood, or it could be something about a choice you made in your personal life. We'll draw one winner at random, and then fate will pick the prize.

As you know, New World Bistro Bar, The Spectrum, and Emack & Bolio's are all along Delaware Ave in Albany.

And, as you also know, Peck's Arcade is in downtown Troy, the Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream recently opened on River Street in downtown Troy, and The Hill at Muza is a bar and beer garden just up the hill on Congress Street.

* The fickle hand of fate does have a method. Its choice will be determined by a detail related to your comment. Which detail? As is so often the case in life, you won't know until after the fact! (We'll reveal when we post the winner.)

Important: All comments must be submitted by noon on Friday, August 4, 2017 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 Friday and must respond by 5 pm on the following Monday.

What would Albany be like today if the Empire State Plaza had not been built?

Albany skyline ESP cutout

It's Other Timelines week on AOA, in which we'll be looking at alternate histories of this place, about big and small things that did or did not happen.

Albany has a long history -- more than three centuries as an incorporated place -- so there have been plenty of "what if" points along the way.

But the biggest one, literally and figuratively, might be this: What would Albany be like today if the Empire State Plaza had not been built?

We proposed that question to a bunch of local historian-minded people...

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Other Timelines

Willemstadt highway sign

It's about this place -- just different versions of it.

We have a new theme week that we think will be both fun and interesting: Other Timelines.

Each day this week we'll have a post or two that somehow touches on alternate histories of this place -- about big or small things that did or did not happen.

Yep, it's going to be a little bit goofy. And that's OK -- it'll be fun and weird. But we're also hoping it can serve as a different way of thinking about why some things are the way they are (or aren't).

So, to be clear, this week we'll have posts with "histories" of things that did not happen. Though what if they did...

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