Items tagged with 'Troy'

Brenda Ann Kenneally: Upstate Girls

Upstate Girls Brenda Kenneally coverA book collecting Brenda Ann Kenneally's ongoing work documenting the lives of people living through poverty in Troy -- Upstate Girls -- was published in October. (You might remember the North Troy Peoples' History Museum.)

From the book description (link added):

Brenda Ann Kenneally is the Dorothea Lange of our time--her work a bridge between the people she photographs, history, and us. What began as a brief assignment for The New York Times Magazine became an eye-opening portrait of the rise and fall of the American working class, and a shockingly intimate visual history of Troy that arcs over five hundred years. Kenneally beautifully layers archival images with her own photographs and collages to depict the transformations of this quintessentially American city. The result is a profound, powerful, and intimate look at America, at poverty, at the shrinking middle class, and of people as they grow, survive, and love.

This month Adrian Nicole LeBlanc -- who wrote that NYT Mag article -- takes up Kenneally's book in The New Yorker. A clip:

Shaming people who live in poverty is an old reflex in America. Kenneally reminds us that the fault lines of capitalism are everywhere within our nation, running through the very foundation we keep building upon. Her excavations blast through any attempt to deny it. In her book's opening essay, she refers to her photographs as "new fossils." With taking pictures, Kenneally writes, "comes the power to manufacture a record that future generations will consider fact." Whether we choose to look or not, these images are facts.

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Here's the new concept plan for 1 Monument Square in downtown Troy

1_Monument_Square_renderings_2018-11-05_view5.jpg

There's a new plan for 1 Monument Square -- and a long way still to go.

That's the big takeaway from Monday's meeting in which the city of Troy and its consultants showed off concept plan for the redevelopment of Monument Square that's centered on a large public plaza.

The new plan is the product of a public input process pursued this year in an attempt to create a solid consensus about what to do with the site -- at the heart of downtown Troy -- and then pursue developers interested in following that vision.

"Don't get too hung up on the particulars of the design, it's meant to illustrate proportions more than a specific design or specific building materials," mayor Patrick Madden told a packed crowd at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. "And don't get too wigged out at this point about the challenges -- not yet, anyway."

Let's a have a look at some renderings and a few of those challenges...

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The Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market is looking for feedback about its future, including a new permanent home

Troy farmers market in Atrium

By the way: The market moves indoors to The Atrium for the season this Saturday.

The Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market has a public meeting lined up for November 7 at the Franklin Plaza Ballroom to talk about its future and gather feedback. It's hired Project for Public Spaces -- a NYC-based placemaking consultancy -- to lead the process. Press release blurbage (emphasis added):

The market wants to hear what people feel about the market and how it might evolve. The workshop will also provide the community with a chance to hear about the success stories from public markets across the country.
"The market has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years," said Zack Metzger, president of the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market. "We are really excited about that growth, but we need to address some of the issues we are facing, such as the need for a permanent home for the market in a space that's big enough to grow. When we consider what that means for Troy and for farmers in our area, we see a lot of potential." ...
"The community has supported the market in a huge way, which has enabled us to create a first rate marketplace. Now it's time for us all to consider creating a first rate Market Hall and discussing what that would look like and how our programs could expand, and what it would mean for the city of Troy and the Capital Region as a whole."

You probably remember that a 2014 proposal for the 1 Monument Square redevelopment prominently featured, at one point, a permanent space for the farmers' market. But the idea later washed out of the plan in 2015, and in 2016 the overall plan crashed.

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There's another public meeting coming up to talk about ideas for 1 Monument Square

1 Monument Square

The fifth major attempt to redevelop the 1 Monument Square site in the heart of downtown Troy takes another step November 5 with a public meeting to formally present ideas developed during the public planning sessions this past summer.

City press release blurbage:

During the meeting, project designers and planners will present a refined concept for the site. Following the presentation, the City, along with the design team, will analyze project costs, available grant funding, and other factors necessary to move the project forward. The City previously held a multi-day workshop to study the site, inviting Troy residents, business owners, employees and the general public to participate in developing a shared vision for the One Monument Square site. The feedback provided during the meetings were used to develop a series of site illustrations which feature significant open public space, two levels of parking, views of the Hudson River, and pedestrian connections down to the adjacent William D. Chamberlain Riverfront Park.

Officials have said the idea this time around is to figure out some sort of consensus on how the site should be used before finding developers interested in the site.

This next meeting is Monday, November 5 at 7 pm at the Arts Center of the Capita Region (265 River Street).

Earlier: Five takeaways from the start of the fifth major effort to redevelop 1 Monument Square

Today's moment of mural

mural Williams St alley downtown Troy

Took a minute the other day to admire this little mural in the Williams Street alley just off Broadway in downtown Troy. It's just very pleasant.

(If you know who created it, please share in the comments.)

A look around Bard & Baker, the new board game cafe in downtown Troy

Bard and Baker The News Troy

The board game cafe Bard & Baker is now officially open in Troy. It's in the street-level retail space at the corner of Broadway and 5th Ave in The News, the redeveloped old Troy Record building.

The cafe has more than 400 games board games that you can play all day for as long as you like for a $5 cover. (You can even leave and come back the same day.) There's also a menu that includes all sorts of beverages (coffee, teas, soda, juice, beer, wine, cocktails), along with sandwiches, snacks, and pastries.

Here's a look around the new place...

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Troy Letter

Troy Letter logo

Check it out: Local journalist Luke Stoddard Nathan has started a weekly email newsletter about all sorts of Troy-related things. It is called, fittingly, Troy Letter. The second issue popped up this past Friday.

It's free. Hit that link just above here, enter your email address, click the confirmation link, and you can be signed up in just a few seconds.

Nathan was, of course, the news editor for the The Alt until it recently stopped publishing. (He also contributed here at AOA a while back.) As he explained in the first issue of Troy Letter:

The tone/style will be more informal than what I produced for The Alt. I'll use slang, abbreviations, shorthand, "I," etc. I might occasionally speak up at the myriad city meetings I attend, rather than adhere to the more traditional, fly-on-the-wall code of decorum for reporters. I see this as something like a "neighborhood blog" for the city of Troy, one that reflects my own interests/tastes/sensibilities.

The issue that landed this past Friday included a discussion of possible gyms in downtown Troy, the city's trash policies, real estate projects, a court case, events, and all sorts of odds and ends.

If you live in Troy, spend time in Troy, or care about Troy in some way, there are probably at least a few bits in there that will interest you.

Troy street painting competition 2018

Troy sidewalk art 2011 bluebird on The Egg

The street painting competition organized by the Arts Center of the Capital Region returns to downtown Troy September 22 and registration is now open. Participating artists will use chalk to turn sidewalk panels in art. Blurbage:

All regional artists are invited to participate in the fall Street Painting Competition for the best chalk design on the sidewalks of River Street. Registration fee is $20.00 and includes one set of colored chalk, and one pack of white chalk. Please note, artists are allowed to provide their own chalk based on their designs but the entry fee still applies.
Age categories: Adult, Grade 1-5, Grade 6-8, or Grade 9-12.

Registration is $20 and space is limited. See the link for details.

Also: The event has a different location this time around. It will still be on River Street, but it will be the block between 1st and State Street (it's the curved block by the Rice Building).

Follow up: The Dutch Udder

Dutch Udder ice cream two scoops in a cup

AOA is on summer break. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've met and covered during the last year (or so).

Kehmally Karl and Jeff McCauley started making ice cream as a side project -- creating fun flavors for family and friends. Slowly and methodically, they've turned a hobby, and an incredible talent for creating inventive flavors, into a successful small business: The Dutch Udder.

Flavors found on their ever-changing menu include Nine Pin Cider Sorbet, Grasshopper, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Rice Crispy Treat ice cream.

At first, they sold ice cream from a cart at markets and festivals and special events. And three years ago the then-fledgling business was also finalist in the AOA Startup Grant contest. Since then, Jeff and Kehmally have opened a storefront on River Street in downtown Troy and they've captured awards for their Philly Vanilla and for their other inventive flavors.

Jeff talked with us about their experience in the ice cream biz so far.

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Troy neighborhoods and districts map

Check out this map of Troy neighborhoods and districts put together for the Troy subreddit by FifthAveSam.

A clip from the background explainer for the map:

I'm tired of wishing that there was a better map of Troy when people ask where something is located. I've spent the last couple of days scouring the internet to find the old list of Troy's recognized districts in order to make a map to help others understand the area a bit better. I also used some recent government posts and injected a little bit of my own opinion in order to make a comprehensive map of our neighborhoods and districts.

And later in the explainer: "This is not 100% perfect nor do I predict it ever will be." That's understandable -- maps are hard.

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Five takeaways from the start of the fifth major effort to redevelop 1 Monument Square

1 Monument Square 2018-06-18

Monday night the city of Troy had a public workshop to kick off the fifth major attempt to redevelop the 1 Monument Square site. Yep, the fifth -- and the old city hall was only knocked down at the end of 2010.

Given all that's happened since -- arguments over form and function, allegations of incomplete disclosure, infrastructure complications, legal threats -- what hope is there that this time will be any different?

"Oh, you have to hope. We have to hope that it's going to be different," said Troy deputy mayor Monica Kurzejeski. "I think people are ready to come to the table. They're ready to have conversations. It's just the negativity is starting to -- you know, it's starting to be boring a little bit. Now we have to have some positive outreach."

For this fifth attempt, here are five takeaways from Monday's discussions...

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Checking in with Bard & Baker, the board game cafe planned for Troy

The_News_apartments_Troy_1.jpg

The cafe will be in the street-level corner space of the old Record building.

The new board game cafe that's been in the works for downtown Troy -- Bard & Baker -- now has a location.

The developers behind the new News Apartments announced this week that Bard & Baker will be taking one of the retail spaces in the old Troy Record building at Broadway and 5th Ave.

The cafe's owner is Charlotte Guyton, who was a key member of the team at Clark House Hospitality (Peck's Arcade, The Confectionery). And Bryan Connor, who was a pastry chef at Peck's Arcade, will be the cafe's kitchen manager.

Guyton first publicly announced the plan for the cafe during last year's AOA Startup Grant content, in which she was finalist. Even though she didn't win, the judges were very impressed by both her and her methodical approach. And Guyton got a boost last month when she won a $1,500 grant in the business plan competition for the Capital Region Chamber's Entrepreneur Boot Camp. She's aiming to open in September.

So we're curious to hear about how thing are coming along, and what to expect when the cafe opens this fall. And we figured you might be, too...

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Troy has another round of public workshops coming up to talk about 1 Monument Square

1 Monument Square site 2016-08-25

The city of Troy has posted the schedule for the upcoming series of public workshops to talk about the future of the 1 Monument Square site. It includes three events in one week at the Arts Center of the Capital Region:

Monday, June 18:
Movie night and discussion 4:30-6 pm
Community workshop 6-8 pm

Wednesday, June 20
Open house to discuss design ideas 5-8 pm

Thursday, June 21
Community design review 6-8 pm

Last month the Madden admin announced the city had hired to two consultancies to assist with the effort. Blurbage then:

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Rockin' on the River 2018

musician Meklit

Singer/songwriter/composer Meklit will be there in July. / photo: Marco Peris / via Meklit Facebook

The full schedule for the next season of the Rockin' on the River free concert series in downtown Troy is out.

The Wednesday night series starts June 6 in Riverfront Park and runs through August 8.

And here's the lineup...

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A look around The News, the latest large residential project in Troy

The News apartments Troy exterior

The last few years have seen a small boom in residential projects in the downtowns of the Capital Region's core cities.

And the latest project to open is The News. It's a 101-unit redevelopment/new construction project by the Rosenblum Companies at the site of the former Troy Record building in downtown Troy. Tenants started moving in at the start of this month.

Here's a look around the place, along with a conversation with Rosenblum's Jeff Mirel about Troy and building new residential in urban neighborhoods.

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At the new Zebra Bras in Troy, the measuring tape is a 3D scan

Zebra Bras Troy composite photo with owner Hannah Johnson

By Cristin Steding

If you are a bra-wearer, you already know the struggle to find the right size bra.

Standard sizing does a poor job of accommodating non-standardized bodies, and misinformation is rampant. Many women don't know what a properly-fitting bra is even supposed to feel like, and uninformed employees at mall stores often measure incorrectly.

But maybe all of that will soon be a thing of the past.

Sure, custom bras have been around for a while, if you're willing to spend enough cash. But recent innovations in 3D scanning and printing have the potential to eliminate issues with fit.

Zebra Bras is a new business in downtown Troy that uses 3D printing and scanning to create bras that are customized to your body. I talked with owner Hannah Johnson about how it works...

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Reclaimed and unbridged

John Bulmer Reclaimed Green Island Bridge

The photo illustration above of the Green Island Bridge is the latest in local photographer John Bulmer's "Reclaimed" series, which imagines landmarks in a state of post-human abandonment.

He talked with Lauren a few years back about the inspiration for the series and how he creates the photo illustrations.

Bulmer is a professional photographer. In addition to works such as the "Reclaimed" series or this many-sunsets composite of the Albany skyline he also frequently posts beautiful weather and architectural shots on Twitter.

The portrait of Peter F. Baltimore

Peter F Baltimore watercolor

That portrait above depicts Peter F. Baltimore, a prominent resident of Troy during the early 19th century. The Rensselaer County Historical Society has an opportunity to buy the rare circa 1840s watercolor for $15,000 -- and it's asking for the public's help. Historical society blurbage:

RCHS has been offered a rare second chance to acquire an exceptional circa late 1840s watercolor portrait of Peter F. Baltimore (1829-1913), prominent member of an important free black family who came to Troy in the late 18th-early 19th century. They were key members of the community, particularly working in the area of abolition. Peter was a barber who traveled to NY City with Rev. Henry Highland Garnet as an early anti-slavery proponent. His barber shop on First Street was a documented part of the local Underground Railroad system. RCHS uses his unique story in school programming, tours, and other presentations to make connections to our shared national history and to "recognize every face and every story." Peter's only son was Garnet Douglass Baltimore, RPI's first black graduate, who became a civil engineer and designed Troy's Prospect Park among many other important projects.

RCHS had $9,000 of the $15,000 raised as of earlier this week, with an event focused on the portrait and its historical context Wednesday (March 14) evening. It has a deadline of April 24 to raise the money. [TU]

As that blurb alludes to, the Baltimores have a remarkable family story in Troy. Peter Baltimore's father, Samuel, escaped slavery. Peter Baltimore owned a high-end barbershop, was a key figure in the local abolitionist community, and assisted Harriet Tubman in the dramatic rescue of Charles Nalle. And Garnett Douglass Baltimore? In addition to accomplishments mentioned above, upon his death he was remembered in a Troy newspaper as being "as much of Troy as the monument."

image: Antique Associates At West Townsend via RCHS

River Street Market

Hedley Building River Street Market rendering 2018-March

A rendering of the River Street side of the building.

In the works for Troy: The River Street Market, a food hall planned for the Hedley Building* on River Street. Press release blurbage:

Located in 12,000 square feet on the first floor of the Hedley Building, the River Street Market is slated to open this summer and will contain a dozen unique food, beverage, and market concepts that provide a wide variety of farm-to-table quality providers to delight the 1,500 employees within the building as well as the growing downtown Troy population. Local food entrepreneurs, Katie and Luke Haskins will lease, manage, and work at the market while assembling a team of independent operators to take Troy's food scene to the next level.

The Haskins also own Hooked at the Galleria 7 food hall space in Latham -- Steve Barnes talked with them today about the project.

The announced-so-far tenants for the River Street Market:

+ Lord & Montague, and wine and charcuterie bar run by Katie and Luke Haskins. (The name is a nod to Hannah Lord Montague, an early 19th century Troy resident who created the detachable collar.)

+ Sunhee's on the River -- a spinoff from Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen over on Ferry Street.

The food hall is part of First Columbia's long-simmering "Waterfront District" plan for the section of Troy just south of the Collar City Bridge (map).

The River Street Market would be the second food hall for downtown Troy, joining Troy Kitchen over on Congress Street.

* The Hedley Building is the office building on the riverfront that also currently houses Troy City Hall.

Earlier:
+ Eat This: Blackened Fish Po'Boy at Hooked Seafood Co. (2016)
+ Follow up: Troy Kitchen

The city of Troy wants to plan for the future of 1 Monument Square. Again.

1 Monument Square site 2016-08-25

The site back in 2016.

This all sounds familiar.

The city of Troy says it's aiming hold a three-day public design event -- a charrette -- about the future of the 1 Monument Square site. Press release blurbage:

Mayor Patrick Madden said, "The design charrette process offers a fresh start for the redevelopment of Monument Square. With assistance and input from our community, we can create a collective vision for the site that respects Troy's unique and historic character while enhancing our city's valuable assets and expanding access to our unique waterfront location."
A charrette is an intensive planning and design session where residents, business owners, designers and other stakeholders collaborate on a vision for development. A design charrette provides a forum for ideas which offers a unique opportunity to give designers immediate feedback while creating mutual authorship among participants in the plan. The City is not advancing any predetermined concepts with the exception of a 50-foot deep esplanade along the Hudson River and connection from the esplanade to River Street.

The city has issued an RFP for a consultancy to hold the event, which does not have a date:

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A potential map for Troy's future

Realize Troy draft downtown riverfront reconfig concept

A conceptual plan for a reconfiguration of the riverfront in downtown Troy.

The draft of Troy's new comprehensive plan -- Realize Troy -- was released this week after more than two years in the making. It's basically a proposed road map for the city's future over the next 25 years and beyond.

The full draft is available over at the Realize Troy site.

We read through the plan this week and picked out a handful of bits that caught our eye -- from a major reconfiguration downtown to... forks.

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Muffaletta from Harrison's Corner Market

Harrisons Corner Market muffaletta

By Deanna Fox

A muffaletta sandwich is a glorious thing.

Rich, unctuous, and briny, it has enough substance to make typical sandwich accoutrements (pickle, chips) seem superfluous.The trick is getting the proportions right and keeping each flavor profile balanced.

A new (long awaited) eatery -- Harrison's Corner Market in Troy -- seems to recognize and respect that.

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State Attorney General's office: Troy police review of fatal shooting was "deficient and incomplete"

NYS OAG Troy police Thevenin shooting model

An image of a 3D model of the incident prepared for OAG by a forensic analysis company called Precision Simulations, Inc. The car on the left is that of Sgt. French, Thevenin's car is in the middle, and the car on the right is that of TPD captain Matthew Montanino. The cone shapes stretching between French's car and Thevenin's are the estimated paths of the shots fired by French.

The state Attorney General's office released its report Tuesday on the fatal shooting of Edson Thevenin by Troy police in April 2016 -- and it is highly critical of the Troy Police Department.

Thevenin was shot by Troy police sergent Randall French after Thevenin fled a DWI stop and struck a divider on the entrace to the Collar City Bridge. In the version of events publicized by the TPD in the days after the shooting, French had fired after Thevenin's car pinned him against his own patrol car and he shot in self defense.

But the OAG report pointedly argues that Troy police mishandled the investigation of the incident. A clip:

The TPD was the police agency with exclusive control over the investigation for an initial critical period after the shooting. Almost immediately, and without having conducted any real investigation, the TPD publicly adopted the position that Sgt. French was pinned when he began shooting and that the shooting was therefore justified. The TPD did so notwithstanding its possession of evidence contradicting that version of events, including photographs it took of Mr. Thevenin's windshield showing trajectory rods inserted in each of the eight bullet holes. Those photographs make clear that some of the bullets were fired from different points across the front of Mr. Thevenin's car (i.e., evidence inconsistent with a pinned, immobile shooter.)

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Checking out the new Franklin Alley Social Club

Franklin Alley Social Club shuffleboard and bocce courts

The Franklin Alley Social Club -- a new bar/shuffleboard/bocce ball/arcade spot under Takk House in Troy -- opened this past weekend.

Here's a look around and little bit about what's up...

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The Narrows

The Narrows Troy trail network map

Check out the plan for The Narrows, a formalized series of walking trails through Troy. It's a collaboration between the Rensselaer Land Trust, Post Contemporary, and the city of Troy. Blurbage:

The Narrows is an extensive 5 mile hiking trail proposal that winds through the waterfalls, outcrops, and historic landscapes of Troy's Wynantskill and Poestenkill valleys: a wilderness hike... in the City. When complete, the wilderness trail will wind to Downtown Troy from the Hudson Mohawk Bike-Hike Trail over the river on the 378 Bridge.
The Narrows will highlight Troy's exceptional cultural heritage and scenic beauty, exhibit strong connectivity to regional trail systems, heighten quality of life and health for citizens of Troy and the region, bolster community identity, and add to economic development. ...
Phase One will connect the Burden Pond Preserve to the Staalesen Preserve along an over 2 mile trail that weaves its way along the Wynantskill's gorgeous waterfalls, gorges, and uplands. This route was chosen because of its spectacular natural features, and its complete site control. The connectivity to date has been impossible because of lack of infrastructure, most notably of two long span bridges needed to cross the Wynantskill at key locations

That first link above includes more info, including photos of some of the landscape.

Project backers say construction on phase one could start in the spring and be finished by the end of 2018.

Today's moment of art

pufferfish mural Troy alley off Congress St

Took a moment between stops the other day to admire the mural in the alley (Church Street) behind Troy Kitchen off Congress Street in downtown Troy. It's by John Hampshire and it's titled "Blue Pufferfish" and "Red Pufferfish." (Backstory.)

There's was something about the way the late-autumn light was slicing down the alleys of Troy.

Harrison's Corner Market

Harrison's Corner Market deli counter

Now open: Harrison's Corner Market -- a neighborhood grocery and sandwich shop -- at the corner of Congress Street and 4th Street in downtown Troy. It had a soft open this past weekend, and Wednesday marked the start of its regular schedule.

The store is the latest piece of the ongoing redevelopment of the former Trojan Hardware complex there by owner Kevin Blodgett. Since 2012 he's rehabbed spaces in the 35,000-square-feet collections of buildings for occupants such as Rare Form Brewing and The Shop.

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Monument Square on ice?


Former Troy mayor Harry Tutunjian floated an interesting idea for the 1 Monument Square site on Twitter this week (embedded above). As he followed-up in a reply: "Everyone who skates in Victorian costumes can skate for free."

An ice rink in the bowl (if that's the word) could be a fun scene. It'd probably be hard to pull off for the current winter, considering winter is pretty much already here. And the cost would be an obstacle, especially since Troy is so strapped for cash. (It looks like a portable rink might be somewhere in the $100k range. Maybe it's possible to rent for less.)

But, if anything, it's good to be thinking about how to use that prime spot for something other than a de facto parking lot. There's gotta be all sorts of ways to activate that space. Maybe show movies there again. Or a wiffle ball tournament (it does kind of look like a baseball diamond). Or art. Or some sort of architecture event (touchy subject). Something more than a blank space in the downtown picture.

Mapping out a future for bikes in Troy

Troy Bikeway network draft cropped

What's the route to follow to make Troy more bike and pedestrian friendly?

That's the question at the heart of the current push to create the Troy Bike Connections Plan. The backers of the project -- which include the city of Troy, the Capital District Transportation Committee, and Parks & Trails New York -- released a draft of the plan at a public meeting Wednesday evening.

And the materials are now online, if you'd like to have a look.

"There are a lot of streets in Troy that can be transformed with not a ton of engineering to become more bike friendly," said CDTC's Jennifer Ceponis Thursday, emphasizing the plan is a way of mapping out a direction for future projects as money and opportunity present themselves. "This is going to be incremental, for sure."

A few things about the proposed plan...

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Capital CarShare expanding to Troy

Capital CarShare door logo closeup

Capital CarShare announced Monday that it's expanding beyond the city of Albany for the first time -- to Troy.

The membership car sharing service will two car stationed in the Collar City -- at 80 2nd Street (near the Troy Public Library/Russell Sage) and 585 River Street (near in the intersection with Jay Street and Capital Roots).

Capital CarShare is a local non-profit similar to services such as Zip Car, which have become popular in many large cities. (Capital CarShare was itself modeled on a similar non-profit service in Buffalo.) It launched in Albany in 2014, and has eight vehicles stationed around the city. Members pay a monthly fee -- as low as $5, depending on the plan -- then pay an hourly rate for using a car.

A shareable reminder of that shop in Troy

Troy_19th_century_trade_cards_Chas_Wilson_4.jpg

Because... well, who knows. But you know this would have gotten "likes" on the Victorian Facebook.

Memes, sponsored content, Facebook link bait -- all this stuff might seem very modern. But it's probably not a stretch to say that people have pretty much always been into shareable images like this, it's just that now we are all collectively able to manufacture and distribute it at saturation levels.

We were thinking about that while browsing through old trade cards for shops in Troy from the late 19th century. The cards were sort of like modern business cards, but were a form of content unto themselves that people traded and collected.

Some are beautiful. Some are kind of funny. Some are just plain weird. Here's a few of them from Troy...

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The 1 Monument Sq movie theater project is off

One Monument Square Conceptual Renderings Bonacio Bow Tie

The proposed Bow Tie movie theater project at 1 Monument Square in downtown Troy is off, the administration of mayor Patrick Madden announced late Friday afternoon. A clip from Madden's statement:

"As a result of multiple and ongoing legal actions brought by a neighboring property owner against the City of Troy, Bow Tie Cinemas has notified the city of their decision to terminate the development agreement for the One Monument Square site. We are deeply disappointed with this lost opportunity to construct a world-class cinema in the Collar City.
"For several months, my administration and representatives of Bonacio Construction met on multiple occasions with the neighboring property owner to address his demands, including those not contained within the multiple legal actions filed against the city. Unfortunately, a mutually agreeable resolution to resolve these additional demands could not be reached.
"My administration strongly believes the issues identified in the multiple legal actions were solvable, but due to concern over potential future litigation Bow Tie Cinemas opted to end their involvement in the project.

The "neighboring property owner" is developer Sam Judge, who himself had once tried to develop something on the site. His early-September lawsuit alleged the Bow Tie project would do "irreparable harm" because of traffic and parking issues. It also argued a full environmental review would be necessary for the project. The Bow Tie project's movement through the city planning process was paused when the lawsuit was filed.

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Where things are at with the 1 Monument Square movie theater project

One Monument Square Conceptual Renderings Bonacio Bow Tie

Updated with a new set of renderings.

The latest chapter in 1 Monument Square saga arrived at an important plot point Wednesday evening when the proposed movie theater project for the site went before the Troy planning commission.

A lot of people turned out for the presentation, and they had a lot to say. That's not a surprise -- this is one of the most high-profile real estate projects in the whole Capital District, and it's the fourth major attempt to get something built at the site.

Here's a quick scan of what people had to say, and a few thoughts about where things are at...

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One critique of the proposed 1 Monument Square design, raised up one level

The conversation over the design of the proposed movie theater at 1 Monument Square is ramping up again, and will continue to do so as the project goes before the Troy Planning Commission July 26. [TU]

One of the criticism of the design is, essentially, a big, windowless box that blocks the river from the street (a wide outdoor stair would connect to the street level and riverfront).

So we thought the video clip embedded above was interesting -- it's by an architectural designer from Niskayuna named Tai Xi posted the design and video earlier this year as a way offering feedback. (It was highlighted by the We Care About the Square Twitter account this week.) In the design, the movie theater space would be raised up one level to create a covered plaza that extends from the the street out toward the river.

Here's a bit more about Xi's design, and a quick thought on how we all discuss these sorts of things...

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Troy Summer Square starts this week

The Troy Summer Square series -- a string of public art events centered around a pop-up pedestrian area at Monument Square -- starts this week and runs through August 5. Blurbage for the program being coordinated by the Arts Center of the Capital Region:

During its 3 week run, we will coordinate programming with local cultural partners, host fun events and showcase "Explore Troy Projects," temporary projects created by local artists. We will be asking all who interact with us, both in person and digitally, "What Are Your Ideas for art in Troy?" Information gathered will be presented in a Master Plan for Public Art and the ideas generated will be exhibited at the Arts Center for all to see. The Square will be followed up this fall by "Pop-up" Squares, one night of similar programming in other Troy neighborhoods.

The first event is this Wednesday, July 19 from 6-8 pm. The winning project proposals for 14 public art projects around the city will be announced, city historian Kathy Sheehan will lead a walking tour of downtown monuments, and Geraldine Fuhrmann will tell stories about Troy's history.

On Friday, July 28 during Troy Night Out, there will be a reveal of 10 public art ideas for Troy, with discussion from public art experts Judie Gilmore, who's leading the Summer Square series and was the project director for Breathing Lights, and Todd Bressi, who's worked with Mural Arts Philadelphia.

That link above has the full list of events, which are all in the evenings.

Follow up: Troy Kitchen

Cory Nelson at Troy Kitchen 2017-June

Cory Nelson at Troy Kitchen

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've met and covered during the last year.

Troy Kitchen opened its doors in February of 2016 in the former Pioneer Food Coop space in downtown Troy. Entrepreneur Cory Nelson had a vision for a luxury food court and local food incubator in which small food businesses could get a start, learn the ropes, and move on to start their own restaurants. Admittedly, he had no experience in the food business when he began the venture. But Cory Nelson is an optimist.

So, now a year and a half after its opening, how are things going at Troy Kitchen? We stopped by to catch up on what's new and talk with Cory about the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship, some of the lessons he's learned, and the plan for his next food court.

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Follow up: Collar City Candle

Collar City Candle Josh Jamie Wallbank 2017-July

Josh and Jamie at the Collar City Candle booth at the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market.

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've met and covered during the last year.

Collar City Candle took first place in the AOA Startup Grant contest last fall. Josh and Jamie Wallbank operate the business -- making candles, soaps, and wax containers for houseplants -- out of their home in Troy, and they started selling their products at the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market. They're putting the $2,500 in prize money from the AOA contest toward business expansion.

We caught up with them at the farmers' market on Saturday where Jamie shared some thoughts on their progress, planning, and what makes a business more than just a business.

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Follow up: Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen

Sunhees Jinah Kim 2017-June

By Cristin Steding

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've met and covered during the last year.

When we first spoke with Jinah Kim in 2016, she had big plans for Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen.

The goal, she said, was for Sunhee's to not only be a Korean restaurant, but also a hub for social services, specifically focused on the refugee and immigrant community. Walking into the restaurant today, you'll find little placards dotting the walls labeling things in Korean and English -- evidence of the English classes currently offered to staff members.

We caught up with Jinah to talk about how things have progressed over the last year, including a bar and a new patio, and how she's balancing between running a successful restaurant and giving back to the immigrant community.

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Troy Summer Square

Troy Monument Square Broadway and River 2015-June

A new art project -- Troy Summer Square -- is set for the Monument Square area of downtown Troy later this summer. It's being organized by the Arts Center of the Capital Region and the city, and led by Judie Gilmore, who was the project director for Breathing Lights. Blurbage:

We will create a unique, beautiful pedestrian plaza on a temporarily closed city block where Broadway meets River Street, in front of the monument. Troy Summer Square will be an integrated public environment in which a painted street, chairs, tables, planters, stage and ongoing cultural programming will activate the space. During its two and half week run, we will coordinate diverse programming with local cultural partners, host fun public engagement events for residents, visitors and families, and showcase "Explore Troy Awards," small grant opportunities available for local artists to engage the public and space. Through a variety of methods and events, we will be asking all who interact with Troy Summer Square both in person and digitally, "What Are Your Ideas for Art in Troy?" Information gathered will be presented in a Master Plan for Public Art and the ideas generated during Troy Summer Square will be exhibited at the Arts Center for all to see.

There will also be three pop-up events in North Central, Lansingburgh, and South Troy later in the summer.

That first link above includes more info about the goals of the project and details about how to submit a public art project idea. Ten ideas will be selected, with awards of up to $1,000 each. The deadline to apply is July 1.

Troy Flea 2017

Troy Flea logo 2017

The Troy Flea market is returning for a new season this Sunday, June 11 in Troy's Riverfront Park. It'll be back every second and fourth Sunday of the month through September.

Market press release blurbage:

So far about 30 vendors are scheduled to sell their wares at the debut flea. There are a number of new vintage and upcycle vendors, Natural remedy teas and new mixed textile artists.
Other items include quality vintage clothes, new and reclaimed furniture, jewelry, old comic books and posters. Some of the best selling items, according to Jackson, are the Pyrex glassware, housewares, and old storage containers, which will be returning this year.
Last year, [Kristin] Jackson and a business partner formed the new Troy Flea Market company, with when Flea founder Jessica McEnaney moved out of state. Under Jackson's management, Troy Flea continues to be selective about its vendors to ensure quality, diversity and attractive pricing. She and her partners view this year's Flea as an opportunity to continue growing the market by adding new vendors throughout the summer while helping attract additional shoppers and revenue into downtown Troy on Sunday.

(The call for vendors is still open.)

There will also be music and food vendors, and the return of the Troy Poem Project.

The market is Sunday 10 am-3 pm. Admission is free.

Dining around at Troy Kitchen

Troy Kitchen MKIslandHut GrandmaG HalalPalace composite

By Deanna Fox

Call it happenstance, or call it good planning: I ate at Troy Kitchen with friends two days in a row recently. That's probably not a big deal for most people, but schlepping from my rural Schenectady County home (with two kids in tow) over to Troy during the evening commute hours isn't always an easy feat.

The reward was worth it, though, especially since the inaugural vendors have moved out and new vendors have taken over booth space as part of the wonderfully conceived rental limits that are part of the Troy Kitchen concept.

It was the perfect opportunity to do a dine-around and sample what the new menus have to offer.

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Rockin' on the River 2017

the band Deerhoof

Deerhoof will be there in June. / photo: Asha Shechter

Summer, it is near: The schedule for the next season of the Rockin' on the River free concert series in downtown Troy is out.

The Wednesday night series starts June 7 in Riverfront Park and runs through August 9.

And here's the lineup of acts...

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BikeFest 7

troy bike rescue bikes

The annual BikeFest in Troy returns to The Sanctuary For Independent Media this Saturday, May 13. It's a fundraiser for the Troy Bike Rescue:

This celebration marks 17 years in existence of the volunteer-run, non-profit organization. TBR volunteers run weekly shop sessions where community members learn bike repair, bicycle safety, and fix bicycles to be available for adoption to the general public.
Bike rodeo for kids & Troy Samba!
Troy Bike Rescue volunteers have gotten really good at building fun obstacle courses at Freedom Square for kids to test their bike riding skills. The fun begins at 3pm. Troy Bike Rescue will have a few bikes on hand for kids to borrow, but participants are encouraged to bring their own. The fun at Freedom Square will conclude with everyone's favorite Brazilian Samba ensemble, Troy Samba! at 4:30pm. Participants are advised to bring water, snacks and sunblock if needed.
Dinner, Raffle, Cake Auction & Live Music by Raggliacci
A delicious burrito buffet will be prepared by TBR volunteers under the guidance of local food writer and educator Amy Halloran. Beer will be provided by the one and only Rare Form Brewery. There will be raffle prizes from local businesses, and music by Troy's very own Ragliacci. The night will be rounded off with an auction of cakes contributed by local bakers and bikers.

Events start at 3 pm with the kids bike rodeo in Freedom Square. Doors for events at the Sanctuary for Independent Media open at 5 pm. Tickets are a on a sliding scale -- with a $20 suggested donation.

photo via Troy Bike Rescue Facebook

Enjoy Troy Drones


#MonumentSquare #EnjoyTroy

A post shared by Troy From A Higher Perspective (@enjoytroydrones) on

Current favorite local Instagram account: The new Enjoy Troy Drones.

It's pretty much what it sounds like -- aerial photos of Troy. Or, as its tagline states, "Troy From A Higher Perspective."

Troy Hidden Garden Tour 2017

troy washington park looking out 2015-05-21

The popular Troy Hidden Garden Tour returns May 25. And tickets are now available online -- they're $10.

This is the 18th year for the tour. Blurbage:

The self-guided walking tour features approx. 30 private backyard gardens in the Historic Sage College, Washington Park and adjoining neighborhoods of downtown Troy.
While most of the gardens are approximately the same size, about 20 feet by 30 feet, they vary greatly in style. Some of the gardens feature charming pathways, fountains and pools. Some are filled with flowers, while others have more plants and vegetables -- all lovingly tended by gardeners of all skill levels.

The rain-or-shine event is Thursday, May 25 from 4-7:30 pm. The check-in table is in the Russell Sage College Parking lot and the gardens are within walking distance of there.

At check-in this year, you'll also get a list of discounts and special offers from downtown Troy businesses. There will also be free refreshments at Carmen's Cafe from 4-6 pm.

And that evening there's a prix fixe dinner menu at Carmen's that will benefit The Friends of Prospect Park.

Albany House and Garden Tour
A similar event in Albany -- the annual Historic Albany House and Garden Tour -- returns Thursday, June 22.

Tara Kitchen Troy is now open

Tara Kitchen Troy exterior

The Troy location of the popular Moroccan restaurant Tara Kitchen is now open at 172 River Street (the block between State and Congress). Its first day was last Friday. There are a handful of photos after the jump.

This is the second location for the restaurant, started by Aneesa Waheed and Muntasim Shoaib. Their first restaurant space is on Liberty Street in downtown Schenectady, where they've won many fans. Before opening in Schenectady, they sold from a booth at the Troy and Schenectady farmers markets.

Tara Kitchen also makes a lineup of jarred sauces -- you might have seen them in local supermarkets. We've tried a jar of the apricot and prune sauce. It made for a few tasty dinners at home.

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Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream opening Troy storefront

Dutch Udder Troy storefront pre-opening 2017-April

A quick mention relevant to your ice cream interests: The Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream is opening a storefront in downtown Troy at 282 River St. (It's the spot on the corner with the Franklin Street alley near the Market Block.) The opening is planned for May, according to the company's Facebook page.

The people behind Dutch Udder are Kehmally Karl and Jeff McCauley, who started the business as a side project and now have a commercial kitchen space in Cohoes. They've been building the business methodically, developing new flavors and selling ice cream from a cart at events and pop-ups. (You might remember they were finalists in the 2015 AOA Startup Grant contest.)

We've sampled their ice creams and sorbets on multiple occasions and they're very good. An example: They make a Nine Pin cider sorbet that's really smooth and nice.

We're hoping to get a few more details about what's in store for the Troy location.

Earlier on AOA: Follow up: The Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream

A peek at what the proposed movie theater at 1 Monument Square in Troy might look like

One Monument Square Conceptual Renderings 2017-April 1 cropped

Don't squint -- we've posted the images in large format.

The first renderings of the propose movie theater at 1 Monument Square in downtown Troy are out.

The backers of the project -- Bonacio Construction and Bow Tie Cinemas -- pitched the idea before the Troy City Council Wednesday evening, touting it as a luxury movie theater. [Troy Record] [TU]

The city of Troy selected the proposal from two entries earlier this year. The super quick overview: The $18 million project would include a 9-screen movie theater, 3,000 square feet of street level retail space, 100-150 parking spaces underneath, and the potential for additional floors in the future. Bonacio and Bow Tie will also be redeveloping the American Theater space, located 500 feet down River Street from the site. The projected opening date for the 1 Monument Square theater would be the fall of 2018.

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Mapping a way toward education

Emma Willard 1828 Native American map

Willard’s History of the United States, or, Republic of America started off with a map of Native American nations.

Maybe you know (if a bit vaguely) about the significance of Emma Willard as a pioneer in advocating for educational opportunities for women. She, of course, founded the Troy Female Seminary in 1821, which is still around today -- though with a different name: the Emma Willard School.

But maybe you, like us, did not know about Willard's interest in geography and teaching geography. From the Worlds Revealed: Geography & Maps blog at the Library of Congress:

As head of the Troy Female Seminary, Willard was an early promoter for teaching science to young women. Troy's curriculum included mathematics, science, philosophy, and geography. Geography, in particular, played a major role in a student's education at Troy. Willard believed that studying geography laid the foundation for solid scholarship, "sound judgement, and an enlarged understanding." In addition, she found that studying geography "brings into action the powers of comparing and abstracting." Willard was adamant that it was more important to teach students how to think, rather than what to think and that the study of geography could promote this teaching philosophy.

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Troy Innovation Garage grand opening

Troy Innovation Garage interior

The Troy Innovation Garage is celebrating its grand opening March 6-10 with a series of events.

Among those events is a panel discussion Wednesday -- "Conversations on Innovation":

'Conversations on Innovation' is a discussion with executive level leaders, entrepreneurs, and creators where we ask them to talk about how innovation played a role in their organizational and personal success. Our panelists come from a variety of sectors, including video game development, cider making, public art and community empowerment and real estate development.

The panelists are Karthik Bala of Velan Ventures (and founder of Vicarious Visions), Breathing Lights project director Judie Gilmore, David Buicko of the Galesi Group (developers of Mohawk Harbor), and Alejandro del Peral of Nine Pin Cider Works.

The event starts at 6 pm. It's $30 -- free for Troy Innovation Garage members.

Other events during the week include a "Cowork for the Day" and a happy hour reception. See that first link above for details.

Troy Innovation Garage? It's a new co-working space "aimed at the Capital Region's creative entrepreneurs" on Fourth Street in downtown Troy. The project is backed by Tom Nardacci, the founder of local PR and marketing firm Gramercy Communications, which also has offices in the building.

Here's a photo tour from when it first opened last fall.

The new new plan for 1 Monument Square

1 Monument Square site 2016-08-25

The site last summer, looking up toward River Street and the square.

The city of Troy announced Wednesday that it's selected a plan for the redevelopment of 1 Monument Square: a new Bow Tie movie theater built by Bonacio Construction.

Said mayor Patrick Madden in a press release:

Their proposal to build a nine-screen cinema will strengthen our city's growing economic resurgence while further boosting Troy as a regional destination in the Capital District. With an estimated 10,000 weekly visitors this exciting project will support our downtown restaurants and small businesses while helping to attract additional investment to our community.

Bonacio's proposal is part a plan that would also redevelop the former American Theater space nearby on River Street into a one-screen theater, also run by Bow Tie. (The small theater project was awarded $600k in the state Regional Economic Development Council grant process this past December.)

The city council still needs to approve a development agreement for the 1 Monument Square site, and the project will have to go through the usual planning approval process. The Madden administration is projecting that construction could start in late fall of this year and be completed by late 2018.

The project will be the fourth major attempt to redevelop the site on the riverfront in the heart of Troy.

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How 27 properties in a Troy neighborhood ended up in a shaky situation -- and the complicated path back to solid footing

Beman Park 2152 Fourteenth St

One of the properties on Fourteenth Street.

By Luke Stoddard Nathan

On January 12, 2012, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy issued an emergency notification, advising students who rented off-campus housing from a company called Campus Habitat "that the continuation of their ability to reside in that residence may be in immediate jeopardy." Campus Habitat had not paid its mortgage, utility bills, or real-estate taxes for several months, and was "involved in a large similar foreclosure lawsuit" near a school in Illinois, the alert advised.

Some 200 students escrowed or withheld rent; many sought new housing. And the memo was prophetic: Within weeks, the student-rental company's largest area lender, SEFCU, posted foreclosure notices on the doors of 27 homes.

Today students still occupy most of these homes, but it wasn't a straight path to this point. Sited in teetering neighborhoods in a city never far from "fiscal chaos," this critical assemblage of student housing, over the past half decade, has entailed a tangle of litigation, a protracted sale period, a surprise intervention, and millions of dollars in public and private investment -- all to overcome the actions of a landlord who profited at the community's expense and left a sizable chunk of the neighborhood untended.

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Troy's request for another attempt at 1 Monument Square

1 Monument Square site 2016-08-25

The site this past August, looking up toward River Street.

"Now is the time to develop this key parcel in downtown Troy."

That's the last line of the opening page of the new request for proposals that the city of Troy posted Monday for the 1 Monument Square site, one of the most prominent pieces of undeveloped real estate in the Capital Region core. The request is looking to spur the fourth major attempt since 2011 to redevelop the old city hall spot.

Here's a quick scan of what the city is looking for this time around...

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Plumb Oyster Bar

Plumb Oyster Bar Troy owner Heidi Knoblauch

Heidi Knoblauch

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

If you want fresh oysters daily, you'll soon have a new spot.

Heidi Knoblauch, an Emma Willard grad, recently returned to Troy after years in academia to open Plumb Oyster Bar. She's another young person investing in Troy, and she aims to create something a little bit different for this area -- while building a gathering space to serve both oyster lovers and the seafood-phobic alike.

We chatted about oysters, the motivations to leave academia, and why Troy is the right spot for Plumb.

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A look at the Beer Diviner's new Troy tap room

Beer Diviner Troy tap room

Quick follow-up on the news that Beer Diviner was opening a tap room in downtown Troy: The bar is now open at 461 Broadway (at the corner with 5th Ave) -- and the grand opening is set for this Friday.

Here's a quick look around, along with a few bits about the new place...

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Troy Stories

troy stories screen grab

A new project that you might find interesting: Troy Stories, which is taking the Humans of New York approach to the city of Troy.

The person behind it is Jesse Gardner. From the about page:

Troy is such an interesting place right now, full of all different kinds of people. There's a lot of change happening: a lot of good and a lot of bad, depending on who talk to. And I think that listening to and sharing stories at this critical moment in the history of this 200-year-old city can help build empathy.
For some, that means taking time to consider how differently people see the world, how different the circumstances they face. For others, these stories mean finding comfort in discovering that you're not the only person who thinks like you do. There's such strength in learning someone out there shares your fears or joys.
Consider Troy Stories an empathy-building endeavor.

The stories are also being distributed via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

There are three stories to start, and it says there will be new stories each week.

Dominican icey at Coco Mango's

coco mangos troy icey in cone

By Deanna Fox

My winter jacket has been moved from the attic closet to the main coat rack in my entryway. It's here, friends. Or at least it's on its way.

I'm talking about winter, of course. While my attire choices change, my eating habits often revert to different times. All summer long I crave slow-simmered stews and rich desserts. In winter, I lust after garden-fresh Caprese salads and cooling treats.

Lucky for me, Coco Mango's is finally up and running in Troy, and I can indulge in chilly Dominican icey that keep my insides the same temperature as my outsides to beat winter at its own game. (C'mon, I'm not crazy! It's all using science Parabolic partial differentials! Heat diffusion!)

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Mapping a history of inequality in Albany, Schenectady, and Troy

Mapping Inequality HOLC map Albany cropped

A clip from the HOLC map for Albany.

You've probably heard of the term "redlining" -- it refers to the practice of denying services, such as mortgage lending, to people in certain neighborhoods based on the race or ethnicity of the people who live there. It's one of the ways discrimination became incorporated into economic systems in this country.

The practice and the term have roots that stretch back to the 1930s and a federal program called the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC), which surveyed cities and graded sections of them based on perceived "security" of investments there. From those surveys came maps -- with redlined sections.

A project based at the University of Richmond and involving researchers from a handful of institutions -- Mapping Inequality -- has gathered up these maps and made them accessible online.

So we pulled out the maps for Albany, Schenectady, and Troy.

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Beer Diviner planning Troy spot

461 Broadway in downtown Troy

Update: Here's a press release about the new taproom, which mentions an opening date will be announced in the coming weeks.
____

Check it out: It looks like The Beer Diviner is setting up a bar in downtown Troy.

The brewery mentioned the plan for 461 Broadway recently on both its Instagram and FB page. (Also: The building is owned by Harry Tutunjian, and he tweeted a welcome to the location to the brewery Wednesday afternoon.)

The Beer Diviner currently has a farm brewery and tasting room in Cherry Plain in Rensselaer County. A few years back Casey talked with owner Jonathan Post about the operation, his approach to beer -- and how he became known as the Beer Diviner.

We have an email in with The Beer Diviner and we're hoping to hear back about a potential opening date.

461 Broadway? If that address seems familiar, it was the location for both Nibble, and before that, Francesca's.

Tuna sandwich at Little Pecks

little pecks tuna sandwich overhead

By Deanna Fox

To relegate tuna to the lower levels of the sandwich totem is an easy thing to do: Tuna sandwiches are stinky, leaving your breath, your fingers, and the room they are made and consumed in reeking of tinned fish. More involved but less portable than the PBJ, tuna fish is a fussy sandwich that is open to endless interpretation but always requires the same level of attention. Where a PBJ can be slapped together, thrown haphazardly into a zip-top bag and shoved into a backpack, ski jacket, or lunchpail, the tuna sandwich demands gentle, precise insertion into a storage and transport vessel, constant refrigeration of some manner, and delicate nibbles to protect the integrity of assemblage.

Despite its particularities, tuna fish is sometimes an act of desperation. A can of tuna can be found in most home pantries for last-minute sandwich emergencies, and tuna or whitefish salad is often one of the cheaper options on deli menus.

Still, a good tuna fish sandwich is a thing to marvel at. The perfect mayo-to fish ratio, the inclusion of additives to the salad, the choice of bread... a good combination of those things makes all the downsides of a tuna sandwich completely worth it.

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Troy Innovation Garage

Troy Innovation Garage interior

The Troy Innovation Garage -- a new co-working space "aimed at the Capital Region's creative entrepreneurs" -- opened last week in a renovated building on Fourth Street in downtown Troy.

The project is backed by Tom Nardacci, the founder of local PR and marketing firm Gramercy Communications, which also has offices in the building. And it's probably the largest-scale attempt so far to open a co-working space similar to what you find in large cities.

Here are a few more details, along with a look around...

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Tic tac Troy

Troy street tic tac toe

Spotted this today River Street and 1st Street in downtown Troy, painted like one of the markings used to identify utility lines or paving instructions.

Breathing Lights begins

Breathing Lights Schenectady Stanley Street

Stanley Street in Schenectady

The much-anticipated Breathing Lights project opens this weekend in Albany, Schenectady and Troy. For the next two months hundreds of vacant buildings in the three cities will be illuminated from the inside by gently pulsing lights as part of the public art installation.

The project is backed by up to $1 million in funding from the Bloomberg Philanthropies, and it won out over more than 200 other entries in a national competition for public art projects.

Here's a quick overview, along with some thoughts at the start of the project's public phase...

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Toast menu at Superior Merchandise Co.

Superior Merchandise three toasts

By Deanna Fox

The first time I heard of a "toast menu" in a restaurant, my eyes rolled so hard I'm pretty sure I sprained something in my head. (My brain?) It was in an issue of Bon Appetit magazine in 2014, regarding a restaurant in San Francisco that did toast so well, it could rightly charge $4 a slice.

'Tis a fad, I thought, but then BA kept on publishing about toast. Later that year, "Toast is still happening. Get on the train." Months later, "27 ideas for toast." And my favorite, published this year, "Life before avocado toast: The 16 ways dining has changed since 2000."

Should it come as a surprise that "specialty toast" has made its way to the Capital Region? Scoff if you want to, but toast isn't going anywhere, so we might as well play with it. That's what Superior Merchandise Company, in Troy, is doing.

But don't take it as child's play. This toast is serious business.

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How to move forward at 1 Monument Square?

1 Monument Square site 2016-08-25

What should go here?

More than a hundred people showed up for a public meeting Wednesday evening in Troy to talk about how to redevelop the 1 Monument Square site. And toward the beginning of the event, mayor Patrick Madden mentioned that the city was hoping to have a request for proposals out to developers sometime early this October.

But by the time the event was ending, Madden said his administration would be rethinking the process.

Here's what happened in between...

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The Troy Poem Project

Troy Poem Project Mahron.jpg

Meghan Marohn at Troy Flea

Meghan Marohn is terrible at small talk. She'll tell you so herself.

But if you want to talk about the meaning of life -- or love, time, repetition, or the Collar City Bridge -- Meghan is happy to oblige. You'll find her sitting by the river at Troy Flea, or along River Street at the Enchanted City festival or Troy Night Out. She's the red-haired writer behind the manual typewriter next to the sign that reads: Troy Poem Project.

Tell her about a person, a place, a feeling, an idea -- whatever is on your mind. Twenty minutes later, she'll hand you a poem, something fresh and new, your thoughts, distilled, refined, milled into metaphors for you to consider in a new way.

The Troy Poem Project, she says, is about more than poetry. It's really an effort to get to know people in a different way, and, if only for a moment, change the way we communicate in this busy world.

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Public meeting to gather input about 1 Monument Square future development

monument square site 2014-02-03 emptyWhat sort of development should happen at the 1 Monument Square site in downtown Troy?

The city of Troy has scheduled a public meeting for August 24 to gather public input in an attempt to answer that question. From a city press release:

[The meeting] will provide residents and city stakeholders an opportunity to participate in a community conversation regarding the future redevelopment of the vacant site and provide their input and ideas in a public setting.
"The One Monument Square site is one of Troy's more high-profile properties and an important part of the future of our downtown," said Mayor Patrick Madden. "By further engaging the public on the redevelopment of the property we can foster an important dialogue between business owners, residents, community members and public officials that will be utilized in the development of a new RFP expected to be released this fall."

There is, of course, a lot of history and drama involving the development of this site. The most recent turn was this past spring when a proposal to build a mixed-use residential project got as far as the city's planning board before meeting organized opposition from members of the public -- the developer dropped out, blaming what it said was the city's failure to properly identify underground infrastructure that complicated construction and pointing the finger at the organized opposition.

That was the third major effort to redevelop site since the former city hall was demolished in 2011.

The public meeting is Wednesday, August 24 at 6 pm at the Bush Memorial on the Sage Troy campus.

Follow up: Flower Scout

Flower Scout 2016-July Colie Collen

Colie Collen in her garden in Troy.

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've covered during the last few years.

Last but not least in the week of follow-ups: Flower Scout.

You might remember that Colie Collen won last year's AOA Startup Grant competition. As she said then about her approach for the floral design business:

"Something that's really important to me is that the community in which I live be interested in my business. So, it's only grown as people have asked for things that then I've started to offer. Maybe that's naive -- some of your market is not your peers, or your community -- but it's important to me as a structuring principle."

Over the past year, Flower Scout has grown considerably. And she's continuing to transform a vacant lot in Troy into a garden for growing flowers.

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Follow up: Takk House

Takk House Heidi Benjamin and Frank Sicari

Heidi Benjamin and Frank Sicari

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've covered during the last few years.

Today we're revisiting Takk House, a wedding and event space in downtown Troy. When I first spoke with owners Heidi Benjamin and Frank Sicari, they were just getting started with the building, which many remember as a former Knights of Columbus building. In the last two years, they have put in countless hours renovating the building and have begun to host weddings, performances, and other events.

As Benjamin told me back at the beginning:

Funny story is that when we were looking up at the space a random person just announced to us in passing that it was 'the most beautiful building in all of Troy.' We both looked at each other puzzled and thought...this?
It wasn't until the showing that we completely fell head over heels in love with 55 3rd St. From the outside the space looks a bit rough due to the facade deteriorating. We never in a million years would have thought the inside would be so magnificent. It is like a hidden treasure. I think that is the best part of all.

I caught up with Benjamin and Sicari to see what it's been like to run Takk House, and got the word on their next business venture.

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Follow up: Nibble Inc

Nibble Inc 2016-June Jesse Cramer

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

AOA is on summer break this week. So, like last summer, we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've covered during the last few years.

Today we're checking back in with Jessie Cramer of Nibble Inc, a donut shop in downtown Troy. Nibble is known for its gourmet donuts that are made out of a potato-based dough.

When we first met Nibble, Cramer told us that this inspiration for her shop came from eating an amazingly delicious donut in Maine:

"The best doughnut I've ever had," Cramer adds. "And I thought 'How can I make this donut so I can have it whenever I want?'"

After almost two years in business, Cramer has refined her recipe, grown her business, and is planning for an upcoming move.

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A quick look around Little Pecks

Little Peck's interior

The latest addition to the collection of downtown Troy businesses created by Heather LaVine and Vic Christopher -- Little Pecks -- is set to start serving coffee this Friday. And a soft opening with a menu of food items is lined up for the end of next week.

The concept: A cafe open morning through the evening that serves drinks, pastries, lunch-type dishes, and grab-and-go items.

Here's a quick look around the space, along with a few bits about what's planned, and a few bonus tracks...

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Taste of Troy food tours

troy monument squareA business called Taste of Troy, started by Amy Koren-Roth, is offering food walking tours (Or should be that walking food tours?) of downtown Troy. Blurbage for its "Central Troy Historic District Food Tour":

Put on your walking shoes for an entertaining and delicious way to learn about Troy, its ups and downs, and the role food is playing in bringing this architectural gem back to life. You'll sip and sample some New York classic flavors (often with a new twist). Of course, we will sprinkle in history, architecture, and culture to round out your perfect Saturday in the Collar City. Our Central Troy Historic District Food Tour is a leisurely 3 hour, 1.5 mile walk with plenty of refreshing and informative stops along the way, so it's suited for most ages and fitness levels.

The tours are offered on Saturday mornings. Tickets are $49 and must be purchased in advance.

Daniel went one of the tours recently -- here's his recap.

Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen

Sunhee's Kitchen Jinah Kim

Jinah Kim

By Cristin Steding

Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen is a new Korean restaurant in downtown Troy with a three-part approach: farm, food and community engagement.

The family farm supplies the restaurant with eggs (and soon, produce), and the restaurant assists and employs recent refugees. It's a family endeavour, with owner Jinah Kim's mother and a longtime family friend as chefs, and her father completing the renovations to the restaurant space.

Sunhee's just recently opened, but Kim has big plans for the future. She's trying a new business model and isn't afraid the blur the line between for-profit business and social service agency.

I got together with Jinah Kim to talk about the new restaurant, her passion for social service, and her favorite Korean foods.

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Finding opportunities for growth in urban spaces

Emily Menn Troy urban garden view towards the street

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

Living in a city often means that you have to make the best of extremely limited outdoor space. If you're lucky enough to have a yard, stoop, or fire escape, it can be a challenge to flex your green thumb in any significant way.

Emily Menn, a Troy real estate developer and landlord, has been working on green space in Troy for the last eight years. And she's transformed a neglected double lot into a budding downtown oasis.

I chatted with Emily about how gardens in cities can build community, as well as the challenges and opportunities of urban gardening.

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Troy Rockin' on the River 2016

The Felice Brothers

The Felice Brothers will be there in July.

The schedule for this summer's Rockin' on the River free concert series in downtown Troy is out. The Wednesday night series starts June 15 in Riverfront Park and runs through August 3.

And here's the lineup of acts...

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Hot Plate from K-Plate at Troy Kitchen

K-Plate Hot Plate

By Deanna Fox

I love the idea of a food court. Part of my college decision came down to the schools with the best cafeterias. There is something so American about being offered a plethora of food options without having to walk too far to explore them.

Sadly, most food courts are depressing. Just look at most malls. It almost gives the term "food court" a biased, bad reputation. Unless -- like me -- you grew up in a magical land shaped by the mythos that is Wegmans and its epic food court, there is little hope when one hears that term.

We have no Wegmans here (yet), but there is light in the dark tunnel of "food courts." Galleria 7, on Troy-Schenectady Road in Latham, is part of it. As is Troy Kitchen, the food court that recently opened in the old Pioneer co-op grocery building on Congress Street in Troy.

As much I love options, I'm basically ruined from trying most things that are offered at the handful of food stalls within Troy Kitchen. Because the Hot Plate, from K-Plate Korean BBQ, is my new go-to.

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Talking with the new manager of the Troy farmers' market

Troy Waterfront Farmers Market River Street

The Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market starts is it's new outdoor season this Saturday morning on River Street in downtown Troy.

And its 17th season includes a new manager: Liz Hammond. She comes to the job with experiences that include both working on farms and the Veggie Mobile, Capital Roots' mobile vegetable market.

We met up with Hammond this week to talk about the state of the market, its place in the local food scene, and the connections between the market's producers and customers.

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Troy Hidden Garden Tour 2016

troy washington park looking out 2015-05-21The popular Troy Hidden Garden Tour returns Thursday, May 26 from 4-7:30 pm. Tickets are currently available online -- they're $10.

This is the 17th year for the event. The tour is a fundraiser for The Friends of Prospect Park. (There's also a dinner benefit for the org at Carmen's that night with a prix fixe menu for $35.) Tour blurbage:

The self-guided walking tour features approx. 30 private backyard gardens in the Historic Sage College, Washington Park and adjoining neighborhoods of downtown Troy.
While most of the gardens are approximately the same size, about 20 feet by 30 feet, they vary greatly in style. Some of the gardens feature charming pathways, fountains and pools. Some are filled with flowers, while others have more plants and vegetables -- all lovingly tended by gardeners of all skill levels.

The tour is a very pleasant time. And it's a fun way to get to know that part of Troy.

Albany House and Garden Tour
Just a heads-up that this year's Historic Albany House and Garden Tour is Thursday, June 23. Tickets are $15 and available online.

Noticed in Troy

girl noticed mural troy

While walking around downtown Troy Friday for Troy Night Out, we stopped to have a look at this new, temporary mural on the side of YWCA building.

It was created last week as part of a national touring project called Girl Noticed. Project blurbage:

My name is Lori Pratico and along with photographer Elizabeth Sanjuan I will be traveling 50 states in 3 years to erect a series of large exterior murals. Each mural will depict a female that has been nominated from their community to be noticed. Some murals will be crafted in charcoal, weather conditions and time will naturally and quickly fade away these images. Others will be painted, and over time these will be erased or replaced, again to be forgotten. There is a window of time to "Notice" the artwork, to "Notice" the girl. All of the murals represent the message: "when an individuals talents, intelligence, and character are left unnoticed, they may fade away, disappear, or be replaced and never be seen or developed into their full potential." Photographs will be taken during the creation of the mural and will comprise a book to be published at the completion of the project.

The YWCA building is at the southwest corner of State Street and 1st Street.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Under the bridge... IT'S TROYBOT!
+ The big picture in Troy
+ Sprinting across the wall on Central Ave
+ Restored at Madison and Main
+ Living Walls in action

The 1 Monument Square project is off (again)

1 Monument Square rendering

A rendering from one of the last iterations of the current project.

The development company behind the latest effort to build on the 1 Monument Square site in downtown Troy announced Friday that it's pulling out of the $24 million residential/retail project.

In statements, officials for the Kirchoff Companies criticized the city of Troy for what they described as "materially inadequate" info about underground utility lines that complicated construction at the site. And they had sharp words for a group that organized to oppose the project, questioning whether the group had the city's best interests at heart. [TU] [Biz Review]

That group, We Care About the Square, had argued that changes Kirchoff made to its original proposal -- including switching from two buildings to one -- had evolved the project to a degree that it significantly differed from what had first been pitched. In a statement posted on Facebook Friday, it called the proposed project "substandard." It continued:

"Anyone who has been listening to the debate knows that WCATS is a pro-development, pro-design, pro-quality group of invested citizens that values the extraordinary urban and architectural assets of Troy and wants to see the gap in River Street and our city's river façade completed in a manner that connects the downtown to the Riverfront, meets the highest standards of excellence in architectural design, and is of the construction quality the city deserves."

This ending wasn't really a surprise.

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The time Harriet Tubman helped lead the rescue of a man in Troy

The spot in Troy where the rescue started.

With the news this week that Harriet Tubman will appear on the $20 bill, it seemed like a good time to highlight the story of how Tubman helped lead the rescue of a man in Troy.

It's an amazing story, full of bravery and tenacity.

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Checking out the new Wolff's Biergarten in Troy -- and Troy Cantina

Wolff's Biergarten Troy

The newest Wolff's Biergarten opens today in Troy in the King Street location formerly occupied by a Bombers Burrito Bar franchise, just off the eastern side of the Green Island Bridge.

The restaurant group headed by Matt Baumgartner and partners took over this location after the franchise owners decided to stop operating last fall. While assessing the situation they decided to switch the concept from Bombers to Wolff's. They also added a new concept upstairs that location -- Troy Cantina -- focused on tacos and tequila.

This is the group's fourth Wolff's, joining locations in Albany, Schenectady, and Syracuse.

We stopped by Wednesday to get a look at the transformation of the space, and talk with Matt Baumgartner for a few minutes about making the switch, plans for more biergartens in other cities, and how he picks out opportunities.

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The only known photo of Troy's Sam Wilson -- Uncle Sam -- is up for auction

only known photo of Sam Wilson

Sam Wilson. Probably.

What's said to be the only known photo of Sam Wilson -- the 18th/19th century Troy businessman thought to be inspiration for the "Uncle Sam" personification of the United States -- is up for auction this weekend in Ohio. And a group in Troy is trying raise money to buy it, along with other Uncle Sam-related items

From the Patreon page for Mount Ida Preservation Hall:

The image will be auctioned this Sunday, April 24 along with a costume said to have been worn by James Montgomery Flagg in his iconic "I Want You" World War I recruiting poster and another costume believed to have been used by Thomas Nast in his famous Uncle Sam illustrations for Harper's Weekly magazine. The Mount Ida Preservation Association would like to place bids on some or all of these items in order to bring them home to Uncle Sam's hometown.
The Mount Ida Preservation Association is collaborating with local collectors and Uncle Sam enthusiasts to create a museum exhibit on the busy Rt. 2/Congress Street corridor, at Preservation Hall, perched above the scenic Poestenkill Gorge, and just blocks from the Mt. Ida Cemetery, where Uncle Sam was buried before being reinterred to Oakwood. ...
As this work is underway, however, the items we collect together will be made available for display at local museums and institutions that are already equipped to show them to the public.

The project is aiming to ultimately raise $6,000 to acquire items at the auction. (The way Patreon works is that people pledge to contribute some amount -- as small as $1 -- each month.) The listing for the Same Wilson photo on the Forsythe Auctions site estimates the photo is worth between $5,000 and $10,000.

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JFK in Troy, 1960

Albany Archives shared this photo today of then-Senator John F. Kennedy campaigning in Troy in September of 1960 today (you are following @AlbanyArchives, right?). And it struck us how informal the whole scene looked, especially in contract to the large campaign events that have recently happened in the Capital Region.

Anyway, we were able to find a transcript of some of JFK's remarks that day in Troy. He mostly talked about Russia and China and communism. Here's a clip from the American Presidency Project at the University of California-Santa Barbara:

So I come here to Troy and ask your support. The name of Troy goes back in history. Therefore, in this city you connect the old with the new but the cause is still the same, the maintenance of freedom, the maintenance of self-government, at a time when it is under far more serious challenges than the city of ancient Troy ever faced. I come to Troy and ask your help in this campaign.

Kennedy would, of course, go on to the win the presidency against Richard Nixon later that fall. He won New York State 52.5-47.3 -- though the only Capital Region county he won was Albany.

More details about Breathing Lights

Breathing Lights Schenectady test

One of illuminated buildings in a recent concept test in Schenectady. / photo: Hyers + Mebane

There are some more details out about the Breathing Lights public art project that's set for this fall in Albany, Schenectady and Troy.

You might remember this is the project that won a large grant in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge last summer as part of a national competition. It will be illuminating hundreds of vacant buildings during eventing in October and November with pulsing, "breathing" interior lighting with the goal of generating interest in neighborhood development.

Project organizers recently completed a test of the concept at a handful of houses in Schenectady.

Here's a condensed outline of some events, along with some info about opportunities to get involved...

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A few visions of a possible future Troy

Realize Troy south of Green Island Bridge

Catching up a bit: Plans, renderings, and slides from the recent public meetings for Realize Troy -- effort to develop a new comprehensive plan for Troy -- and are online. And they're worth having a look if you haven't seen them. If you'd like to just flick through one deck of slides, here's the overview presentation.

A lot of the ideas and themes are similar to what's been discussed in Albany in recent years for that city's comprehensive plan and the current Rezone Albany project: developing downtown, making better connections to and use of the waterfront, providing job opportunities, fostering neighborhoods, adjusting codes so buildings better fit their contexts. The "big moves and plan directions":

1. A sustained program of reinvestment
2. Grow people, jobs, and the City's tax base
3. Position the downtown as the cultural and creative hub of the region
4. Grow and expand the success of downtown to the north and south
5. Revitalize neighborhoods and improve access to local amenities
6. Grow the city's skills and knowledge base
7. Reconnect the city to the waterfront and improve its recreational, development and cultural potential
8. Protect and enhance Troy's historical assets
9. Promote an inclusive, healthy, sustainable and green city
10. Continue to engage the broader community in making the Plan a success

The part we suspect that will first catch most people's eyes are some of the ideas floated for downtown Troy, including a re-imagining of the area just south of the Green Island Bridge with a permanent home for the farmers' market and a replacement for the Atrium. We've clipped those slides out -- they're after the jump if you'd like to have a quick look.

The project is currently in the "plan development" phase. It's gathering feedback on the draft plan via an online comment form.

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Veg Out: Beirut Restaurant

Beirut restaurant Troy exterior 2016-March

By Cristin Steding

Veg Out is short series about vegan dining options around the Capital Region.

No tour of vegetarian and vegan food would be complete without a foray into ethnic food options. Trying to veganize traditional American food tends to be an exercise in frustration. Dairy-heavy, meat-centered dishes like hot dogs, mac and cheese, and pizza are difficult to replicate with satisfaction. But when you widen your view, the vegan options multiply.

One of my favorite places for a more global meal is the little treasure of a Lebanese restaurant in Troy, Beirut.

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Troy Kitchen grand opening set

troy kitchen pre-opening exteriorSome quick follow-up on Troy Kitchen: The food court's grand opening is scheduled for this Friday, March 18 at 5 pm. The venue has been closed after its initial opening night in late February in order finish setup and final details.

The lineup of vendors announced today (descriptions via Troy Kitchen):
+ K-Plate: Korean barbeque, featuring marinated beef and short ribs
+ Troy Lobster: Lobster rolls, crab rolls, shrimp rolls, soups and salads
+ Magdelena's Menu: Mexican cuisine, including tacos and burritos
+ Butter & Sugar Co.: Cupcakes, truffles and custom cakes
+ APT: Retail home goods and furniture

The planned hours of operation: 11 am-11 pm Monday-Thursday / 11 am-2 am Friday and Saturday / noon-4 pm Sunday.

Earlier on AOA: A look at Troy Kitchen

"Realize Troy" events this week

Troy 3rd Street from Quackenbush Building roof

The ongoing effort to develop a new comprehensive plan for Troy -- Realize Troy -- has a series of public events lined up for this week as the final plan is taking shape:

Monday: Draft Comprehensive Plan Overview
"The evening presentation will provide a high-level overview of the Draft Comprehensive Plan directions and transformation over time. This will be followed by break-out group discussions to capture feedback on the information presented." Monday 6:30 pm at the RPI Heffner Alumni House, 1301 Peoples Avenue

Tuesday and Wednesday: Detailed Directions Workshop
The consultants for the project will be giving short, detailed presentations on a range of topics in the plan, including neighborhoods, the waterfront and downtown, and open space. (There's a schedule at that second link above.) Tuesday and Wednesday 6 pm at RPI Heffner Alumni House, 1301 Peoples Avenue

So, what is this comprehensive plan thing? Here's some blurbage from the about page:

The Comprehensive Plan will be developed through significant public consultation and will establish a clear community based vision and action plan to guide the city's overall development over the next 20 years addressing both the current and future needs of the community. The Comprehensive Plan will chart a clear roadmap for the future of the city and it will guide municipal decision-making, investment, development, and land use planning. ... The planning process presents an important opportunity to demonstrate bold leadership and innovation while strengthening the quality of life the city offers and its competitive advantage as a dynamic and desirable place to live, work, invest and recreate.

In other words, if you'd like to see Troy head in a certain direction, this is one opportunity to formally express that.

Eating a spaghetti sandwich in an alley

alleycarte spaghetti sandwich

By Steve Noisseau

I woke up this past Wednesday, and as I usually do (and I'm sure many of you do as well), I grabbed my phone and checked for any notifications. I'm very active on Facebook, and my wife who was up before me, shared Steve Barnes' post to my timeline about Peck's Arcade launching a food cart they're calling the Alleycarte.

I'm a huge fan of Peck's, and particularly head chef Nick Ruscitto. I enjoyed his food when he was the chef at The Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark, and I followed him over to Peck's when he became the chef early last year. I've dined at Peck's three times since they've opened, and I've become convinced it's one of the best restaurants in the area. Needless to say, I was excited about the food cart and decided I'd head over for lunch.

There were two items on the opening day menu, one of which was a spaghetti sandwich.

A spaghetti sandwich?

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Lit up again in Troy

south end tavern signs at RCHS

We were in downtown Troy Friday afternoon so we took a moment to check out the new Visions of Troy exhibit commemorating the bicentennial of the city at the Rensselaer County Historical Society. The exhibit just opened and it's worth a look because it includes a bunch of interesting pieces from Troy's history.

But if anything, it's worth stopping in just to gawk at the old South End Tavern signs -- including the famous "Ladies Entrance" sign -- that RCHS bought last year as part of the liquidation sale at the old tavern property. The org got some repairs done on the signs and they're on display in their neon glory.

The Visions of Troy exhibit will be on display throughout 2016. Here are a few more pics from it...

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A look at Troy Kitchen

troy kitchen pre-opening exterior

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

When you think of a food court, your first thoughts are probably of shopping malls and crappy fast food.
Troy Kitchen -- opening in downtown Troy Friday -- is hoping to change that.

The food court is an amalgamation of food and drink vendors located in the former Pioneer Food Co-op space on Congress Street. The venue is the brainchild of Cory Nelson, who confesses that he has no food service experience, but saw a business opportunity.

I talked with Nelson earlier this week as work was finishing up on the space to get the details on his food vendors, inspiration, and goals for the venue.

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Veg Out: Seitan wings at The Ruck

The Ruck vegan wings

By Cristin Steding

Say hello to Cristin Steding, who will be writing a short series here at AOA about vegan dining options around the Capital Region.

One of the hardest things about eating vegan and spending time with non-vegan friends and family is going out to eat. At family dinners and casual get-togethers, it's easy enough to bring a dish to share and insist no one worry about accommodating you. When someone says "Let's go out!," though, it strikes dread in the hearts of vegans everywhere. Will it be a night of eating unseasoned, overpriced steamed veggies? Or will it be the dreaded plain garden salad with oil and vinegar?

If you're lucky, you can convince the group to go to a place that's secretly vegan-friendly. These darling restaurants will not only mark the menu with what's vegan, but also put an effort at making it delicious.

When the time does come to pick a restaurant, it's good to have some solid choices at the ready, where you know you'll be able to find something to eat and your carnivore dining mates won't whine about the hippie food. The Capital Region is blessedly vegan friendly, something I completely took for granted prior to going full veg. In fact, some of the best vegan food around is hiding in places you might not expect.

Perfect example: The Ruck.

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Collar City Kilt Fest 2016

collar city kilt fest logoThe Collar City Kilt Fest returns to downtown Troy Saturday, March 5 with its 5k race and other festivities. Blurbage:

This healthy challenge will have surprises in every mile. Leprechauns will be there to tease, taunt and temp as you run throught the city of Troy collecting coins that you can cash in at the finish line for prizes. Be quick because the fastest runners will have the choice of the best prizes. The first 10 that cross the finish line will be awarded an additional special coin for elite prizes.The day includes a scenic 5k Kilt Run/Walk through the city ending at the party that hosts music, food and entertainment. The city is yours to explore with the City Pass. The pass makes you a Troy VIP with access to tastings and treats and special discounts in many of our unique Troy venues.

Registration for the 5k is $30, and includes the city pass. If you'd just like the city pass without the 5k, it's $20.

Redeveloping a corner in Troy

former trojan hardware building exterior 2016-February

The former Trojan Hardware complex includes multiple buildings that were connected during the former store's almost century-long run.

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

Some projects aim to remake a single space or building. Kevin Blodgett has been remaking an entire corner of downtown Troy.

Since 2012, Blodgett has been redeveloping the former Trojan Hardware complex on the corner of Congress Street and 4th Street bit by bit. Spaces within the 35,000 square feet now provide homes to Rare Form Brewing Company, The Shop, and most recently, Forage + Sundry. And this spring Harrison's Corner Market -- a neighborhood grocery and sandwich shop -- is set to open.

I talked with Blodgett recently about his hopes for selling groceries in downtown Troy and the challenges of developing such a large space.

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Albany, Troy, and Hudson in high contrast

new york state atlas 1838 Troy closeup

Check out this beautiful old atlas of New York State, originally published in 1838. It was the creation of the cartographer David H. Burr. And it's available online thanks to the digital collection of the New York Public Library.

There's something about the high-contrast black-and-white color scheme and the way various features -- like the Hudson River -- are rendered that we really like.

The atlas includes maps for counties around the states. But the parts that were most interesting to us were the old city maps. We pulled a few -- for Albany, Troy, and Hudson -- and there are after the jump in large format, along with a few quick notes.

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Troy farmers' market drops out of 1 Monument Square plan

From the latest batch of proposed renderings for the project.

The Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market has announced that it's withdrawing from the proposed plan to redevelop the 1 Monument Square site in downtown Troy. The market had been slated to occupy a street-level retail space in the mixed-used development, as well as make use of surrounding plaza space.

Said farmers' market board chair Seth Jacobs in a statement released Wednesday afternoon:

"Changes to the scope of the One Monument Square project greatly reduced the footprint the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market would have occupied while increasing the cost to the market, and it has become clear the available space would not allow us to offer the ideal experience to customers, nor to our vendors. We understand the developer has encountered major engineering challenges and site constraints as the project has progressed, and we respect that. However, it is our organization's goal to be fiscally responsible in order to ensure all who enjoy the market are able to have a positive experience for years to come."

The press release also included a statement from Joseph Kirchhoff, CEO of the Kirchhoff Companies, which has been working to develop the project with Sequence Development: "We know that our project when completed will be an outstanding addition to downtown Troy, enhancing the quality of life for both existing and future Troy residents. We will continue to support the Market at its downtown location and look forward to the Market vendors taking advantage of the public plaza created around the future One Monument Square building."

This news isn't that surprising.

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Glimpses of downtown Troy almost a century ago

Downtown Troy parade Franklin Square 1917

Check out the photo above -- it's from a parade in downtown Troy in 1917. That intersection is River Street and 4th Street. It looks rather different today.

The photo is from a collection of materials in the NYS Archives about Troy during WWI. We were tipped off to the collection by Christopher, who noticed an interesting photo of the Quackenbush Building at night and sent it along to us. (Thanks, Christopher!) The collection provides a few glimpses of downtown Troy as it was roughly a century ago.

Here are few more photos that caught our eye...

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Avocado Fries at Slidin' Dirty

slidin dirty avocado fries

By Deanna Fox

Everyone together now, on the count of three. Ready?

1...2...3... (Insert sigh of longing here.)

I think I might have been the last person in the Capital Region to understand the appeal and popularity of avocado fries from Slidin' Dirty (which has a location in Troy, along with a roving food truck). I can barely utter the words without someone interrupting with, "Oh my gosh, avocado fries. My favorite." Sometimes they actually drool, too.

And since this column is designed to highlight great food in the Albany area, it would be antithetical not to take a moment to appreciate the avocado fry, an ingenious use of a humble fruit that makes everyone from small children to large, bearded, beer-loving men giddy with delight.

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The 1 Monument Square project and its opponents

1MonumentSquare 2015-10-28 Broadway view

One of the latest renderings.

The development team backing the 1 Monument Square project presented the latest iteration of the mixed-use building to the Troy planning commission Wednesday night. The presentation included new renderings, a somewhat reconfigured plan for the river side of the building, and some discussion about what the space that has been set aside for the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market might (or might not) be.

And then things took a bit of a turn toward the dramatic. An attorney representing a group called We Care About the Square stood up for the first public comment of the night and raised the possibility of legal action if the project moves forward.

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Sentinel Butchery

sentinel butchery exterior

The shop is on the street level of the building at 225 River Street, which once housed the Troy Sentinel. (The Sentinel was the newspaper that originally published "A Visit from St. Nicholas.)

A new whole-animal butcher shop -- Sentinel Butchery -- is opening on River Street near Monument Square in downtown Troy this Saturday.

Whole animal? That means Sentinel will be bringing in whole cows, pigs, lambs, and other animals and then making use of every part of the animal for a range of products.

We stopped by this week to talk with owner/butcher Emily Petersen for a few minutes and a get a quick look at the shop.

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Effort to buy, preserve, and re-display the South End Tavern signs

South End Tavern signs

The signs back in 2010, when the tavern was still open.

Sometimes a building or sign is in the same place for so long that it starts to feel like a part of the landscape, like it was always there.

It's probably fair to say the signs for the former South End Tavern in Troy are like that for South Troy. And now the landscape is changing because the signs came down today. [@willwaldron]

The Rensselaer County Historical Society is raising $8,500 to purchase the signs after historian Kathryn Sheehan noticed they were for sale as a part of a liquidation sale at the property. It's collecting donations at that link.

As you'd expect, RCHS wants to keep the signs in Troy. (We hear from RCHS that apparently there was some interest from a buyer in Schenectady.) The org also wants to use the money to clean, restore, and display the signs.

The South End Tavern first opened in 1934 and was operated by the Burke family. The explanation for the "Ladies Entrance" sign from the tavern's website:

In the 1930s, a bar was considered to be "men's territory." Since Marty wanted to be able to accommodate female customers, he bought the building next door and converted it into a restaurant. To separate the bar from the restaurant, he put up the now-famous Ladies Entrance sign. Marty passed away in 1956. His son, Marty (Bud), continued running the business as his father had done. Things ran much the same for many years until Women's Lib hit the tavern in the early 1970s. Bud was ordered to remove the Ladies Entrance sign and to allow women to be served at the bar. However, the Troy City Council stepped in; they passed a resolution declaring the South End Tavern an historical site. This let him keep the controversial sign, but women were now permitted in the bar as well as in the restaurant.

The tavern closed in closed 2013, the owner citing rising taxes and costs. [Troy Record]

Earlier on AOA: A bunch of years ago Jess took a few moments to admire some of the old-school signs around the Capital Region, including the South End Tavern signs.

Polish food at Muza

muza polish food composite

By Deanna Fox

We are killing the American palate.

Or maybe we killed it long ago. In a land of more is more and bigger is better, we've lost an appreciation for small nuances in food that give it true character and speak to the origins of the recipe. Don't give us a classic roasted chicken; instead, give us just the wing, doused in fiery, sticky burnt-orange sauce that masks the chicken itself.

Post-World War II American culture saw the rise of heavily processed foods that oversaturated our palates with salt, sugar, and additives. We've dimmed our abilities to recognize true flavor because of how accustomed we've become to the overload of flavor enhancements pushed upon us by Big Food. Now, if we don't feel kicked in the teeth with astringent, bracing piquancy, we write food off as bland and boring.

Muza, in Troy, debunks this conception, proving that traditional foods prepared in simple ways can still pack a punch without walloping us with artifice.

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Troy preRAMBLE

collar city preramble 2013 by Jonathan Flanders

A scene from a previous year's preRAMBLE. / photo: Jonathan Flanders

The Troy preRAMBLE -- and alternative transportation festival -- is lined up for this Saturday, September 26. What is it?

The preRAMBLE (to the Collar City Ramble) is an alternate transportation festival exploring Troy by alternate means. Tour Troy by foot, bike, boat or whatever - discover places you've never seen. The event includes group tours as well as self-guided tours for biking and walking. There will also be kayak rides, bike safety classes and giveaways. Many local venues will be open for our event. The day-long festival concludes with a tour to Freedom Square, 101st St and 6th Ave, for a free concert with community food. All events are free.

There's a schedule at that link above.

The preRAMBLE is organized by a coalition of groups that are looking toward the creation of the Collar City Ramble, a non-motorized transportation path that would string together various sites throughout Troy.

Troy Craft Beer Week / Restaurant Week 2015

brewery equipment at Rare Form in TroyUpdated

Troy Craft Beer Week is set to return next week (September 14-19) with events around Troy.

The week includes with < href="http://www.getrucked.com/site/event/troy-craft-beer-week-tcbw-beer-launchpub-crawl/">a pub crawl celebrating the release of a beer brewed for the week: "The style is a Hoppy Wheat brewed with oats and locally sourced honey fermented with brettanomyces."

And the week concludes with the American on Tap beer festival in Riverfront Park that Saturday. Beers from more than 50 craft brewers will be available for sampling. Tickets are $35 ahead / $45 at the event ($55/$65 for VIP).

Restaurant week
Next week is also restaurant week in Troy. Participating restaurants will be offering special prix fixe menus at $5, $10, $20, and $30 price points. (And the Tavern Noodle pop-up will be returning, temporarily taking over the Peck's Arcade space, Wednesday-Saturday.)

Superior Merchandise Co.

superior merchandise exterior

By Lauren Hittinger

Opening in Troy this Saturday is Superior Merchandise Co., a shop that combines a home goods boutique, a coffee bar, and a florist. While it seems like an eclectic mix, somehow everything fits together in this Fourth Street business.

It has not been an easy journey for Felicity Jones and Mike Romig, who are co-owners and partners. They have spent two years transforming a building that was slated for demolition into a comfortable and hip shop. Much of their aesthetic inspiration comes from Copenhagen, with an eye toward creating a simple, clean, and modern interior.

I was able to stop by in advance of their opening to catch a glimpse of Superior Merchandise Company and to chat with some members of their team.

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New name, grand opening for CAC Woodside

The Contemporary Artists Center at Woodside in Troy is now called PostContemporary, and it has a grand opening event for its renovated church building lined up for September 19. Event blurbage:

After three years of sweat and planning, our doors will open on September 19 in a celebration that will unveil the renovated neo-gothic church and usher in the first push of an unapologetic art and performance schedule.
For you, for this evening, we have curated a wall-to-wall environment of artwork, food, and sound, spanning multiple disciplines and spilling outward into adjacent sites.
There will be a ribbon cutting if you come early, and dancing and DJ under the stars if you stay late. We've put some of the best creative minds together to plan this event and it is shaping up to be quite something. Something new, something different, and something wildly fun.

The evening includes a "strolling dinner" from Peck's Arcade, a special "Post Pale" beer brewed by Rare Form, along with performances and art. Tickets start at $85 / $55 (under 35) -- they're available online.

That night also will mark the opening of the second "movement" of Rural Violience at PostContemporary. The exhibit, curated by Brandon Stosuy (Pitchfork editor, Basilica Soundscape collaborator), includes the work of Matthew Barney, Cindy Daignault, Lionel Maunz, and Prurient (with John Sharian). The opening will feature a performance by Brennan Hall and Dana Wachs.

The org formerly known as CAC Woodside moved from North Adams to the Woodside Presbyterian Church in Troy in 2009, and has been providing workspace and living space for artists as the buildings were transformed.

A look inside the Tech Valley Center of Gravity new space in the Quackenbush Building

TVCOG Quackenbush renovation street level

The Tech Valley Center of Gravity is set to cut the ribbon on its new space in the historic Quackenbush Building in downtown Troy today.

The move provides not just some much-needed elbow room for the maker space, but also an opportunity to fill out a larger plan that combines the community workshop with services and space for startups. And, along the way, a beautiful historic building is getting a new life.

Here are a handful of photos from the renovated space and a few other bits...

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Follow up: Collar City Hard Pressed

collar city hard pressed 2015 jessica

By Lauren Hittinger

AOA is taking things a little easy this week for summer break. So we thought it'd be a good time to catch up with some local businesses we've covered during the last year (or so) and find out how things are going.

Next we're revisiting Collar City Hard Pressed (CCHP). When we first interviewed owner Jessica Garrity, now Jessica Quijano, she was running her business solely at the Saturday Troy farmers' market. Since then, she has moved to working full-time for her juice and smoothie business, taking up residence on Broadway in downtown Troy.

A snippet from March 2014:

"I found myself basically obsessed with fresh juice and smoothies and was suddenly annoyed that there wasn't a place in my neighborhood where I could get any. I kind of hate leaving my neighborhood on the weekend so just thought it was only fair that we had a juice place here downtown. I also recognized that juicing was a pretty trendy business and thought downtown Troy would be a great place to get to work."

I caught up with Quijano to see what it's like to be running a small business on her own, and to get the scoop on the different reactions to a juice bar in downtown Troy.

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A look at the latest plan for the 1 Monument Square project in Troy

1MonumentSquare 2015-June Monument Square crop small

One of the exterior options presented.

The latest iteration of the third major attempt to redevelopment the 1 Monument Square site is down to a one building.

The development team aiming to build a residential/restaurant/farmers' market project on the prime spot in downtown Troy presented its latest plan Tuesday night to the Troy Planning Commission. And the commission gave the site plan a preliminary approval.

So, let's have a look.

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Brunching about: Carmen's Café

carmen's cafe troy exterior 2015-June

By Lauren Hittinger

Lauren has set out to survey a handful of brunch spots around the Capital Region for a short series.

Every once in a while there is a popular local business that completely slips under my radar. As a dedicated Trojan, I'm embarrassed to say that Carmen's Café has evaded me. Even though Carmen's has a devoted following, and has been voted "best brunch" in a few local polls, I made my first visit this summer.

Carmen's is a cozy Cuban/Spanish restaurant located on the corner of a quiet residential block just to the southwest of Washington Park in Troy, so it's probably not the sort of spot a lot of people will just happen upon. You have to go looking for it, as I did recently, in search of delicious brunch.

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Capital Region project wins national public art challenge

breathing lights project rendering

A rendering showing how Breathing Lights might look.

A joint Albany-Schenectady-Troy project has been selected as one of four winners of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, and is now in line for up to $1 million in funding from the org.

The local project is called "Breathing Lights" and aims to make use of vacant properties in the three cities.

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The goal: For everyone in the Capital Region to make a video game

TVGS interactive showcase

A TVGS interactive showcase earlier this year. / photo courtesy of Jamey Stevenson.

The recently-launched Tech Valley Game Space in Troy has a goal: For everyone in the Capital Region to make at least one game.

Like, every everyone? Yep, everyone.

"It doesn't take long [to learn] if people feel like they're in an atmosphere where there's someone who knows to guide them," TVGS founder Jamey Stevenson told us recently. "There are few things more fun or exciting to me to see people get surprised. It happens during the first hour of doing it."

Toward that goal, TVGS -- which also serves as co-working space for small startup games studios -- is offering a series of classes and events aimed at getting a wide range of people involved: artists, designers, programmers, women, men, kids, introverts, extroverts. One of the events is coming up this weekend at the Arts Center of the Capital Region: River Jam, a free learn-to-make-a-game event for game makers who identify as women.

Stevenson is clearly passionate both about video games, and opening up the process of making them.

Here are a few clips from a conversation with him about learning to make games, the need for diversity in the industry, games as art, and his favorite games...

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Tech Valley Game Space: River Jam

TVGS River Jam FlyerOne of the projects in the recent AOA Startup Grant competition that really caught our interest was the Tech Valley Game Space, a Troy-based project aimed at opening the world of video game creation to a wider group of people.

TVGS has a public event coming up this month called River Jam, "a free, 'learn to make a game in 48 hours' event tailored for first time game makers who identify as women." Blurbage:

The first event in the #include series will be River Jam - a free, 48 hour "game jam" that will be held at The Arts Center in Troy starting on the same day as River Fest (Saturday, June 20th) and continuing throughout the weekend. The jam will also be preceded by an optional "intro to game development" workshop that will take place over the prior weekend (June 13th-14th), also at The Arts Center. While the jam is open to all participants, the primary goal for this event is to encourage first time game makers who identify as women to sign up. As such, participants that meet this criteria will be given priority in the event that spaces are limited.
In addition to making an effort to reach out to participants who identify as women, we are also seeking women to help serve as voluntary mentors and provide guidance to the jammers. If you are a local developer that would be willing to contribute some time to help provide expertise and support during River Jam, please send a message to info@techvalleygamespace.com with a brief summary of your background and availability during the weekend of the jam.

River Jam is just one of the upcoming events organized by TVGS -- others include showcases and book-club-like gathering but for video games.

The TVGS co-working studio is at 291 River St. in downtown Troy.

Realize Troy city summit

snapshot troy cover 2015-May

The cover of "Snapshot Troy."

The ongoing project to develop a new comprehensive plan for Troy -- Realize Troy -- has a "city summit" public event lined up for this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Blurbage:

The Realize Troy City Summit is a free three-day citywide community visioning and brainstorming event that will bring community leaders and residents together to explore key issues and challenges facing the city, and discuss ideas, opportunities and directions for the future. The Summit has been structured into a series of theme-based discussions, wherein participants will be presented with important background information relevant to a specific theme or topic, and then invited to explore opportunities within the theme that can best enhance Troy's quality of life, community enjoyment and prosperity.

There's a kickoff event Thursday, but Friday and Saturday are the visioning sessions at the Troy Italian Community Center -- you can register online, it's free.

To go along with the events, the consultants orchestrating the project have posted their take on the current state of the city -- "a synopsis of the strengths, challenges, issues and opportunities currently facing the city" -- it's called Snapshot Troy.

By the way: If you're curious about what a finished comprehensive plan looks like, the city of Albany went through a similar process a few years back -- the product was the Albany 2030 plan.

Troy's Washington Park, from inside the fence

troy washington park looking out 2015-05-21

The gate for Troy's Washington Park was open Thursday evening as part of the hidden garden tour, so we had to take a few minutes roam around inside the fence. The blocks around the park are, of course, beautiful. And seeing them from inside the park is a different perspective.

Washington Park is famously one of only two private urban ornamental parks in New York State -- Gramercy Park in New York City is the other. Gramercy Park preceded Washington Park by eight years. They both drew on an idea that had emerged earlier in London in the 19th century of the shared private park.

Here's a little bit more about its history...

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Troy River Fest Street Painting Competition 2015 registration open

Sidewalk chalk Troy River Street Festival 2013

The Troy River Fest* is back in downtown Troy June 20, and that means the return of the Street Painting Competition organized by the Arts Center of the Capital Region. The contest, in which artists create panels on the sidewalk, is one of our favorite parts of the festival.

Registration is now open for this year's contest. It's $15 to enter, which includes a set of chalk. There are four judging categories: adult, grades 9-12, grades 6-8, and grades 1-5. The competition is limited to 40 participants, so it's a good idea to pre-register. And be sure to read the guidelines.

Here are a bunch of entries from 2013.

(* This festival has been called the Troy River Street Festival in years past. This is first time we've noticed it's now called the Troy River Fest.)

Troy Rockin' on the River 2015

troy rockin on river green island bridge 2012-06-20

The schedule for this summer's Rockin' on the River concert series in downtown Troy is out. The free Wednesday night series starts up June 10.

And here's the lineup of acts...

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Troy Hidden Garden Tour 2015

troy hidden garden tour promo imageThe annual Hidden Garden Tour in Troy returns Thursday, May 21 from 4-7:30 pm. Tickets are currently available online -- they're $10.

This is the 16th year for the event, which is self-guided walking tour of backyard gardens in the districts around the Sage and Washington Park in downtown Troy. The tour is rain or shine.

Proceeds from the tour benefit the Friends of Prospect Park. There will also be a dinner benefit for the org at Carmen's that evening from 6-8:30 pm. It's $33 for a prix fixe menu.

Albany tour
The annual Hidden City House and Garden Tour in/near Albany's Center Square neighborhood is set for Thursday, June 25 from 5-8 pm. Tickets are currently $15 and will be available online soon.

photo via Friends of Prospect Park

A few details about Troy Kitchen

Troy Kitchen 50 4th Street Troy interior pre-renovation

The interior of the former bank building at 50 4th Street in Troy. / photo courtesy of Cory Nelson

There was a bit of a flutter in local food circles earlier this week when word about Troy Kitchen popped up on Facebook. The project is billed as a gourmet food court for downtown Troy.

So we got in touch with Cory Nelson, one of the entrepreneurs behind the project, for some details...

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Author of Sustainable Communities: Creating a Durable, Local Economy in Troy

sustainable communities creating a durable local economy book coverCould be interesting: Bruce Seifer, co-author of Sustainable Communities: Creating a Durable, Local Economy, will be giving a talk this Saturday in Troy as part of a Transition Troy event at Sage.

Seifer worked for almost three decades leading Burlington, Vermont's community and economic development efforts. Curious about Seifer's perspective, we came across this Peak Prosperity podcast interview with him. This clip, in which Seifer talks about how Burlington pursued business growth, was interesting:

The other thing that we did, which is not rocket science but it's pretty much behind everything that we did, is pretty simple. We asked people in need what they needed and then we tried to figure out how to meet their needs. We were more like a gardener for small businesses. We'd focus on small businesses and try to find ways to help them grow to become major employers and economic players. So, we did things...you know if they needed financing we ended up starting a small business loan fund. If they needed training around understanding finance, we set up training programs for them. Sometimes they said they'd like to work with other like type of businesses and learn from each other. So we would set up trade associations working in concert with them. You know, we would tend to them over the years. We provided ongoing technical business advice to those business people so if they had an issue on getting a permit or they had problem with sewer overflow or whatever it may be, we were always there trying to solve their problems. As a result of all of that, we ended up helping a lot of small companies become bigger companies.

In addition to Seifer's talk, the event at Sage will also include "a few brief, uplifting 'pop-up' presentations from leaders of recent local initiatives."

The event is Saturday, April 11 from 3-6 pm in the Bush Memorial Auditorium. It's free and open to the public.

The recent evolution of Troy, as charted by the New York Times

Troy City Hall For Sale late 1990s

A New York Times article about Troy from 2000 referenced the "for sale" sign on the old city hall. / photo from the collection of Tom Flynn courtesy of Duncan Crary Communications

Like some sort of multi-year tidal cycle on the Hudson River, the attention of the New York Times briefly shifts upriver to focus on the state of the city of Troy in 6-8 year intervals. And if you'll consult your almanac, you'll see that the next scheduled appearance of this phenomenon is set for this weekend.

Oh, look, it's here now. (Must be climate change.) Posted online today for this weekend's paper: "A Town on New York's Hudson River Reinvents Itself."

Let us now chart the some of the changes over each recent interval...

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Capital District project is a finalist for national public art prize

bloomberg public art project finalists map

A map of cities that submitted proposals. / map: Bloomberg Philanthropies

A joint submission by Albany-Schenectady-Troy to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge has made it to the final round, the org announced today. The competition will award at least three cities as much as $1 million for their proposed projects.

And what did the Capital District cities end up proposing? Blurbage:

Albany, Schenectady and Troy, NY - Breathing Lights
Illuminating the Need for Community Revitalization

The City of Albany, in partnership with its neighboring cities of Schenectady and Troy, proposes to illuminate up to 500 vacant homes nightly over two months. Working with artist Adam Frelin and more than 25 community and private sector partners, including the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, this multi-site installation aims to regenerate interest in once-vibrant neighborhoods that currently have high vacancy rates. This consortium proposes to culminate the project with a regional summit on vacant homes and abandoned buildings to engage local residents, prospective buyers and investors, and policy makers.

Bloomberg Philanthropies says 237 cities submitted projects.

The other finalists: Albuquerque; Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Des Moines; Gary, Indiana; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Hartford; Los Angeles; Maplewood, Minnesota; and Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Earlier on AOA: Public Art Challenge

Made in Troy: The Iris Lamp

Check it out: A Troy-based company called Lightexture is making these adjustable "iris" lamps that create a range of light patterns. The company is raising money on Kickstarter -- it's already raised $31k, more than double its goal -- with 18 days to go.

The video above shows the lamps in action. There are also a few photos after the jump.

The people behind Lightexture are artists/designers Yael Erel and Avner Ben Natan. You might recognize Erel's work from the "Subliminal Transcriptions" light exhibit at the Arts Center of the Capital Region a few years back.

Oh, and if you're thinking the lamps look like vegetable steamers, there's a reason -- a metal steamer was used as an early prototype.

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Garnet Douglass Baltimore, who was "as much of Troy as the monument"

troy prosepct park c 1910

Troy's Prospect Park was designed by Garnet Douglass Baltimore, RPI's first African-American graduate. This photo of the park is from around 1910.

Each Friday this February we've been highlighting people and stories from the Capital Region's history in honor of Black History Month.

Being named for two noted abolitionist heroes could be a little intimidating, but Garnet Douglass Baltimore was equal to his name.

This grandson of an escaped slave grew up to become RPI's first African-American graduate, a civil engineer, landscape architect, and the designer of Troy's Prospect Park.

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It's a circus in Troy

FAQ Circus Frear Atrium performer Nicky Faubert photo Doug Liebig

Nicky Faubert performing during the FAQ preview in the Frear Atrium earlier this month. / photo: Doug Liebig

By Lauren Hittinger

It's not every day that you get to meet and interview a professionally trained clown.

Set aside your preconceived notions, because Aaron Marquise isn't just some guy in bright pants and a painted face. He's about to graduate from the National Circus School in Montreal with a diploma in clowning.

Originally from Round Lake, Marquise is back in town this week to produce a series of shows at the Gasholder Building in Troy alongside the FAQ Circus collective. And he's got his sights set on continuing to expand circus in the Capital Region.

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Knish at Nibble Inc

knish at nibble

A different spin on the classic: potato donut exterior, with mashed potato in the middle.

By Deanna Fox

One of the ways different cultures spread beyond their originating communities is through food. And the culture of Eastern European Jews here in the United States is no exception: foods such a bagels, pastrami, and latkes are now enjoyed by a wide range of people across different cultures.

Of course, there's a lot more to the culinary heritage of Eastern European Jews than just bagels and lox. And there are plenty of tasty dishes worth exploring and learning about. Take the knish, for example. The delightful, if perhaps less well-known, deli or street vendor snack is quick, filling, and portable.

And Nibble Inc., in Troy, is turning out some of the better examples of knish in the Capital Region.

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Collar City Kilt Fest

collar city kilt fest logoBreezing through Troy: The Collar City Kilt Fest on March 7.

Blurbage:

The Collar City Kilt Fest and 5K Kilt Race is a healthy lifestyle event designed to help us all break out of winter in fun form. Formerly held in Sand Lake with approximately 750 runners, the Kilt Race is a great opportunity for runners and novices to get outside in a social setting. Participants are encouraged to compete in a costume contest, and most runners delight in going all out.

And about the 5k:

The day includes a scenic 5k Kilt Run through the city ending at the party tent that hosts music, food and entertainment. The city is yours to explore with the City Pass. The pass makes you a Troy VIP with access to tastings and treats and special discounts in many of our unique Troy venues.

Registration for the Kilt Run/Walk is open -- it's $25 ahead of March 5, $35 after.

Circus in the Gasholder Building

FAQ Circus promo photo

The Montreal-based FAQ Circus will be in Troy February 20-21 for three performances in the former Troy Gas Light Company gasholder building. Tickets for the performances are $15 / $10 students, and they're on sale now.

Blurbage:

Founded in 2012, F.A.Q. Circus is a collective of contemporary circus performers who push the boundaries of what Americans typically think of as a circus. The company does not use animals or feature large bright colored costumes. Instead, their focus is on the incredible capabilities of the human body demonstrated through contortion, gymnastics and juggling. The venues, too, are smaller and more intimate than the typical American arena productions where large-scale circus normally occurs. ...
Contemporary costumes will resemble what one would need to wear if running away -- not too tight, not too loose, Marquise said. The show will feature hoop diving, acrobatics, juggling, hula hoops and a clown. One performer will manipulate her body using a "German Wheel," fashioned from two giant metal hula hoops. Another act includes an acrobatic ladder.
The emphasis in "Running" will be on ground acts, because the gasholder building is not outfitted for trapeze rigging at the moment.

It will be the circus company's second appearance at the building -- it performed there last October. And it's also performed twice at the Theatre Institute at Sage. (The artistic director of the circus, 23-year-old Aaron Marquise, studied at the former New York State Theater Institute in Troy.)

FAQ will be offering a three free preview shows this Saturday, February 7, in the Frear Building atrium at 10:30 am, 11:45 am, and 1 pm.

Circus or no circus, the Gasholder Building is a sight to see. And noted about the performances there February 20-21: "This is a standing event. However, if you require or prefer seating, please bring foldable seating and aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before the show starts. 'Running' is performed inside a minimally heated historic venue. It is STRONGLY advised that attendees dress in warm winter clothes. (i.e. hats, scarves, gloves, large jackets, long-johns, etc.)."

The Best Dozen: Nibble

best dozen nibble donuts in box

By Daniel B.

We've enlisted Daniel B. to survey Capital Region donut shops -- and pick his favorite donuts -- for a short series called The Best Dozen.

Donuts can be an adult indulgence. And I'm not even talking about Nibble's cocktail donuts in flavors like Old Fashioned, which has a whiskey glaze.

Usually I will share the remains of these weekly donut tastings with my children. And while I found that there was a lot to love about Nibble's unique form of potato donuts, my progeny were less enthusiastic. They were not sure whether to call these donatoes or potonuts, but they felt strongly that these should not be called donuts

Here's what I came to understand from that interaction. It's hard to have something called a donut be so different from something you think of as a donut. Go back and read that again, because it holds true for adults, too.

Fortunately, after eating through 12 of these hand-crafted treats, I have a much better understanding of their strengths and their weaknesses. And I have a strategy for making sure you bring home the best dozen.

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Today's moment of winter

Hudson River at Troy ice sunset

The Hudson River at Troy.

"What would it take to turn this into..."

960 Broadway Albany back

960 Broadway in Albany, viewed from from North Pearl Street.

Maybe you've stood outside one of the Capital Region's many old, underused industrial buildings and thought: "What would it take to turn this into (insert thing)?"

Well, The Preservation League of New York and the Troy Architecture Program have provided some answers to that question. Specifically, they've provided some detailed answers -- about building condition, code issues, variances, and costs -- for what it would take to transform a handful of buildings in Albany, Troy, Schenectady, and Amsterdam.

The reports are the product of the Preservation's League's Industrial Heritage Reuse Project, which is aiming to find new uses for historic former industrial buildings. (As mentioned last summer.)

One example: 960 Broadway in Albany's Warehouse District, which a developer would like to flip to restaurant and residential space.

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A look inside Peck's Arcade

peck's arcade troy kitchen overhead

Peck's Arcade -- the new venture from Vic Christopher and Heather LaVine, the people behind The Confectionery and The Grocery -- is set to open Wednesday.

The casual fine dining restaurant is in the building at 217 Broadway in downtown Troy, which also houses the Grocery and connects with The Confectionery via a covered patio. The duo say the restaurant will focus on small plates and meticulous service in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. (The name comes from one of the building's former lives as a 19th century department store.)

"We want people to feel like they're well taken care of," LaVine told us Thursday as the restaurant team was finalizing things ahead of the opening.

Here's a quick look at the space Tuesday, along with a few more bits and a conversation with Christopher.

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Video of "The Trial Before Christmas"

trial before christmas 2014 video screengrab

Check it out: Video from this year's staging of "The Trial Before Christmas" at the Rensselaer County Courthouse in Troy is now online.

The trial was to determine who really wrote the famous poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas," which was first published in the Troy Sentinel in 1823 -- Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr. It included a real judge and attorneys, expert testimony, ghostly witnesses, Elvis, and some rather festive pants worn by E. Stewart Jones.

The event was organized by Duncan Crary and Jack Casey. The video of the trial was produced by RPI TV, and it's well done.

Springwood Studios

Springwood Studios composite

By Lauren Hittinger

Troy woodworker Jim Lewis has a spiritual and emotional connection to his work.

The self-taught craftsman has created furniture, liturgical pieces for churches around the United States, and sculptures over his four decade career. And he's continuing to evolve his work. Lewis recently re-introduced his 4th Street shop, Icarus Furniture, as Springwood Studios as part an effort to "go back to my roots and do things a little simpler and a little sweeter."

I chatted with Lewis about simplifying life and work, learning new skills, and doing the things you're supposed to be doing...

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Warmth with flair

johnson geer cox cast iron stove Albany Institute

Historical object gawking: We came across this photo of a 19th century stove in the Albany Institute collection. It was made by a Troy company -- Johnson, Geer & Cox -- based on a design by Troy resident Ezra Ripley, probably around 1844. At the time it was advertised as as a "cheap and beautiful article for offices and parlors."

It's a gorgeous object -- as a stove, or even as art. The Google Cultural Institute viewer allows some very close closeups of the details.

From the Albany Institute description:

Cast-iron stovemaking reached its highest level of artistic achievement and technological advances between 1840 and 1870. Stove designers borrowed from architectural and cabinetmakers's design books, bringing Greek, Roman, Gothic, Egyptian, and Rococo revival motifs, along with patriotic symbols and lavish floral designs, in stoves. The technical design of this column parlor stove included a small rectangular firebox to which were connected four vertical flues (or columns). All were connected at the top by a horizontal pipe or second chamber. The increased surface area and greater air circulation of this design enhanced the amount of radiated heat.

Troy and Albany were prominent centers of the stovemaking industry during the 19th century, with hundreds of stove manufacturers trying to stake out a spot in the marketplace over the century.

Sometimes it's easy to romanticize the past and look past its negatives. Sure, there were gorgeous parlor stoves -- but they were often manufactured by people working in terrible conditions. And there are so many things -- in terms of people's rights, technology, and so on -- that are so much better now compared to then (even if there's still room to improve). But objects like this stove were made with a certain flair.

photo: "Four-Column Parlor Stove" via Albany Institute collection

Drawing: DeFazio University pizza or pasta class

DeFazio's veggie pizza TOP final 2014

One of DeFazio's pizzas from this year's TOP final, the shop's second overall tournament win.

Drawing's closed! Winner's been emailed!

Two-time Tournament of Pizza champ DeFazio's is bringing back its DeFazio University pizza and pasta classes in 2015. Rocco DeFazio and his family started teaching the classes this year, and they've become pretty popular.

DeFazio University Shirt.jpgIf you've wanted to give them a try, this could be your chance. AOA is giving away a pizza or pasta class for four at DeFazio University. You and three friends can join one of DeFazio's upcoming pizza classes on February 8 or 22, or their pasta class on March 1.

Here's how to enter the drawing:

DeFazio's is a two time winner of the AOA Tournament of Pizza trophy. If you could give someone/something in the Capital Region a trophy, to whom/what would you give it and why?

Maybe it's a favorite food, or place to go, maybe it's a person or organization that should be recognized for doing good work or just somehow being worthy of praise. Tell us who you think should get a trophy and why and you'll be entered to win.

We'll draw one winner at random.

DeFazio's pizza and pasta making classes are being offered on Sunday afternoons from 1-4 pm for $60 per person. You can bring your own bottle of wine to enjoy while you're cooking, and everyone who takes a class leaves with a DeFazio's pizza or pasta kit so they can get started making their own pies and pasta dishes at home.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 5 pm on Friday, December 12, 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 Monday, December 15 and must respond by 5 pm on December 16.

Lunch buffet at First Choice Caribbean

first choice caribbean troy lunch plate closeup

By Deanna Fox

Friends are great. Friends with surprising, delicious food recommendations are even better.

Thankfully, my friend Braden has that covered. When I found myself near his office in Troy around lunchtime recently, I thought I would see if he was interested in grabbing coffee or lunch. He was Johnny on the spot with his reply: "Caribbean buffet is good if you haven't been there."

First Choice Caribbean in Troy was what he was referring to.

No, I hadn't been there, but it sounded perfect.

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The Best Dozen: Cookie Factory

Cookie Factory box of donuts

By Daniel B.

We've enlisted Daniel B. to survey Capital Region donuts -- and pick his favorites -- for a short series called The Best Dozen.

Donuts are sweet. Well, technically they aren't. They are fried dough that are are then glazed, dusted with sugar, or frosted. Sometimes they are even filled. It's these finishing touches that actually make the donuts sweet.

There are forces at work to help temper the sweetness of donuts. Primarily it's the fat from the frying oil. Richness cuts the sweetness. And then of course there is the bracing bitterness of coffee. It's one of the reasons these two morning staples are almost inseparable from each other.

The best donuts are well balanced, with enough toppings or fillings to provide great flavor and enough sweetness to brighten your morning. But if you aren't careful at The Cookie Factory you could end up with a box of sugar bombs. (Unless, of course, that's exactly your aim.)

After recently trying the flavors available at this Troy shop one morning, here's how to get the best dozen...

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A tour of the new Urban Grow Center

On River Street.

Two big pieces of news out of Capital District Community Gardens today. The first is that it's no longer Capital District Community Gardens. After 40 years the regional food org that runs eleven programs including the Veggie Mobile, Community Gardens, and Healthy Convenience Store program has changed its name to Capital Roots.

The new name comes as Capital Roots officially opens its long-anticipated Urban Grow Center in a rehabbed, 165-year-old industrial building in Troy.

The 12,000-square-foot building includes a produce market, gardeners'resource center, green roof, and community meeting space.

Here are few more details and a look around...

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Checking out Slidin' Dirty's new restaurant space

slidin dirty troy exterior

By Lauren Hittinger

I'm a big fan of food trucks, and particularly fond of Slidin' Dirty. So I was over the moon when I heard they were opening a permanent brick-and-mortar location in Troy.

This week I stopped by to check out the new space on First Street, which maintains the no-nonsense Slidin' Dirty vibe.

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The Trial Before Christmas returns

trial before christmas 2014 posterThe Trial Before Christmas -- a mock trial to settle who really wrote "A Visit from Saint Nicholas," first published in the Troy Sentinel -- will once again be held at the Rensselaer County Courthouse in Troy on December 7 during the Victorian Stroll at 2 pm. It's free to attend.

Last year's trial -- featuring a judge, jury, attorneys, expert witnesses, a sax-playing Santa -- was in front of an overflow crowd of almost 500 people. As a result, event organizer Duncan Crary is aiming to have a feed of the trial in the courthouse rotunda this year to handle the overflow, and to post a video of the trial online afterward. To cover the costs involved, there's a Kickstarter.

One of the pledge premiums is a a fun poster designed Ben Karis-Nix of Troy Cloth and Paper. That's the poster on the side here.

Map: Foreclosed properties for sale in Troy

troy foreclosure sale map cummings screengrab

A screengrab of the map.

The city of Troy currently has more than 140 foreclosed properties up for potential sale. The city is accepting sealed bids on the properties -- many of which are vacant land -- between now and December 19.

Here's the list of properties as a pdf. But here's a better way to browse them: a clickable map of the properties along with some of their associated information. (We've also embedded the map after the jump.)

The map is the creation of Anasha Cummings, who was prompted to make it because, as he said to us in an email, "I don't think a PDF on a website is a good way to browse for properties you might want to buy."

Cummings says he's currently in the process of filling in some of the holes in the list (some properties don't have exact addresses) and matching up the properties with more information about them from the city's real property database (important info like square footage, even a photo).

This situation highlights an issue that's frustrated us for a long time: local municipalities often post information/data in ways that make it hard to find or use.

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The Best Dozen: Bella Napoli

bella_napoli_donuts_in_box.jpg

By Daniel B.

We've enlisted Daniel B. to survey Capital Region donuts -- and pick his favorites -- for a short series called "The Best Dozen."

Donuts are a great way to start the day. Don't listen to the naysayers. Not only do fat and sugar make human beings happy, but they provide us with a burst of quick energy. This is especially true when paired with a cup of coffee.

Nobody makes the best decisions blurry eyed at the donut shop early in the morning. And picking out the best dozen at any given shop shouldn't be left to chance. So we'll be going out and trying as many different donuts as we can to help you fill your box with the best sweet deep fried breakfast treats in the region.

First up, Bella Napoli in Troy.

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Century-old advice from Trojans

troy sunday budget clip curds and cream

A clip from the Troy Sunday Budget.

By Lauren Hittinger

It's always fun to have a peek into the history of a city you love. That is why I was tickled to find a bunch of articles from esteemed residents on how to improve Troy -- from 1917.

The Troy Sunday Budget, a weekly newspaper printed from 1916-1927, published pieces called "Curds and Cream, a series of articles by well known Trojans, written with a view to creating a better Troy." Some articles advocated for increased patriotism, while others rallied for a Housewives' League. And some issues are still a topic of discussion today.

Here are a few clips that caught my eye...

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A look inside The Shop in Troy

The Shop bar

By Lauren Hittinger

This Friday marks the grand opening for The Shop, a new restaurant and bar in downtown Troy. It's the third commercial space to open at the former site of Trojan Hardware along 4th Street and Congress, following the May opening of Rare Form Brewing Co. and the Collar Works art gallery.

Looking to create a neighborhood bar, owner Kevin Blodgett says The Shop will have a "casual atmosphere, with no pretense. We just want people who are going to enjoy good food and good conversation."

I stopped by to talk to Blodgett and his partner Nada Rifai to get the scoop on the restaurant, the building, and how The Shop fits into Troy.

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Bachelorette party ideas in downtown Troy?

troy riverfront park green island bridge winterChristine asks via Twitter:

[B]est downtown troy activities for a bachelorette type event? @CapCtyBrewCycle is weather dependent!
[A]bout 14 ladies, low key, starting around 3 on a Saturday in late November. Possible dinner upstairs at @GetRuckedTroy

Got an idea for Christine and her friends? Please share!

TOP2014: The Final

tournament of pizza final a lot of pizza

Sometimes things live up to the hype.

The final of the 2014 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Keeler Mini, was this past weekend at Shmaltz Brewing Co. in Clifton Park. And, as would only be fitting for the Tournament of Pizza to end all Tournaments of Pizza, it featured a clash of local pizza titans: DeFazio's of Troy versus Marino's of Schenectady.

DeFazio's, so many times a finalist, finally broke through last year to take the title. Marino's won the title in 2010 by beating, yep, DeFazios's. The two shops have posted the two highest individual pizza scores this year. And they represent the two highest all-time shop averages in TOP history.

That all adds up to a lot of expectation. And they exceeded it.

TOP2014 Keeler Mini in-post-ad

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TOP2014: RD1: I Love vs. DeFazio's

I Love and DeFazio's exterior

The 2014 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Keeler Mini -- the Tournament of Pizza to end all Tournaments of Pizza -- heads for Troy and matchup between 4th Street rivals I Love, a two-time semifinalist, and reigning tournament champ DeFazio's.

This year's clash-of-champions format includes first round matches consisting of two pizzas. Highest aggregate score advances. And, again, the two types of the pizza for this first round: sausage and the deceptively difficult broccoli ricotta white pizza.

Pizza fuit, pizza est...

TOP2014 Keeler Mini in-post-ad

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New donut shop for Troy: Nibble Inc.

Michael Cunningham and Jessie Cramer

Nibble Inc. owners Michael Cunningham and Jessie Cramer.

By Lauren Hittinger

Sometimes food can inspire you.

Jessie Cramer and Michael Cunningham had no plans for a donut shop until "eating a really good donut," says Cunningham -- "a mind-blowing donut."

"The best doughnut I've ever had," Cramer adds. "And I thought 'How can I make this donut so I can have it whenever I want?'"

The pair figured out how to make their ultimate doughnut and they're opening a shop -- Nibble Inc -- this Saturday to bring those donuts to Troy.

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Margination: An attempt to create a different sort of local economy

Margination members

Margination members.

By Lauren Hittinger

In North Troy there's a group of nine individuals trying to promote economic development and social change with very different approach. This collective, working under the name Margination, is an ongoing experiment in collaboration and interdependency -- sharing financial resources, expenses, even housing.

Their goal is to use the skills of group members to provide secure work and secure housing to demonstrate that anyone with determination can flourish inside of a local economy.

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The latest One Monument Square plan evolves

one monument square massing 2014-09-16 closeup

A massing diagram for the proposed project.

The proposed One Monument Square development in downtown Troy is one of the area's most interesting projects -- and it's evolving.

The latest version of the plan (itself the third major proposal for the site) sticks to the original concept -- a bunch of residential units, mixed-use space including a permanent spot for the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market, a plaza with access to the riverfront -- but it shifts the arrangement of the two buildings planned for site.

The new massing diagaram for the project is above (and after the jump in large format) -- it was shared by the developers at a meeting of the Troy City Council's planning committee Tuesday evening. Where the original version of this plan had the two buildings roughly splitting the site down the middle, the new plan includes one wide building and one much narrower building.

Here's more about the current version of plan, and a few other bits...

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Lunch at Sweet Sue's

Sweet Sue's exterior on River Street in Troy

By Deanna Fox

If you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, neither should you judge a restaurant by the sign in the window.

Sweet Sue's on River Street in Troy has mastered all things sweet and sugary, but savory hasn't been forgotten. From weekend brunch to mostly-from-scratch lunch sandwiches, this "treatery" ignites all five tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami), and bridges the sweet-savory divide in ways missing from many other eateries.

At Sweet Sue's for lunch you can have your cake (and eat it, too) -- and not neglect your more substantial savory cravings.

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Enigma.Co

EnigmaCo_Jonathan_Brust_in_the_store.jpg

Jonathan Brust

By Lauren Hittinger

Maybe it's just me, but I've noticed a distinct lack of stores for men in the Capital Region. Women get all of the fun boutiques and quaint shops, while the men are left waiting on the couch for shopping to be over.

Recently Jonathan Brust has done something to change that. He just opened Enigma.Co, a men's clothing shop. Located in downtown Troy, Brust is aiming to elevate men's style by offering interesting brands and goods.

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The history of Albany as seen through beer-colored lenses

upper hudson valley beer cover and craig gravina

Upper Hudson Valley Beer and co-author Craig Gravina

There are many ways to look at the long history of Albany and the surrounding region: politically, economically, architecturally, and so on. Craig Gravina and Alan McLeod have chosen to do so through beer-colored lenses.

The two beer scholars -- you might remember them from the Albany Ale Project -- have teamed up to write Upper Hudson Valley Beer, a book about the rich history of brewing in this region and its resurgence over the last few decades. There's a launch party for the book -- with a beer tasting -- at the Albany Institute on September 11.

We bounced a few questions to Gravina this week about the role of beer in Albany's history, the state of the region's beer scene today, and where it might be headed.

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East Coast Screen Print Biennial in Troy

screen print biennial 2014 composite

Clips from pieces from some of the artists whose work will be on display (clockwise from top left): "They Said Stones" by Shawn Bitters; "Canopy" by Taryn McMahon; "Demos Onoiroi" by Mark Hosford; "Laugh Riot" by Midwest Pressed (Tim Dooley and Aaron Wilson).

By Lauren Hittinger

This September the first East Coast Screen Print Biennial is coming to the Capital Region, and it's a pretty big deal.

Screen printing as an art form has been around since the early 1900s, tracing its roots to industrial printing. And most of us have screen printed items in our houses, probably in clothing and other textiles. Even so, there hasn't been a recent large scale exhibition in the United States to showcase the art form.

Local artist and RPI faculty member Nathan Meltz decided to change that. So he organized the biennial at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy to celebrate the artistic side of the medium and showcase many of the different paths this artform can take.

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H., as in the film (and giant floating head)

Two bits from the recent past resurfacing together:

+ Remember that giant head that was pulled out of the Hudson last year?
+ Remember that film that was shooting in Troy earlier this year?

The film -- titled H. -- is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival in Italy this week. And, inspired by that story about the floating head last summer, the film's plot includes a giant head floating in the Hudson River.

After the jump there are photos from the shoot this past April involving the giant, floating head.

The trailer for H. is embedded above. It was written and directed by Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia. A description of the film, from a Variety story: "a contempo greek tragedy about two women, both named Helen, whose lives and relationships begin to unravel in the wake of a meteor explosion over their town of Troy, NY."

We haven't heard anything about a local screening, but you gotta figure the film will make the rounds on the festival circuit first. So it could be a while before it shows up locally.

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Under the bridge... IT'S TROYBOT!

TroyBot mural

Check it out: There's a new mural under the Green Island Bridge depicting TroyBot.

The mural is on the wall of the Troy-side bridge overpass. It's based on a design by Ben Karis-Nix from Troy Cloth and Paper. A group of volunteers, including RPI and Sage students, helped paint the piece last week.

The TroyBot character is an imagined version of the Green Island Bridge that can transform into a giant robot. The mural depicts TroyBot helping the city after a storm.

Here are a handful of large-format pics.

Capital City Brewcycle

brewcycle outside the ruck in troy

The Brewcycle stopped outside The Ruck in Troy.

By Lauren Hittinger

The Capital City Brewcycle, which started operating in Troy this summer, puts a different spin on the pub crawl -- or, to be more accurate, you put the different spin on the pub crawl. Because the trolley-like Brewcycle is powered by the pedaling of 12 of its passengers.

I got a chance to give it a try this past weekend.

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The Little Free Libraries of Troy

little free library outside TVCOG

This box is outside the Tech Valley Center of Gravity in downtown Troy.

By Lauren Hittinger

There are little metal newspaper boxes popping up around Troy this summer. But instead of distributing newspapers, they're serving as free "libraries" for anyone to take a book and/or leave a book. They join a collection of "Little Free Libraries" that includes a few other spots around the Capital Region, and many others around the world.

Organizer Emily Armstrong says the three Troy locations are already seeing revolving donations. I talked with her recently about what inspired the tiny libraries, the merits of the "regular" library, and treasure hunting and surprise...

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Now open: Collar City Hard Pressed

collar city hard pressed red juiceQuick follow up on a post from earlier this year: Collar City Hard Pressed, the juice stand at the Troy farmers' market, opened a storefront today in downtown Troy.

The shop is in a small section of the building at 211 Broadway (the one that includes The Grocery, and eventually, The Tavern). Owner Jessica Garrity says it will be open Tuesday-Friday from 8 am-2 pm through the summer, with possible expanded hours in the fall. And the stand at the farmers' market on Saturdays will continue.

Earlier on AOA: Collar City Hard Pressed

Paper artist Niki Haynes

Niki_with_collage_cutouts.jpg

Niki Haynes at work

By Lauren Hittinger

Niki Haynes says she's "living the analog" dream. Haynes and her husband, Steve Rein are artists who came to Troy 14 years ago, from San Francisco. And a field where many are forced to do unrelated jobs to pay the bills, Haynes and Rein are thriving as full time exhibiting artists, working in spacious studios in their downtown Troy home, operating with multiple etsy shops, turning old objects, and paper, into new art.

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Annmarie Lanesey, RebateHero

RebateHero screengrab

A screengrab from RebateHero.com.

In the grand scheme of things, the internet hasn't been around for a very long time. Yet sometimes it seems like there's already a website or app for pretty much whatever you want. So when you hit on something you can't find, well, it makes you wonder.

That's what happened to Annmarie Lanesey, the co-founder and president of Troy-based internet consulting firm GreaneTree Technology, when she started to investigate rebates. She was surprised that when she went looking in 2010 it looked like there wasn't an online solution for finding and organizing rebates. "It seemed as if we had found one of the last corners of the internet that remained untouched."

Three years later, Lanesey has launched RebateHero.com, which aims to bring the old-school rebate process into the 21st century.

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Remembering Friday nights in Troy

fulton and 4th lkg west Troy.jpg

A bustling Troy, circa 1940

You can get an idea of the history of a place from books and museums, but it takes on a different flavor when you talk about it with someone who has lived there for a long time. Older people can have a different sense of the same place because of the changes they've seen -- and you can learn some pretty interesting things from them.

Back in the early 1940s Nancy Barrett was a teenager living with her father and two older sisters in Lansingburgh. Barrett still lives in Troy today, so she's seen a lot of changes in the city -- and a lot of them she likes. "I think there are people now who are getting things done," she says.

But when you ask Nancy Barrett if there's anything she misses about the old days in Troy, the answer comes quick and sure: Friday nights.

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So... he probably used a step ladder, right?

enjoy troy rat Green Island Bridge

Saw this the other day on one of the walls under the approach to the Green Island Bridge in Troy.

Alumnus flyby

RPI grad Reid Wiseman is currently on the International Space Station.

It's always nice when alumni stay within orbit of a school.

Another rehabbed building in downtown Troy, and a restaurant for Slidin' Dirty

9 First Street Troy

9 First Street in downtown Troy.

The owners of the popular food truck Slidin' Dirty announced today that they're opening a restaurant in downtown Troy. They're taking the space on the first floor of 9 First Street, a historic building which is currently undergoing a total overhaul that includes residential upstairs.

"We just sort of outgrew the truck," said Tim Tanney, who owns Slidin' Dirty with his wife, Brooke. "This space is going to allow us to do more with the truck, so the truck's not going to miss a beat, and then we're going to have this space."

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Meze at Ali Baba

ali baba meze plate

By Deanna Fox

My ancestral background is less of a patchwork and more of a woven blanket -- the weave and weft is all the same color with little variation. I can trace my familial heritage almost exclusive to the lush, green landscape of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. There are a few one-offs here and there, but overall it is a fairly homogenous mix.

One would think I should crave potatoes and boiled meat for my daily meals. Why, then, do I yearn constantly for the cold, exotic salads of the Middle East?

Once you eat at Ali Baba in Troy, you want to keep eating at Ali Baba. And I'll be content to keep eating the meze there.

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Bike sharing pilot program this summer

citi bike rack manhattan 2013

A Citi Bike rack in Manhattan.

A test run of a bike sharing program is planned for Albany, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, and Troy later this summer. From the Capital Moves project:

There will be 25 bicycles available for use between 10am and 8pm at one or more locations in each City. Locations are planned to include Jay Street at State Street in Schenectady, Riverfront Park in Troy, Broadway at Division Street in Saratoga Springs, and Washington Park in Albany. Once registered, participants will receive an ID number allowing them to use the bikes for the rest of the month. There will be no cost to participants, although a credit card will need to be on file as security for the bikes. In addition, participants will need to sign a waiver and provide positive identification.

Over the Gazette, Justin Mason has an article that includes a bunch of details about the program. [Daily Gazette]

The program will run from July 10-August 15. Dates for each city are after the jump.

It'll be interesting to see how this pilot goes. Bike sharing is one of those things that sounds like it could useful/fun, but the details also seem hard. One of the most famous bike share programs is the Citi Bike system in New York City, which turned out to be very popular during its first year -- and also faced significant financial problems. And the system is apparently still trying to shake out some of its operational problems. [NYT] [NYDN]

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The great pedestrian match at Troy

edward payson weston

Edward Payson Watson, the great star of late 19th pedestrian races (really), who competed in Lansingburgh.

Tim emails us this morning: "I was having pint with my brother last night at Ryan's Wake and he told me about how pedestrianism was once a huge spectator sport in America. It was basically sitting around and watching people power-walk in an arena."

Not only is this true, but there was one of these pedestrian events -- specifically, a 100 mile walking race -- in Troy, featuring the sport's greatest star.

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The Old Store

Quackenbush building Troy as Quackenbush and Co undated

Love that big "Q" on the side of the building.

Last week we got a chance to gawk at downtown Troy's historic Quackenbush Building as it currently stands -- empty, though that will soon change as the Tech Valley Center of Gravity is set to renovate and move in later this year.

The building had a long history as a department store dating back to 1856. So long is this history that back in 1938 an article in The Times Record (Troy) noted the "long and distinguished history" of the building -- 80 years at that point -- as the home of the G.V.S. Quackenbush and Co.* department store. The article was about the impending switch of the building to the W.T. Grant & Co. store, and all the renovations and upgrades (air conditioning!) the new owners had made.

Yep, this building is headed for at least its third or fourth life.

Anyway, we were curious about that "long and distinguished" history of the building. And the people at the Rensselaer County Historical Society were nice enough to send along this undated photo of the Quackenbush from when it was still the home of Quackenbush & Co. Or, as a sign on the side of the building proclaimed, "The Old Store."

* G.V.S. Quackenbush = Gerrit Van Schaick Quackenbush, a Capital Region historical name if every there was one.

photo: Courtesy of the Rensselaer County Historical Society, Troy NY

Gawking at the Quackenbush Building, the next home of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity

Quackenbush Building 2nd floor

The Tech Valley Center of Gravity -- the makerspace/startup space -- officially cut the ribbon on its plans to renovate the historic (and enormous) Quackenbush Building in downtown Troy.

So of course we had to stop by for a look.

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Rare Form Brewing Company

Rare Form tap room

Rare Form's tap room/brewery space, which was being prepped on Tuesday.

The new Rare Form Brewing Company in Troy is set to open its doors this Friday. The startup craft brewery is the result of a long-running plan by married couple Kevin Mullen and Jenny Kemp, who moved to the Capital Region after stops in Denver and Seattle.

Rare Form's opening also marks the ongoing transformation of its block at Congress St and 4th Street, which over the next few months four new storefronts are planned -- the sort of change that has a lot of people optimistic about the future of Troy.

We stopped by this week to get a look at what's in the works, and talk with some of the people involved.

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Peter and Alan's Troy brownstone on the park

open house troy washington park composite

By Nicole Lemperle Correia / Photos by Paul Gallo

Peter and Alan live in a brownstone along Troy's Washington Park. Dating back to 1840, the park is one of only two privately-owned urban parks in the state. The buildings that surround it are stately and beautiful.

This corner of Troy is the kind of place to stroll around on a warm evening: lovely architecture, people walking along the tree-lined streets, and just a few blocks over from the Russell Sage campus. It's an idyllic place that most people don't wander into, but it's an area worth exploring.

The homeowners themselves are gracious and excited to share their corner of the Capital Region. As they joke, if you live in Troy, there's a good chance you've been in their house...

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Visions of a Capital Region after us

john_bulmer_reclaimed_Capitol

From John Bulmer's Reclaimed series.

By Lauren Hittinger

Have you ever wondered what the Capital Region would look like if everyone just disappeared? Whether it was from zombie apocalypse or mass exodus, the landscape would certainly change if we weren't around to mold and maintain it.

Photographer John Bulmer has taken this idea and turned it into two series of remarkable of photo illustrations. His Reclaimed series imagines an abandoned Capital Region landscape after a catastrophic situation. The Dark City series is a little more peaceful, imagining how our region would look at night without artificial light from sources such as buildings and streetlights.

The images in both series are eerily believable.

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Troy Rockin' on the River 2014

troy rockin on river green island bridge 2012-06-20

The schedule for this summer's Rockin' on the River concert series in downtown Troy is out. The free Wednesday night series starts up June 18.

Without ado of any sort, here's the lineup...

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On eating crow, in Troy and in history

O'Brien's Public House

The recently opened O'Brien's Public House.

Two things about eating crow, which we wouldn't recommend because crows are wicked smart and it's probably best not to get on their bad side:

1. The owners of the Trojan Hotel/O'Brien's Public House in downtown Troy will are inviting people to eat "crow" with them at a party celebrating the building's renovation May 20. Is there a story behind that? You bet. From the press release:

Although the Trojan Hotel is one among many historic building rehabilitations underway in the celebrated revival of downtown Troy, this restoration effort was not without its doubters along the way.
But one of the harshest online critics of the effort has kept good on his public offers to buy a round of drinks for the house if the family succeeded in opening. The skeptic, who wishes to be identified as a "local facebook loudmouth," has paid the bar $200 to help provide one complimentary drink (beer, wine or regular drink) to the first 40 people who attend the Tuesday, May 20 opening party, starting at 5 p.m.
So, in the spirit of fun and redemption, the O'Briens will serve up slices from a lifelike crow-shaped cake, made by Troy confectionery artist Susan Dunkel of Sweet Sue's, 203 River St.

In fairness to this particular loudmouth, the building was in rough shape when the O'Briens got a hold of it. And it's to their credit they've been able to bring it back. Here are some before and after photos.

2. Where does that phrase -- to "eat crow" -- come from? It's unclear, apparently, but two of the popular stories about it are both related to New York...

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Grocery games, for the win

marla ortega guys grocery games

Marla Ortega -- chef/owner of the Illium Cafe in Troy -- was the winner on the Food Network show Guy's Grocery Games Sunday night. Over at Table Hopping, Steve has a recap of the episode.

Ortega won $18k -- you can watch the final dash around the store at that first link above.

The episode replays tonight (Monday) at 7 pm and this Saturday at 4 pm.

screengrab: Food Network

Henry Loves Betty

Henry Loves Betty Paula Matt with Betty and Henry

Paula Matt with her dogs, Betty and Henry

By Lauren Hittinger

Paula Matt really loves animals.

Growing up she had an imaginary dog named Josie, she works as a vet tech, and she just opened a pet boutique in Troy named Henry Loves Betty. The offerings are quite posh, with dog button-ups, candles for dogs, and loads of organic treats.

I was skeptical, but Matt insists it's all worthwhile.

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Shopping around downtown Troy

shopping around Troy composite

By Lauren Hittinger

I love to shop. But whenever I'm getting ready to buy more clothes, accessories, or housewares, I always end up at the malls or a big box store. It's completely ridiculous because I enjoy supporting local businesses, and there are so many wonderful places that are independently owned in the Capital Region.

I'm going to be highlighting some of these places to shop, starting with women's clothing and housewares in Troy.

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A mission to bring "damn good" bagels to Troy

Psychedelicatessen Laura Kerrone

Laura Kerrone

By Lauren Hittinger

Laura Kerrone is on a mission to bring New York-style bagels to Troy.

Since moving here three years ago, Kerrone has been disappointed with she says is a lack of authentic bagels. That's why she wants to bring her "damn good recipe" to life through a new shop, The Psychedelicatessen, in downtown Troy.

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The monument in Monument Square

monument square troy soldiers and sailors

By Lauren Hittinger

The center of downtown Troy -- figuratively, if not necessarily geographically -- is Monument Square. And it's aptly named -- there's 93-foot monument right in the middle of it.

So, to what is it a monument?

Here's the answer, which includes a bunch of little bits about Troy's history...

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Grown Up Easter Egg Hunt 2014

Thumbnail image for Prospect Park sign TroyThe annual Grown Up Easter Egg Hunt returns to Troy's Prospect Park Saturday, April 26. It's $15 to take part -- proceeds will go to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America and the Col. Albert Pawling Memorial Statue Project (which is aiming to build a statue of Troy's first mayor by 2016).

This is the third year for the event, and it seems to grow every year. Organizer/grown up Easter bunny Danielle Sanzone tells us there will be more than 3,000 eggs filled with all sorts of prizes, raffles, silent auctions, food, free make-your-own Stewart's Shops sundaes, and a DJ. She's expecting more than 200 people this year.

Registration for the event starts at 2:30 pm on April 26, hunt starts at 3:30 pm. The rain location is the Atrium in downtown Troy.

Hoarding at the Rensselaer County Historical Society

outside building RCHS.jpg

With over 30,000 items in their collection, what keeps RCHS off Hoarders

By Lauren Hittinger

The difference between collecting and hoarding lies somewhere between owning only what you can carry and... well... what you see on the A&E channel.

But at The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) collecting is their mission. RCHS has more than 30,000 items in its collection -- which may appear to tip to the side of hoarding, but their new exhibit helps explain what they choose to keep and why.

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Collar City Hard Pressed

collar city hard pressed jessica garrity

Collar City Hard Pressed's Jessica Garrity

By Lauren Hittinger

Juicing been getting a lot of attention over the last few years. So I was curious about Collar City Hard Pressed, a stand that opened at the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market during the indoor season this past November. And after trying one of its creations, I was converted. Not only did the juice taste good -- but also you could see exactly what was going into your drink as it was being made.

So I went back to sample more -- and talk with Collar City Hard Pressed owner Jessica Garrity why she started the business, her plans for it, and how she feels about the whole juicing movement.

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Takk House

takk house main space

Hiding in downtown Troy.

By Lauren Hittinger

One of the most interesting buildings in Troy has been hiding for years.

I've walked by 55 Third Street in downtown Troy dozens, if not hundreds, of times before I happened to get a tour a while back from then-owners Steve Rein and Niki Haynes. And I was completely blown away. The old Knights of Columbus building is so cool, filled with old Troy details and fabulous little nooks throughout. So when I heard it was going to be turned into an event space by its new owners -- Heidi Benjamin and Frank Sicari -- I was definitely interested to learn more.

I recently toured the space again and chatted with Benjamin and Sicari about their plans for this surprising building.

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The Whistling Kettle, Troy

Whistling Kettle Window outside.jpg

It's tea time in Troy

By Lauren Hittinger

The folks behind theWhistling Kettle Tea Room in Ballston Spa opened their new location in Troy this week.

The Whistling Kettle Tea Shop & Cafe launched quietly on Thursday. I stopped by for a look and a chat with owner Kevin Borowski about their new location.


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Follow up: O'Briens Public House at The Trojan Hotel

O'Brien's Public House interior

The crowd on St. Patrick's Day.

Some quick photo follow up on the Trojan Hotel project in Troy: Terry and Donald O'Brien recently opened O'Briens Public House in the building. We stopped in for a few minutes on St. Patrick's Day to get a look at the renovations.

The O'Briens bought the Trojan Hotel building on Third Street in downtown Troy last summer. The building was in rough shape when they got it. Their plan is to renovate the building one section at a time. The pub, occupying a space on a floor just above street level at the front of the building, is the first part of the building to open.

The renovated space looks good -- and the change from last summer is remarkable. Here are a few photos, with some then-and-now comparisons...

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More than a century of RPI, and Troy, online

rpi the polytechnic 1967 the doors

That time Jim Morrison trolled Troy with reference to Virgil and Homer.

Check it out: More than a century of back issues of the RPI student newspaper, The Polytechnic, have been digitized and placed online. They're now available through RPI's online digital collections portal.

It's usually fun to flip through old newspapers, it's true here, too. Here's one example from the archives, a story we'd heard about before, but the sarcasm of the contemporary account adds something to it. From the December 13, 1967 issue, an article by Bob Cunningham about The Doors playing a concert on campus:

It was concert time again at the Field House Friday night. This show, the opening event of Frosh Fling Weekend, began with typical Rensselaer precision a half-hour late.
Following the opening act, there was a 10 minute intermission which was well received by the crowd. A half-hour later the Doors came on and like true showmen gave not quite their all for 45 minutes. ...
Following Rose was the headline group, the Doors. CRAWDADDY MAGAZINE, New York's rock music bible, describes them as "the best the West has to offer" in concert. The audience was receptive to renditions of their hits "People are Strange" and "Break on Through." Also they were intrigued by the haunting tones of "Alabama Song" (Whisky Bar).
Most people were pleased by Ray Manzarek's organ and Robby Krieger's guitar soaring through "Light My Fire" and a few other songs. Unfortunately, much of the impact and fire of Jim Morrison's vocals seemed to be lost in the expanses of the Field House.
Instead of setting the house on fire, Jim failed to even break the ice. He seemed disgusted with the whole scene at the end and showed how he felt when he cried, "If this is Troy, I'm with the Greeks."
For the crowd's taste, the concert was far too short to be worthwhile. Those on the floor felt cheated of space, and all felt cheated out of the best the Doors could have offered.

The online archive of Poly issues stretches back as far 1869, with the bulk from 1885-2001. It includes more 41,000 pages. (We can't imagine how long that must have taken to scan all of those issues.)

Oh, and among the ads in the collection's first issue, from September 25, 1869: "Charles F. Lucas, Confectioner, Ladies and Gentlemen's Restaurant, No. 12 Broadway, Troy, N.Y."

image: The Polytechnic December 13, 1967, Rensselaer Digital Collections

A look at the plans for the Capital District Community Gardens Urban Grow Center

CDCG Urban Grow Center.jpg

The CDCG' new Urban Grow Center building on River Street in Troy.

A few years ago the 100-year-old manufacturing building at 594 River Street in Troy was home to a company that produced that little liquid piece that goes inside levels. By this time next year it's expected to house a low-cost produce market and it will be home to the Capital District Community Gardens headquarters.

And a few years from now, if all goes according to plan, the building and the land beside it will also include a hydroponic garden, educational and job training space, and a commercial kitchen.

CDCG executive director Amy Klein says the new Urban Grow Center is unique -- a space that will combine urban agriculture, education, and food access.

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She put the starch in the Collar City

kate mullany 150th anniversary poster rchsToday's bit of local history: This year marks the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Collar Laundry Union in Troy, the first female labor union in the country, in February 1864. The leader of that effort: Kate Mullany, an Irish immigrant who was just 19 years old at the time. From a great Brownstoner post by Montrose Morris about Mullany:

The collar laundresses had asked management for higher wages, but they were ignored. Well, not totally ignored. The commercial laundries had all installed new starch machines that could run the collars through a starch bath much faster than human hands. The machine increased production, but also make the women on the other end of the process work much harder to keep up with the machine. The scalding water from the machine had burned many of the women working with it, and the increased production was causing the pressers to burn themselves and the collars trying to keep up. Any collar ruined was docked from their pay.
Kate Mullany had been listening to the men in her building and neighborhood talk about their success in forming an Iron Molder's Union for their jobs in the steel mills. After an initial struggle, they had been able to successfully bargain for improved work conditions and higher wages. She talked with them about organizing a women's laundry union, and the men were encouraging. With conditions worsening in the laundries, and no pay raises in sight, Kate decided that someone had to do something, and that person had to be her. With the help of her co-worker Esther Keegan, Kate Mullany decided to organize the female laundresses into a union. On February 23, 1864, the three hundred women who signed up as the Collar Laundry Union walked out of all of the fourteen commercial laundries in Troy. The strike was on.

The strike's slogan: "Don't iron while the strike is hot!"

The union eventually won a raise. Mullany would go on to help other unions and she eventually became the first woman named to a labor union's national office. And Mullany's house -- at 350 8th Street in Troy, near the off-ramp from the Collar City Bridge -- is now a National Historic Site.

This Saturday (February 22), the Rensselaer County Historical Society will be commemorating the Collar Laundry Union strike with an re-enactment march from the RSCH building (57 2nd Street) to the Atrium. It starts at 11 am.

By the way: As the first part of the clip alludes to, doing laundry back then wasn't like doing laundry now. It was hard. That's the first part of the Brownstoner piece -- it'll make you reconsider using the word "sweatshop" in reference to some sort of modern office job.

poster via Rensselaer County Historical Society

Hey there, chef Sarah Fish

Sarah Fish

Chef Sarah Fish

Sarah Fish taught herself to cook.

The owner of The Hungry Fish Cafe in Troy always thought she'd be a writer, until health issues and financial hardship changed her path.

Since then, Fish has been named a Rising Star Chef at the Albany Wine and Dine for the Arts Festival, her cafe is gaining popularity, she's getting ready to buy her own building, and she's teaching cooking classes at The Arts Center in Troy. Fish is committed to using local ingredients in her cooking for health, flavor and strengthening the local community.

This week, Fish took time to talk with us about a planned appearance on The Food Network, why breakfast is more exciting than you realize, and how a garden led her to the kitchen and changed her life.

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Today's moment of winter

Ducks at the laundromat.jpg

That spin cycle takes forever

We spotted these ducks just hanging out outside this Troy laundromat, and it looked a little bit like they were waiting for their clothes to finish drying.

It kind of quacked us up.

Sorry.

Today's moment of winter

snowy hudson river troy from hedley 2014-02-14

We had a chance to gawk at downtown Troy and the snowy Hudson River today from the (currently unoccupied half of the) 7th floor of the Hedley Park Place Building. It has quite a view.

Here's a panorama version.

Soapbox: Expecting better for the One Monument Square redevelopment

A rendering of the proposed project, from the river side.

By Duncan Crary

Earlier this month the city of Troy announced that it had selected a redevelopment plan for the vacant Monument Square lot, the site of the former city hall. It's a prime piece of land offering a lot of possibilities. But Duncan Crary -- a Troy resident and urban design observer -- argues the current proposal could be a lot better.

Most developers can only dream of having the chance to shape a site like One Monument Square. The team chosen for this endeavor has the potential to create an enduring expression of our generation's best values and optimism, at the heart of our city. This is a legacy building commission, here.

So why, then, is this crew proposing to cram the worst architectural elements of the worst structures around into a couple of soulless boxes in the dead center of our charming 19th century downtown?

It seems completely at odds with what's happening here in Troy, and what's really behind the renaissance in this place "Where the Finest Antiques Can't Be Bought," and where "A wave of renovation is... (opening) ... the way for new urban economy and culture."

People actually travel here to admire our wealth of historic architecture and experience how it relates to the streets and blocks. Some stay, and become the characters who enliven this place.

But they don't come for the modern abominations in our built environment. They don't come to fawn over the Bell Atlantic switch building with its blank fortified walls, or the Troy Medical Plaza sheathed in black reflective glass.

I just don't get why anyone would want to replicate those loathsome styles at the focal point of our city, where beautiful architecture is our greatest asset.

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Today's moment of winter

ducks on frozen Hudson River

Quack. Quack. Quack.

While walking along the Monument Square site we noticed this group of ducks hanging out on a the edge of "pond" on the frozen Hudson River. They were just hanging out, chatting*, and paddling around a bit.

Here are a few more pics.

* At least, that's what it sounded like. We don't speak duck.

The new plan for redeveloping the Monument Square site in downtown Troy

monument square 2014 market rendering cropped

The proposed plan includes permanent space for the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market.

The city of Troy formally announced today that it's picked a proposal for the redevelopment of the former city hall site on Monument Square downtown. And the proposed $27 million project includes a lot of potentially interesting bits: residential, retail, commercial space -- and maybe most interesting of all, a permanent home for the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market.

Here's an overview of the plan with renderings, details, and whatnot...

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That time the Capital Region included four of the nation's 100 biggest cities

nys cities population national rank 1790-2010 crop

Don't worry, there's a bigger version.

Albany was once the 9th largest city in the nation, by population. And Schenectady the 17th. And Troy the 19th.

It's true. Of course, that was in 1840, 1800, and 1840.

Inspired by this chart of the nation's most populous metro areas over the country's history [via], we figured it'd be interesting to chart the national ranks (up to 100) of New York cities from 1790-2010. A few of the rankings surprised us (Cohoes! Watervliet!). And the trends help illustrate New York State's shifting position within the nation.

OK, let's have a look...

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COB Pizza at Red Front

Red Front COB pizza whole

There's cheese in there. It's under the sauce.

By Jeff Janssens

There's a lot of exciting stuff happening these days in downtown Troy; from the shops to the restaurants to the bars, it seems like a new business is opening its doors each week. This makes it easy to overlook some of the old stalwarts of the city, places like Famous Lunch that have been turning out good food for decades.

Yet I can't help but approach any place labeled as an institution with a healthy dose of skepticism. At some places, the history and value to the community far exceed the present quality of food.

But Red Front Restaurant on the south side of downtown Troy has built a well-deserved following since opening in 1956 thanks in part to their COB Pizza -- that's "cheese-on-bottom" -- a non-traditional pizza in which the sauce and the bready crust are the stars.

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"We know not to whom we are indebted for the following description of that unwearied patron of children..."

a visit from st nick troy sentinel clipping top

Tonight at the Rensselaer County Courthouse, there will be a trial -- with real attorneys, a judge, witnesses and everything -- to determine who actually authored the now-famous poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," Clement C. Moore or Henry Livingston Jr (as mentioned). It starts at 6 pm and it should be a good time. (The event's been getting national coverage.)

As you know, the local link for this story of "Sante Claus" and "Dunder and Blixem" is that it first appeared in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823. (See plaque in downtown Troy.) Thanks to Gramercy Communications, which had the archives of the Sentinel digitized, and trial organizer Duncan Crary (who else), the page from that issue of the Sentinel is online (a big pdf).

It's interesting to read the poem in context -- it's sandwiched between an article about honey and some wedding announcements. And the intro to the story hints to the controversy that would eventually arise over the poem's authorship.

Anyway, we thought it'd be fun to post the poem as it originally appeared on the page, like a newspaper clipping. It's after the jump. Almost two centuries later it's still a fun read.

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DeFazio's (finally) gets a Tournament of Pizza trophy

Rocco DeFazio with Trophy.jpg

Rocco DeFazio, with his 2013 TOP Trophy

We started to refer to them as the Susan Lucci of the AOA Tournament of Pizza -- always good enough to be nominated but never quite able to take the award. But this year, DeFazio's of Troy took first prize in the TOP. And this week we stopped by to award them their first Tournament of Pizza trophy.

Owner Rocco DeFazio, who inherited the business from his parents, says having what it takes to make it to the finals as often as they have comes from a family philosophy -- the constant desire to improve things.

Well, that and the secret of the DeFazio's crust.

Saint Rose Tournament of Pizza ad 2013 in post

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A Visit from St. Nicholas -- on trial

visit from st nick trial flyerThe classic poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" appeared in the Troy Sentinel in 1823. That much, people agree on. There's a plaque and everything.

As for the poem's author... that's a matter of long-running dispute. So, how to settle this situation? How about a trial.

On December 18 there will be a mock trial of the case in an actual court room at the Rensselaer County Courthouse with an actual (retired) judge and actual attorneys. It's organized by Duncan Crary, because of course it is. Here's more about the trial via Paul Grondahl.

Heading up the argument for Clement C. Moore, who has traditionally been credited with the poem: E. Stewart Jones.

Heading up argument for Henry Livingston, Jr, who claims to have written the poem 15 years before it was published: Jack Casey.

Hearing the case: Retired state Supreme Court Justice Bud Malone.

Among the expert witnesses to be called: Rensselaer County historian Kathryn Sheehan.

The trial is at 6 pm on December 18 at the county court house. It's open to the public. There will be a reception at the Rensselaer County Historical Society afterward.

The arguments: Here's a quick overview of the two competing claims from Mental Floss.

A vision of Troy in 2016 -- from a century ago

forecast for troy 2016 imagined in 1916 cropped

Airships!

Check out this spectacular vision of downtown Troy in 2016 -- as imagined in 1916. It's like Fritz Lang meets Jules Verne. Here's an uncropped, large format version.

The image is from a program for a vaudeville show that played at the old Proctor's in Troy a century ago. We came across it when Emily Zimmerman shared it on Instagram last week. The people at the Rensselaer County Historical Society were nice enough to pull out a high-resolution version of the image and send it to us.

As RCHS executive director Ilene Frank mentioned to us in an email: "I don't know specifically what prompted this vision, but it is definitely in the time period of major Expos and World Fairs that promoted a technologically advanced and modern view of future society."

And a Troy on a whole different scale.

If ever you wanted an Uncle Sam of your very own...

Uncle Rainbow Uncle Sam Troy

Uncle Rainbow, intact, before all the unpleasantness.

The Uncle Sam Project -- the public art display of Uncle Sam statues around downtown Troy -- is coming to a close soon. And that means many of the Uncles Sam will be auctioned off.

As it happens, you can bid online for the fiberglass statues. Sixteen of them are available. The opening bid on each is $750, though a few have already been bid up.

The bidding opened Monday and will continue through the Downtown Troy BID's annual dinner December 4.

Proceeds from the auction will go to benefit the BID or, if the Uncle Sam was created by a school group, the group's school.

The 17th Sam: There could be a 17th Uncle Sam up for auction, Mike DeMasi reports -- if his head is released from the Troy police evidence room. (You know, because of the unfortunate episode this past August.)

Checking out The Grocery in Troy

The Grocery exterior

The new food market in downtown Troy -- The Grocery -- officially opened Tuesday on Broadway, half a block from Monument Square.

It's the latest project from Vic Christopher and Heather LaVine, owners of The Confectionery, located in an adjacent building. And much like the wine/coffee bar, Christopher and LaVine have created another space with a definite sense of place.

We stopped in Tuesday afternoon to have a look and talk with a few of the people involved, about how it came together and trying to find the right approach for a grocery store in downtown Troy.

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Cajun Pork Belly and Prosciutto Panini at Illium Café

Illium Cafe pork belly panini overhead

Sometimes more is more.

By Jeff Janssens

The Cajun Pork Belly and Crispy Prosciutto Open-Faced Panini from Illium Café in Troy is fatty, rich, heavy food. It packs such a punch that it's liable to knock you out for the rest of the afternoon, if not the entire winter.

Truth be told, a sandwich that features pork belly, prosciutto, a fried egg, hollandaise sauce, a savory bread pudding, and a creamy brie sauce is not something you want to be eating with much regularity. It may also seem, at first glance, to be an exercise in excess.

But once you taste this panini, you can't help but wonder how it was that you never before found all of these ingredients served together on a plate.

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Hey there, Emily Armstrong

emily armstrong 2013

We're trying out a new, semi-regular series in which we ask an interesting person a few questions -- sometimes because they have something specific going on, sometimes just because we figure they'll say something interesting. It'll probably change along the way.

First up: Emily Armstrong -- artist, art teacher, video producer, drink and draw organizer, compulsive creative person. She just a released a new video called This is Troy.

We talked about Troy as fertile ground, sassy figure models, starting something because it doesn't exist, and the desire to be creative.

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The Frear Building in Troy is again open for (retail) business

frear building ekologic composite

The clothing design and manufacturing company 'e ko logic is known in the fashion world and sells its pieces in shops from France to Japan.

And it's located right here in the Capital Region -- in Troy -- and has been for the last decade. Though that wasn't necessarily easily to tell. Why? We'll let owner/designer Kathleen Tesnakis explain:

"Before I was in a very funky old building, on the second floor, that you weren't sure you wanted to walk up into." And beyond that funkiness, 'e ko logic didn't have a retail space.

That situation changes starting today when 'e ko logic formally opens its new retail and manufacturing space in the Frear Building. The clothing company's presence there is part of an ongoing transformation of the downtown Troy landmark back towards its roots.

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TOP 2013: The Final

TOP2013 Final composite

DC's vs. DeFazio's

Twenty-eight pizzas down. Two to go. It's the final of the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose.

The match-up in this final pairing:

DC's (Albany) vs. DeFazio's (Troy)

How we got here: DC's posted a good score in the semi-final meat lover's match-up with Mario's from Niskayuna. And DeFazio's put up a very strong score -- tied for fifth highest in TOP history -- to withstand a solid challenge from Mama Mia's of Saratoga.

And there are compelling storylines in the final matchup:
+ This is DeFazio's third straight year in the final -- can the Troy shop finally take the title?
+ On the other end, this is DC's first year in the tournament. The shop across from UAlbany upset last year's tournament champ -- Marisa's Place of Guilderland -- in Round 2. Can it rally for one more big win?

Let's eat some pizza.

Saint Rose Tournament of Pizza ad 2013 in post

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Troy Author Day 2013

troy author day 2013 logoThis Saturday -- October 19 -- is Troy Author Day. Blurbage:

Twenty of the Capital District's most popular authors will gather to meet readers, autograph books, and discuss their work. Drop in for a few minutes, or stay the whole time. ...
Select authors will participate in two panel discussions: one about their creative processes and another about publishing.

You'll recognize a bunch of the authors on the slate. A few names that immediately jumped out at us: Lydia Davis, Elisa Albert, Paul Grondahl, Dennis Mahoney, and James Kunstler.

Troy Author Day is noon-3 pm Saturday at the Troy Public Library. It's free. Copies of the authors' books will also be on sale, and portion of the proceeds benefit the TPL.

Troy Turkey Trot 2013 registration

troy turkey trot 2012 start Just a heads up that registration for this year's Troy Turkey Trot is now open. The Thanksgiving morning event includes a 10k, 5k, walk, and kids mile. Also this year: a costume contest.

The registration fee for the 10k and 5k is $25 until October 31, increases to $30 until November 23, and $35 up until registration closes on November 25. The walk and grade school mile have a $10 entry fee. There's no day-of registration.

Last year's event included 8,167 participants. And organizers are expecting more than 8,000 people again this year.

photo: Chris Shields / Troy Turkey Trot

TOP2013: Round 2: Troy

TOP2013 RD2 Troy

With two down and two to go in Round 2, the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- heads back to Troy.

The pizzerias in this head-to-head matchup of veggie pizzas (green peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives):

Deli & Brew - Troy - winner of the Round 1 Troy pool of new-to-the-tournament shops

DeFazio's - Troy - the returning bracket champ, coming off a first round bye

You gotta think DeFazio's is the favorite here -- it's posted a series of great scores in past tournaments (without ever taking the overall title). But Deli & Brew, known for its subs, posted a very respectable score in Round 1. It faces a great challenge -- but there's also great opportunity.

Once again we head to the Arts Center of the Capital Region...

Saint Rose Tournament of Pizza ad 2013 in post

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Admiring Troy

ny daily news troy feature page grab 2013-10-04Oh, look, there's Troy, in a big feature in in today's New York Daily News. A clip:

"Troy is the place where Henry Hudson turned around," goes the chorus of a rock anthem by The Parlor, a popular band from this upstate town.
But while the famous explorer didn't find the Northern Passage to the spice markets of Asia, a new generation of urban entrepreneurs is discovering opportunities here.
With an abundance of affordable studios, shops and homes in grand turn-of-the-century buildings, artisans, restaurateurs, and other creative types are helping resurrect this venerable old town just north of Albany.

It goes on to mention the Confectionery, multiple residential/retail conversions, Ekologic, RPI and other names you'll recognize. If you've been following along with what's up in Troy lately, there's not much in the feature that you don't already know. But it's some pretty sweet pub for the city, especially in a publication the size of the Daily News.

A little more context for the feature: The author is Suzanne Spellen, who made a name for herself in New York as "Montrose Morris" on the popular Brooklyn Brownstowner site. Last year she made the move from Brooklyn to Troy, which got mentioned by the New York Observer.

As Spellen wrote on Brownstoner at the time:

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TOP2013: Round 1: Troy

TOP2013 RD1 Troy

The opening round of the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- heads toward the final turn with a stop in Troy.

The new-to-the-tournament pizzerias in this Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:

Pizza DaVinci - Troy
Deli and Brew - Troy
Elia's - East Greenbush
Goomba's - East Greenbush

The judges gathered at the Arts Center of the Capital Region...

Saint Rose Tournament of Pizza ad 2013 in post

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Checking out the Troy crime map

troy crime map

A screengrab from this afternoon.

The Troy Police Department unveiled a new online crime map for the public today. From the press release:

With the exception of crimes related to domestic incidents and sexual assaults, all reported crime in our city will be mapped with a built in 72 hour posting delay. The delay is designed to give Investigators a "first look" at an incident and apply any limitations they see fit specifically relevant to their investigation. Once mapped, the information remains embedded in the mapping, subject to numerous choices the user can make; eg. date range, type of crime, etc. Previously noted exceptions to the mapping will always be subject to inclusion should a public safety need to post the incident be evident.

This is a good step, as we've said a bunch of times before, it'd be great to see other local municipalities head in this direction.

A few more quick thoughts:

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Yep, that's a giant potato

giant potato truck in Troy

We have to admit we'd kind of want to see this in a demolition-style derby competition with the Weinermobile.

Tim sent along this photo of an enormous potato in downtown Troy today. And that's pretty much what we have to say about it: "Look, an enormous potato."

(OK, one or two other things. It's obviously a Weinermobile-like ad for Idaho potatoes. And it's also trying to raise awareness for Meals on Wheels. Oh, and according to its website, the (fake) potato weights six tons. So there.)

More photos -- in large format, because, um, it's a giant potato (duh) -- are post jump if you're so inclined.

(Thanks, Tim!)

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A TARDIS in Troy

TVCOG TARDISThis is great: Some of the nerds* at Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy have built a TARDIS. Instead of transporting time lords -- and being much bigger on the inside -- it serves as a photo booth. And it will be at Troy Night Out tonight.

Explains Mick Cipollo, one of the TARDIS builders, in an email: "There was a concept for Troy night out first for a video booth for 30 second clips of 'why you enjoy Troy.' Then Laban Coblentz, founder and chairman of Tech Valley Center of Gravity, thought it should be in a TARDIS. I thought is was a good idea also."

So he looked for ideas online -- oh, you know there is a TARDIS builders website -- and finally settled on working off some computer generated images. (Fun fact: Mick says the TARDIS is pi meters tall.) Many TVCOG members pitched in to get the project built in three days so they could use it at the August Troy Night Out.

Cipollo says the TARDIS currently used an Android tablet as an information portal/photo booth. The video functionality is still being worked out.

TVCOG is planning to use the TARDIS for community events, like TNO. It's also scheduled to appear at the Emma Willard Mini Maker Faire on October 12. As Mick pointed out, the school will be the perfect architectural backdrop.

* We use that term affectionately, of course.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Tech Valley Center of Gravity
+ Mini Maker Faire in Troy

photo via TVCOG Facebook

"The dreams that you have... they're floating dreams"

Check out this nice video piece by the Sanctuary for Independent Media about the creation of the Freedom Square mural in Troy this past summer. Famous Philadelphia-based mosaic artist Isaiah Zager come to town to lead workshops and help coordinate the process.

We like how the video captures a little bit of the joy of creating a new work, something Zagar gets at in this clip:

To see their energy vibrating outwardly, and the joy that comes from feeling that they're accomplishing something. And the accomplishment can be very simple. Somebody walks up and says, "Can I put one tile on?" What is the meaning of that, one tile in there? They placed it, it's going to stay there. They're just ecstatic about something very simple. That it's part of something much bigger. And they understand that. And they feel that. And the the person that works all day -- what do they feel? They feel tired at the end of the day. How lucky it is to feel that they accomplished something. And they're tired. And you go to sleep. And the dreams that you have... they're floating dreams.

This Saturday at Freedom Square is StoryHarvest, a community event with food and music, from 1-5 pm. The event will also serve as the last stop for the Collar City Pre(R)amble, part of an effort to create a trail of sorts through Troy for non-motorized transportation.

Renata and Mike's Troy fixer-upper

open house renata composite

By Nicole Lemperle Correia

Renata and I met many years ago, when we worked at a Girl Scout camp together. Renata was the camp's arts and crafts director, and her artistic talent shines through in the Troy home she and her husband Mike are renovating.

The couple's love for their home and neighborhood is evident. The house is full of details that can only be found in historic homes: tin ceilings, detailed trim, beautiful woodwork, and perfectly-worn wood floors.

Unlike previous homes that have been featured in the "Open House" series, Renata and Mike's home is in the earlier stages of renovations, and they have some great stories about the process (just wait until you see what they found in their walls). I love how their creative vision has shaped their approach to their home, and how their artwork fills the space.

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The Tour de Coop

tour de coop Troy logoThat would coop as in chicken coop. On August 18 (a Sunday) there's a self-guided tour of seven backyard chicken locations around Troy. Blurbage:

The Troy Coalition for Sustainable Urban Living is sponsoring a self guided city-wide tour of chicken coops. Keeping backyard chickens is more than just fresh eggs and meat. Join the tour and see the variety of birds and coops as well as learn about caring for and enjoying your chickens. They provide manure to feed your compost and garden soil, they are entertaining and they contribute to food security in our community. There are seven locations. The tour is free but you will need to sign in to get a map of the coop locations. Maps are available at two locations: 384 2nd Street, in South Troy, and 63 Mellon Ave, between Hoosick and South Lake Ave.

We weren't familiar with the Troy Coalition for Sustainable Urban Living, so we emailed Katie Nare, one of the organizers of the tour. She explained via email:

We are a group of concerned and energized residents in the city of Troy who are working together to create a more sustainable urban area through networking, sharing and encouragement.
One of the top issues regards food. That's where the chickens make an appearance ;) They provide eggs, meat or both. They are small and easy to handle. They are providers. In the end, we want to be able to feel food secure in an urban environment (especially an urban environment!) and chickens provide that. So do our gardens, etc.
Sustainability matters because we can't always count on the economy. The last few years have shown a lack of stability and we seek stability. That's where the coalition comes in!

The Tour de Coop is 1-4 pm on August 18. It's free, but as noted above, you'll have to sign in at one of the two starting locations for a map.

Speaking of backyard chickens... There will be a new mayor in Albany next year. Does that mean the Albany backyard chicken issue will cluck again?

Earlier on AOA: A bunch of stuff about urban chickens

The AOA Historic Bad Boys, Broads and Bootleggers Tour

bad boys broads bootleggers tour badge

Update: The tour is sold out!

The Capital Region has a rich history, some of which can be found in books and museums -- and some of which... well... not so much. This area has its fair share of stories -- some truer than others -- of gangsters, bootleggers, political bosses, and gin mills .

So on Wednesday, August 7, AOA is hosting a "Bad Boys, Broads, and Bootleggers" trolley tour. Local history buffs Maeve McEneny and Duncan Crary will lead a raucous excursion into our region's infamous illicit past filled with stories your history teacher didn't want to tell you.

In addition to stories about characters like gangster Jack "Legs" Diamond, political boss Dan O'Connell, and Troy madam Mame Faye, we'll stop for tours and tastings at:

+ The speakeasy at City Beer Hall

+ Smith's in Cohoes, a historic haunt for political figures and home to the bar from Tammany Hall

+ The Lucas Confectionery in Troy

+ And a whiskey tasting at Albany Distilling Company.

We'll end the evening hanging out at the Albany Pump Station where your tour ticket will get you a free beer.

There will be swag, prizes, and other surprises along the way.

Tickets are $25 -- here's how to buy them.

Last year Maeve and Duncan led the really fun Troy > Albany Aqua Duck tour for AOA. That tour sold out within 24 hours, so check your calendar, coordinate with your friends and get your reservation today.

Trolleys for the the AOA Bad Boys, Broads, and Bootleggers tour will be provided by Advantage Transportation and Harmony House Tours helped pull the whole tour together. The event is sponsored by The Lofts at Harmony Mills, the Cohoes Local Development Corp, and The Downtown Albany BID.

A new life planned for the Trojan Hotel

trojan hotel building exterior

The Trojan Hotel building in Troy -- part of which has stood on 3rd Street downtown since the 1800s -- was sold this week. The new owners: Terry and Donald O'Brien, who have a lot of plans for the building -- including a pub, a bar, and an apartment for themselves.

We were invited to have a look at the building today, so we stopped by to take some photos of the historic building and talk for a few minutes with the O'Briens.

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Postcards from the past: Troy

old postcard overlooking Troy

Troy as it was, from one perspective.

We happened upon this collection of old postcards -- including cards from the Capital Region -- from the Boston Public Library not once, but twice this week. And after the second time, we figured we pretty much had to do something with them.

All the postcards are thought to be printed between 1930-1945. Some of the cards depict places that no longer exist. And even the cards that show places still standing probably present a version of that place that never truly existed -- the backgrounds de-cluttered, the landscaping manicured, the scenes mostly devoid of people. It's the past as it was idealized by someone then.

The collection includes postcards from different spots around the area. So we decided it'd be fun to periodically pull a handful from a spot, map the locations depicted, and match them with the current streetview.

First up: Troy.

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Iced coffee at the Confectionery

confectionery new orleans iced coffee

By Daniel B.

The emerging coffee culture in the Capital Region is probably invisible to most. And honestly, it may never grow much beyond the few outposts that currently dot the landscape. New hiqh-quality coffee shops are opening up, long established ones are improving their wares, and passionate baristas are honing their craft.

The espresso at Caffe Vero is old news. You should check out what's happening at Tierra, especially their brewed coffee that's prepared to order in the Chemex. And Uncommon Grounds has been seriously improving their coffee roasting.

But right now -- right now -- when it's hot and humid, hot coffee is the last thing on your mind. Iced coffee is the order of the day. One of the best versions available is from a place that many don't even consider to be a coffee shop. However the New Orleans-style iced coffee at the Lucas Confectionery offers not only a reprieve from the heat, but it is also a blessed relief from all of the terrible iced coffee everywhere.

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The Rejuvenary River Circus in Troy

rejuvenary river circus

Might be something both kids and adults will enjoy: This Friday during Troy Night Out, the Rujuvenary River Circus will be marching down River Street to perform on the block between 1st Street and State.

The circus is a production of the Hudson Valley-based Arm of the Sea Theater. Show blurbage:

This CIRCUS is an allegorical tale featuring gorgeous masks and puppet characters, a bio-morphic set design and live original music. The story follows Malakai, the River messenger and water carrier who travels between Mountain Peaks and the Deep Blue Sea. Along his journeys Malakai encounters a host of creatures, including a lyrical sea turtle, a fast-talking crow, a pair of industrious beavers, beds of filter-feeding oysters, and schools of migrating fish. Each animal offers insights into their particular role in a watershed's ecosystem services. When the old man falls ill his granddaughter Rachel must rise to the challenge and help restore her grandfather, the River, back to health.
The CIRCUS runs one hour in length and is ideally suited for family audiences. Production of the show was made possible with support from the Hudson River Improvement Fund.

Here's a clip of a performance. The masks and puppets do look beautiful.

The parade's at 6:45 pm starting in Monument Square, performance at 7 pm. It's sponsored by Tight Knit, the Downtown Troy BID, and Sweet Sue's.

Speaking of Troy Night Out...

Tight Knit
Along with the new Troy Twilight Farmers' Market during Troy Night Out, Tight Knit is organizing Friday Flea in Monument Square -- "an open air bazaar showcasing the area's best artisans and crafters, connoisseurs of vintage clothing, antiques, collectibles, oddities, and what-nots." It's from 5-9 pm each TNO through September.

Troy Cloth and Paper
Also this Friday: Design It Together is celebrating its grand re-opening as Troy Cloth & Paper. Music from lastdayshining and BenKN starts at 9 pm.

photo: Arm of the Sea Theater

A quick look inside the new Troy Bombers

Bombers Troy exterior

Right off the Green Island Bridge.

The new Bombers in Troy opens this Wednesday. The opening is notable not only because it's an extension of Matt Baumgartner and company's popular local burrito bar brand, but also because it's the chain's first franchise location.

Monday night there was a preview party, so we stopped by to get a look at the new place, and talk with Matt and the owners of the Troy location for a few minutes.

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Sidewalk painting from the 2013 River Street Festival

troy river street festival 2013 sidewalk painting

Matthew Ruotolo and his dad, Richard, had side-by-side panels. Matthew's panel (left) is based on a design by Connor Moran, a friend from Wynantskill suffering from Crohn's Disease. Friends of Connor are raising money for his treatment by selling t-shirts with his design.

Our favorite part of the annual River Street Festival in Troy is the sidewalk painting contest. It's fun to the finished panels, but it's even more interesting to watch as the talented artists -- both adults and kids -- carefully create their works with chalk and charcoal.

Here's a big batch of sidewalk panels from the festival this past Saturday...

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Historical houses and anarchy

hart cluett house rchs matt wade ccThe title of this upcoming talk sponsored by the Rensselaer County Historical Society makes us smile: "The Anarchist's Guide to Historic House Museums."

Franklin Vagnone, director of the Historic House Trust of New York City, will be giving the talk June 22 at the Sage College's Bush Memorial. Blurbage:

In his dynamic presentation, Mr. Vagnone lays out a series of systemic changes that he thinks historic house museums need to enact in order to survive.
Controversial, provocative, thought provoking and inspiring, Mr. Vagnone encourages those who love historic house museums to change the way museums operate in order to re-invigorate them and re-engage with the communities they serve.

The talk starts at 10 am on the 22nd (a Saturday) and it's free. Later that day RCHS has two "anarchy in action" events:

+ The Hart-Cluett House will be open for a light lunch, allowing people to "spread the anarchy by leaving notes of what you would like to see or do in the house." And Vagnone will be there for an informal session on shaking up the house tour. noon-2 pm - $20

+ And that evening the Hart-Cluett House's courtyard will be hosting a four-course dinner catered by Sweet Sue's. (That first link at the top includes the menu.) 6 pm - $125

More events, anarchical and otherwise

A few more events:

+ The annual RCHS deck party is this Thursday from 5-8 pm in Troy. It's $20 per person and includes "live music and refreshing treats."

+ This Saturday RCHS an Underground Railroad history walk lined up. Blurbage: "Troy was at the forefront of abolitionism. Learn about the commitment Trojans made to freeing slaves, including a visit to the location on State Street where Charles Nalle was forcibly freed by citizens, in violation of the Fugitive Slave Law." 10:30 am - $5

photo: Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Dates for RestFest 2013, and a new venue

CAC Woodside

The organizers of the annual Restoration Festival have announced the music event is headed to Troy. RestFest 2013 will be at the Contemporary Artists Center at Woodside, a former church in South Troy currently under renovation to become an exhibition and performance space.

And the dates for Rest Fest 2013: September 6 and 7 (a Friday and Saturday).

The first three Rest Fests were held at St. Joseph's in Albany thanks to a collaboration between festival organizers and the Historic Albany Foundation. This past May HAF announced it's handing the old church back to the city of Albany.

Louis Apicello, one of Rest Fest's organizers, tells us they didn't talk with the city about continuing to use St. Joe's because a search for a new location was already in progress before HAF's announcement. "We had been looking at alternate sites simply because we knew we wouldn't have St. Joe's forever, whether it was for new ownership, or a business moving in or whatever. Since we had a site in the works, and since the folks over at the CAC were excited, the transfer of ownership just made the decision to move the fest this year that much easier."

He adds that the change of venue is "a positive step in testing the mission of Rest Fest, making it an idea-based festival and not necessarily a location-based festival."

Early-bird tickets for Rest Fest 2013 will go on sale later this month. Organizers say 25 percent of the net proceeds will go to support CAC Woodside.

The first band announcements are also scheduled to arrive around that time. (Here's last year's lineup.)

Earlier on AOA:
+ New lives for old churches
+ Contemporary Artists Center at Woodside

AOA has been a media sponsor of Rest Fest.

Yappy hour at the Confectionery

confectionery troy back patio croppedThis will sound either fantastic -- or perhaps less so -- depending on whether you're a dog person: The Confectionery in Troy is starting a weekly "yappy hour" on its back garden patio.

The first "canine friendly cocktail party" is scheduled for June 10 from 4-8 pm. After that it will be each Sunday in June from 2-6 pm, weather permitting.

From the announcement:

At "Yappy Hour," pooches, hounds and pups will enjoy a complimentary canine "charcuterie" and liver-infused water. Doggie dates will enjoy wine and beer specials.
Dog owners and their sociable furry pals can enter the garden patio through the Franklin Street Alley entrance (off Broadway). Each Yappy Hour party is asked to donate $10 to support local animal rescue organizations.

Dogs at a food establishment? We heard from a Confectionery rep that they checked with the Rennselaer County department of health and got the OK for having dogs on the patio.

And, by the way, yes... The Confectionery's back patio is now open, if you hadn't heard.

Yappy hour in Saratoga: Sloppy Kisses, a dog boutique in Saratoga Springs, organizes a yappy hour during the summers, and it just started up for the season. The next is scheduled for June 13 at the Parting Glass.

The Olde English: A while back Matt Baumgartner proposed a sort of "dog park" for the Olde English. But we haven't heard how that worked out. Anyone have an update?

photo: The Confectionery

(Re)Imagining Troy winners

downtown Troy from RPI hill Green Island Bridge backgroundThe top 25 ideas from the (Re)Imagining Troy project are now posted online. The Arts Center of the Capital Region, which is sponsoring the project, describes it as "an exhibit that will explore, in creative and practical ways, how Troy can become an even more livable city."

The Arts Center promises that there will be "more details - and a chance to react to the ideas" soon, as well as an event on June 30. But here are a few of the ideas that caught our eye -- ideas that we'd want to hear more about -- with a few thoughts...

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Philadelphia mosaic muralist leading workshop in Troy

magic gardens philadelphia

From Isaiah Zagar's "Magic Gardens" in Philadelphia.

This could be interesting: Mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar will be at the Sanctuary for Independent Media this weekend for a mosaic mural workshop. Zagar is the creator of the "Magic Gardens" mosaic space in Philadelphia. Event blurbage:

In this two day workshop, we will come together as a community to learn about mosaic construction with recycled materials. Participants will work on a mosaic from conception to completion.
Zagar will teach the arts of breaking tile, cutting mirror, gluing tile, and grouting. While learning the Zagar mosaic-making technique, students participate in the beautification of the local North Troy neighborhood through the completion of a permanent, public mosaic mural at Freedom Square.

The workshop runs 9 am-5 pm both Saturday and Sunday. The org is taking registrations for people who'd like to participate in the full two days. The registration fee is a sliding scale: $1-$350 "depending on what you can contribute." There are also drop-in sessions each day from 1-5 pm ($10 suggested donations / $5 students).

The workshop is part of a year-long "Found Art in North Troy" project and construction of Freedom Square.

photo: Flickr user sashafatcat (cc)

Rockin' on the River 2013

troy rockin on river green island bridge 2012-06-20

From one of last summer's concerts.

The schedule for this summer's Rockin' on the River concert series in Troy is out. The Wednesday night series starts up June 19. This year the concerts will start out in Green Island Bridge parking lot and move to Riverfront Park in August.

OK, without further ado, the schedule...

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Egg and cheese sandwich with zippy sauce from Famous Lunch

famous lunch exterior 2013-May

The familiar storefront on Congress Street.

By Daniel B.

Before it was famous, Famous Lunch in Troy was called Quick Lunch when it opened in 1932. And it's still quick today. In the front window hot dogs are plucked off the griddle, topped with mustard, chopped onions, and zippy sauce, and handed to eager customers in mere moments.

Zippy sauce -- for the uninitiated -- is a deeply savory concoction of onions, meat, and spices.

Those in a hurry could surely eat these diminutive three-inch wieners as quickly as they are assembled, although I wouldn't recommend it. Some things in life deserve to be savored. But that doesn't stop people from ordering them by the trayful in quantities of four, six, eight, or more.

Now while it may not be quite as quick, Famous Lunch's decidedly less famous breakfast is a very special treat. Specifically I'm referring to their egg and cheese sandwich on a hard roll with zippy sauce. It's not exactly on the menu, but they are more accommodating than one might imagine.

Some people might contemplate the notion of going to a famous hot dog place and not getting the hot dogs with deep scorn. But are you sure it's the restaurant's hot dogs that made them famous?

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Pig Out + BaconFest

troy pig out bacon fest 2013

Oink: The Troy Pig Out is combining with Bacon Fest NY for a two-day porktacular in Troy's Riverfront Park July 13-14.

The Pig Out is an annual barbecue competition and tasting. The first Bacon Fest was last year in Hudson -- it was very popular, which turned out to be a problem as there weren't enough samples to go around. It sounds like that experience played a role in the decision to team up with the Pig Out this year.

And, as Troy Downtown BID exec director Elizabeth Young notes in the press release: "Adding bacon just made sense - because really, what isn't better with bacon?"

The bacon portion of "what may be most ambitious pork festival in the state of NY" will be "Bacon Alley," according to the press release -- "a dedicated portion of festival grounds to hail the accomplishments of chefs, artisans and craftsman from around the region as they pay homage to the glory of bacon."

Admission is free. Samples are $1 for the People's Choice rib taste off, and other BBQ samples will be $1-$5.

Earlier on AOA: Strategy for crowded food festivals

Good brunch spots in/near Troy?

Bloody MaryAfter running into a brunch predicament Sunday, Andrew emails:

Do you guys know where to get a good brunch and bloody Mary on a Sunday in Troy?

Just thinking about some of our go-to brunch spots now, we gotta admit that none of them were on the east side of the Hudson.

So, got a suggestion for Andrew? Please share!

Earlier on AOA: A boozy brunch spot? (2010)

Food festival strategy

food truck festival troy 2013 wandering dago crowd

At the festival this in Troy.

By Daniel B.

Saturday was the first Food Truck Festival of NY in Troy, but it was not the first food truck festival ever.

These things happen all over the place all the time, and they come in many shapes and forms. Occasionally, like Tulip Fest, they aren't exclusively food events, but simply have a food component. Other times the festivals may not be focused on trucks but rather a specific ingredient... like bacon.

Events like these can be amazing or they can be agonizing. Sometimes the difference between the two is as simple as having a strategy.

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Laurie Anderson on EMPAC

empac_exterior_looking_up.jpg

"You can't explain it to someone, because there's nothing else like it in the world."

Laurie Anderson has a long history of mixing science and art. The experimental artist has invented instruments like a tape bow violin, done a residency at NASA and, for the last year, she's held the first distinguished artist in residence post at EMPAC, where she says science and technology have allowed her to do things she never could have done before.

EMPAC may be a bit of a puzzle to folks outside the media arts world, but inside that world, Anderson says, it's gaining quite a reputation.

"You can't explain it to someone," she says," because there's nothing else like it in the world."

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Tech Valley Center of Gravity

tech valley center of gravity interior

At the corner of 4th and Fulton in downtown Troy, in what was formerly an OTB space on the ground floor of a parking garage, is now a workshop with metal and wood working machinery, racks of tools and parts, 3-D scanners and printers, and biotech equipment.

The new Tech Valley Center of Gravity is a makerspace -- a place for hackers, crafters, artists, geeks to build stuff, take things apart, hack new things to together, and to learn from each other.

But organizers see it as part of something even bigger.

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Uncle Sams

fiberglass uncle sam statue

We were in downtown Troy this afternoon for some stuff, so we took the opportunity to check out the new Uncle Sam statues around town.

The fiberglass Sams were officially unveiled Friday morning. There are 30 of them around downtown. They're a project from the Troy Downtown BID, and were decorated by local artists and groups. (Here's what they looked like blank.) The plan is for about half the statues to "remain part of the streetscape for the foreseeable future" -- the other half will be auctioned off in November.

Here are photos of a handful of the Sams.

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Where the food trucks are. And aren't. And why.

Wandering Dago in Schenectady

The Wandering Dago in Schenectady last fall.

Last week's announcement that the Food Trucks of NY Festival -- originally planned for Albany's Washington Park -- was instead headed for Troy, prompted people to ask: What happened?

So we looked into it. And as we found out along the way, part of the challenge of operating a food truck in the Capital Region is the area's many municipalities -- and their many different rules.

Here's a look at where you're more likely to find -- and not find -- food trucks around the area, and why.

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Food Truck Festival in Troy

Slidin Dirty food truck

Slidin' Dirty is among the trucks scheduled to be there.

The first -- and aptly named -- Food Truck Festival is May 4 in Troy's River Front Park from noon-7 pm.

The festival's website lists 12 trucks so far, promising more to be announced. Food will be priced by the trucks. The festival will be selling beer -- a $5 token for a 16 oz beer. Among the rules: no coolers, no outside alcohol, no dogs.

You might recognize at least a few (or more) of the trucks lined up so far. Among them: Slidin' Dirty, the Wandering Dago, and Sweet Temptations. Organizers are still looking to add vendors.

You might also be thinking, "Wait, wasn't there something about this a while back and it was supposed to be in Albany's Washington Park?" And the answer is: yes. The word we got from festival organizers was that they weren't able to work things out with the city -- so they headed to Troy.

Also in the mix: music from High Peaks Band, Funk Evolution, and the Chris Dukes Band.

The festival is organized by a group connected with Townsquare Media, which owns a group of radio stations in this area.

Earlier on AOA:
+ The Wandering Dago food truck
+ Slidin' Dirty

The barbecued chicken at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

dinosaur bar-b-que chicken overhead

By Daniel B.

Why do most people go to the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Troy? Well if you ask general manager Joe Soldo, he'll tell you it's for the pulled pork. That's the big seller -- followed by ribs and then brisket, with chicken lagging way behind in the rear.

Chicken gets little respect at a barbecue joint.

When I think about barbecue, it conjures up images of long, slow cooking that breaks down the collagen in tougher pieces of meat, renders their fat, and turns them into unctuous smokey masterpieces. But when I hear the words "barbecue chicken" it's hard to picture anything but a dry, flavorless chicken breast slathered in sauce.

Barbecue chicken has a marketing problem. But I'm far from alone in thinking that Dinosaur's chicken is among its best offering. I recently got to sit down with the regional chain's CIA-trained executive chef Jeffrey "Cooter" Coon to find out why it's so good.

Little did I know that this is the chicken that changed his life.

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Grown Up Easter Egg Hunt 2013

Thumbnail image for Prospect Park sign TroyThe Grown Up Easter Egg Hunt is returning to Troy's Prospect Park this Saturday, April 6. Organizer Danielle Sanzone says the goal this year is to have 3,000 eggs. From the blurbage:

We'll have donated chocolates, peeps, gift certificates (ranging from $5 to $50 at various local businesses) and alcohol vouchers - all found in cute, pastel plastic eggs around Troy's Prospect Park.

There will be a DJ and food/drink available. Raffle prizes will include tickets to a Red Sox game, a coffee basket, a month of date nights, and I'm working on a bacon basket....(ya know, ham, Easter - they kinda go together)

Alcohol vouchers can be redeemed at the Afterparty following the Egg Hunt at Minissale's - just around the corner from the park. We are not providing alcohol at the egg hunt, and redeemed prizes will be given with the expectation of putting the booze in your car/trunk.

The hunt is from 3:30-5 pm. It's $12 to take part. The hunt is a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Crohn's & Colitis Foundation.

Forecast

weather.io screenshot

A screenshot from Forecast.

This is good: Forecast, a new weather site from the Troy-based developers who created the mobile weather app Dark Sky. From the announcement:

About a year ago, we released a little app for the iPhone and iPad called Dark Sky, attempting to do something new and interesting for weather forecasting, a field we think had become pretty stagnant. Approaching 100k sales, it's been fairly successful; however, we've been continually asked for more: international support, longer-term forecasting, an Android app, and so on.
Rather than cram these things into Dark Sky, we decided to do something grander: create our own full-featured weather service from scratch, complete with 7-day forecasts that cover the whole world, beautiful weather visualizations, and a time machine for exploring the weather in the past and far future. You can access it from all of your devices, whether it be your laptop, iPhone, Android phone, or tablet.

A lot of the weather info on the site is available elsewhere, but what makes Forecast so good is the way it presents current conditions and forecasts: simply and without clutter. Even the more advanced features mentioned above -- like the time machine -- have a clean, straightforward presentation. It's just the main weather info you want without all the junk, all easily accessible. (We love the National Weather Service, but yow, can its website be hard to use.)

A few other cool things about Forecast: the predictions are based on an aggregation of multiple sources and -- for the nerdy -- they're sharing their info through an API (a way for other developers to make use of their data).

Forecast and Dark Sky are the creation of the Troy-based team headed up by Jack Turner and Adam Grossman. They released Dark Sky last year after raising more than $35k on Kickstarter, in the process snagging a bunch of media attention.

Troy Night Out app

troy night out app screenshots

Check it out: there's now a Troy Night Out mobile app. From the description:

Discover the wide variety of businesses in downtown Troy, New York. Troy Night Out happens on the last Friday of each month with things to do, see, touch, and taste. With the Troy Night Out app you can search for participating businesses, get directions, and find out what's happening while your in Troy for the night.

There are screenshots above.

The app is the creation of Troy-based Gavant Software -- it announced Monday that it's donated the app to the Troy BID. The app will have information for this Friday's TNO.

It's available for both the iPhone and Android.

Unsolicited suggestion: It's great to see a local company pitching in to help like this. +1. What might might also be good: a bunch of local arts/events orgs collaborating with a partner to create a multi-place, multi-event local app, one that would include info for events such as TNO and 1st Friday, along with other stuff like Alive at Five and other business improvement districts.

Speaking of Troy Night Out: The new decorated Uncle Sam statues are schedule to be formally unveiled around Troy at next month's TNO (April 26).

Earlier on AOA: Albany: Then and Now App

screenshots: Gavant Software

The Confectionery in Troy planning expansion

confectionery proposed rear entrance

The proposed renovation to the rear of the Confectionery -- it would make make use of additional space on an adjacent property.

Thoroughly updated at 1 pm

The owners of the Charles F. Lucas Confectionery in Troy have bought an adjacent building -- 207 Broadway -- and are planning to expand the wine bar.

Vic Christopher -- who owns The Confectionery with his wife, Heather LaVine -- says they plan to turn a small building in the back of the 207 Broadway property into a private party space, along with another bathroom and a garden. It would also provide a second entrance for the "landlocked" Confectionery building. The goal is to have the expansion finished by mid summer.

Christopher says they've been turning down large groups because the just didn't have the space for them. The expansion will allow them to host groups of 20-50 people without compromising the cozy feel of the current space.

The Confectionery expansion is part of a larger plan for 207 Broadway.

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A sweet shop for Dreampuff

dreampuff sweet shop exteriorCheck it out: Dreampuff Marshmallows now has its own shop, on Hoosick Street in Troy. The shop has been in a soft open until its official opening day today, according to its Facebook page.

Somehow this had slipped our notice -- the Biz Review mentioned it last month. And the Troy Record has an article about the shop today.

You might have seen Dreampuff at local farmers' markets. The company is the creation of Ginny O'Neill, a computer software engineer turned confectioner/baker. She started out making a line gourmet marshmallows in flavors such as strawberry, chocolate, saffron, and... bacon. As she explained to us back in 2010:

Actually I made them first because of an aunt's comments in a travel journal. She just really loved marshmallows so she had all kinds of comments about all kinds of marshmallows she had tried. I started making them, and I just really enjoyed it. And then i started getting a little creative and it was just fun.

She's since expanded to a whole line of different treats.

photo via Dreampuff Facebook

Troy Farmers' Market adding "twilight market"

troy farmers market logo from twitterThe Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market is adding a "twilight market" starting in May, according to a posting today on its Facebook page.

The market will be the last Friday of each month (as part of Troy Night Out) in Riverfront Park (map), from 5-8 pm. The posting pitches the evening time as an alternative for people who can't it make on Saturday morning. The plan is continue the twilight market through October.

And based on a follow-up comment, it looks like the farmers' market will be back on River Street when it heads back outside.

Bad pancakes

troy police department search 2013-03-05 crack pancakes

The Troy Police Department says it executed search warrants at two sites Tuesday night as part of an investigation into what it describes as "a major drug production and distribution operation."

Among the items the TPD says it found at an apartment on 16th Street: "pancakes" of crack (photo above). From the press release:

Also subject to the execution of a search warrant was the basement apartment at 2209 16th Street. Troy Police ERT was deployed to insure safe entry based upon concerns of possible weapons present. After the location was secured, Investigators located a large cache of US currency ($9300), approximately 100 grams of marihuana and a copious amount of crack cocaine, in both bulk form and packaged for sale. Within the apartment were scales, cutting agents, "cooking" utensils and drug packaging materials. Of note was the discovery of one and one-half pounds of crack cocaine in pancake form; the drug was in its bulk state, not yet cut or packaged. Live ammunition was also discovered within the apartment.

That is a lot of crack. Troy police captain John Cooney tells us the pancakes would be worth $30,000 broken up for sale. TPD says the apartment resident wasn't home at the time, and there's been no arrest, yet. (Full press release post jump.)

Cocaine trend
Crack devastated many communities during the 80s and 90s. And obviously it's still a problem.

But recently there's been not-as-bad news: cocaine use appears to be declining. The number of people who reported using cocaine in the past month declined from 2.4 million in 2006 to 1.4 million in 2011 (the most recent year available), according to the federal National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The number of people who reported using cocaine for the first time was 1 million in 2002 -- in 2011, it was 670,000. And the difference in first-time users was even more stark for crack: 337,000 vs. 76,000.

Cocaine still ranked #1 among illicit drugs for emergency department visits for misuse or abuse of drugs in 2011, according to data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network compiled by the feds. (By the way: the number of such visits for pharmaceuticals -- that is, prescription drugs -- topped those of all illicit drugs in 2011, with 458.3 visits per 100k population vs. 402 for illicit drugs. The rate of visits for pharmaceuticals was up 114 percent between 2004 and 2011.)

One guess why cocaine use is down (and prescription drug abuse is up): the economy. [Time]

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Boxty at Finnbar's Pub

finnbars pub boxty overhead

Or, if you prefer, bacstaí.

By Daniel B.

I've heard that "Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day." Except I'm not, or at least I haven't been in the past. The fervor that surrounds this holiday was lost on me for most of my life. It took living through several Capital Region winters in a row and the arrival of the Shamrock Shake for the appeal to finally sink in.

After months of cold, snow, bitter winds, chapped skin, and frozen bones, in addition to the tedium of a world whose color scheme has devolved into various shades of grey, anything verdant is worth celebrating.

That, and I suppose people like drinking. But Purim is another drinking holiday and nobody claims that we are all Jewish on Adar 14. I suppose that's just another downside of having a lunar calendar.

Still, any excuse to celebrate a different culture comes with the possibilities of eating something delicious and novel. Except what could one possibly find in the Capital Region that would stand out from the chorus of shepherd's pie and corned beef with cabbage.

Well, have you ever heard of boxty?

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Drawing: Lisa Loeb and The Confectionery

lisa loeb

Lisa Loeb will be playing with her band, Nine Stories.

Drawing's closed!

Later this month Lisa Loeb is coming to Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. AOA has tickets to the show -- and a $50 gift certificate to the nearby Charles F. Lucas Confectionery and Wine Bar. And we're giving them away. Maybe to you.

To enter, please answer the following question in the comment section of this post:

Lisa Loeb's big hit was "Stay." What makes you stay in the Capital Region?

We'll draw one winner at random.

The Lisa Loeb show at the Troy Music Hall is March 23 at 7:30 pm. The opener is Satellite. Tickets are $27.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 5 pm on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 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 10 am on Wednesday, March 6 and must respond by 8 pm that day.

photo: Juan Patino

Full circle after three generations

william kennedy dana kennedy and grandkidsIn the latest episode of Duncan Crary's A Small American City podcast, William Kennedy talks about growing up in North Albany, how the city changed, how his family ended up in the suburbs -- and about his grandkids living in... a city.

I never wanted to do that, you know. I always resisted the idea of moving any part of my life to the suburbs, and especially because of how strongly I loved the city, the center of the city. Albany was a vital, vital city. I mean, it was just full of people all the time, everyday, lunch hour you couldn't walk on the sidewalks. And Thursday nights everybody's shopping, and the weekends everybody's at the movies. There were seven movies downtown: it was the Palace, the Strand, and the Grand, and the Ritz, and the Leland, and the Royal ... the Paramount ...
And all that vital life, there was departments stores, and bowling alleys, and social clubs. And everything started in the late 40s/early 50s to close down. The federal tax on nightclubs, and they went bust. And then television came in, and everybody stayed home, they didn't go to the movies. And the movies went crazy trying to figure out how to ... get people to come back to the movies. But the movies were everything for us -- 3,000 people at 11 o'clock at night outside the Palace, coming out of these various theaters ... And they'd go all over the place ... The place was full of night clubs, great restaurants -- all night restaurants -- and pool rooms. (laughs) I was especially fond of the pool rooms because my uncle and my father, he was a good pool player...
Anyway, but that whole urban environment was in decline in the years when I was just coming into manhood and starting to work at the Times Union at my first reporting job on the city side of the news ... and then suddenly the city just sort of imploded, you know. And the '60s came...
I went away in the middle '50s... I went to Puerto Rico to work on a newspaper. I was bored with the town. It was boring. There wasn't enough action.

While in Puerto Rico, Kennedy met his wife and got married, moved to Miami, moved back to San Juan. And they came back to Albany in 1963.

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See an Oscar up close in Troy

Stapleton Oscar and dress RCHS.jpg

The closest most of us will ever get to Oscar

We're heading into Oscars weekend, when actors, directors, screenwriters and other people in the film industry are having visions of holding a golden statuette, thanking the Academy, and timing their speeches in hopes they don't get played off.

But let's face it -- most people don't get an opportunity to see Oscar up close.

You can see one right now, though, at the Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy.

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Spot Coffee Saratoga opening -- and looking to spot other locations

spot coffee signSpot Coffee -- a chain of "progressive continental-style cafes" from western New York -- says it expects to open its downtown Saratoga location at the Market Center development this Wednesday (February 6). The grand opening is scheduled for February 15. (The Saratoga location has been in the works for about a year -- and had earlier been slated to open this past December.)

Spot is also planning a location in Glens Falls and Spot's Simon Ouderkirk says the company is building out its space there. He says Spot is also "actively pursuing a location" in Troy. And the company is hunting for two more locations in the region.

Full press release about the Saratoga Spot post jump.

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Uncle Sam, before the makeover

blank uncle sam statues Troy BID

"Sir, you're looking rather pale." "As are you. And you. And you..."

This caught our eye on Monday: the "blank" Uncle Sam statues that the Downtown Troy BID will be placing around the city in the spring. The BID's exec director Elizabeth Young tells us the the photo is from the factory in Maine where the statues are being made. (The company -- Fiberglass Farm -- touts itself as "Your #1 source for street art festival planning.")

Twenty-five artists have been selected to decorate the Sams, much like the horses around downtown Saratoga Springs. The downtown exhibit will officially open at the April Troy Night Out (April 26). It's sponsored by the Louis and Hortense Rubin Community Fellows Program.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Sculpture in the Streets 2012
+ So, how do you create a giant clog sculpture?
+ Horse vandals get treatment they deserve

photo courtesy of the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District

From the hillside in Troy, in winter

787 from RPI winter venkata

Venkata sent along this photo after a recent snowfall -- it's from the 9th floor of a building at RPI. We like the streaks formed by the traffic on 787 Route 7 as it heads off into the background.

We're a bit envious of the view from his office.

Here's a large-format version, along with one more photo.

(Thanks, Venkata)

(Re)imagining Troy

downtown Troy from hill Collar City Bridge background
The Arts Center of the Capital Region is organizing a "(Re)imagining Troy Project." And it's looking for submissions. Blurbage:

In an attempt to engage the Capital District in productive and imaginative ways, the Arts Center of the Capital Region will sponsor the (Re)imagining Troy Project, an exhibit that will explore, in creative and practical ways, how Troy can become an even more livable city. Submissions, focused on ideas big and small, are open to all residents of the region and can be expressed in words, images, models, sketches, videos or any other medium that can convey a good idea. A panel of local stakeholders will choose the twenty-five best ideas submitted.

The link above includes details about to apply, and how how ideas will be judged. The deadline is February 28.

Yep, the Arts Center advertises on AOA.

The League of Extraordinary Red Heads

league of extraordinary red heads logoComing to Troy: the first meeting of the League of Extraordinary Red Heads. And by "meeting," they mean getting together for a drink at a bar (the best kind of meeting, really). The brief agenda: "1) Us. 2) Them."

The meetup is the idea of Duncan Crary, himself a proud red head. He tells us via email:

The main reason why I'm gatherin' the gingers is because I just think the whole thing is funny as hell. And we're a pretty fun bunch. Some red heads are shy and mellow, but the generalizations are, well, generally true. We're gregarious. Firey. Outgoing. Those are my kind of peeps.
You gotta have a sense of humor as a ginger because people say the most idiotic things to you about it every day. e.g. "Do the carpets match the drapes? Duh." Of course they do! It's only with blondes where you may be in for a surprise. ...
This is not to say that we plan to sit around and grouse about the trials of being a ginger at the League. But it's fun to be around other people with a shared life experience.

The meetup is January 30 from 5-8 pm at Bootlegger's on Broadway. There will be drink specials and free pub snacks. And from the blurbage: "Though the League is one of the most exclusive -- only one to two percent of the world has red hair -- the meeting will be held in the main barroom, where all shades of hair color are welcome to join in the fun and observe the spectacle of the 'Red Tide.'"
___

Yep, Duncan was our tour guide for the Troy > Albany Tour last summer.

Baguettes from the Placid Baker

placid baker baguettes peeking out from bags

By Daniel B.

The Capital Region has no shortage of great bakeries, each with at least one thing they do better than anyone else around. Many of them have been profiled on AOA, such as:

+ Mrs. London's classic croissants
+ Crisan's fanciful sweet treats.
+ All Good Bakers and their mean grilled cheese.
+ TC Bakery's meticulously-made macarons.
+ Bella Napoli's excellent donuts (just not the glazed ones).
+ Fluffalicious's cupcakes, especially the buttercream part of their cupcakes.
+ Eastern Parkway Price Chopper's flour dusted bialys.

But there is also a great bakery in Troy that makes great croissants, sweets (including macarons), sandwiches, and breads that has gone without praise for far too long. Where's the love for The Placid Baker?

Well, let me tell you what makes their baguette my favorite in the region.

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A Small American City

duncan crary medium shotSomething to listen to this weekend: A Small American City, the new podcast from Duncan Crary. As you might guess because of Duncan's involvement, it's about Troy. From the blurbage:

It aims to re-acquaint listeners with small city life in North America through the voices, stories, history and urban fabric of [Duncan's] home city of Troy, New York. The program features spoken-word essays and intimate conversations with a cast of characters who bring this unusual Hudson River settlement to life. This is not a news program. It is not a talk show. It is a passport into the lives of the people who inhabit a place. You are a welcome eavesdropper.

He recently talked about the project with the Troy Record.

There are currently three episodes available, and the main part of each is an interview. Our favorite of the three was the interview with local author Jack Casey. (He tells a good story about the time a judge asked him if he was going to stop being an asshole.)

We are Duncan fans, obviously. And we're looking forward to new episodes, especially as Duncan polishes the concept. (If we had a vote, we'd cast it for more interview and less Achilles.)

Here's how to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

Also: Don't miss this excellent bird's-eye-view map of 1881 Troy.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Holiday wish list: Duncan Crary
+ Duncan Crary, downtown disciple

"In this case it's a really freaking major problem. It's their spoons"

The latest video from the excellent "Real Actors Read Yelp" series: a reading of a Daniel B Yelp review complaining about the spoons at Dante's Frozen Yogurt in Troy.

Broadway actress Erin Felgar really gives Daniel's plight the treatment it deserves.

Comment from Daniel at YouTube:

This is awesome! I am totally honored. Thank you.
Yes, this is a first world problem. For what it's worth, after this review the yogurt shop changed their spoons. Now they are fantastic.

(Thanks, Daniel Nester!)

Troy Victorian Stroll 2012 photos

Troy Victorian Stroll balloon man

And the balloon man was there again.

It was fun walking around the Victorian Stroll in Troy Sunday. Lots of strollers (both types), people in Victoriana, street performers, decorated windows.

One of the good things about the stroll is the way it highlights downtown Troy's assets -- the walkable, compact grid; the beautiful architecture; the interesting shop spaces.

Here are a bunch of photos from the afternoon...

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Wings at The Ruck

wings at the ruck overhead

Medium. Crispy.

By Daniel B.

Some people say the Capital Region is a great place with an inferiority complex.

Evidence of this mentality is that residents will declare the best part about living here is that you are only three hours from Boston, Manhattan, and Montreal. Officially, I disagree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. But these are not the only cities that cast a shadow on the affairs of this place.

Out to our west is Buffalo. And given that it is less than a day's drive from our border, there are folks who would have you believe that the state of our chicken wings does not compare favorably.

In fact, there are plenty of places for wings in this area that are great. And after years of research and tasting, I believe the wings from The Ruck should be a source of regional pride.

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The Confectionery opening

bar at the confectionery in TroyThe Charles F. Lucas Confectionery -- the new wine/coffee bar from Vic Christropher and Heather LaVine in Troy -- is on track to open this Friday at 5 pm, Christopher told us today. They had planned to open last week, but shipments from their wine suppliers got held up by Sandy.

The renovated interior of the building at 12 2nd Street is gorgeous -- definitely worth a look when you have the chance.

Earlier on AOA: Daniel talked with Vic Christopher and Heather LaVine about The Confectionery

Win VIP tickets to the AIDS Council's Beaujolais Nouveau event

beaujolais nouveau wineUpdate: Drawing's closed!

Next Thursday, November 15, is the release date for this year's Beaujolais Nouveau wine. And to celebrate, there will be parties, large and small, all over the world. One of those parties is a swank affair at the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy, hosted by The AIDS Council of Northeastern New York. The evening includes wine and food tastings from some of the finest Capital Region restaurants, as well as desserts, cognac, cigars, a silent auction and more.

We have a pair of VIP tickets -- each worth $125 -- and we're giving them away. The tickets include access to a pre-event reception where you'll get a chance to taste the Beaujolais first, plus access to the VIP post-event reception with cognac and cigars and a commemorative glass.

To enter the drawing, just answer the question below in the comments:

The beaujolais is a young wine -- meant to be consumed right away, not aged. What's something in the Capital Region that you should do now? As in, now. Right now.

We'll draw one winner at random.

Tickets to the event are still available. Standard admission is $75, and the VIP tickets are $125. Proceeds go to support The AIDS Council.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 5 pm on Thursday, November 8, 2012 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. 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 10 am on Friday November 9 and must respond by 6 pm on Friday, November 9.

AOA is a media sponsor for The Aids Council's Beaujolias Nouveau event.

photo: Flickr user jetalone (cc)

Basil City and the PB&J chicken wing

PBJ wings.jpg

The PB&J wing from Basil City

By Danielle Sanzone

Update July 2013: Rochelle reports this place has closed.

As chicken wings go, I've always been kind of a purist.

I like traditional hot wings -- the kind they make at The Ruck. Spicy, please, with blue cheese on the side.

But a few weeks ago, my boyfriend came home with wings from a new pizza and wing joint on 15th Street in Troy. Peanut butter and jelly wings.

My first thought? "Ewww. Why would somebody do that to a chicken wing?"

But he'd been talking about Basil City wings for a few weeks -- and his coworkers had been raving about the place -- so I gave them a shot.

It took one bite for me to go "ewww" to "mmmm" and to make me curious about the 40 other flavors of wings on the Basil City menu. From bourbon, to teriyaki, to peanut butter and fluff.

Also: the Burning Human challenge.

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"Pet" gray fox on the loose in Troy

gray fox us fwsWeird: we came across an item on Craigslist this week for a lost "pet" fox in the Troy area. And though the gray fox has "a collar and tags and is up to date on all her shots," according to the listing, there was a warning that it had been trying to "play" with other pets and ended up getting into fights. The fox is apparently not afraid of people.

So we contacted the Department of Environmental Conservation to see if they'd heard anything about this. From DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson:

We are aware of this animal which is running loose with a collar and tags in the vicinity of RPI. If the animal is caught it will be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator and the owner will be ticketed, if he can be found. It is illegal to keep wild animals as pets without a permit and DEC has no permits on file for this animal.
People should either call 911 [if fox is sighted] and they will contact us or they can call the DEC dispatch at 1-877-457-5680.

The photo on the right is US Fish and Wildlife Service pic of a gray fox. (It's not the gray fox in Troy.)

A fox is a fox
Foxes may look like dogs -- but no matter how you raise a fox, it will still be a fox -- that is, a wild animal. There's a fascinating NOVA episode about dogs -- called "Dogs Decoded" (it's on Netflix streaming) -- that highlights how far removed modern dogs are from their wild cousins . The episode includes a look at a long running study of fox domestication in Siberia, as well as researchers who have tried raising wolf pups like dogs at home. The short story: foxes and wolves are not dogs -- they don't read humans the same way, and they're aggressive.

photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikipedia

A Shatner app... developed... in Troy

shatoetry screenshots

Heh: 1st Playable -- a video game studio in Troy -- helped develop a new iPhone app released today: Shatoetry.

That's Shat as in William Shatner, and oetry as in poetry. Of course.

From the app's blurbage:

Shatoetry is an iPhone app that lets you arrange words - into statements, comments, messages, sentences, phrases, haiku, poetry, or even just random words... with this amazing payoff: whatever you arrange, you'll be able to hear William Shatner perform it for you.

And, of course, because it's William Shatner, there is the opportunity... for dramatic... pauses:

Though the dramatic pause has been a part of human communication for eternity, who else has mastered it like the man himself?
For more dramatic delivery to your Shatism, Shatoetry lets you add pauses between words with Space Bubbles.
Drop a Space Bubble into the Compose Field by simply giving the "Space" button a tap.
Drag it to wherever you want the pause to be... unheard ;)

1st Playable CEO Tobi Saulnier tells the Biz Review the app is part of her company experimenting with the iPhone app market. (1st Playable has done a lot of work developing games for platforms like the Nintendo DS.)

Oh, and his take on the app: it's "as different and as unique as a sunrise." [LAT]

The app is $2.99.

By the way: 1st Playable's office in Troy is gorgeous -- definitely worth a gawk if you ever have the chance.

Earlier on AOA: Kick Buttowski, launched from Troy

Collar City Film Fest

collar city film fest 1 posterThe first Collar City Film Fest is this Saturday at 51 3rd Street in Troy. It's a "2 hour collection of short films from artists all over the capital district and slightly beyond."

The screenings start at 7 pm. There will be a musical intermission from Ryan Ross Smith. It's a $3 suggested donation.

The organizers are Emily Berçir Zimmerman, India Lombardi-Bello, Ryan Jenkins -- all of whom you might recognize from the local arts community. The Troy Record's Danielle Sanzone recently talked with some of the organizers for backstory on the fest.

TOP 2012: The Final

Tournament of Pizza 2012 Marisa's vs DeFazio's

Marisa's Place vs. DeFazio's.

After 28 pizzas from 16 pizza places, we're now down to just two pizzas and two shops.

It's the final of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. The match-up in this championship round:

DeFazio's (Troy bracket) vs. Marisa's Place (Albany bracket)

How we got here: DeFazio's blew the roof off during its semi-final match with Amore (Saratoga), scoring a TOP-record 82 with its Buffalo chicken pizza. And Marisa's posted a solid score of 69 in its matchup with Mario's of Niskayuna.

Despite posting a string of excellent scores, and two previous appearances in the final, DeFazio's has never won the Tournament of Pizza. With its huge score in the last round, the Troy shop has to be the heavy favorite in this final match. But Marisa's is a formidable opponent -- with a set of its own strong performances.

Can DeFazio's finally claim the crown? Or will Marisa's Place take the title?

Bring on the pizza!

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2012: The Semi-finals

Tournament of Pizza 2012 semi-finals

We've arrived at the final four in the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. The match-ups in this showdown of bracket winners:

DeFazio's (Troy) vs. Amore (Saratoga)

Mario's (Niskayuna) vs. Marisa's (Guilderland)

How we got here: DeFazio's topped its fellow downtown Troy shop, I Love | Amore gutted out a win against Pope's | Mario's represented for Niskayuna in beating Schenectady's Nico's | and Marisa's held off a tough tavern challenge from The Fountain.

Now these four face a challenge never before taken on in the TOP: Buffalo chicken pizza.

Yep, things just got real. Ready, set, pizza!

sunmark pizza banner

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The Confectionery

confectionery interior mural

Old is new.

By Daniel B.

On November 3, 2011 Vic Christopher and his wife Heather LaVine bought the building at 12 Second Street in Troy and began the work of restoring it that very night. It had most recently been the Troy Insurance Agency, but stood vacant across the street from the Illium Cafe for several years.

However, from 1863-1951 this had been the site of the Charles F. Lucas Confectionery.

Mr. Lucas, an Austrian-born emigre, brought the people of Troy something special, something sweet from the place he called home. Mr. Christopher is doing the same thing, but he's drawing from his roots in Brooklyn. After almost a year of renovations, soon the Charles F. Lucas Confectionery will re-open as a wine bar.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with one of Troy's most passionate supporters about how this project began, what baseball has in common with operating a wine bar, and why Vic and Heather are hoping this will be your home away from home.

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TOP 2012: Round 2: Troy

TOP2012 RD2 Troy

Hello, Collar City. Round 2 of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- finds itself back in your warm embrace.

The pizzerias in this head-to-head matchup of veggie pizzas (green peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives):

DeFazio's vs. I Love

How we got here: DeFazio's posted a big number in the Round 1 pool (78) and I Love joined it in advancing with a respectable score of its own (64).

DeFazio's has pretty much owned this bracket for the last few years -- can I Love end the domination?

Let's go back to the Arts Center of the Capital Region for the tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2012: Round 1: Troy

TOP2012 RD1 Troy

The opening round of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- rounds third with a visit to the Collar City.

The pizzerias in the Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:

Returning champ: DeFazio's - Troy
Crowd pick: Bacchus - Troy
Tough luck: I Love - Troy
Mystery entry

DeFazio's has been the tournament runner-up two years in a row -- is this year it finally takes the title? It'll have to get through Round 1 first.

The judges assembled at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in downtown Troy...

sunmark pizza banner

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Trying Jose Malone's watermelon-habanero margarita

watermelon-habenero margarita

Look past the pink.

By Casey Normile

I have a very Irish mouth.

That is, I enjoy salt and can handle more than most in my food and drinks, but heat -- not so much. It took me years to be able to eat the pepperoni on my pizza. Then I trained to work my way up from mild to hot salsa and sriracha.

Next?

Jose Malone's watermelon habanero margarita.

A spicy Margarita? Yes.

I had to try it.

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Troy Turkey Trot 2012

troy turkey trot 2012 logoRegistration for the 2012 Troy Turkey Trot is now open. The Thanksgiving morning event includes a 5k, a 10k, a kids run, and a walk. The registration fee for the 5k and 10k is $20 -- and there's no day-of registration. The kids run and walk are free.

From the blurbage (link added):

A slate of changes, such as a return to the traditional Turkey Trot course using an "out and back" format along River Street, will help make this year's edition truly memorable. Other modifications include: upgraded gender-specific, moisture-wicking t-shirts for the first 6,200 participants who register for either the 5K or 10K; custom-made commemorative finishers' medals to all open, age group and team winners; finishers' medals for Grade School Milers; and, a commemorative finishers' pin for all Turkey Walk participants.

What is Thanksgiving without moisture wicking?

After two years of conducting the race itself, the city of Troy has once again contracted out the operation of the race to the previous organizer. [Troy Record]

Organizers say they're expecting about 7,000 participants for this year's event. There were a record 7,100 participants last year. [Troy Record]

Chicken and waffles at The Flying Chicken

flying chicken troy chicken and waffles

By Daniel B.

Good fried chicken can change your life.

This is what happened to Ian Michael Hunter when he went south last winter on vacation and sunk his teeth into something crispy, salty, and wonderful. As a new year's resolution he vowed to bring this food to Troy. Ian looked around and saw other fried chicken joints in the Capital Region. He points out, "[In] Troy itself we don't even have a Golden Fried chicken, so I figured it would be a good place for it."

Inspired by the success of The Brown Bag and a love for the restaurant business, Ian scraped together the start-up capital with help from his family and connected with Culinary Institute of America-trained chef and fellow Troy resident Josh Coletto. In July they opened their doors. Since then, The Flying Chicken has been getting a lot of positive attention.

Don't be fooled. This is no ordinary fried chicken place. Even Ian admits that with Josh in the back of the house the food "came out better than I could have imagined."

Recently I visited with Noah Sheetz to meet his friend Josh (both CIA graduates and participants in the Chefs Consortium), try his food, and find out two things:

What is a CIA-trained chef doing at a counter service fried chicken restaurant? And what makes his fried chicken and waffles so damn good?

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Figure model drawing meets burlesque

pasties pencils pints

Not your typical art class: "Pasties, Pencils & Pints" is coming up this Thursday in Troy. Organizer Emily Armstrong describes it as, "The Capital Region's first sassy figure model drink-n-draw. It's sort of like life drawing meets burlesque."

Emily says the first event was this past July, and they've been holding them monthly since. She explains how it works:

There are about two hours of poses with a model, starting with one minute and working all the way up to 20. We don't allow just anyone to model, however -- it's really got to be someone who can and will exude their inner sexiness, and someone who will dress in an interesting costume (or two). As the poses get longer, the model removes parts of her (or his -- though we've only had female models thus far) costume, and like in a burlesque show, the audience in encourage to cheer.
There are also three drawing contests each time, and they always include best non-dominate handed drawing, and two other silly things (like, best incorporation of a sailor, best incorporation of competitive sports). The contests are always for prizes, and sometimes local businesses donate. ...
We always have a DJ who sets the mood, and we ask for a $10 donation to cover fees. It's really important to me that the model gets paid well so that it's a desirable thing to do, and after all, we are asking for A LOT from them. Without the model, we have no event.

The series' Facebook page has a bunch of photos from previous nights, so you can get a sense of the scene. (The "pints" part of the night is BYOB.)

The drink-n-draw is at 51 3rd Street in Troy on Thursday. (Emily says they're trying to keep it the third Thursday of each month.) Prizes this month are from Brown's and CAPow! Art Illustration & Photography.

By the way: Emily says the 51 3rd Street space recently suffered some water damage, and they almost had to cancel this month as a result -- but it's still on. "I was unable to find another venue where we'd be able to pay the model AND pay for the space. There is some cleanup needed to be able to use 51 3rd again, and we're assembling a crew to go in Wednesday at 7 and do it. (And by a crew, it will be at least my mom and I :) )."

photo: Andrew Franciosa

Troy Restaurant Week

troy restaurant week 2012 logoThe first Troy Restaurant Week starts today and runs through Sunday. It's the usual restaurant week format -- special set menus at a set price. But there's a bit of a twist: participating restaurants will be offering menus at three different price points: $10, $20, and $30. (Though not all restaurants are offering menus at each price point.)

There are 21 restaurants participating. The Troy BID site (linked above) has a listing with details. A quick list of just the restaurant names is post jump.

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Brown's Waffle Week 2012

browns waffle week 2012 obamaWaffle week is back at Brown's in Troy. Monday through Friday this week they'll be featuring a different waffle special in honor of the waffle iron being patented in Troy on August 24, 1869. The waffles are available at lunch and dinner.

This year's lineup is post jump. And, as in past years, it includes some interesting combinations -- while poking fun at both sides of the partisan divide. The week starts off with "The Obamafare."

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Lip balm at Anchor No. 5

lip balm anchor no 5 lineup

There are a bunch of things on which the "local" label easily, and familiarly, fits: local food, local beer, local music.

Lip balm is not one of those things. It's a classic commodity drugstore item -- the kind of thing you can imagine rolling off a machine at a factory thousands at a time, boxed by the dozen, later to sit quietly at the checkout counter, waiting to be a cheap impulse buy.

The Pink Lemon lip balm at the Anchor No. 5 Boutique in Troy sits in just such a spot, like any other lip balm -- except for one thing: it is local in almost every way.

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Witch Knots

witch knots book ira marcks

Check it out: Troy-based illustrator Ira Marcks recently released a graphic novel called Witch Knots:

Witch Knots chronicles the hardships faced by the residents of St. Forget, a destitute town with a mystical and long-forgotten history. The town itself is in danger of being overrun by a supernatural force embedded in its inhabitant's collective DNA. All of the residents of St. Forget are called upon to play a role in the salvation of their town. As events unfold, questions of what it takes to be a hero are explored, as is the question of why some are drawn to a be antagonists.

witch knots excerpt illustration ira marcksIra funded the project on Kickstarter earlier this year. He explained some of his inspiration for the project then:

WITCH KNOTS is a loving tribute to classic sci-fi, fantasy clichés and the great young adult fiction of the 60s & 70s... All the magical books from my childhood. THINK: an S.E. Hinton coming of age tale, stuck inside a dystopian world of Ray Bradbury's, with a dash of H.P. Lovecraft mythos.

The 170-page, hardcover book is $20 (you can order at the website -- also for sale at Market Block Books in Troy). Ira's been posting the story bit by bit online, where you can get a sense of the book.

Ira will be at the Arts Center of the Capital Region this Friday (it's Troy Night Out) with a live storytelling performance in the center's black box theater that will include live music and projected illustrations. It starts at 6 pm (it's free). And he tells us it's a kid-friendly event.

Fence Select: While you're at the Arts Center, be sure to check out this year's Fence Select exhibition, the opening reception for which is Friday night.

photo and illustration: Ira Marcks

Ukelele Troy

ukelele closeupCheck it out: there are two week-long ukelele "summer camps" coming up this month in Troy. And on July 27, campers will be invited to "Tiptoe through Troy," playing tunes they've learned on a march around downtown for Troy Night Out.

The person behind the ukelele lessons is Julia Alsarraf, who recently graduated from RPI with an electronic arts degree. We talked with her to get the scoop on the how and why for uke camp.

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Video from What Cheer? Brigade in Troy

Filmmaker Bhawin Suchak passed along this video from the What Cheer? Brigade performance in Troy Friday night (as mentioned). It looks like it was a good time under Hoosick Street.

After the jump: another clip from the show...

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What Cheer? Brigade in Troy

Mentioned briefly earlier, but worth a highlight: The What Cheer? Brigade will be playing a "flash-mob-style, guerrilla show" under the Hoosick Street overpass in Troy Friday night.

From the blurbage for the band:

The What Cheer? Brigade is a 19-piece brass band from Providence, RI, USA. Our sound is an aggressive mix of Bollywood, The Balkans, New Orleans, Samba and Hip-Hop, played with the intensity of metal. Requiring no amplification, we prove that great parties need no electricity. Our live shows defy boundaries, appealing equally to punks and farmers, old and young.

That clip embedded above is from a performance in NYC last year. They have a great sound -- kind of like a bunch of marching band kids went on backpack tour of the world and came back funky.

The band got a lot of attention last year after a video of them helping (if that's word) a guy in quitting his job was all over the web. The clip's been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube. And it ended up with them performing on Good Morning America.

It looks like the show on Friday in Troy will be fun.

Photos from the Troy > Albany tour

Albany Aqua Duck in Troy

The Duck makes a stop in Troy.

The Troy > Albany AOA Aqua Duck tour was yesterday evening. And it was a lot of fun! (Also: hot, very hot.) Thanks to everyone who came along!

Serving as guide and Troy advocate was Duncan Crary. Maeve McEneny defended the honor of Albany. They both were great, sharing interesting historical facts -- and a few jabs back and forth.

Big thanks to the Albany Aqua Ducks -- and sponsors Brown's Brewing, the Arts Center of the Capital Region, Bacchus Wood Fired Pizza, and the Olde English Pub and Pantry. Also: thanks to Enjoy Troy for t-shirts and prizes, and Andy Kainz for the photos.

Here are a bunch of photos from the tour...

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Rockin' on the River 2012

green island bridge roadwayThe Rockin' on the River concert series in Troy starts up its season Wednesday night. First up: celtic rock with Hair of the Dog (in the photo on the right).

The shows are in the parking lot just north of the Green Island Bridge (and just south of the strip that includes Ryan's Wake, Jose Malone's, and Brown's). They start at 5 pm. They're free.

This summer's slate is post jump.

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Party space in Troy?

troy monument squareWill emails:

My father is trying to throw my fiance and I an engagement party, wedding is next year so we have time, and we're looking at Oct. So with the weather being uncertain we're trying to find a venue in Troy or nearby where we might rent a room or have it catered for less than a million bucks! Was hoping you could do one of your posts where you ask people for help? Any help is greatly appreciated.

For less than a million bucks, we're guessing Will has some options.

Got a suggestion? Please share! Bonus points for a few details about why the place could work.

Our Town: Troy

our town troy stillWMHT's new Our Town: Troy airs for the first time this Thursday at 7:30 pm. From the blurbage:

WMHT's OUR TOWN TROY features stories told by those who live and work in Troy using their personal video cameras. The stories are designed to show the heritage, personalities and unique characteristics that make the community distinct. The stories are chosen and told by community members.

The program includes 25 stories -- the full list of stories and storytellers is after the jump. And here are a bunch of stills from the program.

The Our Town series already includes Amsterdam, Bethlehem, Hudson, Saratoga Springs and Schenectady. Those episodes are available online in full.

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Footsy Magoo's

footsy magoo's interior

Do those stools swivel? Yes, yes they do.

By Casey Normile

On the corner of 1st Street and State Street in Troy, a chalkboard stands in the street announcing drink specials. To the untrained eye, though, there's no bar to be found.

But behind those corner windows lies Footsy Magoo's, a bar that's more about good atmosphere than a packed, pick-up scene.

Here are a few reasons why it's worth stopping in for a drink...

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Slidin' Dirty

slidin dirty truck customers

Lunch customers today in the East Greenbush Tech Park.

After hearing Danika and David rave about a food truck in downtown Troy -- "perhaps the best lunch in Troy" -- we figured it was worth tracking down. Also: we were hungry.

So today we caught up with the Slidin' Dirty food truck at the East Greenbush Tech Park and talked with its owners about sliders, fried avocado, tiny kitchens, and how the Capital Region could be a bit more food truck friendly.

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TightKnit's Troy Flea opens this Saturday

tightknit logo 2012TightKnit's new market -- Troy Flea -- opens this Saturday in Troy on the River Street block south of the farmers' market. Troy Flea will include "handmade, vintage and antique art and goods."

Also new: a collaboration with Etsy, which was explained a bit in today's Metroland:

Etsy committed to being at every Saturday event to answer questions, help set up, and to just being a presence at the market. Once every month they will set up a kid's craft table where children can make an age-appropriate craft--for free. They will also do what Etsy does best: merge technology with the beautifully simple world of handcrafted goods. "There will be QR codes for each Tight Knit vendor who is also an Etsy seller. The shopper can scan the code with their smart phone and go directly to the seller's Etsy shop. You could possibly purchase something in real life at the event but with access to the online shop use your credit card and get a record of it," says [Etsy assistant site lead Branda] Maholtz.

The market runs from 9 am-2 pm on River Street between First Street and State Street.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Troy Flea
+ Inside Etsy Hudson

Food Cycle

Currently up for funding on Kickstarter: Food Cycle, a project aimed at producing and delivery compost around Troy. On bikes. From the blurbage:

Food Cycle, a project of Troy Bike Rescue and Collard City Growers, is a bicycle compost delivery project employing neighborhood youth, while diverting household and restaurant food and yard waste back into the ground on our urban farm all by way of the transportation of the future: The bicycle!
Food Cycle will create a hyper-local compost network that lays the groundwork for a self-sustaining, scalable enterprise. We need the help of financial backers (you!) for initial investment.

Abby Lublin, from Collard City Growers (you might also know her from the Front Parlor story telling series), emails us (link added):

We're really making moves in N. Troy. These pedal-powered haulers will be used for many purposes, in fact, we're doing bike valet, tune-ups, bicycle blending (pedal-powered blender), and possibly delivery at the Farmers Market starting in June (through Tight Knit).

As of this morning, Food Cycle still needed about $7,500 and had 22 days to go.

Other local Kickstarter projects

There are at least nine other local Kickstarter projects looking for funding, ranging from fiber arts to beer to zombies...

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What to do about the guns

By Kim M.

soapbox badgeMemorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer. It's when many of us first open our pools, go camping, or host a backyard BBQ. But with the warmer weather comes an increase in violence and crime, and many of us are concerned with the number of shootings we have already seen this spring.

This past Tuesday night in Troy a 15-year-old girl was shot in the leg while waiting for a bus. It was 7:40pm. 7:40pm! On River Street!

I am angry.

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The Troy > Albany Tour

troy greater than albany

Is Troy greater than Albany? We shall see.

Trojans are always going on about why their city is so great: history, architecture, a walkable downtown, and on and on.

Well, on June 20 we're giving Troy a chance to back it all up.

AOA has organized a tour of the Collar City led by its fierce advocate, Duncan Crary.

Heckling Duncan on behalf of Albany: Maeve McEneny.

And all this will happen on an Albany Aqua Duck. With snacks.

Here's how to come along...

The Troy > Albany Tour is sponsored by Brown's Brewing, the Arts Center of the Capital Region, Bacchus Wood Fired Pizza, and the Olde English Pub and Pantry.

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Applications open for street painting competition in Troy, and this year's Fence Show

river street festival 2011 casey aoa entry

Casey's AOA-sponsored entry in last year's competition.

The Troy River Street Festival -- one of our favorite local summer festivals -- is coming up June 16. And that means applications are now open for the annual street painting contest at the festival.

The competition includes space for 75 artists, a range of age-specific categories, to chalk designs on a panel of sidewalk along River Street. And there's $1,000 in prizes.

The entry fee is $15. And the competition does fill up -- so the earlier you apply, the better.

Fence
Speaking of arts and downtown Troy... the call for entries is now out for the annual Fence Show at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. The Fence Salon will open June 16. This year's juror, Jim Richard Wilson from the Opalka Gallery at the Sage Colleges, will select works from the salon for inclusion in the Fence Select show that opens July 27.

Yep, the Arts Center advertises on AOA.

Laurie Anderson named EMPAC's first distinguished artist-in-residence

delusion_Laurie_anderson1.jpg

Laurie Anderson will spend the next three years inventing stuff at EMPAC.

Experimental media and performance artist Laurie Anderson will spend the next three years at RPI as EMPAC's first distinguished artist-in-residence. Anderson has a history of using science and engineering to create new artwork, inventing things like a tape-bow violin and talking stick.

This isn't Anderson's first experience at EMPAC. In 2009 she spent some time there working on a piece called Delusion -- a series of stories about longing, memory and identity that incorporated multidisciplinary elements that included music, visuals, altered voices, and electronic puppetry.

You can get a little bit of a sense of Delusion (and Laurie Anderson's disenchantment with rectangles) in a video clip after the jump. Heads-up: it's not you -- the interviewer is speaking Swedish, but you'll understand what's going on.

Until now EMPAC's residencies have been project specific. There's no word yet on what kind of plans Anderson has for her three year stay in Troy, but EMPAC says it's looking forward to working with her to combine engineering and science to find creative approaches to the arts. They also say Anderson will be sharing some of her creative practices with the campus through lectures, workshops and demonstrations.

Photo: Leland Brewster courtesy of Laurie Anderson

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The Dark Sky app is now available

dark sky in use

The weather wasn't exactly exciting at this moment. Here's the outlook for a place that was a bit more interesting (meteorologically) at the time.

The Dark Sky weather app -- from Troy-based developers Adam Grossman and Jack Turner (Jackadam) -- is now available in the iTunes Store. The app aims to provide people with very specific weather forecasts for the near future based on location.

The question Dark Sky tries to answer is not "Will it rain tomorrow?" but rather "Will it be raining here during the next hour?" It can help determine if there's enough time for a quick bike ride before a thunderstorm, or how long you have might have wait before you can walk from your office to your car without an umbrella. It can also just satisfy the curiosity of bored meteorology nerds.

Speaking of meteorology nerds, we've been playing around with the app for the last day or so, and it's been kind of fun -- if not always accurate. The radar pictures are super clear and easy to read. And it shows whether the precipitation expected will be heavy, medium or mild. The no-precipitation predictions have been pretty good, and it did signal accurately a few times that rain was approaching. It failed to predict one light sprinkling of rain. (To be fair, we were in a moving car -- and Adam Grossman says that kind of light precipitation can be difficult to detect. And in general, this kind of stuff is harder than it looks.)

If the weather isn't interesting where you are, you can watch storms anywhere in the country.

Dark Sky is available for newer versions of the iPhone (4 and 4s), iPod Touch, and iPad. It's $3.99.

Jackadam funded the development of DarkSky in part by raising more than $39k on Kickstarter back in November. In the process, the app snagged a bunch of media attention (example).

We're looking forward to playing with it more.

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Earth Day: Cleaning up in Troy

Troy Earth Day cleanup:photo credit Mary Rynasko.jpg

Saturday's Earth Day weekend clean-up in Troy

By Kim M.

soapbox badgeSpring is here!

I don't know about you, but sometimes I've needed to remind myself of that after this warm winter. I am dying for another chance to throw open the windows and get inspired to do some much needed cleaning.

While my apartment remains a stale pigsty, I got started on some spring cleaning yesterday by celebrating Earth Day -- our annual chance to organize a little frenzied cleaning of our public spaces.

Actually, thanks in part to the warm winter, my neighborhood group in Troy got a head start on cleaning up our little corner of the world. Two months in a row we were able to get a small group together for a few hours to pick up some of the trash that has been littering our streets.

In neighborhoods like mine, this is about more than picking up trash.

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Sage Colleges receive another big gift

Lucile Corey Rosenfeld Shea items sage colleges

A few items from Shea's time at Sage.

You know those scenes in movies where a person is approached by an attorney, and the person's all like, "No, not me, I think you have the wrong person..." And then the attorney says, "Your long lost aunt has passed away. And left you a million dollars."

It sounds like that's sort of what happened to the Sage Colleges. The school(s) announced today that it was recently surprised by a bequest from Lucile Rosenfeld Shea, who attended Sage in the 1930s. The amount: $9 million -- one of the biggest gifts in school history.

From the announcement:

The Sage Colleges were notified recently that Lucile Rosenfeld Shea, who attended Russell Sage in 1937 and 1938, willed Sage a bequest valued at more than $9 million. Shea, who most recently lived in a retirement community in North Carolina, had donated modestly to the college during her lifetime and did not reveal the details of her bequest before her death.
A lifelong lover of books, Shea dedicated the gift to benefit the Troy Campus Library. The designation of the gift could not have been more fortuitous, as the library has been identified as a priority need for capital improvements, in anticipation of a centennial campaign for Sage's 100th anniversary in 2016.

We've heard from Sage that Ms. Shea was a very private person, and the school doesn't know much about her life -- her husband passed away in 2003, they didn't have any children. She loved flower arranging and books. (Full press release after the jump.)

This is the second large gift Sage has received recently. In March, Donna Esteves -- the chair of school's board an an alumna -- gave $10 million to the school, the largest gift in its history.

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Troy Flea

tightknit logo 2012The organizers of the TightKnit market have something new coming up: Troy Flea.

From the blurbage:

In 2012, Tight Knit is re-imagining its role as a presenter, reaching out to an expanded audience with the introduction of "Troy Flea: An Urban Bazaar". The areas best Artisans and Crafters will mingle with connoisseurs of Vintage clothing, Antiques, collectibles, oddities, and what-nots; curated to present you with only the best, most diverse market the area has to offer. With a strong focus on community and small business over big box globalization, Tight Knit's mission since inception is to organize and motivate local artists and citizens to share their perspectives, knowledge and creativity with others. Let's keep our dollars in our communities and grow together.

The bazaar will be Saturdays in June, July, and August from 9 am - 2 pm. It will be located on River Street between Broadway and State (the other side of Monument Square from the farmers' market).

Organizers are still taking applications for vendors. The deadline is May 1.

Grown-up egg hunt in Prospect Park

Prospect Park sign TroyThis could be fun: There's a grown-up Easter egg hunt this coming Saturday afternoon in Troy's Prospect Park. It's a benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The hunt is organized by Danielle Sanzone, who says she figured it'd be a fun reward for "parents and grown ups for dealing with another chaotic Easter weekend." The prizes are definitely big "kid" prizes:

People will find homemade candies from Krause's, Candy Kraft Candies, and Saratoga Sweets. Empire Wine is donating a couple dozen mini liquor bottles. And DeCrescente's is donating beer and non-alcoholic beverages (which obviously can't fit in the eggs but will still be part of the hunt). Along with the candy and alcohol, there will be gift certificates in the eggs too.

Danielle says all the prizes have been donated, so all the proceeds will go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The egg hunt starts at 1 pm. The entry fee is $7, and for another $2 you can have subs from Chubby's in Troy and pizza from Patricelli's. The hunt is 21 and over -- Danielle says IDs will be checked.

Titantic party on the Captain JP

titanic party troy captain jpThe 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is April 14. And, as a commemoration of sorts (if that's the word), there's a show/party lined up that night on the Captain JP II river cruise ship that docks in Troy. The night includes three musical sets:

EVENT 1: (Indie/Alt/Folk/Jazz/Blues/Soul/Rock)
Titantics, Prima, Around the World and Back, Babe City, Carl Daniels
EVENT 2: (House/Electro/Moombahton/Dub/Trance/BASS)
DJ Kiddo ~ PeepThis, DESPEREAUX~ Heady Productions, Just The Sauce~ Heady Productions, DAYO ~"Daayyyyooooo", LAZERBASS~ (Xerxes & Lifechild), Mr. Kissner W/S/G Brother Suarez
EVENT 3!!!!: Upper Deck (Space Electro/Moombah/fidget/Glitch hop/House)
Rome Thrasher, Don Stone - 51Bass, Sweatpants Money - SP$, Eric David vs. MeloManiac

It starts at 7 pm. Tickets ("boarding pass") for the event are $30 (and there will be a cash bar). The event is organized by Heady Productions.

There's also an after party at Bootlegger's in Troy that night, starting at 10 pm -- admission is included with a ticket for the event. Otherwise, it's $10.

Bonus points if you show up in character as Patrick Crawley.

A handsome entryway

handsome door troy near washington parkToday's moment of architectural gawking: a row house door in downtown Troy.

We were walking along 2nd Street near Washington Park this past weekend, admiring all the little architectural details, when we noticed this door. It's quite handsome, even more so in person.

There's a large photo of it after the jump.

That neighborhood is great place for a stroll on a nice afternoon. It seems like the more you look at the buildings, the more great little details there are.

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How walkable, relatively, is Albany?

albany walk score heat map

A heat map of walk scores for Albany. Here's the interactive map.

A post over at Atlantic Cities about the "most walkable cities" in the United States has been circulating locally on Twitter because it mentions that Albany is among the top 10 most walkable cities in the country, according to data from Walk Score.

It turns out that's not actually true.

But that doesn't mean Albany -- and a few other local cities -- don't fare well in the rankings.

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Where to have lunch in downtown Troy?

troy monument squareJay asks via Facebook:

Hey AOA. Do you guys have any tips for eating lunch in downtown Troy?

Troy has been described as "some kind of lunch time mecca" -- and with good reason. You're certainly not lacking for choices.

So, what's your favorite spot? Or maybe a tip about some place that more people should know about? Please share!

Stickball back in Troy's Little Italy

2012 stickball tournament logoStickball is coming back to Troy's Little Italy Market Place. The "Stick it to Hunger" tournament is April 28 -- and, as the name implies, it will be raising money and non-perishable food items for the Rensselaer County food pantries.

Stickball games will run from early morning to late afternoon that day (it's a Saturday). There will also be a celebrity stickball home run contest at 4 pm.

Organizers are looking for teams. The entry fee is a contribution of non-perishable food. To register, or more for info, contact Rocco DeFazio: rdefazio |at| nycap.rr.com. (Also, here's the poster for the event.)

Lessons from Marcia

By Kim M.

soapbox badgeI love people-watching. Some days it's the only reason this introvert can tolerate being anywhere near other people. Human behavior is an endless source of mystery and entertainment to me, and because we tend to be creatures of habit, complete strangers can feel just as familiar as the places we frequent.

For me, one of those people was Marcia Pascarella.

AOA readers may remember Marcia as the inspiration for my "Stop whining and do something about it" Soapbox last March. Marcia was my favorite person to see approaching the podium at Troy City Council meetings. She never held back, always spoke her mind, and possessed the type of humor and natural comedic timing that usually left you wondering whether or not she actually meant to be funny. I think she did. Marcia was not known for political correctness. Sometimes she even swore at these meetings -- which are currently held IN A CHURCH. Oh, Marcia.

I learned of Marcia's passing from Jim Franco, who wrote that he'd heard that "God had taken His own name in vain" upon Marcia's arrival at the Pearly Gates.

I don't doubt this report one bit; heaven better be everything she expects it to be!

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Boston cream donuts at Bella Napoli

bella napoli boston cream donuts in box

Buy them by the box.

By Daniel B.

If you've been looking for great donuts, this is where they've been hiding.

Well, except for basic glazed, because those are better bought elsewhere. Oh, and cider donuts should be eaten at an orchard during the fall, hot out of the bag.

But for other yeast-raised or non-cider cake donuts, Bella Napoli in Troy is the place. And the pinnacle of their craft is realized in the Boston cream.

These are not the newfangled big city donuts you may have been reading about. I could easily imagine how a hand-crafted pastry cream made with local farm-fresh eggs, pure heavy cream and mounds of real vanilla beans could take this donut to extraordinary heights.

But these are the donuts of the past, the classic Northeastern style of donuts that inspired places like Dunkin' to take up the mantle of donutdom and spread it to the masses. These are the donuts that are hard to find anymore, and we are very lucky to have them in our midst. Because Bella Napoli has been making donuts before the hot pastry chefs of today were in short pants. And they know how to do it right.

Let me tell you what that means.

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A new (online) Troy

city of troy website screengrab

Now a bit less cluttered.

Check it out: the city of Troy has a new website.

The new look is good (here's the old version). It's not cluttered, and resources appear to be well organized. We like the site's left-side column that lists links to what we imagine are frequently requested items -- stuff like applying for permits, contacting a council member, reporting a pot hole, or requesting a birth certificate. (Bonus: all the photos appear to actually be of Troy.) [TU 2010]

Most municipal websites in the Capital Region are pretty bad, so it's good to see Troy -- or any other city or town -- put effort into the medium. Because, you know, this internet thing just might stick.

We also noticed today that the city has a new Facebook page. (The city's former Facebook page -- which notes it's "not the official page of the City of Troy, NY" -- prompted some controversy in the past over how it was being moderated.) [Troy Record 2011]

And while we're at it: hey, look, Troy mayor Lou Rosamilia is now on Twitter, too (@MayorRosamilia). One of the good things about former mayor Harry Tutunjian's administration was that he often shared updates and interacted with people on Twitter (and still is -- now as @Harry4Troy). It's good to see Rosamilia giving it a shot.

[via @DanielleSanzone]

Lincoln's blood, and other stuff you didn't know was in Troy

President Lincoln.jpg

They haven't checked the DNA, but they're sure it's his.

There are times when someone tells you something and you listen politely and go "uh-huh,yes" -- and then stop and say, "wait a minute, what?"

That's what happened this weekend when Rensselaer County Historian Kathy Sheehan casually mentioned they've got Abraham Lincoln's blood at the RCHS building in Troy.

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Unmanufacturing in Troy

elot_recycling_warehouse_wide.jpg

Where electronics start their afterlife.

Electronic gadgets are everywhere -- and in greater numbers every day. It's one side effect of an industry in which an item is considered "old" if was released just a year ago.

So, these items often have a short lifespan. And when the end comes, they have to go somewhere -- and increasingly, that place is not a landfill. As of the start of this year, businesses and municipalities in New York State are no longer allowed to pitch electronics into landfills. And by 2015 that restriction will apply to everyone -- even individuals.

With that in mind, a recent invitation to check out an electronics recycling business in south Troy made us curious to see where this stuff goes.

Well, that, and we almost never pass up the opportunity to see stuff get crushed.

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What people think about Troy

what people think Troy

Not untrue.

Fun: Duncan Crary picked up the "what people think" meme and made one for Troy. That's it above -- there's also a larger version after the jump. It pokes some fun at everyone, including Duncan.

As Duncan emailed: "It'd be fun if folks from around the Albany area were encouraged to make these for their various communities (i.e. Albany, Schenectady, Delmar, Clifton Park, Saratoga, etc)."

Earlier on AOA: Duncan Crary, downtown disciple

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First Niagara/HSBC branch consolidation includes branch at Troy Music Hall

troy savings bank music hall

It's a bank. It's a music hall. It's currently both. And at the very least, will be a music hall going forward.

First Niagara has announced which bank branches it will be eliminating as part of its purchase of HSBC's upstate New York branches, first announced last August.

The bank is consolidating ten branches in the Capital Region's core counties -- split evenly between current HSBC locations and current First Niagra locations. In many cases, the branches are almost right next to each other. The list is after the jump.

On the consolidation list: the First Niagara branch in the bottom of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall building. So, what's that mean for the music hall?

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S[around]OUND at The Troy Gasholder Building

S[around]OUND.jpg

Art + architecture+ music+ inflatables + projection = S[around]OUND

This sounds pretty cool. Art and architecture students from RPI's PIP(Production,Installation,Performance) class have collaborated on a performance art project that will be unveiled next month inside the Troy Gasholder building. S[around]OUND (Surround Sound) will combine art, architecture, animation, hybrid violin, computers and lifts to move the audience around inside the space.

We said it sounded cool.

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A pedestrian mall for downtown Troy?

church street burlington, vermont

Church Street, the pedestrian mall in Burlington, Vermont.

Potentially interesting: Troy mayor Lou Rosamilia has floated the idea of permanently closing some downtown streets to vehicle traffic in order to create a pedestrian mall, the Biz Review reports. [Biz Review]

The most famous recent experiment of this type has been in New York City, which has closed off sections of Broadway in Manhattan. [NYT] [NYT]

But the pedestrian mall isn't a new concept. Kalamazoo, Michigan first tried it in 1959. Many cities followed with their own pedestrian malls -- and a large majority of them failed. (Kalamazoo re-opened part of its mall to vehicular traffic in the late 90s.) There have been some notable successes, though. For example, Burlington's pedestrian mall, Church Street, is great. [Wikipedia] [Indianapolis Downtown Inc. study] [Kalamazoo Public Library]

The thing about a pedestrian mall area is that you need people. Downtown Troy has good foot traffic during the day -- it's maybe our favorite Capital Region downtown in daylight. Will there be enough people the rest of the time to make it worth it? Public spaces without people tend to go the wrong way. If the City Center and City Station projects are successful, maybe. [Governing]

Of course, there are a lot of details that would have be figured out for this idea -- which streets, how to address parking issues, how to address access for shipments to shops and businesses. But it's an interesting idea.

photo: Flickr user redjar

For your yeti needs, try Troy

yeti_for_sale_troy_kgigante.jpgThis made us smile: Kristofer snapped this pic of a yeti for sale in a storefront on River Street near Monument Square in Troy this past weekend.

No doubt this has been a difficult winter for local yeti, what with the lack of snow and all that. We can only hope this guy finds a good new home.

Is this your yeti? We'd love to hear the backstory.

They yeti is by Amy Pollicino. She writes in the comments:

That is right, this sweet, cuddly, well behaved Yeti is looking for a new home. Even with the mild weather and lack of snow he has remained well tempered and optimistic that he may find a good forever home somewhere in the Capital Region :) He was originally created for the Winter Wonderland window display contest run by the Troy BID. Now that the contest is over he is hoping to find a more permanent place to reside. Although he appears to be more fitting for a colder climate he enjoys troy and Upstate New York, curious to stick around to possibly meet up with one of his close cousins, the Sasquatch. If you have any interest please contact me vie FB or email PollicinoA@yahoo.com

(Thanks, Kristofer!)

A co-working space for Albany, and an update for Troy

beahive beaconA coworking space called Beahive is scheduled to open in downtown Albany. The company opened its first coworking space in Beacon in 2009, and has another one in Kingston (that's a pic of the Beacon space on the right). From its page for the Albany space:

Our third hive should be open in the Capital Region at 418 Broadway (Downtown Albany) by March 2012.
We'll have a mix of work and lounge areas, meeting space, desks and tables, sofas and armchairs.
We expect to have members not only from Albany but also surrounding towns -- Troy, Rensselaer, Colonie and beyond.
Our space will also be available to rent for events, parties, workshops and group meetings, with flexible rates depending on the use.

There's an open house for the Albany space February 8.

The Biz Review had an article about the space today, and reports it's a partnership with the real estate agent Tracy Metzger.

Collar Collective

There have been a few attempts to get co-working spaces started in the Capital District. The Collar Collective is currently setting up in Troy. Its founder, Brian Corrigan, told us the plan is to start small with about 10 desks. And in order to keep the crowd more or less focused on tech, it will be nerds-only by application. Brian says it's very much open to nerds at-large, so if you're interested, contact him.

photo: Beahive

A good laundromat?

generic laundromatJeff emails:

I would like to know if somebody can recommend a good, clean laundromat in the Latham- Troy area where we can wash a large, white comforter?

If have a suggestion for Jeff, great, please share. And if you happen to have a favorite laundromat outside the Latham-Troy area, we'd love to hear about that, too.

photo: Flickr user AlishaV

Startup Weekend: Tech Valley

Startup Weekend.jpg

The next big software idea may come out of Troy this March.

Gamers, web developers, entrepreneurs and people who think they have the next big software idea will converge on the Collar City on the first weekend in March for 54 hours of intense brainstorming, education and competition in the first ever Tech Valley Startup Weekend.

Like TED conferences, Startup Weekends have taken place in cities all over the world, but rather than just discussing ideas, entrepreneurs, developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts form teams, build products and actually launch startups in a weekend long competition. By then end of the weekend teams demo their prototypes, listen to judges' feedback and win prizes.

At the Tech Valley Start Up Weekend there will also be angel investors on-hand, so some of the ideas could get funded.

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Interesting in 2011: Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian

harry tuntunjian with uncle sam statue

Outgoing Troy mayor Harry Tutunjian.

All this week we'll be highlighting some of the interesting people we've gotten to know over the past year.

After two terms, Harry Tutunjian steps down as the mayor of Troy this week. In his eight-year tenure as mayor, Tutunjian has overseen a lot of change in the Collar City: new development, the controversial demolition of the former city hall, and the plan for the new Riverfront Park which broke ground this week. Tutunjian's term was also marked by some rather public and acrimonious battles with the Troy city council.

One the things we've found interesting about Tutunjian is that he's made frequent use of Twitter -- to share news, answer questions from constituents, promote local businesses, make contacts, and jab political opponents. And while Twitter might not necessarily have always been the best venue, we think public officials communicating this way is generally a good thing. And we'd love to see more local officials follow Tutunjian's example.

So, as his last term as mayor comes to a close, we talked with @TroyMayor about his time in office, his leadership style, and the appeal of the Collar City.

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Interesting in 2011: Christian Noe

TOP2011 RD1 Troy christian noe

Christian Noe while judging the Troy bracket of this year's Tournament of Pizza. He was probably wondering what he'd gotten himself into.

All this week we'll be highlighting some of the interesting people we've gotten to know over the past year.

We got to meet Christian Noe from Nighthawk's Kitchen this year after inviting him to be a judge in the Troy bracket of the Tournament of Pizza. And we're glad we did. He was a great judge -- thoughtful, detail-oriented, and fun to hang out with it (always important in the TOP).

Christian started to make a name for himself on the local food scene when he won first place in the home-cooked category at this year's Mac 'n Cheese Bowl. Then he opened the Nighthawk's Kitchen stand at the Troy Farmers' Market, serving up some delicious -- and deliciously crazy -- comfort food. And then this fall he taught a series of popular cooking classes at the Arts Center.

So, Christian has had an interesting year. And it sounds like even bigger things could be ahead in 2012...

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Sticky Fingers Candy Apples

Sticky Fingers Troy.jpg

By Cecelia Martinez

Donna Harris doesn't even notice the smell anymore -- but you would.

After three years of making gourmet candy, caramel and chocolate apples, the owner of Sticky Fingers Gourmet Apples is used to the delightfully overwhelming scent that wafts through her shops in Cohoes and Troy.

The two-pound apples at Sticky Fingers are covered in more than just jelly or caramel. There's also fluffernutter, praline pecan, dark chocolate and sea salt or cajun spice.

I stopped into their new shop on River Street to check out a few different varieties and find out what exactly goes into a $10 gourmet candy apple.

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Shopping for fresh vegetables in/around downtown Troy?

troy food coop produceHungry for something healthy, Donna emails:

Finding fresh vegetables in downtown Troy is no big deal on a Saturday with the farmer's market, but now that the Pioneer Food Market is closed, I can't think of a single place within walking distance of RPI, other than the Sav-A-Lot on Hoosick Street. Does anyone know of an alternative?

There was a lot of drama around the Troy co-op, but it did provide an outlet for healthy food in area that otherwise doesn't have a lot of options.

Got a suggestion for Donna? Please share!

Winners in Capital Region's non-win: lofts, mushroom packaging, Troy riverfront

andrew cuomo REDC grantsThe Cuomo administration announced the winners of the Regional Economic Development Council competition today -- and the Capital Region did not win. The "best plan" awards went to Western New York, Central New York, the North Country, and Long Island -- they all got about $100 million in funding.

But the Capital Region wasn't exactly a loser, either. The region scored $62.7 million in grants. So, call it a non-winner.

A total of 88 projects in this region are getting funding. Some of it looks pork-ish (of course, all in the eye of the beholder). There are handful of grants that caught our eye. The full list, with highlights, after the jump.

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Victorian Stroll 2011 photos

troy victorian stroll 2011 sebastien

Festive.

Sebastien has posted a fun photoset from the Victorian Stroll in Troy on Sunday.

Here's another photoset from the stroll by Vic Christopher.

And one of Paul's photos resulted in a great joke: "Hipster Bichon enjoyed Troy before it was cool."

photo: Sebastien Barre

Jessica Gahring, from NY Ink, at Sage

jessica gahringCould be interesting: tattoo artist Jessica Gahring -- a resident of Troy who appears on the TLC reality show NY Ink -- will be at Sage Thursday for a talk titled "Talking Back, Speaking Out and Being Humble & Making It Big." (Kind of sounds like a lecture on humblebragging.)

Gahring, a 2004 Russell Sage College grad, told the Troy Record earlier this year that she heard about the show via a former Sage classmate in NYC, and got cast after an interview.

Here's her Facebook page -- she lists Wynantskill as her home. And here's her Twitter stream.

Gahring's talk starts at 7 pm in the Schacht Fine Arts Center on the Sage Troy campus. Tickets for the general public are $10, and will be available at the door.

photo via Jessica Gahring Facebook

Duncan Crary, downtown disciple

duncan crary looking out window

Duncan holds a piece of the now-demolished Troy City Hall as he looks out of his downtown Troy apartment window.

By Siobhan Connally

Duncan Crary has been in love with Troy since he was a child, "hatched," as he puts it, "on a cul-de-sac in the American suburbs" in Delmar.

"Suburbatory."

Maybe it was the defiant brownstones, or the alleys that time forgot, that turned his head. Most likely it was the comic-book shop on Fulton Street. Troy was where he wanted to be.

But it wasn't until his teen years, when he devoured The Geography of Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler's attack on suburban sprawl, that he understood and could articulate why.

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BenKN

benkn composite

By Emily Rippe

Ben Karis-Nix is a master at D.I.Y.

You might remember him as the singer/guitarist from the Albany-based power pop band The Orange from the early '00s. Or perhaps you recognize him as the former co-frontman of the rock group Jupiter Sunrise, which hit its stride in 2005 when it became the MySpace house band, touring the nation on the Warped Tour. Or maybe you know him from the music produced under his own name.

I was introduced to him as the "t-shirt guy" with a really adorable baby in Troy, where he's building another creative stage in his life.

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Innovations in pawn shop marketing, part II

troy pawn shop sign part 2

Remember that pawn shop on 3rd Street in downtown Troy and its sign about selling your baby daddy's gold?

Apparently the marketing innovation was successful enough to merit a permanent sign -- and an evolution of the message.

Also: free coffee.

Scenes from mac 'n cheese class

mac n cheese class dishes

Yum.

Check it out: Sebastien went to Christian Noe's macaroni 'n cheese class at the Arts Center last night:

[I] had a really good time, and brought a lot of leftovers. Christian Noe is a genuinely nice, fun guy, he and his sister walked us through 3 pretty yummy Mac&Cheese, including his [Macaroni 'n Cheese Bowl-]winning Buffalo Macaroni and Blue Cheese. ...
He walked us through a good old Mac & Cheese then the 8 of us (7 women and myself) teamed up in pairs and made our own Buffalo Mac and Blue Cheese as well as a new recipe he came up with for the class, Smokey Tex Mex Mac & Cheese with Fire Roasted Green Chilis (hopefully he will start selling it at the Farmer's Market in Troy and enter it in the next Bowl). ...
I hear he is doing the homemade sausage class too, I recommend you give the guy a try, you won't be disappointed.

The sausage classes are November 14 and December 7.

Noe is behind Nighthawk's Kitchen, which you might have seen at the Troy Farmers' Market. He was a judge for the Troy bracket in this year's Tournament of Pizza -- and we very much enjoyed meeting him.

A few more of Sebastien's photos from the class are after the jump. He also has a photoset posted on Flickr.

(Thanks, Sebastien!)

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The Swing Syndicate

Emily and Orian Dancing.jpg

Emily McNeight and Orian Breaux at The Swing Syndicate.

When Orian Breaux came to RPI he was a little bit shy. He thought checking out a swing dance club might be a way to meet people and have a little fun.

He liked it. A lot.

Now a senior in RPI's aeronautical engineering program Orian is about to launch into a project that has -- well -- pretty much nothing to do with aeronautical engineering. This Friday during Troy Night Out, he and his girlfriend, Emily McNeight -- a math major at RPI, (they met at swing dancing) -- will host the grand opening of The Swing Syndicate, which they hope will be a hub for swing dance in the Capital Region.

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TOP2011: The Final

TOP2011 defazios vs 5thand50

DeFazio's from Troy vs. 5th and 50 from Scotia

We have finally reached the end of the long road that is the 2011 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. And we have a prime matchup here in the final (bracket):

DeFazio's (Troy) vs. 5th and 50 (Schenectady)

Both shops are coming off solid wins in the semi-finals, each with a score in the 70s. DeFazio's was the overall tournament runner-up last year. And 5th and 50 has quite a claim -- it knocked off Marino's, last year's overall champ.

As is TOP tradition, the shops were allowed to pick which pizza to enter in the final. And as we've seen in past years, having that choice hasn't always been a good thing. Would this year's competitors choose wisely?

Off to the Hilton Garden Inn Albany Airport to taste some pizza!

sunmark pizza banner

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A word for Troy, rhymes with toilet

monument square Troy

We wouldn't call you that, Troy.

As you know, we moderate comments here at AOA. And there are a few words -- mostly for people -- that will pretty much always get your comment bounced. We're not going to list them, but you probably don't have to think very hard about most of them.

Anyway, we got a comment recently that used the term "Troylet." Yep, not exactly pushing the frontiers of regional trash talking. But it made us think: how offensive is that? Is just inter-city ribbing -- or something more along the lines of a slur?

So we asked people on Twitter. Here's what we heard...

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Troy food co-op closes

troy food coop now open sign

The co-op opened after much anticipation in October 2010, and made it a little more than a year.

The Pioneer Market -- The Troy Community Food Co-op -- closed Saturday. The co-op emailed members the news Saturday night and posted a message on the org's Facebook page. (The email is pasted in full after the jump.)

The co-op had reportedly seen a bump in traffic lately because of the opening of the nearby City Station mixed-use development. But it wasn't enough. From the email: "While the co-op has had some good days, our monthly sales still remained well below the level we needed to make the co-op a sustainable business. We lost money every month during our first year, and essentially we have run out of cash."

By many accounts the market got off to a rough start when it opened in October 2010, and it made appeals to members on multiple occasions to help keep it afloat. In July it warned that closure could come soon.

The idea for the co-op was a good one -- downtown Troy lacked a supermarket, and the co-op held the promise of a consistent source of healthy food for the area. But the execution seems to have been uneven. As Mike Avent -- who joined the co-op's board this past summer -- explained in a Soapbox piece here on AOA in July:

The reality is that the co-op has never been on firm footing. In some ways, every day we've been open has been a minor miracle. I believe we opened the co-op with the minimum amount of capital needed to get the doors open. We have been in a slow moving crisis ever since. Undoubtedly, board and owners patted themselves on the back for a job well done when we should have scrambled as if the fate of the co-op depended on it.

There's a meeting for owners planned for November 1 at the Christ Church United Methodist at 7 pm to discuss the closure.

More coverage:
+ The co-op still owes $1.8 million to banks, government agencies, and the Community Loan Fund -- plus what members loaned it. [TU]
+ Of the co-op's cash situation: "The numbers were very stark," said the board president. [Troy Record]
+ The co-op's lenders are trying to find someone to re-open the market. [TU]

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TOP 2011: Round 2: Troy

TOP2011 RD2 Troy

The Collar City is the next stop for Round 2 of the 2011 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. The pizzerias facing off in this round of pepperoni pizzas:

Giuseppe's (Watervliet) vs. DeFazio's (Troy)

How we got here: DeFazio's posted one the highest ever first round scores, a 77. Giuseppe's grabbed a spot in Round 2 by outstretching Joe's Tavern and Red Front.

So, DeFazio's is the favorite here. Can Giuseppe's pull the monster upset?

We're back at EMPAC for tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2011: Round 1: Troy

TOP2011 RD1 Troy

The Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- rolls along to the Troy bracket.

The pizzerias in this opening round pool competition of cheese pizzas:

Returning champ: DeFazio's - Troy
Crowd pick: Giuseppe's - Watervliet
Renee's pick: Joe's Tavern - Cohoes
Committee pick: Red Front - Troy

The judges -- plus our guest judge -- gathered at EMPAC on the RPI campus...

sunmark pizza banner

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Sowing oats (and wheat and rye) in urban Troy

Howard Stone w:grains.jpg

Howard Stoner sows his oats, wheat and rye on a plot of land in Troy.

By Katherine Rasmussen

Howard Stoner is ready for winter. One look at his basement and you can tell. The place is stocked with 75 pounds of potatoes and other root vegetables from his community garden and 16 pounds of rye he grew on a small plot of land in downtown Troy.

Yep. Stoner is growing his own wheat, oats and rye on a 350 square foot plot near the RPI football field.

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The Sanctuary for Independent Media

pierce and miller

Sanctuary for Independent Media founders Branda Miller and Steve Pierce sit on the stoop of the sanctuary with their family.

By Danielle Furfaro

You probably remember the 2008 brouhaha over Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal and the "Virtual Jihadi" video game that was booted from RPI. And you also may remember that Bilal's exhibit ended up at a little space in Troy called the Sanctuary for Independent Media -- which then got temporarily shutdown for code violations.

In the years since, the Sanctuary has continued to soldier on, providing a meeting space for seasoned and novice activists to train, listen, plan and party. Now, as protest culture blooms both here in the United States and around the world, the Sanctuary's fall season is focused on "cultures of resistance."

I talked with Sanctuary executive director Steve Pierce and art and education coordinator Branda Miller recently about emboldened protesters, media reform, the necessity of being for something, and allegedly humorless militants.

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The Paper Battery Company

paper battery company flexible sheetAn interesting Troy company announced today it's gotten a $1 million grant from NYSERDA, the state's renewable energy agency. [Paper Battery]

The Paper Battery Company says it's getting the money to build a pilot production line for its "fully printed energy-storage device that is as thin as a piece of paper."

Yep, the company is developing batteries that can be printed onto a paper-like surface.

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Innovations in pawn shop marketing

troy pawn shop baby daddy

You know, the price of gold is really high right now...

Rhea noticed this sign in a pawn shop on 3rd Street in downtown Troy today.

That's one way to get back at him.

(Thanks, Rhea!)

Can you feel the love?

By Kim M.

soapbox badgeLast Thursday, I felt like I had witnessed a hipster uprising in the city of Troy.

Activists mobilized people to turn out and speakagainst the proposed 10-year cable contract with Time Warner. And turn out they did.

Many even went to the trouble of making signs, something you don't really see at a typical Troy City Council meeting.

But here's the thing -- for all the speaking out against that went on -- there was a lot of
love in that room.

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Tiny Face

tiny face screengrabs

Go small.

A handful of local companies have created mobile apps. But this one might be the craziest -- and most fun.

Tiny Face is an app that tests your ability to make your face small. Yep, you read that correctly.

As its website proclaims: "The definitive mobile application for quantitative face-reduction analysis is now available to the general public." Tiny Face uses the camera on the iPhone and iPad to take before and after photos, then it measures the difference. (Just be careful your face doesn't freeze that way.) It's 99 cents in the iTunes apps store.

It's the creation of jackadam, a Troy firm that specializes in building all sorts of creative digital whatnot.

[via Renée]

images: jackadam

Pika's Liege Waffles at the Troy Farmers Market

Pikas Liege waffle

Worth getting up early on a Saturday.

A couple of Saturdays ago, on a stroll through the Troy farmer's market, we tried our first Liège waffle. They're made fresh at the market by the people from Pika's Quiche.

This past Saturday, the Liège waffles were calling to us before we opened our eyes.

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The Burden Letter Project

Crystal Burden Letter Project

Art meets history in The Burden Letter Project

In the hustle of day-to-day living, the historic buildings you pass along the way can become just part of the landscape, and the people who inhabited them, just names on street signs, monuments and parks.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out remarkable things about the history that surrounds us every day.

When video artist Lea Donnan came to Troy a few years ago for a residency with CAC Woodside she didn't plan to steep herself in the industrial history of the Collar City. But a few questions about the CAC building -- formerly a church commissioned by industrialist Henry Burden to memorialize his wife, Helen -- led to more questions. And those led to even more questions.

And all of those questions led to a wealth of long forgotten stories -- and a packet of steamy 19th century love letters.

Donnan has turned all of that into The Burden Letter Project, a video installation that examines the history of South Troy through love letters from a giant of industry to his wife.

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Historic floods in Troy

troy 1913 flood riverfront

The 1913 flood in Troy.

Flooding from Irene was bad in parts of the Capital Region. Really bad. But in Troy and Albany, the flooding has been worse -- though not by a lot.

The Hudson River reached crested at 27.05 feet at Troy this past Monday afternoon, which ranks as the fourth highest flood on record in the Collar City.

Here's the story behind the worst.

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Organizers want public access television in Troy

publicaccesstv.jpg

Television control rooms like this one could be available to the public if Troy requests public access.

Activists in Troy are trying to mobilize as many people as possible to attend a Troy City Council meeting tonight to speak out against a proposed 10-year cable contract with Time Warner.
The biggest issue that community organizers like filmmakers Jim DeSeve and Andrew Lynn see is that the Time Warner deal does not provide Troy and the surrounding areas with public access television stations. Jim DeSeve said that deals like the one in Schenectady show that there can be a thriving public access cable channel that the public can use to produce its own shows.
Federal laws require cable companies to provide public access services to a community in exchange for using a municipality's right of way such as cable wires. Andrew Lynn said the people could have three public access cable stations: one for public programming, one for education and one for government. But it won't happen unless city official ask for it.
The group is urging the Troy City Council to vote no on the Time Warner deal and to negotiate a deal with a company that will offer the Troy community cable access.
The meeting is tonight at 7 p.m. at Christ Church at 5th and State streets. There will be a public comment period before the vote.

Photo courtesy of Klaser Filmsvia Flickr

Troy Music Academy

Troy Music Academy Lori Friday.jpg

Super 400's Lori Friday built a new dream -- The Troy Music Academy

By Edith Cohen

Even rock stars have dreams.

I guess that makes sense, considering any musician who makes it big must have the drive and determination to follow their passion. But when Super 400 bassist Lori Friday suffered a disastrous car accident this past spring, and the band had to stop touring -- they went the lemons-to-lemonade route and focused their sites on another dream.

Friday, along with fellow band mate Kenny Hohman, and long-time local music scene acquaintance Graham Tichy, got to work on something they'd been talking about for years. In July, they opened the doors to the Troy Music Academy--a music school where everyone from age 5 on up can work on their dream of being in a band -- or just learning a new instrument.

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Troy dries out

Dinosauar Patio post flooding.jpg

The patio at the Dino today. Two days ago it was pretty much submerged.

We stopped in Troy a while ago to see how things were shaping up.

The Dinosaur BBQ patio was out from underwater and crews were working on the clean-up. According to a recent tweet from Mayor Harry T. the Dino and other restaurants along the river are scheduled to be open by Friday afternoon. Ryans Wake is first, today at 4.

After the jump, a few more before/ after photos of the Collar City.

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Photos of Irene flooding in Troy

troy irene flooding

The Hudson was very wide today.

Downtown Troy was among the many local spots to get hit with flooding from all the Irene rain. The Hudson hit major flood stage there today -- running up against the backs of buildings, consuming parks, turning parking lots into beaches, and stranding boats. All the while odd and random things floated by.

It was a sight.

Here are a bunch of photos.

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Once a seat of power, now just rubble

troy city hall rubble 2011-08-26

We stopped by the old Troy city hall site today to see how the demolition is going. There's not much left. (For your demolition enjoyment, a hackish stitched-together panorama of the site is after the jump.)

Earlier on AOA: The selected redevelopment proposal for the former Troy city hall site

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Waffle Week returns to Brown's

browns brewing sign closeupBrown's Brewing is bringing waffle back this year. Monday through Friday next week Brown's will be featuring a different waffle special in honor of the waffle iron being patented in Troy on August 24, 1869.

This year's lineup has some interesting-looking -- and funny -- waffles. Also: many of them involve protein, thankfully. (We love carbs as much as the next person, but you know, we try to avoid napping our desk in the afternoon.) The full lineup is pasted after the jump.

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Troy, can you dig it?

troy can you dig it t-shirt designTroy-based illustrator Owen Sherwood emailed this week to let us know that he has a Troy design entered in the "Threadless Loves Your City" t-shirt contest. As his blurb reads on his entry at the Threadless site:

Troy, NY is not only my Hometown but the long time home and final resting place of Mr. Samuel Wilson... Also know as the one and only Uncle Sam! Like that famous historical figure, us Trojans we love our fish-fry, vibrant art scene and tiny hot dogs. We ride bikes and think we're hipper than Bushwick. We may be small but we're tough. With Uncle Sam for our role model, we are strong yet sensitive, thoughtful yet gnarly and most importantly, welcoming to all newbies. Join the Trojan Army! Vote For the best little city in New York! Vote for TROY!!! CAN YOU DIG IT!!! (Did I sound like Breaveheart, I was going for Braveheart)

And, as he said to us in the email: "Help me put Troy on the map... Or at least on a shirt!" Voting ends next Wednesday (August 24).

Earlier on AOA:
+ "Rub me on your butt!"
+ Woot! Andrew Gregory!

Front Parlor: story night at The Ale House

front parlor Lublin with Fashoro and Bassett

Front Parlor founder Abby Lublin, with partner Tolu Fashoro and storyteller Chris Bassett.

They say everybody has a story. And Abby Lublin wants to hear them all.

Abby is the founder of the monthly Front Parlor storytelling series in Troy.

We've been meaning to make it over for a few months, and last night we were part of the standing-room-only crowd at The Ale House.

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The Boston Shake at The Snowman

snowman boston shake composite

One more reason to visit The Snowman.

By Daniel B.

People around here go nuts over soft serve ice cream. They do. And in the spring, when the seasonal ice cream stands open, everyone flocks to their favorite place for what they insist is the creamiest soft serve in the region.

Soft serve has its place. There is a certain satisfaction of being handed an improbably tall cone, with a beautiful symmetrical swirl, brought to a point on top. And then there is the challenge and delight of attempting to finish the whole thing before it melts.

But soft serve is not what makes The Snowman in Lansingburgh special, although that's not to say it too doesn't have its fans. The proprietor will readily tell you that it just comes from a mix, like everyone else's. Still as I have learned, this fact does not mean all soft serve tastes the same.

What makes The Snowman special is their homemade hard ice cream. And what makes The Snowman very special is that there you can get a Boston Shake, which allows you to enjoy it two ways.

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National Night Out

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National Night Out in Troy's North Central

By Kim M.

soapbox badgeThis Tuesday is National Night Out. If you're not involved in a community group like I am, NNO is probably not on your radar screen.

So what is National Night Out? It's America's Night Out Against Crime, a drug and crime prevention effort.

Oh, yeah -- and there's outdoor bowling.

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Inside perspective on the Troy Food Co-op's struggle to survive

troy food coop now open sign

"Undoubtedly, board and owners patted themselves on the back for a job well done when we should have scrambled as if the fate of the co-op depended on it."

By Mike Avent

soapbox badgeThis past Sunday on the Soapbox, Leah offered suggestions to the struggling Troy Food Co-op -- and used the market's situation to look at the broader issue of gentrification in Troy. Her post prompted a lot of discussion, some of it pointed. Here's a response from one of the co-op's board members.

My name is Mike, and I have been a board member of the Troy Co-op for about 6 weeks. I write to explain our situation and ask for help. Frankly, we need all the help we can get.

There is a misconception that the co-op has narrowly averted a series of catastrophes since opening, and that the latest email represents another bullet to dodge. The reality is that the co-op has never been on firm footing. In some ways, every day we've been open has been a minor miracle. I believe we opened the co-op with the minimum amount of capital needed to get the doors open. We have been in a slow moving crisis ever since. Undoubtedly, board and owners patted themselves on the back for a job well done when we should have scrambled as if the fate of the co-op depended on it.

We're not out of time yet, but there is no margin for error.

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Washington Park in Troy is historic. There's a sign now and everything.

troy washington park historical markerTroy's fenced-off Washington Park is one of the state's only two privately owned and maintained residential parks (Gramercy Park in Manhattan is the other). And it was founded in 1840. So, it's all very historic. And now there's one of those markers pointing that out.

The Washington Park Association will be unveiling the sign Wednesday afternoon at 1:30 pm -- and, here's the good part, it will also be opening up the park to the public during the reception that afternoon. So if you're nearby, you can check it out (you know, from inside the cast iron fence).

Bonus bit: Most of those official yellow and blue New York State historical markers all over the place are pretty old -- in fact, the program's more or less ended during the middle of the last century ("concerns for the risk of trying to read small roadside markers in the emerging age of high speed automobile travel caused the State to focus only on large signs"). New signs are actually commissioned and financed by private entities. There's a foundry in the Catskills that makes them.

Earlier on AOA: A lamp post near Washington Park was recently graced with a somewhat different marker -- a yarnbomb.

photo: Neil Grabowsky

Pioneer Market and the gentrification of the Collar City

troy food coop composite

A good thing that could be better.

By Leah the Nosher

soapbox badgeThis week, the Capital District community saw yet another email from the board of Troy's Pioneer Food Market.

They simultaneously reached out to and scolded their co-owners, saying, "If you don't spend more money, we won't stay open." They assure their members that they "share their concerns" that the co-op's product mix has shifted away from organic and natural foods, that they have ordered the general manager to shift the products back, while simultaneously "authorized [him] to reduce expenditures." They also share that after being in development since 2007, and after being in operation since October of 2010, the Pioneer Market is just now "applying to become a WIC (women/infants/children) vendor to better serve the Troy community."

What's wrong with this picture?

I wrote about my concerns in a comment here on AOA earlier this week.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a community-based food initiative that improves life in a city that's had more that its share of hard knocks, but this week's announcement from the Pioneer Food Market board brought up some old concerns about the Collar City's attempts at gentrification.

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