The Hendrick Hudson Hotel

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the Hendrick Hudson Hotel.jpgTroy's Hendrick Hudson Hotel building dates back to 1926, and has been such a central part of the Collar City's life ever since that I'll forgive it for the hollandization of English explorer Henry Hudson's first name. (Yes, he sailed on a Dutch ship for a Dutch company. His name was still Henry.)

With more than 160 rooms, and the shops and restaurants that always attended a high-end downtown hotel, it was a key location in Trojan public life, and attracted the likes of Richard Nixon and JFK. And it had an attractive corner in the new lobby!

The Troy Post Office

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Post Office Troy.jpgLast week we saw what a village post office is supposed to look like. Here we have Troy's fine example of what a city post office is supposed to look like. It was built in the mid-1930s as a Depression-era construction project and, like other post offices of that era, has the good taste to include murals of local significance. Painter Waldo Peirce contributed "Rip Van Winkle" and "Legends of the Hudson," meaning we can say with some certainty that Troy has the only post office in America with art depicting the Headless Horseman.

Collins Park

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Collins Park pavilions.jpgOne last postcard view of the somewhat idyllic village of Scotia, NY. Or at least of its picnic pavilions. We noted a little bit of the history of Collins Park when we looked at the lovely village library. Growing up, Freedom Park and Maalwyck Park didn't yet exist, and they're both special-purpose parks. Collins had everything: swimming, sledding, picnicking, athletic fields, walking/biking paths, a playground, tennis and basketball courts ... everything. We're lucky that previous generations thought that providing a public space for general recreation and respite was important.

Mohawk Avenue Scotia.jpgAnother great postcard of Scotia, N.Y., from the Boston Public Library collection. This depicts Mohawk Avenue (State Route 5) looking west on one of the main commercial blocks of the village, sometime in the 1950s. On the left is Swire's Department Store, one of the greatest little catch-all department stores of all time. I waxed nostalgic about it a decade back, at length, and concluded that its free cardboard boxes were perhaps its greatest gift to teenage boys with time (and matches) on their hands.

Further down on the left, the Scotia Cinema, still there to this day and doing better, in fact, than when I was a kid. Beyond that, the smattering of insurance businesses and drugstores (Dorf Arsmedic!) that made up the avenue.

The blank block wall of Swire's, by the way, opened onto the tiny car lot of Scotia Dodge, whose showroom was across the street. Just this side of that tiny lot was the Hometown Bakery, whose incredible scents no doubt stopped this scene's photographer in his tracks. (These cards were photographed, then painted; it was the style at the time, and it's a style I wouldn't mind seeing come back.)

So on the other side of the street, as I said, was Scotia Dodge. I guess now it's Scotia Motors. Just past that, Empire food market, which was a number of other things through the years; I remember it as the short-lived Food Circus. (Who wants a food circus?) Foreshortening beyond that makes the steeple of the First Baptist Church appear closer than it actually is.

The Scotia Public Library

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Scotia Library.jpgSo, while we're postcarding through beautiful downtown Scotia, New York, we have to visit everyone's favorite library. Part of the Schenectady County library system, it's in the Abraham Glen House, which dates to the 1730s and is as charming as can be. Abraham Glen was a grandson of Alexander Lindsay (the family later took the Glen surname), one of the founders of Schenectady and son of Johannes, hero of the aftermath of the Schenectady Massacre. The house remained in the Glen family for decades, then was sold to the Collins family in 1842. They farmed the land and drew ice out of what would become Collins Lake. At the end of the family line, the village of Scotia acquired the property as a park in 1924, and the library opened in the old home around 1930.

Pretty much everyone in Scotia wants to believe there is a tunnel between this house and the Glen-Sanders Mansion, as a precaution against Indian attacks. Perhaps.

It is now impossible to imagine how many hours of my youth were spent in this tiny library. I'm sure there was a time when I would have recognized every spine on the shelves, every record in the collection, even the paperbacks in the spinning rack by the door.

The Scotia Post Office

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Scotia Post Office.jpgScotia's post office building dates to 1940 and looks to me like a village post office is supposed to look. Auto enthusiasts could probably give a good idea of the date of this postcard, but not much has changed on this corner in the last half-century. The free-standing signs out front, which used to advertise for military recruiting, are long gone, but everything else is the same. By the way, in the early 1960s, my great-grandparents lived in the upstairs apartment of the gray building to the left.

Inside the post office is an historic WPA mural created by Amy Jones, depicting "The Glen Family Spared by French Indians," a reminder of the aftermath of the Schenectady Massacre of 1690.

Olendorf's Tourist Home, Cohoes

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Olendorf's Tourist Home Cohoes 1.jpg

Another pair of postcards from the Boston Public Library collection. These depict Olendorf's Tourist Home on Route 9 in Cohoes (but really, Latham). The tourist home was a standard fixture of the major routes in those days, and back before the highways came through Route 9 was the only road north to the Adirondacks from these parts, so it was lined with these little cabin colonies. This one was run by Oscar and Lillian Nicholson Olendorf for more than thirty years until they retired in 1967. I don't know much about Oscar, but Lillian was a nurse who was trained at the Brady Infant Home in Albany, and then worked for Dr. John Phelen as a baby nurse. She died in 1991 but her obituary didn't give her age.
Olendorf's Motel Cohoes.jpg If anyone knows just where Olendorf's was located, I'd be glad to hear from you. Email me through the link or just tweet me, @HoxsieAlbany.

Entering Scotia

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Entering Scotia NY.jpgAnother view, this time from the topside, of the Western Gateway Bridge and its approach into Scotia. I always loved the concrete lattice details, which on the "new" bridge were replaced by steel guiderails and chain link fence, which I'm sure is lovely to someone (perhaps a junkyard dog), but not to me. (The Troy-Menands bridge still has similar lattice work on its approach on the Troy side.) The light poles were majestic.

When Bridges Were Bridges

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Bridge over Mohawk River at Scotia.jpgNot sure just when this undated postcard of the original Western Gateway Bridge was made, but the bridge itself, a graceful concrete arch structure, opened in December 1925. Previously, Schenectady and Scotia were connected by a trolley bridge between Schonowe Avenue and Washington Avenue.

Four men died in an accident during the Western Gateway's construction in 1923, and a missing fifth contributed to the persistent rumor that one man was encased in a concrete arch footing. (Larry Hart finally put this rumor to rest.) There was a weeklong celebration of its opening in the summer of 1924, including fireworks on the river that drew 75,000 people.

It was demolished in 1974, having been replaced by a graceless steel span that was given the same name despite being unlovely and not having a dangerous curve. Many of the Belgian pavers that made up its deck found their way into local walkways and gardens.

The Port of Albany

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Port of Albany Postcard BPL.jpgAgain from the Boston Public Library collection, an undated postcard of the Port of Albany in simpler, and busier, times. This view is from the Rensselaer side of the port. I'm not sure what the tank barge Iroquois of Philadelphiapa [sic] was carrying during its visit, but I can note that in 1942, out Tonawanda way, the barge was "so negligently and carelessly maneuvered" that it collided with another barge, which collided with another barge, which collided with another barge. Things were all barged up. The internet is just amazing.

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