Items tagged with 'downtown Albany'
This year the Downtown Albany BID's Sculpture in the Streets project is titled "All Signs Point to Downtown" -- the BID is aiming to restore a handful of "ghost signs" around downtown. The announcement of the project and its call for artists prompted some interesting discussion about the idea this week, both critical and supportive. And the interest is understandable: this work will be on display for thousands of people all around downtown.
Among the people with a reaction: Samson Contompasis, a mural artist and the organizer of the Living Walls mural project. He reached out to AOA with some strong objections -- both artistic and practical -- and we thought it'd be interesting to share them here. We also talked with the Downtown Albany BID to get its perspective.
First up: Samson...
This year's exhibit titled: All Signs Point to Downtown will restore old retail signs, also referred to as ghost signs, on the sides of our historic buildings retelling the story of downtown Albany as the commercial hub for the Capital Region prior to the creation of suburban malls.
Now through April 12, 2013, the BID is accepting submissions from artists interested in participating. Painting will take place between mid-April to mid-June and an honorarium will be paid based on the size and complication of the retail sign.
We've converted the doc to a pdf for easy scanning -- it's post jump. It includes info on requirements, guidelines, and other details.
There are at least a handful of preservation efforts around the country aimed at keeping ghost signs from totally fading away -- especially out west, where the signs are apparently still numerous (see Butte, Montana and Fort Collins, Colorado). Interestingly, there are some people who think the signs should be allowed to fade out.
photo: Chuck Miller
In 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.
Sean emails with a question that's not really an Ask AOA question -- it's more of "What the heck is that?" question:
I have lived in Center Square for about three years and I work downtown (right off N. Pearl St). About 2-3 times a week I hear a random sound that sounds a bit like a high pitched fog horn. It's usually 3-5, short (2 or 3 seconds) blasts which distinguish it from the the longer, deeper pitched fog horn you would associate with an active harbor. It almost has an alarm like quality to it.
The strange thing is, I can hear it at home and at work. While it is hard to miss, it is not particularly jarring either. What's even more curious is that I have heard it all times of day, each season and in variable weather conditions.
Is it associated with the Port of Albany? The Hudson River? The rail line running under and between 787? Something different all together?
Please tell me I am not alone!
Anyone have the scoop -- or just a good guess?
When looking for events and things to do in downtown Albany, its been hard to if there are any nightclubs that are 18+ instead of 21+. being a college student and new to the region, I was wondering if you guys knew of any 18+ clubs in downtown albany?
We suspect there might not be a lot of options. But maybe you have a good suggestion for Chris -- even if it's not downtown Albany. If so, please share!
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: Where to shake it?
At first glance, the old diner car still looks like the Miss Albany -- well, a scrubbed and polished version of the Miss Albany. The booths are the same - the classic diner floors, counters and tile. But the walls are the first give-away that you're not in the Miss Albany anymore.
The famous signs warning patrons about unruly children have been replaced by classic old photos. They're from the families of Matt Baumgartner and his business partners, Jimmy and Demetra Vann. Sciortino's is named for Baumgartner's mother's family -- specifically for his grandparents, Frank and Rachel Sciortino, whose pictures occupy a prominent space behind the front counter.
The latest in Baumgartner's string of Capital Region business ventures -- and his continuing effort to bring life into to Albany's warehouse district -- opens on Wednesday.
Here's a look inside...
Just a quick pic from Pearl Palooza this past Saturday. There was a big crowd for Phantogram. (Then it rained. A lot.)
Here's a video clip via the Albany County Sheriff's Office of the underground explosion in downtown Albany Wednesday afternoon. The explosion knocked the cover off a manhole and shot flames into the air.
The camera that captured the explosion is pointed down Steuben Street toward the intersection of Steuben and Chapel. You can see dark gray smoke first billow from the street, then BOOM! (Actually, you have to supply your own soundtrack -- there's no audio.)
There are a few stills from the video after the jump.
National Grid says the explosion was caused by an underground fire on an electrical wire. It says no one was hurt. The company is investigating what caused the fire.
Update: Here's video of the explosion.
Around 3:30 pm Wednesday afternoon, mentions of an underground fire in downtown Albany -- with exploding manhole covers -- started popping up on Twitter. Albany County exec Dan McCoy posted on Twitter at 3:53 pm: "Fire in electrical network underground. Manhole covers blew. Work underway." [@DanielleSanzone] [@MCCoyCountyExec]
The Albany County Justice Center was evacuated because smoke was drawn into the ventilation system. Albany City Hall was closed. And there were reports of other buildings being closed. [Albany County] [@LeifEngstrom1 (city auditor)] [@jessicabakeman]
Streets near the county justice center were closed for crews to work on the problem. [@MCCoyCountyExec]
The photo above -- at North Pearl and Pine -- is from Andrew Gregory (@lunchboxbrain).
Update: 8:44 pm: From National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella:
At 3 p.m. today we detected a power interruption on an underground line at North Pearl Street in Albany. We immediately dispatched crews who have been working through the evening to assess and repair damage caused by an underground fire on our electrical wire.
One manhole cover was dislodged due to the fire and no injuries were reported.
There were no outages associated with the fire since the downtown area has multiple electric feeds to each customer.
We expect to make those repairs tonight and have the street open for traffic.
We will investigate the incident in an attempt to determine an extact cause.
This sounds familiar...: Something like this happened in downtown Albany in 2009.
A crowd of about 1,000 people showed up in downtown Albany Monday to rally against hydrofracking. The crowd gathered in the Corning Preserve, then filled the block on Broadway in front of the the DEC building, moved up the middle of State Street, and finally to Capitol Park for a lineup speakers. [LoHud Albany Watch] [@JonCampbellGAN] [@JonCampbellGAN] [@_1134] [@AmandaSavarese]
The anti-fracking movement is fired up right now because the Cuomo administration's decision on whether to allow the natural gas extraction method is reportedly near -- and the word circulating is that the admin will allow some fracking in the state. (Cuomo played down those rumors recently.) Not surprisingly, much of the anti-fracking message today was directed at Andrew Cuomo. [CBS News] [TU] [Reuters]
The decision -- whenever it comes out -- will be a big deal.
Yesterday Jerry Jennings and a group of downtown Albany business people stood in Albany City Hall to reassure everyone that the Pearl Street area is on the edge of a major change that will turn the city's downtown into a 24/7 community.
You probably know the reason for this affirmation session: the comment from Ralph Spillenger -- the owner of the Bayou Cafe and the soon-to-be-closed Jillian's -- that his business had failed, in part, because people are afraid to go downtown because of crime.
So, who's right? This situation is complicated because so much of it depends on perception.
But there are ways to make it clearer.
Updated with scheduled times
Update: Phantogram has been added to the lineup on the main stage, and Conehead Buddha on the second stage.
This year's Pearl Palooza -- the music festival in downtown Albany hosted by WEQX -- is September 22. EQX announced today that the headliner is the indie pop duo Matt and Kim (that's them on the right).
The full lineup -- which covers two stages -- is post jump (with clips).
Pearl Palooza runs from noon to 9 pm that day (a Saturday). The festival is on Pearl Street between Sheridan and Pine. It's free.
It's Real Estate Week on AOA.
In a lot of cities -- New York, San Francisco, Chicago -- apartments and condos in the heart of "downtown" are totally normal. But in Albany that hasn't been case. For a long time its downtown has emptied out after the work day. Sure, there are crowds along the entertainment strips like Pearl Street. But the city's downtown has had very little residential stock -- and, as a result, very few of the open-after-work services and amenities that go along with residential: coffee shops, retail, a grocery store.
Over the last couple of years, though, a handful of developers have gutted and rebuilt the interiors of historic buildings, turning them into luxury apartments and condos.
And here's the thing that surprised us: there appears to be strong demand for those units. Every one of the existing apartment buildings we checked out was full, and many of those still under renovation have a waiting list.
So, what's changed? And what does all this downtown living look like?
It's hard to miss the giant Dutch clogs that now populate downtown Albany as part of this year's Sculpture in the Streets installation. They're fun and kind of whimsical. (We've seen people attempting to "try on" the shoes, which has been funny.)
Curious about how one goes about decorating an enormous replica of a Dutch wooden shoe, we asked talented local illustrator Elizabeth Zunon to share how she created her clog, which sits outside the Olde English on Broadway.
It's interesting to hear about her inspiration for the piece, and some of the other projects she's working on...
The Albany Common Council approved the final slate of streets for the new residential parking permit system Monday night. A map of the three zones is above. After the jump: a list of the designated streets with individual zone maps -- along with a copy of the resolution designating them.
Not every parking space in the designated areas will be subject to the permit system. But there many be some whole blocks designated within the zones, according to councilman Richard Conti, who headed up the design of the system. The state law allowing the system limits it to no more than 2,750 spots.
The target start date for the permit system is October 1. The spaces will be subject to permit parking from 8 am-6 pm on weekdays -- though two-hour parking will be allowed for people without permits. The permits will cost $25, and permit holders will get guest passes.
The new series of Sculpture in the Streets pieces have been popping up in downtown Albany this week. This year's theme: "Stand in the Sole of Albany." The pieces are all giant Dutch clogs. You know, wooden shoes.
Thirteen artists have decorated the oversized clogs -- some big, some really big -- for this year's series. Photos of a handful of them are after the jump, as is a list of this year's artists.
The clogs are fun. And this afternoon they definitely had people stopping to take a look. A brief "What the heck..." moment was usually followed by a smile. Some people even tried them on (so to speak).
This year's Sculpture in the Streets series will be officially unveiled at a garden party hosted by the Albany Downtown BID Friday evening. Tickets are $50.
Maps of all the sculptures will be available from the BID and downtown merchants starting Monday (June 18). The clogs will be on display until May 2013.
The crew for the HBO film Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight will be shooting in downtown Albany Thursday and into Friday morning. There will be significant parking and traffic restrictions on Thursday -- for example, sections of Washington Ave will be shut down for chunks of time. The list is after the jump.
Incidentally, you can also use the restrictions a guide for when/where to gawk at the filming.
A description of the film via the Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau (link added):
The film centers on the cultural icon's battle with the United States government over his refusal to serve in the military due to his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. Ali was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges, and later stripped of his boxing title and had his boxing license suspended. While not imprisoned, he did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
The film is directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dirty Pretty Things, High Fidelity). It includes stars such as Christopher Plummer, Danny Glover, Frank Langella, and Benjamin Walker (OK, not really a star yet, but he's Abe Lincoln in the upcoming Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Yes, that's a real movie.) It looks like Ali will be appearing in the film as himself through archival film clips (which sounds a little odd).
Here's more about the story covered in the film from screenwriter Shawn Slovo. [Spectator (UK)]
photo: Ira Rosenberg via Wikipedia
Interesting: a coalition of groups, orgs, and firms is holding a charrette -- "a multi-day collaborative planning event" -- this week to create a plan for transforming the Sheridan Hollow neighborhood in Albany. From the blurbage:
The goal of a charrette is to identify the priorities for a community redevelopment project, create practical designs that address these priorities, incorporate feedback from local residents, and serve as a kick-off for the project. This planning session will help create strategies for eliminating blight and promoting re-investment in an important and historically significant Albany neighborhood.
In order to encourage as much community participation and input as possible, the charrette will be open to the public each day, with several specific public meetings focusing on transportation, housing, sustainability/environment, urban design/historic preservation, economic development, and parks and recreation.
Here's the schedule of events -- many are open to the public. The charrette is organized by Capital District Habitat for Humanity, the Touhey Home Ownership Foundation, the City of Albany, 3tarchitects, and Housing Visions, Inc. (Press release is embedded after the jump.)
Sheridan Hollow is the neighborhood in the ravine between the Capitol and Arbor Hill. It has a long history -- much of it downtrodden. There was an infamous garbage incinerator there during the 80s and early 90s.
More recently, though, there's been a lot of development at the eastern end of the neighborhood, including residential. There are the 24 condos at 17 Chapel, the 43 apartments planned as part of the Boyd Printing Co. building conversion ("The Monroe") at 47 Sheridan, and 13 units at 4-6 Sheridan.
Perhaps feeling left out during last week's discussion about good lunch spots in Troy, Rebecca asked in the comments:
[B]eing that this isn't "All Over Troy" I think it's only fair and right that AOA rebuts with "good places for lunch in downtown ALBANY"!!
Our lunch time experiences in downtown Albany have included an unfortunate number of misses. But we're guessing people who work there all the time have the scoop.
So, what are the good lunch spots in downtown Albany? Please share!
We stopped by Carmine Sprio's soon-to-be-open restaurant in downtown Albany late Friday afternoon to peek in the widows. Ethan had mentioned he saw furniture being moved in, and we were curious to see how things were shaping up.
As it turned out, Sprio was there and he was nice enough to give us a quick tour and tell us a little more about the restaurant's concept, which sounds like something a bit different for the Capital Region.
Here's a quick look, along with a few details.
The downtown Albany location for Beahive, a string of coworking spaces in the Hudson Valley, recently opened. We were in the neighborhood this week, so we dropped in to check it out.
The ice skating rink at the ESP re-opened this past Saturday for the first time since 2008. So, of course, we had to take a few turns.
Here are a few details if you decide to go. (And you totally should.)
Update March 12, 2012: A peek inside Carmine's Brazilian Grill
Chef Carmine Sprio is resurfacing in downtown Albany with a Brazillian-style steakhouse, the city of Albany says. The aptly named "Carmine's Brazilian Grill" is scheduled for a February 2012 opening at 4-6 Sheridan, a mixed use building that's being developed with apartments on the upper floors. (It's the former Big House/Skyline building.)
The restaurant will apparently be modeled on churrascaria -- in which people pay a fixed price and servers walk around with platters of various grilled meats. From the press release:
Carmine's Brazilian Grill will offer fixed price menus for lunch and dinner. The grill menu will include many different cuts of meat, the typical dinner selections will be beef (3-5 different cuts), lamb (chops or leg), pork (loin, ribs, homemade sausage) and chicken. The dinner menu will also include a full starter bar, offering a wide variety of appetizers.
The full press release is after the jump.
Sprio had run an Italian restaurant called "Carmine's" on Central Ave near Everett Road for 13 years -- it closed in 2009. He's also been involved in various TV projects (here's an audition video for a show on OWN). [Biz Review]
Tangent: That spot in downtown Albany is forming a cluster of residences. There are the 24 condos at 17 Chapel, the 43 apartments planned as part of the Boyd Printing Co. building conversion ("The Monroe") at 47 Sheridan, and now the 13 units at 4-6 Sheridan. [Places and Spaces]
Yep, 17 Chapel advertises on AOA.
photo via Carmine's TV Facebook
Update Jan 3, 2012: Here are details about skating at the ESP rink.
Update Dec 14, 2011: OGS says it's aiming to open the rink the first week of January -- and skates will be available for renting (it will be free to skate).
The state Office of General Services announced over the weekend that the ice skating rink will be returning to the Empire State Plaza this winter. The ESP has been rinkless since the winter of 2007-08 because of budget cuts. (Full press release pasted after jump.)
OGS says it's aiming for an early January opening. The rink will be open afternoon and evenings, 7 days a week. Skating will be free. The exact date and operation times are still being worked out. (Also: some colder weather might speed things along.)
The rink's comeback is being funded in part by a $100,000 contribution Lake Placid Regional Winter Sports Committee, which is a "non-profit focused on supporting and developing Upstate New York as a sport destination for international and national winter sport events."
In the grand scheme of things, the skating rink isn't a big thing. But the news a few years back that it wasn't coming back because of budget cuts was a bit of a "gulp" moment about the economy and state budget. And there's just something beautiful about the scene created by people skating on the ESP. It's great the rink will be back.
If you've never seen the ESP rink -- or just want to remember what it looks like -- a few more photos from early 2008 are after the jump.
I first met Jeffrey a while ago.
He stopped me on the street and asked for some money, told me his story, and kept me much longer than I wanted. I know some of you think it's a bad idea to give money to panhandlers. You may be right, but I'm sorry, if somebody asks for a couple of bucks they're going to get it. Maybe that makes me a sucker.
So, the next time we met it was much the same. "How's things Jeffrey," I asked. He was completely blown away that I remembered his name and gave me a hug. I could have done without the hug. After that, I think he was keeping an eye out for me, knowing I was good for a donation. One time I was in a hurry to my car and dodged him.
Then one day, Jeffrey intercepted me outside my building.
WEQX released the music lineup for this year's PearlPalooza (you know, sort of like LarkFest, but... more east? more downtown?). There are two stages -- one for national acts, the other for locals.
PearlPalooza is September 24 from noon - 9 pm. It's free.
Lineups after the jump.
If you work in downtown Albany, this could be the perfect way to break up your work week. The city of Albany has released the details of this year's September in the City Art Fair, an annual street fair that falls on the Wednesday of each week in September.
Each week, art will be displayed in Tricentennial Park at Broadway and Columbia, while local musicians will play two one-hour sets between 11:30 am and 2 pm. This event has been happening in Albany for the past several years, and we're glad to see it continue, because there's nothing like live, outdoor music in the middle of a weekday.
The music schedule is after the jump.
Update: The winner has been notified. Thanks for entering!
Taste, in downtown Albany, will be offering a four-course dinner on its penthouse terrace with a view of the ESP fireworks on July 4. And we have a table for two to give away.
To enter the drawing, answer this question in the comments:
What is your favorite summer memory?
We'll draw one winner at random.
Highlights from the Fourth of July menu at Taste by chef executive chef Paul Ozimek:
A duet of crab stuff Maine half lobster, stone fruit salsa, char seared 8 oz. filet mignon, with summer berry demi
Your choice of one dozen shrimp cocktail or heirloom tomato salad, buffalo mozzarella, fried basil, arugula
Gourmet salad and artisan bread station
Grilled asparagus and long-stemmed artichokes
Roasted purple potatoes
Red, white and blue dessert montage and deluxe coffee station
The price per person is $99 and a reservation is required (694-3322).
Important: All comments must be submitted by 11:59 pm on Friday (June 24, 2011) to be entered in 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 Monday and must respond by 9 am on Tuesday (June 28, 2011).
Yep, Taste does advertise on AOA.
Looking for the George Rickey sculptures on the streets of Albany is a little like playing a giant game of Where's Waldo, or trying to find the toaster in the tree. Once you see them, you don't understand how you could have missed them, but at first they're oddly hard to spot.
The five moving metal sculptures are this year's edition of Albany's Sculpture in the Streets project. If something about them seems familiar, think about the Empire State Plaza -- there's been a Rickey sculpture on the ESP for years. There's also one on the RPI campus (where Rickey spent three years teaching in the architecture program), at the Albany Institute of History and Art and on the second floor at Albany International Airport.
Maybe it's the size or steel gray color that makes them blend into the background a bit -- another large metal object in the middle of a city. They kind of disappear into the landscape. But then the wind catches one and you find yourself standing in the street trying to figure out how it does that.
We're pulling out the AOA soap box each Sunday for people to praise, complain, suggest, joke, or make an observation about things they see going on in the Capital Region.
It's been a long, hard winter, but now that spring is getting a grip on the ice and snow, things are finally looking up. Some people are waiting for the crocuses to peep their heads out, others for the red winged blackbirds to hit town.
Me? I'm looking for a squirrel, known downtown as the Earl of Pearl.
Looking for an interesting wedding spot in Albany, Annie emails:
We aren't getting married until December of 2012, but we wanted to start browsing around for a ceremony site. We aren't religious, but if we could get married in a beautiful, old church by a Justice or something like that, that would also be ok. We are shooting for the reception to be at Jack's, so I'd ideally like to be in down town Albany.
Any suggestions for Annie? Please share! As we understand it, she's looking for something a little different, so she'd probably love creative or unusual ideas.
photo: Flickr user _FXR
We're pretty much a sucker for any time-lapse video. The one embedded above is of the construction at 17 Chapel, the new condo development in downtown Albany -- you can see the new structure go up, the snow come down, and the DEC building light up. The video was shot from the roof of Zone 5, the marketing firm across Orange Street.
Earlier on AOA: A tranquil time lapse of Albany
[via Places and Spaces]
Yep, 17 Chapel advertises on AOA. Did we mention the thing about time-lapses?
We spotted this today the garage for one of the office buildings along Broadway in downtown Albany.
There's something about seeing the enormous wreath hung up like this that made us smile -- like we all have to find a place to stuff holiday decorations the other 10 months of the year.
AOA Greg was in a long-term haircutting relationship for the better part of the last decade. And then he wasn't. Suddenly unattached, Greg was at a loss for where to get his hair cut. So he asked the AOA crowd -- and it had a bunch of good suggestions. Now he's playing the field, in search of a new shop.
I had heard some good things about Mensroom -- and it describes itself as "a contemporary barbershop with an 'old school' feel." So, it sounded like a good candidate and I was looking forward to checking it out.
The before/after pics and more after the jump...
This body of work by Seward Johnson, an American artist known for his hyper-realistic imagery, is part of a collection of 250 cast bronze figures depicting people of all ages engaged in day-to-day activities. I invite you to take a nice, long walk downtown Albany and take a closer look at these intriguing sculptures. Bring metaphorical hiking shoes because you are about to embark on a trip down the Uncanny Valley.
The series of sculptures will be in place until October.
It's Lunch Week on AOA! All this week we'll be featuring items the midday meal. Be sure to snap a photo of your lunch on Wednesday and send it to us -- you could win $25 for lunch at your favorite local spot.
It does not come with cheese.
Without a doubt, it is a decadent treat. And you will probably need a glass of red wine to keep you heart pumping while you are eating the thing.
The trick to enjoying it is not letting expectations get the best of you.