Friday, August 5, 2011

Pedestrian Perspective: Downtown Albany, Alive at Five

Yesterday I wrote about the weekly Thursday afternoon concert series on the Hudson River, Alive at Five.  We took a walk around the Hudson Riverfront Park and down to the docks, checking out the crowds and attractive, scantily-clothed men.  And we looked at some pictures from the concert itself.  Now, let's take the walk home.

This is the route we're taking, from the pedestrian bridge over I-787 to State and Swan.  I reference quite a few streets, so it might help to open this in a new window to keep track.
The view of I-787 from the Hudson River Way.  The D&H Railroad Building, now the SUNY Administration center, is in the background.
The Hudson River Way with downtown Albany in the background.  Nice sunset!
Parking.  Too much of it.  The lower uses of the city gravitate toward the highways.
The pedestrian walkway continued into downtown.  Narrow streets can be found after you cross Broadway.

Maiden Lane.  The building on the left has been stalled in its plans for residential conversion for years.  It's too bad, especially since this is such an awesome narrow street!
Crappy, blurry picture of Maiden Lane Park.  I love pocket parks.
This is the oldest part of the city.  The next part to develop was the Pastures neighborhood, so named after the grazing areas that used to lie immediately outside the stockade.  The downtown area has been rebuilt numerous times, not always for the best.  Like most places, after suffering the 20th century's aesthetics, it's not all urban and nice.  However, there's quite a bit of fun stuff here and it's a great place to spend the  day wandering.

On Maiden Lane, looking north on James Street.
Same spot, looking south on James Street.
Maiden Lane.  There are a few restaurants on this stretch, but they're only open during the day. 
There are more residences going into downtown Albany all the time, most of which involve conversion of vacant upper floor of buildings into apartments and condominiums.  Once it gets to a critical mass, you'll see more businesses open in downtown and stay open longer.  There have been a few large projects proposed as well, but they were mostly proposed during the beginning of the economic crisis, around 2007-2008.

Alive at Five continues on North Pearl Street.

Pedestrian street on Steuben Street, looking toward to the Hudson River.
Steuben Street, looking away from the Hudson.
On this part of Steuben Street, there is a gym and a couple of pubs.  I believe either this building or one nearby is slated for residential conversion.

Looking north on Chapel Street.  17 Chapel (see below) is the building in the distance with the scaffolding on it.
Chapel Street is the site of one of the larger conversions to a fully-residential building.  The project is called 17 Chapel.  It involves converting an old four-story car dealership to a 7 story condominium building with an 8th story rooftop terrace.  They are able to add three stories to the building because its original use required such a super sturdy building.  As a result, many units are very expensive, which many on the Places and Spaces Times Union blog complain about.  However, according to the owner in this Places and Spaces post, most of the expensive units have gone and most that are left are on the lower end of the price spectrum.  It's also pretty cool to see the owner joining the discussion.  You can see a full list of available units here.

Pretty dismal sight looking south on Chapel Street.
This is a pretty cool building here.
Too much parking.  You could see how by even just filling in this space with something, you'd have an awesome street.
Ongoing construction, looking north on Lodge Street toward Columbia Street.
When I moved to my apartment in April, I was also considering a studio on Columbia.  I thought that Center Square would be a better place for me, however.  I already knew I loved it.  Columbia Street will be visited on our next trip downtown.

This isn't a bad pedestrian path.  It's a neat little thing that you have to discover on foot.  The aesthetics could use some improvement.
The orange barrels aren't that nice of a touch.
This is such a sweet view here!

Climbing up to Eagle Street. 
At Eagle Street, across from the State Capitol is a beautiful small park.  Downtown Albany has a few of these.

Pocket Park by the Capitol.

The Park from the other angle.  The buildings on the street behind form one of the nicest parts of Albany.
Albany City Hall.
Really dark picture.  Click on it and it looks like something out of a movie.  What a nice park.  This is behind City Hall.

Taken in the other direction from the picture above.  The two pools are symmetrical across the path.

Looking east down Corning Place.

New York State Capitol.

City Hall, taken from the green in front of the plaza.
The Alfred E. Smith Building and One Commerce Plaza. 
That was as far as I made it before it got too dark to take more pictures.  Still, a very nice walk through Downtown Albany.  The weather was just perfect.  Earlier in the day was rain, then sun with heat and humidity. About halfway through the concert, it cooled down and a perfect breeze came off the Hudson.  Nights like this, events like this and walks like this are some of the best things about living in Albany.

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