North Pearl Street from State Street, Albany, New York

Looking north on North Pearl Street from the corner of State Street in Albany, around 1904. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

Pearl Street is one of the main north-south streets through downtown Albany, and these photos show the view looking north from the corner of State Street. When the first photo was taken, much of the streetscape consisted of four-story brick Italianate-style commercial buildings from the second half of the 19th century. However, the one major exception was the Albany Savings Bank, which stands on the left side of the scene. The building, with its Corinthian columns and large dome, was designed by noted architect Henry Ives Cobb, and it was constructed in 1898.

Just to the left of the bank was another notable downtown building, the Tweddle Building. It stood at the corner of State and North Pearl Streets, and it is more visible in a photo from an earlier post, which shows it from State Street. Here on the North Pearl Street side of the building, it had several different retail tenants on the ground floor. Starting on the far left side of the first photo, it housed “Cut Price Druggists,” which had a window advertisement for “Lime-Ade,” declaring it to be “First Aid to the thirsty.” Just to the right of the drugstore is the Whittle Brothers florist shop, and further to the right is the umbrella shop of J. McElwee, which had an outdoor display advertising for “Covering and Repairing” of umbrellas.

Elsewhere in the first photo, a number of signs adorn the sides of the buildings and extend outward across the sidewalk, hoping to catch the attention of the pedestrians. On the far right side near the foreground, these included the Albany & Troy Candy Kitchen, the Hallwood Cash Register Company, Harry Ellis’s men’s furnishings shop, the W. F. Antemann & Son jewelry shop, and the Joseph Feary & Son boot and shoe store. Antemann’s shop was marked by a large pocket watch sign, but many of his competitors apparently had the same idea, since there are at least three similar pocket watch signs visible across the street on the left side. Also on the left side, just beyond the bank, is Failing’s Apothecary, with a name that inspires even less confidence than the competing “Cut Price Druggists” a block away.

On the street, the traffic in the photo consists primarily of horse-drawn wagons. The most visible of these is the well-decorated wagon of the Grand Union Tea Company, on the far left side of the photo. The driver is perhaps delivering tea to the Cut Price drugstore, and the horse is staring directly at the camera. There are no automobiles visible in the photo, although by this point there were already thousands registered in the state of New York, and within just a few years they would largely displace the horse-drawn vehicles. In the meantime, though, the only sign of new transportation methods in the first photo is the electric trolley in the distance.

Today, around 115 years after the first photo was taken, very little remains of the early 20th century scene, especially here in the foreground. Cars now dominate the street, with not a draft animal in sight, and even the trolleys are long gone, having been replaced by buses, such as the one in the lower center of the 2019 photo. Most of the buildings here are also gone. Among the first to be demolished was the Tweddle Building on the far left, which was replaced by the 17-story Ten Eyck Hotel in the mid-1910s. This hotel was then demolished in the early 1970s, around the same time as the Albany Savings Bank building. The spot where the hotel once stood is now a modern office building, and the site of the bank is the Ten Eyck Plaza.

Despite all of the changes, though, there are a few surviving buildings near the foreground on the right side of the scene. Closest to the camera is the four-story building at 23-25 North Pearl Street, which was occupied by Feary’s boot and shoe store in the first photo. It was built in 1854, and it is still standing today, with few significant exterior changes aside from the storefronts. A little further north, just beyond Maiden Lane, are two other historic buildings, at 29-31 North Pearl Street. These were built in 1869 and feature distinctive cast iron lintels over the windows. The main facade of 29 North Pearl was altered at some point in the 20th century with a Tudor-style appearance, but otherwise the buildings are still recognizable from the first photo.

Overall, the best-preserved section of this scene is far in the distance. The two blocks between Pine and Columbia Streets are still lined on both sides with predominantly 19th and early 20th century buildings. These include the former YMCA building, site of the first basketball game played away from the sport’s Springfield birthplace, and the Kenmore Hotel, an ornate High Victorian Gothic building that opened in 1878. These buildings, along with the other historic buildings in this scene, are now part of the Downtown Albany Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

State Street from Broadway, Albany, New York

Looking west on State Street from near the corner of State Street and Broadway in Albany, around 1902-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

This scene is very similar to the one in the previous post, except these photos were taken a couple blocks further to the east, at the corner of State Street and Broadway. From here State Street, is visible for a quarter mile in the distance as it rises up the hill toward the New York State Capitol. This stretch of road is at the center of downtown Albany, and it has been the site of many historic buildings over the years.

When the first photo was taken, the buildings on the right side of this scene consisted of a mix of late 19th century commercial buildings, most of which were between four and six stories in height. The one outlier here was the nine-story Ten Eyck Hotel, which was built in 1899 and stands in the distance near the center of the first photo.

The buildings in the first photo were occupied by a mix of different businesses. Starting in the foreground, these included the Albany Hardware and Iron Company in the two buildings on the far right, and the Union Trust Company in the ornate light-colored building to the left of it. Further up State Street, the ground floor of the six-story building was occupied by the Cluett & Sons piano store on the right and the William M. Stetson stationery store on the left. Beyond that building, the next two housed a Western Union telegraph office and the Commerce Insurance Company.

Today, more than a century after the photo was taken, hardly any of these buildings are still standing on this side of State Street. The former site of Albany Hardware is now a 12-story office building at 41 State Street, and beyond it most of the other historic buildings on this block were demolished in the mid-19th century to create a surface-level parking lot.

Further in the distance, on the other side of James Street, the 16-story New York State Bank building dominates the center of the present-day scene. It was built in 1927, replacing a much smaller 1804 bank building that is barely visible in the distance of the first photo. However, the facade of the old bank was preserved, and it was incorporated into the State Street side of the new structure.

Beyond the New York State Bank, the next section of State Street has also been completely rebuilt since the first photo was taken. The Ten Eyck, which included a 17-story addition that was built in the 1910s, was demolished in the early 1970s, and the other nearby historic buildings were also gone by this point. In their place is a modern office building at the corner of North Pearl Street, and a Hilton at the corner of Lodge Street.

The only part of this scene that has not undergone dramatic change is near the top of the hill, where both the capitol and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church still stand, along with a row of historic commercial buildings. Closer to the foreground, though, there is only one surviving 19th century building along the entire stretch of State Street between Broadway and St. Peter’s Church. It is a small building, partially hidden by trees in the 2019 photo, but it stands at the corner of James Street. It was built in the mid-1870s for the Mechanics and Farmers Bank, with a Gothic exterior that was designed by prominent architect Russell Sturgis. Perhaps its most distinctive feature is the turret at the corner, which is partially visible in both photos. However, the east side of the building, which faces the parking lot, is a windowless, unadorned brick wall, a reminder that it was once part of a long row of adjoining buildings.

State Street from South Pearl Street, Albany, New York

Looking west on State Street from near the corner of State and South Pearl Streets in Albany, around 1904. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

State Street is the main east-west route through downtown Albany, originally starting at the Hudson River wharves and extending westward up the hill in a straight line toward the state capitol. It provided a direct link between the city’s water and rail transportation and its government institutions, and in the process it passed through the heart of Albany’s central business district, which is shown here in these two photos.

The first photo was taken around 1904, and it shows a busy street scene. Dozens of pedestrians are visible walking on the sidewalks and crossing the street, and there is also a mix of horse-drawn wagons, along with at least three trolleys traveling up and down the hill. Automobiles are conspicuously missing from the scene, but this would not last long. The New York state legislature, meeting in the state capitol at the top of the hill here, had passed the first motor vehicle registration laws in the country in 1901, and by 1904 the state had some 15,550 registered cars on its roads.

The buildings on either side of State Street in the first photo reflect the changes in architectural styles during the late 19th century, along with the city’s growth during this same time. Starting on the far left is the Globe Hotel, which is perhaps the oldest building in the photo. It appears to have been built around the mid-19th century, and by the time the first photo was taken it housed the hotel, along with a number of retail tenants. These included a fruit market at the corner of South Pearl Street, and the photographic supply shop of Finch & Hahn on the State Street side of the building.

Further in the distance, towering above the Globe Hotel, is the Albany City Savings Institution building, which was probably the newest building in the first photo. This large Beaux-Arts building was designed by noted local architect Marcus T. Reynolds, and it opened in 1902 as the city’s first skyscraper. Just beyond the bank is another new building, the Empire Theatre, a burlesque theater that opened here in 1898.

On the other side of State Street, starting in the foreground, is the Tweddle Building. It was built at the corner of North Pearl Street in the mid-1880s, replacing the earlier Tweddle Hall, which had been destroyed in a fire in 1883. Beyond it is the Ten Eyck Hotel, with a painted sign on the side of the building proclaiming it to be “positively fire proof.” The nine-story hotel opened in 1899, filling a void in Albany’s hotel business after the Delavan House burned in 1894. This disaster, which claimed the lives of 16 people, would have still been fresh in people’s minds when the Ten Eyck opened, and likely explains why the owners went to such lengths to advertise its fireproof construction.

Beyond the Ten Eyck, on the other side of Chapel Street, is the Albany Savings Bank. This ornate building was completed in 1875, and it was occupied by the bank until the late 1890s, when the bank moved to a new building on North Pearl Street. The county then purchased the building, and it was in use as county offices when the first photo was taken.

Further up the hill from the bank building are two other commercial blocks, followed by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on the other side of Lodge Street. The main portion of the church was designed by architect Richard Upjohn, who was particularly well-known for his Gothic-style churches. It was consecrated in 1860, but in 1876 the parish added the 180-foot tower, which was designed by Upjohn’s son, Richard M. Upjohn.

At the top of the hill, in the distant center of the first photo, is the New York State Capitol. Construction on the capital had begun in 1867, but it was not completed until 1899, when Theodore Roosevelt was governor. By the time the first photo was taken, Roosevelt had become president, but less than a decade later another politician with the same last name would arrive at the capitol. Franklin Roosevelt served here as a senator from 1911 to 1913, and he later returned as governor, serving from 1929 until he was elected president in 1932.

Today, nearly 120 years after the first photo was taken, the capitol still dominates the background of this scene. It remains in use as the seat of the state government, although it has since been joined by a number of other government buildings, including the 34-story Alfred E. Smith State Office Building, which rises above the roof of the capitol in the present-day photo.

However, most of the other buildings in this scene at the turn of the century are gone now, including everything in the foreground. The Globe Hotel was altered beyond recognition in the early 20th century, and was known as the Arkay Building until the late 1920s, when it was demolished to build the National Savings Bank, which stands on the site today. Across the street, the Tweddle Building was demolished in the mid-1910s, and in its place the Ten Eyck Hotel built a new 17-story skyscraper. The hotel also continued to operate the older Ten Eyck, which became known as the Annex, and both buildings stood here until they were demolished in the early 1970s.

Further in the distance, only a few recognizable buildings from the first photo are still standing, aside from the capitol. On the left, the Albany City Savings Institution is still here, although it was altered in the 1920s with the addition of a large clock tower, and it is now mostly hidden from this angle by the National Savings Bank. Across the street, St. Peter’s Church is also still standing. Unlike the Savings Institution building, it has not been overshadowed by taller neighbors, and it continues to be a very prominent feature here on State Street. It remains an active Episcopalian parish, and in 1980 it was named a National Historic Landmark, becoming one of four Albany buildings, including the capitol, to receive this designation.

Kenmore Hotel, Albany, New York

The Kenmore Hotel, at the corner of North Pearl and Columbia Streets in Albany, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The building in 2019:

The Kenmore Hotel, shown here in these two photos, is one of the most impressive 19th century commercial buildings in Albany. It was built in 1878, with an ornate brick High Victorian Gothic-style exterior that was designed by local architect Edward Ogden and it was owned by Adam Blake, a prosperous African American hotelier.

Blake was born in 1830, and he was subsequently adopted by—and named for—Adam Blake Sr., a former slave who was a leader within the local African American community. He went on to have a successful career in the restaurant and hotel industries, eventually becoming the owner of the Congress Hall hotel. This hotel was ultimately demolished to make way for the new state capitol building, but Blake received $190,000 for it—equivalent to over $5 million today—and he used the money to build the Kenmore Hotel here on North Pearl Street.

The hotel featured the latest in modern conveniences, with an 1880 advertisement declaring that it had an “Elevator, along with all modern appliances for Elegance and Comfort” and “Hot and Cold Water, Steam Heaters, and Telephone, connecting with office, in each room.” The latter was a particularly remarkable innovation, as Alexander Graham Bell had developed the first telephone in 1876, and within just four years every room in this hotel was equipped with one.

Blake ultimately did not get to enjoy his new hotel for very long, though, because he died in 1881 at the age of 51. However, he left behind a substantial estate of over $100,000, or more than $2.6 million today, and his widow Catherine carried on the hotel business for several more years before selling it in 1887.

During this time, the hotel was a popular gathering place for state politicians, who worked just up the hill from here at the state capitol. These included 25-year-old Theodore Roosevelt, who was at the time an assemblyman from New York City. In 1883, he made the hotel his base of operations during his bid to become speaker of the State Assembly. He ended up losing in the Republican caucus to Titus Sheard, although in the long run this defeat did not seem to have hurt his political career.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Robert P. Murphy acquired the hotel, renovated it, and rebranded it as the New Kenmore. The first photo was taken around this time, and the building displays a vertical “New Kenmore” sign on the right side. The photo also shows some of the other nearby commercial buildings on North Pearl Street, which were built around the same time as the Kenmore. These include the YMCA Building, visible in the distance with the gabled roof and rounded turret at the corner of Steuben Street. It was built in 1886, and in 1892 it was the site of one of the first basketball games. The sport had been invented only a month earlier at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, and this game in Albany was the first to be played outside of Springfield.

Robert Murphy sold the hotel in 1906 and opened a new hotel in New York, but he returned to Albany in 1916 and ran the Kenmore until his death in 1921. His sons Harry, Robert, and Augustus then carried on the business for many years, and it was during this time that the hotel became well known as the site of the Rain-Bo Room nightclub. The club featured live performances by prominent entertainers of the Roaring Twenties and beyond, including Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra, and one of its regular guests was the famous mobster Jack “Legs” Diamond.

The Rain-Bo Room closed in 1947, and in 1986 the building was converted into offices. The building is now undergoing another renovation, as shown in the 2019 photo. Upon completion, the building will feature 93 apartments, along with retail space on the ground floor, and there is also a proposal to reopen the Rain-Bo Room. Overall, despite the changes in use over the years, the Kenmore has remained very well-preserved, with few significant changes since the first photo was taken. The neighboring buildings further to the left are also still standing, and they are now part of the Downtown Albany Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Boston Road from Coleman Street, Springfield, Mass

Looking west on Boston Road from near the corner of Coleman Street in Springfield, around 1924. Image from Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Ferns of Springfield Massachusetts (1924).

The scene in 2019:

The primary subject matter of the first photo was intended to be the tree in the foreground, which is identified as Acer rubrum L. var. tridens Wood, a rare variety of red maple. However, the photo also captures a rare view of Boston Road as it appeared nearly a century ago, prior to its extensive commercial development. The view faces west along Boston Road from the corner of Coleman Street, right in the midst of what would soon become the center of the Pine Point neighborhood.

Throughout most of the 19th century, this section of Springfield was only sparsely settled, with the 1870 city map showing fewer than 20 houses along the entire 3.5-mile stretch of Boston Road from Berkshire Avenue to the Wilbraham town line. This began to change by the 1890s, though. Likely motivated by the recently-opened trolley line on nearby Berkshire Avenue, landowners in present-day Pine Point began subdividing their properties with new streets and house lots. By 1899 there were at least six houses on Coleman Street, and over the next two decades there would be further development, particularly on Denver and Jasper Streets.

Overall, though, the neighborhood maps of the early 20th century show far more vacant lots than houses, and it would take many years before most of the streets were fully developed. The first photo was taken during this period, when even Boston Road, the main thoroughfare through Pine Point, still had many empty lots and hardly any commercial development.

There are only two houses visible in the first photo. On the left, at the southwest corner of Boston Road and Coleman Street, is one of the oldest surviving houses in the area. It was built sometime around 1882, predating the modern street grid that was added about a decade later, and during the early 1880s it was the home of merchant William G. Pierce. Subsequent owners included tailor Julian Belanger, and by the time the first photo was taken in the early 1920s it was the home of civil engineer Albin M. Kramer, his wife Rose, and their three children.

The house on the right, at 168 Boston Road, is somewhat newer. It was built sometime between 1899 and 1910, and it appears to have been constructed as a two family home. During the early 20th century it had a number of different tenants, most of whom only stayed for a few years. Among these were my great grandparents, Frank and Julia Lyman, who lived here from about 1915 to 1917. Frank was a machinist who was originally from Wilbraham, and Julia grew up in New York City, where she worked for the New York World newspaper. They lived in the New York area for the first few years of their marriage, but they moved to Springfield around 1915. At the time they had two young children, Elizabeth and Edith, and their third child Evelyn, my grandmother, was born here in this house in 1917. Soon after, the family purchased a house nearby at 37 Coleman Street, and they were living there when this photo was taken at the end of their street a few years later.

By the 1920 census, one unit in the house at 168 Boston Road was occupied by painter Raymond L. Taft, his wife Alice, and their three young children. The other unit was the home of carpenter Frank E. Bowen, and his wife Edith, who had three children of their own. However, neither family appears to have remained here for very long; Alice Taft died in 1921, and by the following year Raymond was living elsewhere in Pine Point. The Bowen family had also moved out by then, and during the 1920s the house appears to have changed tenants very frequently, with most only appearing here in the city directory for one year.

Within just a few years after this photo was taken, this section of Boston Road developed into the commercial center of the Pine Point neighborhood. At some point around the late 1920s, the house on the right was altered with the addition of two storefronts, one of which was the home of Nora’s Variety Store for many years. Across the street from there, on the left side of the scene, a row of commercial buildings was constructed in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The easternmost of these, visible just beyond the house on the far left, is best known as the location of the original Friendly’s restaurant, which opened there in 1935.

Today, nearly a century after the first photo was taken, very little in this scene has remained the same. The red maple is long gone, and all of the vacant lots here have since been developed. Boston Road is now a four lane road and one of the main east-west routes through the city, and it is almost entirely commercial, with very few remaining houses. However, both of the houses from the first photo have managed to survive, although the one on the left was heavily altered by the late 1920s storefront addition. The one on the right has remained much better preserved, though, and it stands as a rare Victorian-style house in an otherwise predominantly 20th century neighborhood.

Judson Hall, South Hadley, Mass

The view looking north on College Street toward the intersection of Hadley Street in the center of South Hadley, around 1912. Image from In Old South Hadley (1912).

The scene in 2019:

The first photo was taken sometime in or before 1912, and it shows Judson Hall, a dormitory for students at nearby Mount Holyoke College. This building was originally constructed in the late 19th century as the Hotel Woodbridge, which was owned by Joseph S. Preston Jr. References to the hotel first appear in local newspapers around 1896, and it appears to have been in business for about a decade or so. Most of these newspaper advertisements mention the hotel’s “spacious piazzas,” which ran along the south and east sides of all three stories, and an 1898 ad lists the rates as ranging from $8 to $14 per week.

The hotel was temporarily used to house Mount Holyoke students in 1896, after the main college building was destroyed in a fire on September 27. Then, in 1908 the college purchased the hotel and renamed it Judson Hall in honor of Judson Smith, who had served as president of the board of trustees from 1894 until his death in 1906. It was subsequently used as a dormitory for the next 24 years, before being closed in 1932.

Judson Hall was demolished two years later, and the property was sold to the federal government to construct a post office here. The loss of the old hotel-turned-dormitory was evidently seen as an improvement by many people at the time, including the Springfield Republican, which wrote in 1934 that “Not only has it proved inadequate as a residence and inappropriate for business activities, but also its style of architecture has disturbed the harmony and beauty of South Hadley for many years.”

Today, the post office is still standing here in the center of this scene, and the only surviving building from the first photo is the one on the far left. Although it looks like an ordinary colonial-era house, it was actually built around 1732 as South Hadley’s first meeting house. It was only used as a church for a few decades though, before it was replaced by a new larger church in 1764. The old building was then moved here to this site and converted into a house, and more recently it has been occupied by a number of different restaurants. It is currently the Yarde Tavern, and despite the many alterations it is perhaps the oldest surviving church building in western Massachusetts.