Albany and the Hudson River Daylines

Albany was removed from the regular Dayline route in 1947.

The last jewel in the crown was the “Alexander Hamilton” which became part of the New York Circle Line fleet, touring NYC harbor and traveling north part way up the Hudson, until a fire in the 1970s.

Robert Fulton successfully sailed his first steamboat “The North River Steamboat” (A/K/A “The Clermont”) in 1807.

By 1812 his North River Company (a/k/a the Hudson River) was operating 3 ships with regular schedules between New York and Albany. Competition developed and by 1822 the Hudson River Line was created.

We estimate that by 1850 there were at least 8 lines or individual ships you could use to book a trip to New York City.

After the Civil War came the golden age of Hudson River steamships. Two dominate lines emerged – the Hudson River and the People’s Line. Ships turned into floating palaces, with multiple restaurants, entertainment, promenade decks, attentive service.

The legendary ships in the period between 1870 and early 1900 were the “Daniel Drew”, “Dean Richmond”, “Hendrick Hudson”, “The Adirondack”, “The Berkshire”, “The Peter Stuyvesant”, “The DeWitt Clinton” and “The New York”. The People’s Night Line grew in popularity into the early 1930s.

The iconic ticket office of the Day Line was built in the early 1900s on Broadway. Mr. Elmendorf, the ticket master, was a legendary figure in downtown for decades.

The Hudson Navigation Co. invested in major docking and sheds in Steamboat Square (an area for passenger boat landings from the early 1800s) in 1918.

But ultimately the proliferation of the automobile, better roads, and improvements in railroads and better amenities killed the Hudson River steamship lines.

Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor

Happy Birthday Herman Melville!


Melville 3

Although not a native son, he spent his teenage years in Albany, so we claim him as ours.

melville 1.1His mother, Maria Gansevoort, was the daughter of Peter Gansevoort (“the hero of Ft. Stanwix”) and member of the Albany elite. General Gansevoort defeated forces of British Officer Barry St. Leger during the Battle of Oriskany in August 1777, preventing St. Leger from aiding General Burgoyne, a major factor in the American ability to win the Battles of Saratoga later that fall. His father, Allan Melville, was the son of Thomas Melville, member of the Boston Tea Party and a ranking American officer in the Revolutionary War.

melville 5When Allan was in his early 20’s he started a fancy goods import business in NYC that became very successful. He sailed to Europe many times to source products; his journal indicates he traveled over 48,000 miles in 22 years (that wanderlust proved to be genetic).

melville 15Allen and Maria married in 1814 in the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany on the corner of N. Pearl and Orange streets (the same building you see today, erected in 1798) and the church  attended by Alexander Hamilton when he was in Albany with his wife, Eliza. Allen moved the business to Albany, but it didn’t thrive. Maria was reluctant to go to NYC, and they moved to Boston, but business competition was fierce. Finally in 1818, Maria agreed to move to New York, where Herman was born in 1819.

Both Allan and Maria were, to put it bluntly, snobs. They never felt they were able to assume the position in society in New York to which they both felt they were entitled. (She was descended from a long line of Dutch aristocracy and they were both descendants of Revolutionary War heroes.) This sentiment, coupled with disastrous investments by Allan and a nationwide economic downturn, forced their return to Albany in 1830.

The family lived in several houses on Broadway between 1830 and 1833, including an upscale house on the corner of Broadway and Steuben. Allan went to work for his brother-in-law Peter. Chafing under Peter’s control, yet still struggling under great debt, he borrowed money and established a fur and cap store on Broadway.

melville 14Herman seems to have thrived in Albany; he continued his education at the Albany Academy (located in the Joseph Henry Building that houses the City School district offices today), roamed the countryside, watched the ships ply the Albany Basin and the Erie Canal lock, and spent time with his Melville and Gansevoort cousins in the Albany area and in the Berkshires.

Yet Allan’s business limped along during the Depression of 1832. On his return from an unsuccessful trip to secure merchandise on credit from NYC merchants, Allan fell ill and died.

Melville 16

mlville 4The family was almost penniless and besieged by creditors. They moved to a smaller house at 3 Clinton Square. What then followed for Herman was a 6 year cycle of intermittent enrollment at the Albany Classical Institute on N. Pearl St. and the Albany Academy and work – as a clerk for the State Bank (his uncle Peter was a Trustee), for the family business and later as a school teacher.

Melville 6Herman’s older brother, Gansevoort took over the family fur business after their father’s death; Herman went to work for him. Then in 1834 the factory that supplied the business, located near Beaver Creek in what is now Lincoln Park, was destroyed by fire. Gansevoort re-built and for a short time all was well and Herman re-enrolled in the Albany Academy. But again, the economy collapsed in the Panic of 1837. The family business went bankrupt and Herman, now 16, went to teach school in Lenox, Mass.

His sojourn in the Berkshires lasted only months and he returned to his mother’s house in Clinton Square. In 1838, his mother moved to Lansingburgh and Herman enrolled in the Lansingburgh Academy, earning a certificate as surveyor. He searched for permanent work, but was unsuccessful. He spent more time by the docks, and finally in June 1839, sailed as a cabin boy on ship setting off for Liverpool.

In 1841 he signed on to his first whaling ship, the Achusnet, and journeyed to the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific. He sailed and roamed the South Seas for about 4 years, came home and started writing.

melville 2His greatest novel “Moby Dick” was written in 1851. And without it we would not have the ubiquitous string of coffee houses, named after the Chief Mate, Starbuck, from ” Moby Dick” (the name was selected by the founders- a history teacher, an English teacher and a writer).


melville 9

Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor

More local connections to Alexander Hamilton and his wife, Elizabeth (Eliza) Schuyler

President Fillmore’s wife, Abigail, died not long his term ended. In 1858, Millard Fillmore married charming widow Caroline Carmichael McIntosh. Her late husband, Ezekiel McIntosh, was a wealthy merchant and president of the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad. In 1844, Ezekiel McIntosh had purchased the Schuyler Mansion from John Bryant (whose old 1824 property marker can still be seen at the edge of Academy Park) who, in turn, had purchased the Mansion from the heirs of General Philip Schuyler. So Millard Filmore married his second wife in the exact same parlor where Alexander and Eliza had married seventy-eight years earlier.



Albany Rural Cemetery’s Alexander Hamilton Connections

“We rowed across the Hudson at dawn.”

The Hamilton-Burr Duel took place on this date – July 11, 1804. While Hamilton is buried in Manhattan’s Trinity Churchyard, the Albany Rural Cemetery has several ties to the infamous duel.

Alexander Hamilton was, of course, married to Elizabeth (Eliza) Schuyler, daughter of one of Albany’s best known historical figures. General Philip Schuyler, who lost his 1791 Congressional re-election bid to Aaron Burr, died just four months after his son-in-law was killed. After having his grave moved several times over the years, he was laid to rest at Albany Rural in Lot 66, Section 29.

Eliza’s sister, Margaret “Peggy” Schuyler eloped with the young Patroon, Stephen Van Rensselaer. She died at the age of 42 in 1801. She is buried in the Van Rensselaer vault in Lot 1, Section 14. Fans of the musical, Hamilton: An American Musical sometimes leave notes, flowers, and coins on the monument.

John Tayler, who served as Governor of New York for four months in 1817, and his son-in-law, Dr. Charles D. Cooper, are both buried in a family plot in Lot 15, Section 19. The comments by Hamilton which ultimately led to the duel were made at a dinner at John Tayler’s home and were reported to the Albany Evening Register (and reprinted in the New York Post) in a letter by Dr. Cooper. General Schuyler, who was also at the dinner with Hamilton, refuted the remarks in his own letters to both papers, but it did not prevent the duel.

Two decades after the duel, Aaron Burr resided in the mansion-turned-boarding house which today houses the Fort Orange Club. At the time, it was owned by the Soulden family. They are buried in Lot 22, Section 61.

General Philip Schuyler, Lot 66, Section 29

Margaret “Peggy” Schuyler Van Rensselaer, Lot 1, Section 14

John Tayler and Dr. Charles D. Cooper, Lot 15, Section 19


From Paula Lemire’s Facebook Page  Albany Rural Cemetery – Beyond the Graves

Happy 260th Birthday to Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

Happy 260th Birthday to Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

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zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz20746107_1395903553791236_3537085446982887756_oThe family moved into a new house, the Schuyler Mansion in the Pastures, at the south end of the City limits when she was about 8.



zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz20729076_1395903600457898_2562277596429461261_oIn early 1780, while on a visit to her aunt in Morristown , N.J. she and Alexander Hamilton became a “thing”.





zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz20643251_1395903680457890_5642000104105953377_oAfter a swift and intense courtship, they married later that year when she was 23 In December in the parlor of the Mansion.




Although Hamilton was killed tragically in the duel with Burr in 1804 Elizabeth lived another 50 years, devoted to charitable works and preserving her husband’s legacy.

Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor