Friday, August 28, 2009

Day Trip - Mohawk Meets Hudson

We did these on different days, but together they'd make a perfect daytrip. To get a lay of the land, this aerial view on the Tug 44 site is worth a look.

The new Falls View Park at Cohoes Falls is fantastic [N. Mohawk St, Cohoes]. (Check the Cohoes Falls Webcam to see if there's water - the image is only updated three times a day - can't imagine why.)

The Waterford Locks are very interesting [park near Broad St. and 5th]. Their Tugboat Roundup is coming up on Sept. 11-13, 2009. I like the views in these old postcards: Images of the Erie Canal in Cohoes - especially this Birdseye View of Cohoes in 1859.

We walked over the bridge from Waterford to Peebles Island State Park [Peebles Island Drive] and did a hike around the island (saw dragonflies, deer, chipmunks, and fish). New York State's Historic Preservation & Conservation Headquarters is on Peebles Island, and they're having an Open House on Sept. 12.

Any suggestions for a good, casual lunch place in Waterford (or Cohoes) would be appreciated - we're tired of the pizza place.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Learn About Nanotech

UAlbany NanoCollege and CDTA Partner to Display Educational Nanotechnology Exhibit at Rensselaer Rail Station (duplicate press release at New Energy New York)

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering ("CNSE") of the University at Albany and the Capital District Transportation Authority ("CDTA") are partnering to publicize the global leadership of the UAlbany NanoCollege and New York State in nanotechnology - as well as the growing impact of nanoscale technologies in the 21st century - through a unique exhibit now on display at the Rensselaer Rail Station [525 East Street, Rensselaer, NY].

The exhibit - which incorporates high-tech items from CNSE's world-class Albany NanoTech Complex, such as silicon wafers, computer chips and biochips, and solar and fuel cells with nanotechnology-enabled consumer products, including an Xbox, iPod Touch, clothing and cosmetics - will be located through September at CDTA's Rensselaer Rail Station, the 10th-busiest station in the country, serving more than 830,000 people last year.

Other local learning opportunities include RPI's animated planetarium show Molecularium, Riding Snowflakes at the Children's Musem of Science and Technology [250 Jordan Road, Troy]. A new Molecularium show (Molecules to the Max in 3D) will be released in IMAX format this fall.

To see more real-world applications of nanotechnology, check out the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, which maintains inventories of nanotech-based products. Here's a snapshot from their interactive NanoMetro Map of nano-related research and industry.
Nanotechnology Map Highlights: The top 4 states overall (each with over 75 entries) are California, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Disney's Dickens Train

On September 22, Rensselaer will host a national whistle stop train tour for Disney's upcoming holiday movie, A Christmas Carol (opens Nov. 6). This free traveling exhibit gives behind-the-scenes information and also includes a museum of artifacts on loan from the Charles Dickens Museum in London.

Disney's A Christmas Carol Train Tour
Albany/Rensselaer, NY – Tue., Sept. 22, 2009, 9am-7pm
Rensselaer Amtrak Station, 525 East Street, Rensselaer, NY
Admission is Free

Monday, August 24, 2009

August 21, 1909 - Vaudeville by Rail

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

In 1909, Electric Park in Kinderhook, NY was a popular destination less than an hour south of Rensselaer via the Albany & Hudson Railroad. Such amusement parks were common in the US, and were built by the railroads as destinations to boost ridership. In addition to amusement rides and water sports, there was a theater with vaudeville acts.

Another Good Bill at the Park

That Manager Dikehaus has made good is the opinion of all who have visited Electric Park since he took charge and judging from his theatre offerings this week nothing but the best acts obtainable are to be presented during the remainder of the season. ... He is now busy booking acts for next week and says that he will offer as the headline attraction the Six Satsudas, a sextette of marvelous Japanese equilibrists and manipulators. ... Mr. Dikehaus showed his determination to please the patrons of the rustic theatre this week when he secured the Three Lucifers, the European comedy grotesques. Like Larose & Lagusta they have caused a sensation at the park and next week the success is sure to be repeated by the Six Satsudas. The Three Lucifers offer a refined singing, dancing and eccentric athletic novelty and those who have not seen the act would do well to visit the park before it is too late. In addition to this big act Carlo's Animal circus is holding forth and then there are Irvin R. Walton, the Mayor of Tanktown; Marie Bergere, character impersonator; Fred Wyckoff, the rube comedian, and new motion views. ...

Albany & Hudson Railroad #22 at
Electric Park Station, Kinderhook, New York,
from the Joseph H. Smith Collection

Click on the photo to zoom in and see how well people dressed for a day at the amusement park. I couldn't find images of any of the vaudeville acts named here, but this video might give you a flavor of the entertainment: Historic Footage- Vaudeville Acts 1898 to 1910. Maybe the "motion views" they watched could have included Mary Pickford in the 1909 film Gibson Goddess.

Earlier "1909" posts about Electric Park include the Memorial Day crowds and the railroad's new hydraulic power plant at Stuyvesant Falls. The Columbia County Museum "Journey to the Past" has some great old postcards from Electric Park, including the carousel, ferris wheel, and roller coaster. The Upstate Earth blog followed and photographed the traces of the old railway in these posts: Albany & Hudson Electric Railway and Following the Albany & Hudson route from Electric Park to Albany.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Summer Storms

Waiting out the summer storm at Angie B's [check out their recent Albany Eats! Review], while my car got a NYS Inspection at Old Tyme Auto. (Good excuse for an ice cream cone.)

Benefit at Eagles

Times-Union: Rensselaer Eagles soar to help fellow members

RENSSELAER -- Their motto is "people helping people' and the Fraternal Order of Eagles will be doing just that this weekend.

The lodge on Broadway invites the public to attend a fundraiser for members Richard Perez and George Bradt, who are suffering from cancer. Funds will also go to the family of Peter Corellis who died June 24 at Community Hospice at St. Peter's Hospital after a long illness.
  • What: A fundraiser for the families of three cancer patients. Will include food, clams, beverages beer and a cash bar.
  • Where: Rensselaer Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aerie 4446, 851 Broadway, Rensselaer.
  • When: 3 p.m. Saturday
  • Admission: $10 at the door
  • Info: 436-4446

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Baby Pool

According to the folks in the Rensselaer, NY FaceBook Group, the "Baby Pool" at the corner of East St. and Fourth Ave. has been a summer tradition since the early 1950's. This year the pool got a makeover with a new surface and a variety of cool new water sprays.

WNYT News Channel 13: Trying to Beat the Heat [with video]

RENSSELAER -- We finally get real summer temperatures with two days in a row above 90 degrees.

We could be on the way to our first official heat wave this year, and the newly-rehabbed water spray park on East Street in Rensselaer is hopping.

The baby pool will be open through Aug. 22nd, and the hours are Mon-Fri,, 11am-7pm and Sat. 12-4pm (closed Sundays).

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 14, 1909 - Boston Island

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

Residences on Boston Island Have Been Disposed of to B. & A.

After having lived for half a century on the Boston Island, which, by the way, is an island no longer, Mrs. Bridget Hanrahan has sold her property, the last tenantable property used for dwelling purposes to the Boston and Albany. The home of Catherine Doran also situated on the island but which has not been used as a home for some time has likewise passed into the company's control. The deal was effected by Geo. H. Russell & Son, and the sale marks the removal of two famous landmarks.

Up to 20 years ago there was a colony of old settlers on the Boston Island, but one by one they died, or moved away, or the steady march of progress caused them to seek other homes. For 10 years back Mrs. Hanrahan was the only one who lived on the island. She resisted many offers to dispose of her property and the company was also refused the Doran property.

It is possible that the property will be used to extend the coach yard.

From Mrs. Doran's 1923 obituary in the Albany Evening Journal:
At one time she lived on what was known as Boston Island, then covered with houses and hotels, where the Boston and Albany Railroad made its terminus and the passengers made their way to and from Albany on ferry boats.

The island was first documented as part of Rensselaerswyck, here described in The history of the city of Albany, New York, By Arthur James Weise, 1884, along with a copy of a part of the Map of Rensselaerswyck 1631.

Opposite Fort Orange on the south point of De Laet's Island are many birds to be shot, geese, swans and cranes. Turkeys frequent the woods. Deer and other game are also there; also wolves but not larger than dogs. On De Laet's Island are many tall and straight trees suitable for making oars.
Wikipedia's listing is for Van Rensselaer Island, but in the early 1900's, articles about "Van Rensselaer Island" referred instead to Castle Island (also known as Westerloo Island) on the Albany side. (There was much publicity about Glenn Curtis, who made an historic flight from Albany to New York City in 1910, taking off from Albany's Van Rensselaer Island).

Wikipedia also shows the names of Kalebacker's Island (I can't find any support for that name), in addition to Boston Island, and B&A Island (named after the Boston & Albany Railroad). These two USGS maps (Troy Quad, SE Corner), show the island in 1893 and later in 1928, long after the waterway was filled in.

The Sixteenth Public Hearing of the Barge Canal Terminal Commission, Sept. 16, 1910, proposed the suitability of Boston Island as the eastern freight terminus of the Barge Canal. There was considerable discussion about the ownership of the parcels, and how the former waterways were filled in by the B&A Railroad. John A. Farrell, Chamber of Commerce President, confirmed the old name of "Van Rensselaer Island", but the group also referred to it as Bonacker's Island. John F. Munger, of the Rensselaer citizens committee, testified:

The old gentleman Bonacker who owned that property erected a couple of ice houses down on this end of the land; he was a very prosperous German. He saved his money and he died leaving his stock and estate and so forth to four or five sons; and as Mr. Lansing has already intimated to you the boys desire the money; and as has often been said, it is only a couple of generations from shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves; they have got into a wrangle over this land in here and the probabilities are that it will be settled by the courts.
(He refers to this prior comment by Assemblyman Bradford R. Lansing, who was apparently a bit of a gossip: "A lot of young fellows coming on there who do want money but who do not want real estate; you cannot run real estate as fast as automobiles." )

Jumping ahead 100 years, here is the July 2009 Final Environmental Impact Statement for DeLaet's Landing (Rensselaer Waterfront Redevelopment). Join the Rensselaer Riverfront Redevelopment Google Group to get future notices from the Department of Planning.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

From the 8th Ward

Rich Mooney (Ward 8 Alderman) just updated his new web site with a big block of news:

Go to Rich's site to see photos from the North End Picnic, as well as the latest news about a restroom for Riverfront Park, the new Rensselaer Library, and the Broadway Infrastructure project.

To supplement, here is the Press Release for the Stimulus Funding for Broadway:
City of Rensselaer (Rensselaer County) – Broadway Infrastructure Improvements. The City of Rensselaer will use $627,224 to replace sewer lines along Broadway.
I think that is less than 10% of the expected cost of the entire Broadway project, but every little bit helps. Here is an old post from last year's public forum: Broadway Meeting.

Rich is on Twitter too: Mooneyrich. You can see his latest tweets on the top of my sidebar. He's doing a great job, so check it out.

Monday, August 10, 2009

House Finches

I've got a pair of house finches nesting in a hanging plant on my porch. (This makes watering a bit tricky!)

This is their second set of chicks this season. They raised their first family in one of the flowering plants at the very front of the porch, then built a new nest in a more sheltered plant.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Rensselaer News

Searching for City of Rensselaer news online is very challenging, so there's a great deal of value in having this news aggregated somewhere. But I'm traveling more now, and taking two evening classes, so I no longer have time to post every news article with a Rensselaer reference. I'll try to hit some highlights, especially if the story gets better when you incorporate other web sources. (The newspapers will never link you off their sites.)

For those who want to stay up-to-the-minute, I've added a Twitter feed on the sidebar, and a list of Rensselaer News Searches. Please try them out. (You will have to wade through a lot of stories mentioning Rensselaer County that aren't related to our City.)

Be aware that the Times-Union site is horrible for finding local news. Very few articles related to the City of Rensselaer actually get listed in their "Rensselaer County Stories" or "Your Town - East Greenbush" sections. Even searching on their site for "Rensselaer" doesn't find all their stories that include the word Rensselaer - I can't figure out why. The best workaround is to search the Times-Union via the Google News Advanced Search (see my link in the sidebar).

August 7, 1909 - Life in the Age of Rail

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

There were some unique problems in a 1909 railroad community.

Car Thieves Active

Car thieves have been busy in Rensselaer again. Saturday morning a car containing merchandise shipped from Boston to the West was broken open under the Herrick street bridge and several hundred dollars worth of goods stolen. The exact amount cannot be determined until the slips are received by the local freight officials.

Burned a Hole in Roof

A hole was burned in the roof of the home of Dennis Vaughn on Broadway near Partition street on Monday afternoon. The fire, which was started by sparks from an engine, was extinguished with a pail of water.

Many Rensselaerites in 1909 would have remembered the 1862 fire in Troy, where a spark from a locomotive ignited the shingled roof of the wooden railroad bridge at Green Island. Burning shingles blew across the rooftops of downtown Troy, and more than 500 buildings were destroyed by fire, and 8 people were killed.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Sports Section

Local bowling coach Bill Neumann of Rensselaer made it to the money round of this week's Professional Bowlers Association - PBA Senior Lake County Indiana Open.

The Rensselaer Post 1231 team is currently representing New York State in the American Legion Baseball 2009 Mid-Atlantic--Region 2 Regional.

Thur., Aug. 13, 6pm is the City of Rensselaer Picnic at the Valley Cats Game (Picnic Pavilion). $25 per person ($20 for children 12 and under) Picnics run for one hour prior to the first pitch. Call 462-5512 to sign up.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

$1 Megabus Sale

Times-Union: The Buzz: Business news: Megabus offering 50,000 one-dollar seats to boost travel

Here's the Press Release
The $1 seats will be available on all departures (subject to availability) in all 30 cities during the Sept. 14 to Nov. 19 travel period. Travelers will need to use the promo code HOTDEAL when booking for a chance to book the $1 fares.
It's being published nation-wide, so will probably sell out fast. Catch the Megabus to NYC at the Rensselaer rail station. [525 East St, Rensselaer, NY] Here are the parking rates ($8, $6 or $5 per day). Consider taking the CDTA bus to the station - check the return schedules for late arrivals.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

100 Cars - Cell Usage

Here's a cell usage survey of drivers along Washington Ave. in Rensselaer (somewhat scientific, but not statistically significant). I counted 100 vehicles each time (about 15-20 min.), and noted the number of cell phone talkers (not hands-free) and possible texters.

7/28/09, early evening, 4 cell talkers, 2 definitely texting or dialing
7/30/09, am commute, 3 cell talkers, 2 definitely texting or dialing
8/04/09, early evening, 5 cell talkers, 2 doing something interesting low and to the right

Out of 300 cars observed: 12 cell talkers (4%), and 6 possible texters (2%). Many more nail biters than smokers. Several lollipops.

I'm surprised the number of cell phone talkers was this low. Here's the earlier post that got me curious: Plan to Ban Texting While Driving

UPDATE: Times-Union, letter to the editor: Existing N.Y. law covers texting, By Ed Gilbert of Rensselaer

Doane Stuart Renovation

Check out the New Campus Picture Gallery to see the progress of the Doane Stuart school's renovation of the old Van Rensselaer High School building [199 Washington Ave., Rensselaer, NY]

Learn more at the Doane Stuart web site: Doors Open - September 2009!

For background, here is an old blog post with links to the initial news articles: Doane Stuart Site

Aug. 4, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stammel Seeks Reelection

The Record: Stammel runs for Legislature
Legislator Mike Stammel, a Republican who represents District 6, said he was urged to seek another term in the office by residents from multiple political parties who appreciated his work in addressing constituent issues, working to stabilize county property taxes, supporting a county budget that did not raise the tax rate, and opposing tax and fee increases approved by the state Legislature.

Stammel seeks re-election