How Penn Central Ruined Everything, Railwise (or why we don’t have a railroad station in Albany)

8Those who remember Albany’s Union Station as a glorious destination in the ’50s and ’60s most likely benefit from the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. A 1969 column in the Knickerbocker News acknowledged that “In its dying days, Albany’s Union Station was an odiferous and dingy cavern, but still, if you looked hard, you could see traces of the station’s earlier grandeur.” If you grew up later than the ’70s, you may not be able to understand just how dingy cities were back then – between coal ash, diesel fumes, and the horrendous exhaust that came out of each and every automobile, every structure was covered in soot. Likely the exterior of Union Station had never been cleaned, and by some accounts the same could be said of the inside.

We hesitate to even bring this up because it excites passions even today, nearly 50 years after passenger railroads left Albany proper. But it’s worth looking at what caused Union Stations in Albany and Schenectady to be left behind, two “modern” new stations to be built in Rensselaer and Colonie, and the general collapse of passenger rail at about the same time.

For starters, understand that in the 1960s, passenger rail was deeply unprofitable, under assault from air travel, private automobiles, and truck freight on superhighways. The Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central had discussed merging as early as 1957, when things weren’t quite so dire. The Pennsylvania started focusing more on real estate deals than on railroading, resulting in the destruction of its landmark Penn Station in New York City. When merger talks began again, they were said to be more about creating more borrowing power for financing other ventures than about consolidating an efficient business. The merger was federally approved in 1965, but took until early 1968 before the US Supreme Court finally allowed it. The merger apparently was never well-planned; the condition that all existing workers continue in employment ensured no efficiency would be gained, and a struggling economy, growing inflation and bad management of the freight business alienated customers. By 1970, the company would be bankrupt, and its collapse would lead to the federal creation of Conrail and Amtrak.

 

13As early as 1950, there were plans to run an interstate highway along the Hudson River around Albany. Planned routes varied, but they kept coming back to plans that would eliminate most of the rail along the river. This would be difficult to do so long as the main rail crossing was the Maiden Lane Bridge – the highway would have to go over or under the tracks that connected the bridge to Union Station, causing some definite planning difficulties and leading state transportation officials to favor a plan that would simply eliminate that bridge.

11

As we have noted before, the Rensselaer side of the river had a long history of passenger travel, though it could not really be said that it had anything approximating a station in 1968. Albany was home not only to the New York Central / Penn Central passenger line, but also to the Delaware and Hudson line that ran through Watervliet and Mechanicville to Montreal. With the loss of the Maiden Lane bridge, both railroads had the excuse and reason to get out of an outdated, expensive-to-maintain station facility at Albany; the Schenectady station would also be closed. But, if the Maiden Lane Bridge had to go, trains still had to be able to cross the river, meaning the Livingston Avenue Bridge, which had been locked open for a period of years, would be brought back into service. Being single track, this would become a choke point on the system, but at least trains could cross.

14In 1967, the PSC approved a Penn Central proposal to replace the Albany and Schenectady rail palaces with “modern” new stations at Rensselaer, off East Street, and on Karner Road. Look at the accompanying drawing from 1967 and take a guess if that was ever built. Plans were submitted in February 1968 for a Colonie station, the Karner Road Depot, which would consist of a 30 by 50 foot building with a 960 foot platform, and a parking lot 100 by 250 feet. Rensselaer, originally designated as a passenger stop (way different from a station in railroad terms) would have a 65 by 170 foot building and a parking lot 230 by 350 feet. For the D&H, loss of the Maiden Lane bridge forced the Montreal line to bypass the Watervliet and Mechanicville stations, which at that time averaged two passengers per day, and go instead through Schenectady and up to Saratoga Springs. In September 1968, the PSC allowed the D&H to move across the river as well.

It was a good thing they did . . . in the same newspaper that this was announced, there was a photograph of the dismantling of the pedestrian footbridge that was part of the Maiden Lane Bridge. The cutline read, “If grandmother’s house lies over the river you’ll have to use a new route – other than Maiden Lane Bridge from Albany to Rensselaer – to get there on foot. The 1880-vintage footbridge is being dismantled. But pedestrian facilities will be added to the new South Mall Arterial Bridge.” (That’s now the Dunn Memorial Bridge, and while it is possible to cross it on foot, to call the crossing in any way a facility is to stretch the point.)

The Rensselaer station opened sometime in 1968, a box next to a grocery store that served as the region’s rail station until 2002. That Knick News columnist who in early 1969 called Union Station “odiferous” also said that

“In contrast, the Penn Central’s new Albany-Rensselaer station in Rensselaer is – with all due respect to our neighboring city – a rude comedown and a ride to the new station is a dispiriting experience. Situated at the northern edge of Rensselaer, the station is reached after a bumpy ride over narrow streets. It looks more like a small-town depot for short-haul buses than a railroad station and is tucked away in a shallow ravine as if the Penn Central were ashamed at what it had done, as well it might be. Let us hope that the railroad’s new Albany-Schenectady regional station on Karner Road in Colonie has more class.”

Well, one could hope.

On June 27, 1969, on the eve of the opening of the Colonie station, the Schenectady Gazette ran an editorial lamenting but understanding the march of time.

“When you look at the crumbling station you are reminded of the days when freight trains and passenger trains were coming and going night and day through Schenectady … It is understandable that Penn Central wanted to close the Schenectady depot, for, like most railroad stations built half a century or more ago, it is a large mausoleum which no doubt impressed everybody when it was constructed but which is thoroughly impractical for this day and age, costing a mint of money to heat and to keep in satisfactory repair (which is why there are not many people who want to buy it to make use of it as it stands).”

Visit the Hoxsie.org blog for more fascinating stories of Albany.

17

National Hat Day – Albany NY

234

6710

111213

15

18

161417

 

8

9

2320

25.jpg24

22

21

The Story of Owney; Albany’s World Famous Post Office Dog

Owney has his own exhibit at the National Postal Museum in the Smithsonian and his own “Forever” stamp, issued by the the U.S. Postal Service in 2011. Owney even has his own song, “”Owney – Tales From The Rails”, recorded by the country singer Trace Adkins.

I grew up with the story of Owney. My Grandmother’s uncle was a postal clerk at the Albany Post Office downtown in the old Federal Building at State and Broadway. (That’s the huge Victorian pile of a building that now houses SUNY Central Administration offices.)

When Owney wasn’t riding the rails he would come home with various postal workers, including Uncle Charlie, and was the toast of the town. A restaurant close to the P.O. kept the choicest bones for Owney.

Owney wore a silver tag, “Owney Albany Post-Office, Albany NY” and the Post Master General of of the U.S. ordered a harness for Owney to attach the medals and tags he accumulated as he traveled the U.S. and the world.

We think we need an Owney Day to celebrate this world famous Albany dog.

Labor Day 2017 – the Faces of Albany Labor; We Built This City

If  you want to see more pics, take a deep dive in our Flickr site: AlbanyGroup Archive

 

29156182616_52a7b2b324_b3 labor 1 (2)9332559684_01de3c09f6_b jim burns

 

labor 2226715176783_e5a0741d5e_b 1954labor 26labor 36labor 11 united shoew repair 508 broadway

labor 40

labor 46labor 77

labor 195 state and jameslabor 1905

labor 1920 2

labor 1920

labor 1931labor 1950slabor 1957labor Building northen Boulavrd brisge 1896

labor albany hardarw and iron TU

1 labor 1934  labor Health lab yates st circ 1912

labor 25 untc jospeh smithlabor madison and lark

labor school 24labor street cleaninglabor TUlabor state college home ec

labor 4

labor paving chapel st 1897labor 22 cwntral supply amchlabor 5labor 7labor 12 1923 paul duerr's beauty parlorlabor 12 1923 gavit & co engravers, 36-38 beaver streetlabor 15labor 16 al cavalierilabor 18

labor 20 patsy'slabor 1963labor 26labor 88.jpglabor 29labor 1875

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz7zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz34235738653_7646484512_bzzzz

labor t.e. lansley express office, howard street 1899zzzzz9999.jpgzzz35407560474_668ebe3d0e_blabor 1901labor 1974labor 1890s

labor 22 cwntral supply amchlabor 1911labor 1920labor 1930slabor 1940s killipslabor 1950slabor 1970labor albany express newspaperlabor brady 1920labor cardinal near whithall 1930slabor NYCRR  1937.jpgLabor cocalabor policelanor Howe Library 1920s apllabor jobe draperies 1964 Lyon Buildinglabor dan's place  1999.jpglabor NYS teachers retirement system 1956Labor matthew Bender law books c 1900 511-513 Broadway albany nyLabor Kelly's pharmacy  1950s  N. alen and kent.jpglaborlabor lc smith maidlen lanelabor sicialino's market central  near northern earlu 1900s.jpglabor 9Labor albany high janitorial staff 1950s

A History of Albany’s Pine Hills

done 2

(Drafted in 1977, Author Unknown)

2,2Until the turn of this century, the Pine Hills district of Albany (an area bounded by Manning Boulevard, Lake, Woodlawn and Washington Avenues) was a sparsely settled region. Fifty years earlier the chief development and activity in the area centered on “The Point”; the intersection of Madison and Western Avenues, and the Great Western Turnpike. It was at “the Point” in 1831 that this country’s first scheduled passenger train boarded for the Albany-Schenectady run.

4 (2)

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz33724300956_7566e6ccb6_b

After 1841, when the depot was moved to downtown Albany, “The Point” became less important The Great Western Turnpike (now Western Avenue), a plank-covered toll road chartered in 1799 and connecting Albany and New York City with the West, was also a significant transportation route. This road carried many travelers, including cattlemen of western New York State, who drove their animals to the port facilities of Hudson River for shipment downstate. To accommodate the turnpike and locomotive traffic, the Rising Sun and Sloan’s Hotel, among others, were built along these lines. Overall, a rural landscape with a scattering of building characterized the area.

4.4By 1871, only 1 shop and 8 wooden dwellings stood along entire south side of Washington Avenue between Quail and Allen Streets, while Madison Avenue was a little more densely settled; 33 buildings and 1 church along the same distance. Most of these buildings were located on the large farms that predominated regionally. The major institution in the area was a school for orphaned boys founded by Christian Brothers in 1853 on the side of the present-day LaSalle School.

Soon after the American Civil War, construction of Washington Park was undertaken. The reasons given for building the park included the beliefs that “cleanliness, fresh air, the presence of vegetation are essential to health; … that a beautiful park in any city is a great moral power and does more than any criminal courts or policeman to repress crime.” According to one city official it was done because “a park would greatly benefit our city and contribute to the enjoyment and comfort of our citizens while it would be evidence that our city is embedded with some of the spirit of progress that is necessary for it in order to become a rival of other municipalities and offer inducements encouraging instead of repelling emigration.” By February of 1871, the appointed Washington Park Commissioners realized a need for the “bringing of the north, south and center of the city, into easy and intimate approach to the park grounds when completed.”

From among several studies commissioned for this purpose, they ultimately adopted a plan for a boulevard, which was to encircle much of the city. For various reasons, the only portion of this drive to be completed was the section of Manning Boulevard located within Pine Hills. (This roadway was originally called Northern Boulevard; it was later renamed for Daniel Manning, a former park commissioner and Secretary of the Treasury under President Grover Cleveland.)

Construction of the Northern Boulevard began on January 1, 1876. The Mayor and Chief of Police submitted the names of “men needy and in positive want” who would otherwise have been “a charge of the city poor fund, with no labor performed to show for it” to the Park Commissioners from these lists they hired work crews. The man were paid a “living wage” of $1.50 per day and entire crews were frequently changed “to insure a more general distribution of the work and a more equable distribution of the funds.” Such changes often caused the suspension of all roadwork for several days. Despite these delays, a mile-long section of the thoroughfare was completed in 1878. The width varied from 66 to 150 feet; the street was bordered by trees, paved sidewalks and bridle paths.

At about the same time and in response to the long-standing complaints and petitions of the property owners about the condition of the plank road, the commissioners decided to transform Western Avenue into a grand approach to the park. The 40 feet wide turnpike was paved with granite block; water, gas and sewer mains were installed; and Norway maples were planted at intervals of forty feet. The Park Commissioners retained responsibility for street cleaning and tree-trimming; to aid them, laws were passed prohibiting the hitching of horses to trees and the driving of animals along the road or sidewalks.19

Although these road improvements attracted pleasure drivers and horse racers, they did not spur any immediate population growth in Pine Hills. An ordinance of 1878 prohibiting land owners on Western Avenue from permitting “any cattle, sheep, pigs, geese, hens or ducks … to run at-large upon the same (Western Avenue),” was indicative of the rural character of the area. The major portion of Albany’s population remained settled below Eagle Street.

6As a result of the development of Washington Park and expanded transportation lines, new construction after 1875 centered on the park and continually moved westward. In 1875, the horse car line, Albany’s “rapid transit system” (similar to a trolley but drawn by animals), was extended up Madison Avenue between Lark and Quail Streets. Eleven years later the line reached Partridge Street, indicating some demand for service in the area. However, the trip was so long and difficult because of the rough terrain, that it required over an hour of time and several changes of horses.

15.6

13 845 madison 1900 steve riderBy 1886, the horsecar line passed by the newly developed “Brady Row” and “Paigeville”, rows of wooden structures located on Madison and Western Avenues (near Ontario Street) which housed the working-class families of the West Albany railroad shops.

 

 

1.2A more fashionable residential area above Partridge Street began to develop in the 1880’s. One example of the changes then taking place was the growth of the area bounded by Partridge Street, Western, Madison and Main Avenues. This land was once called “Twickenham”, the farm of Andrew E. Brown, a well-known citizen of Albany. Each spring Brown moved his family of ten children from their home at #2 Clinton Place to their “country” residence. Brown commuted to his downtown office through the summer. In the 1880’s following Andrew Brown’s death, his heir subdivided Twickenham and sold the smaller lots.

Rapid development took place; eight new residences were constructed along Madison Avenue (#943-979) between 1884 and 1889. These homes were freestanding and rather good examples of the Queen Anne- style then in vogue. They were built by families such as the Goodes, Hagamans and Keelers, prominent in Albany business circles. These people were attracted to the rural quality of the Pine Hills where it was still possible to meet with neighbors at Keeler’s Lake for hockey, ice skating and tobogganing on the nearby hills.

15.3

1.1About 1889, two lawyers, Gaylord Logan and Lewis Pratt, attempted a rather farsighted development scheme. Borrowing $100,000 from a local bank, they purchased the McIntyre and Hawkins farms, roughly the area bounded by Allen and Cortland Streets, Washington Avenue and Manning Boulevard. They subdivided the land into generous lots of 50′ x 200′ each; mapped out streets; planted trees; paved roads with Trinidad asphalt; laid flagstone sidewalks; installed tile drains, water and gas mains.

The transportation to the area was improved in 1890 was the trolley lines were electricity to Partridge Street. By 1891, the Albany Land Improvement Company (Pratt & Logan) were ready to auction “villa lots at Pine Hills” for $840 each. Pratt and Logan were the first to designate this area as Pine Hills, named for several groves of pine trees on the hilltops of Western Avenue. The extensive promotional material for the area stressed its street improvements, healthful surroundings, available rapid transit, the villa residences, and its covenants “which will forever prevent the use of the property for business purposes or the sale of intoxicating liquors.” With these restrictions, Pratt and Logan were the forerunners of the concept of zoning in Albany. Unfortunately for the lawyers, the country slid into a depression in 1893. Demand for land and new homes dropped, the bank foreclosed on the mortgage, leaving the two entrepreneurs’ property-less. The bank later sold the land at prices much lower than the actual value.

9 steamer 10Despite the personal failure of the two promoters, the Pine Hills future as a fashionable semi-suburban area had been established. “Detached villas” built from the plentiful wood supply of the Adirondacks continued to go up, now at an accelerated pace. By 1900, there were 31 wooden and 3 brick structures on the south side of Madison Avenue between Partridge and Allen Streets: 16 wooden, 4 stone and 2 brick buildings on the north side. Similarly, on Western Avenue the total number of structures between Partridge and Allen Streets had jumped from 6 in 1890 to 27 in 1900. Other improvements in the growing neighborhood included the construction of Engine House #10 at the “The Point” in 1891 and School #4 at Madison Avenue and Ontario the following years.

9

The less prosperous sections of Pine Hills had also grown: Brady Row consisted of 21 wooden row houses in 1890; Paigeville had 17 wooden and 2 brick dwellings.

3The predominantly Catholic families who inhabited these areas founded St. Vincent’s Church (now Albany’s largest Catholic Parish) in 1887. The congregation met in a wooden structure on the southwest corner of Madison Avenue and Partridge Street, which had been purchased from a Baptist group.

12.3In 1897, St Andrew’s Episcopal Church was erected at the south corner of Main and Western over objections by some members that the site was too remote.

By the end of the century a fair-sized community populated the Pine Hills. In 1900, concerned citizens gathered to form the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association; their aim was to improve the area and foster a community spirit. “Improvements” included the solution to problems such as “the dumping of dead horses to lie unburied just west of (Manning) Boulevard.” A serious “problem” was the encroachment upon the areas by institutions considered undesirable by the majority of Pine Hills’ residents.

3.3

10 3 In 1902 the Aurania Club was founded in direct response to the proposed buildings of the Hospital of the Incurables in the area. The club vigorously raised the necessary funds, purchased the disputed site from the hospital and built a clubhouse on the property. This response was similar to that take against an attempt to construct a school for the deaf and dumb at North Pine Avenue and Lancaster Streets in the 1890’s. At that time, the citizenry had successfully opposed the idea, citing the school as commercial in character. The Pine Hills residents evidently meant to adhere to the restrictions on the use of the area originally proposed by Pratt and Logan.

16     However, commercial enterprises were not kept out entirely. In 1902, Matthew Tiernan, began operating the Pine Hills Pharmacy at #1116 Madison Avenue. Within a few years, Johnston and Linsley’s Grocery was established. Public facilities were expanded in 1906 with the construction of School #16 on North Allen Street and the extension of the trolley car line to Manning Boulevard.

15By 1910, many of the sand hills that had formerly been used for winter sports activities had been terraced into lawns of residences along Allen, Morris and Yates Streets in addition to Main and South Pine Avenues. Madison Avenue was rather densely built-up on both sides of the street between Quail and Allen Streets. Western Avenue contained 56 structures and 1 church on its south side and 59 buildings plus the boy’s asylum on the north side (Quail to Allen Streets). Washington Avenue, however, remained rather sparsely settled with only 26 structures on both sides of the street and the over the same distance. Here, cemeteries and large tracts of vacant land prevailed.

 

 

done 4The war years slowed the growth of the Pine Hills although St. Vincent’s elementary school was founded in 1917. The post-war boom years were the great stimulus to expansion. In 1921, Vincentian High School was established. Four years later, a new speculator to the area, William Kattrein of the Watervliet Tool Company, purchased the farmland near Marion Avenue. Kattrein proceeded to build and sells homes on the development.

7 pine hils

4 1920sIn the same year, buses replaced many of the trolley lines in the area, although the trolley west of Allen Street remained in operation until 1946. The two decades from 1910 to 1930 had seen continued construction and growth along Madison and Western Avenues. Washington had experienced a building boom; over 100 structures lined it in 1930, where only 26 had stood in 1910.

9 moran hall st. roseA new element entering the area was the College of St. Rose. Founded in 1920 as a “small, independent, liberal arts college: for women, the school began with only 19 students and one building, #979 Madison Avenue. However, the school steadily expanded. A history of the college states that:

“…. The accumulation of extensive property was gradual. Sometimes it was acquired through necessity which meant an expenditure in excess of its worth … Other pieces were acquired when neighbors (not always congenial) sought location elsewhere; then there was the rare occasion when a real buy in the real estate presented itself. Not always were the administrators of Saint Rose able to acquire this property and many purchases were sponsored by the Provincial House of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Troy, N.Y.”

The college also began to undertake entirely new building programs; in 1923-24, St. Joseph’s Hall (# 983 Madison Avenue) was constructed as a classroom-laboratory facility. In later years, other classroom and dormitory buildings would be constructed, occasionally at the expense of older buildings existing on the property.

Today, ten of thousands of automobile pass by the “The Point” each day. Commercial establishments are common, even predominant, along some sections of Madison Avenue. Many of the former “villas” have been converted to multi-family dwellings housing over 15,000 persons, including 5,000 families in the area. Although they have lost the battle of retaining an exclusive, fashionable suburb, the Aurania Club and the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association remain active. Furthermore, the College of St. Rose, now coeducational, appears to be flourishing, having recently undertaken several major building projects. Unfortunately, the influx of students (from various local colleges) seeking off-campus housing is causing some of the Pine Hills’ residents to look for homes elsewhere. The Pine Hills has few pine trees left and is no longer remote. The suburb has become part of the city and now faces all the challenges attendant upon urban life.

Late 1920s -1940s

12.7

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz9331809188_2b5d159ca5_b

17

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz11468246226_24fc5b4ec7_b

1950s -1970s

14.2

2219

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz11468244786_afa92ea6d5_b

20

12 8

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz14445739886_a698b78700_o

10

 

The Fascinating History of the Livingston Avenue Bridge- Local Politics and a National Fortune

The Livingston Avenue Bridge is the graceful and anachronistic swing bridge that carries trains across the Hudson River at Albany and still swings open to let larger ships reach Troy. The account of how the Bridge came to be built is fascinating, as it relates to how things get done in Albany and the role it played in American history.

The earliest bridge across the Hudson, at Waterford, was completed in 1804, by Theodore Burr, but the bridge was far from the population centers of Albany and Troy. NYS legislation was introduced in 1814 to provide a bridge near Albany, but Troy objected, believing it would obstruct navigation to Troy. Over 50 years, during which the Erie Canal opened and railroads were invented, squabbles over the bridge and its location continued. Meanwhile, people crossed the Hudson River by ferry boat. (That’s why there are North and South Ferry streets in Albany.) Even Lincoln’s funeral train car came across from Rensselaer to Albany by boat.

After decades the Hudson River Bridge Company was finally incorporated in 1856 for the purpose of erecting and maintaining a railroad bridge from Albany to the opposite shore. The bridge was to be set at least 25 feet above the common tide, “so as to allow under it the free passage of canal-boats and barges without masts, with a draw of sufficient width to admit the free passage of the largest vessels navigating the river.” (The “draw” is the bridge section that moves.)

But bridge opponents didn’t give up. A lawsuit seeking to restrain the Company reached the U.S. Supreme Court. And as late as March 8, 1864, a legislative amendment proposing to reduce the width of the draw was taken up in the state Senate, the subject of a speech by longtime opponent Major General Daniel E. Sickles, a legend of a man.*

done12725025884_1b811a83bf_bEnter titan of the Gilded Age, Cornelius Vanderbilt (a/k/a The Commodore). At the start of the Civil War Vanderbilt realized that a transcontinental railroad would slash travel time from coast-to-coast by months and understood the importance of railroads when the War ended. He sold most of his shipping interests to invest in railroad lines, including the Hudson River Railroad line, controlled by Erastus Corning, great grandfather of Albany’s long term Mayor Erastus Corning II. The bridge was finally built.

The first engine, the Augustus Schell, passed over the bridge on February 18, 1866. Passenger trains started using it on February 22. The bridge had no particular name (and no need for one, being the only bridge). It spanned 1,953 feet, with a draw 257 feet wide — and cost $750,000, a nifty 50 percent overrun from its allocation of a decade earlier.

done original_livingston_ave_bridge_harpers_weekly

Now Vanderbilt made his move. It was brilliant. He owned the only bridge across the Hudson, leading in and out of New York City – the gateway to the country’s largest port. He cut off the bridge to rival railroad traffic. Without the bridge, every other railroad was shut out of NYC, Before their stocks become worthless, the rival rail road presidents try to sell their shares. When Wall Street realizes, there’s a massive sell off. And when the price fell, Vanderbilt buys their stock for pennies. In just days, he creates the largest single railroad company in America which was to become the New York Central Railroad, controlling 40% of the nation’s rail lines. (When Vanderbilt died he was the worth about $200 billion in today’s dollars, making him the richest man in America at the time.)

done new_york_central_railroad_map-600

And STILL there was wrangling over the Bridge. A NYS law passed in 1868 directing the bridge company to build a new bridge and to demolish the previous bridge as soon as possible. If it did not do so, Albany or Troy had the right to do so and bill the company. Something must have changed by 1869, however, as another act authorizing a new bridge was passed. The Upper or North Bridge remained and was joined by another bridge at the foot of Maiden Lane in Albany, which opened 1871. Less than a year after that, in October 1872, the Union Depot opened. (The “new” Union Station that stands on that spot was constructed in 1899.)

 

10111048343_aca0ecfb65_bdone Upper hudson Bridge 1891

Edone 16923486288_16cbcb2046_bventually the two bridges were given specific assignments: the lower bridge, the Maiden Lane Railroad Bridge (demolished c 1971), with its easier access to the Depot, carried passengers: the upper bridge carried freight and foot traffic (at two cents a crossing). It skirted Arbor Hill and allowed trains to barrel through Tivoli Hollow to destinations in the west.

 

There are claims that the Upper Bridge, which eventually came to be known as the Livingston Avenue Bridge (for the adjacent street that then ran all the way to the waterfront), dates to the 1866. Not exactly; the superstructure is from 1901. A letter in The Bridgemen’s Magazine in July, 1902, indicated that:

“The A.B. [American Bridge] Co. are making fine progress with the Livingston avenue bridge across the Hudson. The last through span has been riveted up and there remains but seven girder spans to go in on this contract, besides the draw, which will be placed in position after the close of navigation.”

It’s not clear if the limestone piers from the original bridge were maintained, or perhaps reduced in number; through filling, the river is now considerably less wide and the bridge appears to have only eight or nine piers. But the current piers look so much like those of its predecessor it’s quite likely the piers are original

FYI – a third span across the Hudson, the Greenbush Bridge, was constructed in 1882 by a private company that initially charged a toll. That Bridge was replaced by the Dunn Memorial Bridge in 1933, named after World War I Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Parker Dunn, from Albany. That was demolished in 1971, following the completion of the current bridge of the same name in circa 1968.

30271263365_22d426610f_b

*Sickles was a very interesting and notorious guy with a penchant for the ladies. He served in the NYS Senate and U.S. Congress. While in Congress he killed Francis Scott Key’s son in a love triangle and invented, with attorney Edwin Stanton, the temporary insanity defense. He went on to serve in the Civil War, lost a leg and won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Gettysburg. A very full life.

Thanks to Carl Johnson and his post in Alloveralbany.com from 2011 for much of the information included here.