Tag Archives: Transportation History

Historic Amsterdam League Trolley Talk July 19th


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25 at East MainOn Wednesday July 19th the Historic Amsterdam League will sponsor a presentation by League trustee Jerry Snyder on the history and development of the city’s street railway system from its inception as a 1½ mile horse car railroad to its final days as part of one of the largest electric railroads in the region, stretching from Gloversville to Schenectady.

Amsterdam’s first streetcar rolled down the tracks of East Main Street on July 22nd, 1873; its last followed the same route in the early morning hours of June 29th, 1938, passing into history and for the most part, oblivion. Continue reading

The Erie Canal, New York City, and Democratic Government


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Erie Canal

Along the Erie Canal, Buffalo, N.Y. (No. M 71, Buffalo News Co., Buffalo, N.Y.) courtesy ErieCanal.org

On July 4, 1817, at Rome, New York on a site now occupied by the Worthington Industries Steel plant, there was a ceremony allegedly turning the first spade of earth on the construction of the Erie Canal, one of the most important public works projects in history.

As we approach the Bicentennial of the Canal’s construction, we would do well to better understand this history and its importance. On July 2, 2017 there will be a march through Lower Manhattan sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Historical Association celebrating this event. Continue reading

The Origin and Impact of the Adirondack Northway


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i87When my parents came to the Adirondacks in 1956, they believed they were moving to a place far removed – culturally and politically as well as geographically – from the cities in which they had worked as left-wing journalists.

Beyond the Adirondacks lay “the big world,” as our neighbor Peggy Hamilton called it. (It was a world she was familiar with, having been the companion of Vida Mulholland and, like Vida and her more famous sister Inez, an early advocate of women’s rights.) Continue reading

Walter Smith’s Lifelong Fascination with Railroads


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians” podcast, Reverend Walter Smith of Lisbon in northern New York discusses his lifelong fascination with railroads. Reverend Smith writes the “Reminiscing” column in the Bulletin of the Bridge Line Historical Society, a railroad enthusiast publication that emphasizes the history of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad.
Listen to the podcast here.    Continue reading

A Short History Of The Hudson River Day Line


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the-hudson-river-paddlewheel-towboat-oswegoAbraham Van Santvoord, a descendent of one of the earliest Dutch settlers in Albany, was born in Schenectady on December 18, 1784. At the age of 14, he worked with his granduncle John Post who owned a shipping business in Utica. Since, at the time, there were few roadways, and the ones they had were snow covered in the winter and mud bogs in the spring, most shipping was done by water.

Van Santvoord successfully ran a shipping business on the Mohawk River. During the War of 1812, he contracted with agents of General Stephen Van Rensselaer of Albany to store and ship provisions westward on the Mohawk to support Van Rensselaer’s troops planning to invade Canada. Continue reading

Being A NYC Yellow Cab Driver in the 1960s


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jules-stewart-cab-driverThe afternoon I crashed my Yellow Cab into a fire hydrant in West 17th Street I discovered that Gotham Hospital, where I happened to be born, had long ceased to exist. That was not the hospital blown up by The Joker in The Dark Knight. Mine was quietly shut and bulldozed in the 1960s. But this perhaps helps explain a Batman fixation that endures to this day, the 77th birthday of Gotham’s caped hero. Continue reading

New Book On Buffalo’s Waterfront Grain Elevators


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american chartresBruce Jackson’s new book American Chartres: Buffalo’s Waterfront Grain Elevators (Excelsior Editions. 2016) documents Buffalo’s surviving grain elevators, capturing these monumental buildings in all seasons and in various light; from the Buffalo River, the Ship Canal, and Lake Erie; from inside and from the top floors and roofs; in detail.

Invented in Buffalo by Robert Dunbar and Joseph Dart, the city’s first grain elevator went operational in 1843. By the mid-1850s, Buffalo was the world’s largest grain port, and would remain so well into the twentieth century. Grain elevators made Buffalo rich, and they were largely responsible for the development of the Port of New York. Continue reading