Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rensselaer's History Research Center

Rensselaer's 8th Ward (Rich Mooney): History Lessons about our City

The Record
(For Greenbush Life): Dedication of the History Research Center slated

The public is welcome to attend the formal dedication of the Rensselaer City History Research Center. at 2 p.m. Oct. 4. The dedication, display and reception will be held at the center on the second floor of Rensselaer City Hall, 62 Washington St., Rensselaer.

The Research Center is dedicated to provide materials for research and information about the City of Rensselaer and its predecessors, Bath on the Hudson , East Albany and Greenbush. ...

Today's posts both involve renovated schools - the Rensselaer City History Research Center is located in the former Fort Crailo Elementary School, where the City Hall moved in 2008. To learn more:

A Green School Renovation

The Record (for Greenbush Life): Green where possible… Doane Stuart School’s new campus

The building at 199 Washington Ave. in Rensselaer won’t be sitting vacant anymore, which would most likely have been its fate, had Doane Stuart School not declared it its new home.
“One of the ‘greenest’ things we did was to move into the building…rather than build new"...

To see the renovated campus: Doane Stuart Pics

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yankee Doodle Band

The Record (Greenbush Life): Yankee Doodle Band notes more than eight tuneful decades

When the members of a Rensselaer-based band put trumpets and trombones to their lips, they are continuing a tradition that began 82 years ago. That makes it the oldest American Legion band in the country.

The Fort Crailo American Legion Yankee Doodle Band, as its website notes, “traces its origins to 1927 when a group of American Legion members formed a Drum and Bugle Corps.

You can see the the Yankee Doodle Band at these upcoming events:
Sat., Oct. 10, 1pm: Columbus Day parade, Albany
Sat., Oct. 17, 9am: American Heart Association Heart Walk, Colonie NY
Sun., Nov. 8, 10am: Veterans' Service parade, Rensselaer
Tue., Nov. 11, 11:11am: Veterans' Day parade, Albany

Here's the Yankee Doodle Band in Rensselaer's 2009 Memorial Day Parade.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Firehouse Brickwork

The exterior of the Washington Ave. firehouse seems to be nearing completion, and the partitions are going up inside. At last month's North End neighborhood meeting, we learned that the firehouse will be open by January, but they're hoping to finish it much earlier.

Here are a couple of shots from the past week (click to enlarge).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

September 25, 1909 - Fire Parade

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

Rensselaer did not host a Hudson-Fulton celebration in 1909, as the state did not come through with promised funds. Instead, there was a big parade of all the fire companies.

For the first time since the new fire apparatus was received last winter the citizens of Rensselaer will have the opportunity to view the department as a whole. Such an opportunity has not been given for the reason that when the apparatus did reach Rensselaer cold weather was at hand and it was not feasible to have a parade.

But this afternoon the citizens are promised a treat. The firemen, in their neat, well fitting uniform, and the policemen in their best clothes will march about a route that takes the parade past every one of the fire houses in the city. ...

I couldn't resist adding this notice of bids for the 1909 fire department:
Sept. 6, 1909 - Mr. John Salt, City Clerk: In answer to bids for supplying fire department is as follows: No. 2 white oats, 68 1-2c per bushel; Timothy hay, $19 per ton; loose timothy hay, $19 per ton; oat straw, $17 per ton. Respectfully yours, Peter J. Mahan, Rensselaer, N. Y.

Sept. 13, 1909 - To the Honorable Board of Fire Commissioners, Gentlemen: We, the undersigned will furnish by your order or order from the City Clerk to the fire houses to the amount of 400 bushels of oats, at 75¢ per bushel; 10 tons more or less of baled hay, $20 per ton; 10 tons more or less of loose hay, $20; 10 tons more or less oat straw, $17 per ton. Yours truly, Waugh & Berry.

Com. M. Murphy moved that bids for feed department be rejected on the ground that same are excessive. Carried.

Haying scene, St. James (Long Island)

Frederick Ruther, 1909, www.hayinart.org

Lewis Wickes Hine also took wonderful photos of haying in New York and New England, but they were dated simply 1907-1937, too broad a range for me to use. See them on Strip 10 and Strip 12 in the collection of the George Eastman House, Rochester, NY.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Funds for Flood Prevention

News Channel 13: Rensselaer gets $1M for flood damage [video]
Thirteen months after flood waters slammed into Rensselaer, causing millions of dollars in damages, the city is getting some help.

The Record: State funds received for flood prevention
The new money, which is coming from two funding sources in the Assembly, will go towards clearing the areas along the Mill and Quackenderry creeks since collapsed culverts and restrictors likely caused the flooding.

Earlier Posts:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Disney Train Flickr Set

Here's a great Flickr photo set from kmb733, taken at the Rensselaer Amtrak station on Tuesday: Disney's A Christmas Carol Train Tour.

Looks like some great costumes were on display, and very cool set models. I got a kick out of the Victorian street lamps with Christmas wreaths, set into fake snowbanks along the trackside. Check it out.

Disney's A Christmas Carol Train Tour (official site)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dutch Ships in Town

News Channel 13: Albany unprepared for Dutch ships [with video]

ALBANY - Seventeen Dutch vessels along with a couple hundred visitors from Holland are here in the Capital District. It's part of Albany's Quadricentennial celebration.

... The masts on the some of these vessels are too tall to fit under the bridge to make it to Corning Preserve... So they sailed around in circles until they were finally sent to the Albany Yacht Club in Rensselaer.
Either way these vessels are here until Oct. 1 and the public can go see them. There is also a festival Saturday all day at the Corning Perserve where five of the vessels will be on display.

Dave sent me a pic of this one at the Corning Preserve, sharing a dock with the Dutch Apple.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ernie Mann's "Railroads of Rensselaer"

Ernie Mann's "Railroads of Rensselaer" is available for pre-order on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com, and will be released on October 19, 2009.

Product Description

Rensselaer was once a classic American railroad town, and like most cities and towns of its type, it was part of an important junction of several destinations. From the 1840s to today, trains have rolled to the four principal compass points from town....

About the Author

Ernie Mann has had a lifelong interest in rail history and worked his way through college in locomotive service. His father and grandfathers worked a total of 123 years on local railroads. He had a long career as a teacher and many years as a city fire chief.

I love these books of antique photgraphs from Arcadia Publishing, and I couldn't be happier to learn about this one!

UPDATE: Stay in touch with release and book signing info by joining the new Facebook group for "Railroads of Rensselaer".

UPDATE: If you want to "buy local", Good Buy Books pre-ordered "a couple of copies". You might want to call or e-mail them if you want to be sure you get one.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18, 1909 - Girl Wanted

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

I suppose this 100-year-0ld classified ad for a social event was intended to be amusing, but it was probably irritating even in 1909.

Girl Wanted

I prefer a Rensselaer girl, one who is not afraid of work, willing to cook, and keep the house in order, and be a companion to me on rainy days. I am not particular as to the color of her hair but prefer that it not be entirely false; have no objections to a few false teeth or other minor defects which can be kept as family secrets; not particular whether she can sing, or whether she understands music. Prefer to have one who is home loving, knows enough of the world to appreciate a man who is willing to spend all his money in giving her a good time; do not care for one who is a prude or too old-fashioned to play a game of euchre, or dance.

I want a jolly, good looking, happy girl who will help me have a good time every day in the year. If any such girl in Rensselaer is open for a proposition I would like to have her meet me at the Foresters Euchre and Select Dance, at Kapp's Hall on Sixth street, next Thursday night, September 23. She will know me by the dark clothes and pleasant smile which I wear.

The Albany Evening Journal, Tue. Sept. 21, 1909, had this notice: "Court Fort Cralo, Foresters, will give a prize euchre and dance at Kapps's on Thursday night." Another Journal notice from 1914 lists them as "Court Fort Cralo, 4655, Independent Order of Foresters" ("Cralo" was the common spelling then, not "Crailo").

The Independent Order of Foresters was a nation-wide fraternal organization, established to help its members in times of distress. "Independent" refers to the American Order's split from the Ancient Order of Foresters of England in the 1870's. (see History of the Independent Order of Foresters).

Rensselaer's Foresters held regular social events and fund raisers including clam bakes, dances, and card tournaments. (Euchre was popular around the turn of the last century - see How to Play Basic Euchre.)

The Independent Order of Foresters survives as a fraternal benefits organization providing financial services and insurance. The Catholic Order of Foresters and National Catholic Society of Foresters, which date back to the 1890's, offer similar services. (The Independent Order recently won a cancellation against the Catholic Order regarding the confusing trademark "Forester Life".)

The "well known hostelry of 'mine host' Kapp" was often was listed as the location for annual club, chamber, or union dinners, in addition to social events like these. I'd love comments from anyone who knows the address of the former Kapp's Hotel, or more about its history.

UPDATE: If you're wondering about the "false" hair reference, read this excellent vintage sewing blog post: Hairstyle Tutorial: A 1909 Edwardian Coiffure.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Free Shuttle for Disney Train

Don't try to drive to the Amtrak station for the Disney Train!! CDTA will provide free shuttle service to the Rensselaer Amtrak station for the Disney Train on Tue., Sept. 22 (running from 8am t0 8pm). Local residents can also take CDTA's 214 bus (not free).

The free shuttles will stop at the following parking lots on Columbia Turnpike (all are on Rt. 9/20 in Rensselaer/East Greenbush): K-Mart, St. Mary's Church, and Computer Sciences Corp.

View Parking for CDTA Disney Train Shuttle in a larger map

Read more at:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Legislative Mailer Controversy

News Channel 13: Forgery charge in Rensselaer legislative race

RENSSELAER -- The opponent for a legislative seat in Rensselaer County is crying foul over mailers sent out to drum up support for the incumbent republican Mike Stammel.


Times-Union Local Politics Blog, Sept. 14: Democrats want special prosecutor in Rensselaer

The Record, Sept. 16: Union chief backs from ‘forgery’ flap

RENSSELAER — The union leader whose signature appeared on a political mailer without his knowledge said Tuesday that some politicians have gone too far with the issue.

Doane Stuart Pics

The Doane Stuart School's Open House, Sept. 12 [click to enlarge]. See earlier post.

UPDATE: Press Coverage

Times-Union, Sept. 17: Doane Stuart moves across Hudson River - Private school took over former Van Rensselaer Elementary building
RENSSELAER -- Someone was listening to all that praying from Richard Enemark.

The Record, Sept. 17: Somethings old, new for Doane Stuart
RENSSELAER — It’s not often that Art Deco designs are highlighted in the hallways with school lockers or that a school official’s office has a Tiffany grandfather clock from the turn of the 20th century. But, then again, the Doane Stuart School is not a typical educational institution.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Special Carillon Concerts

Charles Semowich, Rensselaer's City Historian, will be performing a special concert on the Albany City Hall Carillon today at 11:50am, as part of the city's 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony. The concert will include new music written to commemorate 9/11.

Charles will also play a special Quadricentennial Concert on September 24, 2009 - 5PM. "Albany's 49 bell carillon, located in the City Hall clock tower, is an extraordinary musical instrument with a history as rich as the city itself. Listen to this free concert from Academy Park, across the street from City Hall."

Doane Stuart Open House

The Doane Stuart school is holding a Community Open House on Sat., Sept. 12 (tomorrow) from 10-11:30am at the former Van Rensselaer high school building (199 Washington Ave, Rensselaer). Stop by and see the extensive and beautiful renovations.

Here's an earlier post with a link to their remodeling photo gallery: Doane Stuart Renovation

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Crailo - Harvest Faire

Crailo State Historic site's Open House and Harvest Fair features an oxen team, 17th- and 18th...-century re-enactors and an 18th-century magic show. Crailo has a new permanent exhibit that examines the 17th-century Dutch settlement of Fort Orange. Admission is free.

New York State's Crailo page is down at the moment, but you can learn more (and become a fan) at the Ft. Crailo Facebook page (source of the above notice and image).

The Record: Fort Crailo preparing for its annual Harvest Faire

RENSSELAER —With summer winding down and another growing season coming to a close, it’s time to celebrate!

Reminiscent of 17th century harvest and street fairs, Fort Crailo Historic Site and The Friends of Fort Crailo are embracing this time of year by hosting their fourth annual Harvest Faire on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (rain date, Sunday)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Water Quality Report

Download the annual Annual Drinking Water Quality Report for 2008 at Rensselaer...Online!, a web site that is open to the community to post information (see their site bylaws). Thanks to CraigW for posting this.

For those who might not know, Rensselear, NY buys our water from the City of Troy, which gets it from the Tomhannock Reservoir, about 20 miles northeast of us. To learn more, download the report...

North End Meeting - First of Fall

The North End Neighborhood Association meets this Thur., Sept. 10 at 7pm in the basement of the First Baptist Church at 1101 Washington Ave, Rensselaer, NY. The North End covers the 8th and 9th Wards (represented by Rich Mooney and Pat Jackson).

This month's speaker will be Jane Chirgwin, Director of the Rensselaer Public Library, who will give us an update on the new building.

Monday, September 7, 2009

September 4, 1909 - Nassau Fair

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

According to A Brief History of the Village of Nassau, the Rensselaer County Agricultural and Liberal Arts Society operated the annual Nassau Fair from 1892 to 1944. Rensselaerites could get to Nassau, NY on the Albany and Hudson Electric Railroad to see the Fair.

Nassau Fair Exhibition Hall and the Parade of Carriages. Postcards from 1900 at the Nassau Free Library, for educational use only. They have ten other great postcards from the Nassau Fair, including decorated bicycles and carriages - check them out.



Exhibits in all Departments Will Be Larger Than Ever - Success of the Fair is Already Certain and a Fine Time for all is Promised.

The ever popular Nassau fair will be held this year Sept. 14, 15, 16, 17. ... The management is offering $1,500 [?] in race purses and $7,000 in other premiums, and is making every possible effort to secure the best in attractions and exhibits, especially in the Floral and Poultry departments, whose list contain entries of well known exhibitors with high class exhibits.

The Poultry entry list is especially heavy, containing the names of well known outside, and local breeders, and chicken fanciers will be well paid in journeying to Nassau and witnessing the extra large exhibit of this year.

The Exhibition Hall with its fancy, domestic, educational and artistic displays, promises a treat, and the cattle and farm produce stalls this year will be filled by the old regulars; and many new ones have been recorded.

At this early date the space on the Midway has been taken so fast that if the applicants continue a double Midway will have to be staked out...

The horse races which is always a big feature should this year bring forth some of the best brushing ever witnessed on the Nassau track....

The fairgrounds offer every accommodation for rigs and autos. For the visitors there is a half hourly schedule on the A. and H. road to and from Albany and Rensselaer.

"Brushing" seems to refer to informal or amateur exhibition races, often with high stakes (see New York Times, July 13, 1997: A Roadway Built for the Elite to Trot Out Their Rigs).

The Nassau Fair Association lost a "brush" with the law a few years later, when a state audit determined that a great deal of prize money was misappropriated. New York Times, Jan. 9, 1915:

Controller Charges That State Was Swindled in Agricultural Fair Awards - ASSEMBLYMAN IS INVOLVED
Day Laborers Confess That They Unwittingly Posed as Prize Winners for Mythical Exhibits.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Football Training Stories

The Record: Brown turned pain into gain for Rams
Jason Brown’s team mates can kid him now about the worn footpath on the side of the hill leading up to the Rensselaer High School practice field, but he was not in a joking mood at the beginning of practice in 2008.

The Exponent: Purdue's Independent Daily Student Newspaper:
Sophomore feels ‘great’ after dropping weight with diet, exercise
Fifty pounds can make all the difference in playing ability.

Just ask sophomore offensive guard Ken Plue. ... The Rensselaer, N.Y., native came to Purdue as a four-star prospect...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Low Octane Swap

Press-Republican: Lesser-octane fuel leads to fines

MALONE — A “major screw-up” at the Getty petroleum terminal resulted in two North Country counties receiving compensation checks.
During checks of regular- and mid-grade fuel at two stations, Franklin County sealer Brad Parker found the octane in a range of 84 to 85, rather than a required minimum range of 87 to 91, for fuel distributed between June 4 and 10.

He traced the delivery back to the Getty terminal in Rensselaer, where a mistake was made transferring 87-octane fuel from once place to another.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


A reader of the Times-Union Table Hopping Blog is looking for fun places to go out in Rensselaer. Go post a comment about your favorite Rensselaer area hang-out.

Premium Rail Parking

Times-Union: CDTA's premium spots
Agency leasing private parking spaces on ground floor of rail station for $325 a month
RENSSELAER -- The Capital District Transportation Authority is giving users of the CDTA's Rensselaer Rail Station the opportunity to rent their own personal parking space.