Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spring in an old Dutch City

Albany was settled by the Dutch in 1614, after its discovery by Henry Hudson, an Englishman who sailed by the Dutch, in 1609.  There are few pieces of great Dutch history alluded to in the city, from the rooftops on lower Lancaster Street to the old Dutch house on top of a 10 story building that can be seen from Townsend Square Park, Madison Avenue and Washington Park.

Another wonderful piece of Dutch legacy is the covering of the city in tulips.

Albany is home to Tulip Fest and numerous community-supported gardens, filled with tulips and many other flowers.  This year, the number of tulips was unfortunately cut by roughly 30%.  Turns out tulips have increased in price by 9 cents per bulb in the last year, a year that wasn't exactly conducive to large borderline Rust Belt city budgets.

Not only that, but Tulip Fest, one of the city's largest festivals, barely made it this year.  The warm winter and early spring have done a number on the climate of the region, including the cycle of the tulips in Washington Park.  Actually, beyond the festival itself, the whole city had passed its peak in the beginning of May.

Let's start with Downtown Albany and some of the local colleges:

Red tulips on State Street in Downtown.

The College of Saint Rose sign and flower bed on Western Avenue.

Some of the flower beds much earlier in the year.  They're now in full bloom.

Saint Rose's Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary on the quad.

In front of the Neil Hellman Library, with Lima and Alumni Halls beyond.

The Saint Rose quad.

An older College of Saint Rose sign on Madison Avenue, with Saint Joseph Hall in the background.

Moran Hall, the original building of the college.

The other new gateway sign on Madison Avenue.

The University at Albany downtown campus.  I totally skipped part of class to take these pictures.

A sign listing the halls behind.


The floral decorations aren't limited to Tulip Fest and colleges.  The neighborhoods feature small flower beds as well, some of which were seen in last summer Pedestrian Perspective Series posts.  The city itself also cares for municipal flower beds, but I never ended up making it to many of these.
Another familiar sign of spring is the pollen that coats every sidewalk.

On the edge of Washington Park, facing State Street.

State Street at Robin. 

The same house as in the last photo, at State and Robin.  I love this house.

State Street between Lark and Dove.

More State between Lark and Dove.  I risked being late to work taking these, as the Picotte Shuttle (named after the Saint Rose art building) was ready to go.  You can see it in the far distance of the last photo.

Not the nicest flowers, but one of State Street's beautiful buildings.

Another shot of the same building.  Check out those balconies!  I've always dreamed of living here.

Bongiorno's amazing Italian Restaurant.

No flower pedals, but I thought this garden on Spring Street was so cute poking out into the sidewalk, underneath the hedge.

Another angle of the same cute little garden.

Another shot with very little color, but a super cool alley off Hudson Avenue.

A municipal garden with the Bird Skyscraper.  I actually don't know what it's named, but it's super cool.

A close-up of the Bird Skyscraper.

In front of a home on Willett Street.
Of course, no photo tour of Albany in springtime would be complete without the tulips of Washington Park, which are being celebrated today.  I took these a few weeks ago, one Friday after work.

Fittingly, this picture was taken on April 20th, a holiday for the marijuana smokers.  This photo features both a shirtless guy and the willow tree where our stony friends can be found each summer, blazing away under the sun.

Once again, in attractive environments, attractive people remove clothing on hot days.  Win all around.

The most beautiful couple I saw that day.  This is my favorite picture of the bunch.

Tulip Fest begins today and runs through tomorrow.  It is timed to Mother's Day weekend each year, to celebrate both Albany's heritage and our own.  

The gardens looked thinner a couple of days ago, and here's hoping they stay as full as they can for Tulip Fest.  

The gardens on Friday.

The day before Tulip Fest is to begin... Eek!

The traffic seems heavy at least.  This is a big tourist draw for the city.

I'll leave you with a photo I took at the 2009 Tulip Fest, featuring a bumble bee in one of the flowers. 

Happy Spring!!

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