Open Historical Map/Projects/New York Capital District

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New York Capital District

A project to map historical street grids, railway lines, river banks, and highway routings in the Capital District of New York.

[OHM Capdist]

Current work is focused on a set of 1952 Aerial Images from USGS Earth Explorer and building out the street grid and river banks before the flurry of construction in the 1960s and 1970s.

Imagery and Map resources

The following imagery and map resources have been used during the development of the Capital District Map.

Imagery

Maps

  • 1892 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of Albany (from LOC site, uploaded to Mapwarper.net)
  • 1828 Map of Albany (from NYPL mapwarper site.)
  • 1758 Map of area immediately north of the wooden stockade wall (on Mapwarper.net)

Streets

The Capital District street grid has evolved significantly over the years. Projects such as the Empire State Plaza, I 787, the Thruway and the Northway have caused major changes in the connectivity of the grid. Bridges have been built and replaced several times over and the associated streets have changed as well.

Albany

The Dewitt plan

in 1790 (approximately) Simon DeWitt published a pair of maps of the city. The first map documented the settlement as it was, along the river. The second map added a street plan for The Pastures to the west of the existing city. This street plan was a rectangular grid, with bird names for streets running north and south, and animal names for streets running east and west. Many of the bird names have survived, but the animal names have almost entirely disappeared.

Road Street

Road Street is one of the oldest roads/streets in Albany. It originally extended from a point near/on Broadway westwards, identifiable on a number of very early maps. Today a very small fragment of it exists just south of Sheridan Avenue in a one and one half block stretch between Hawk and Dove Streets. Currently a rough plot of its route is in OHM from a spot between Broadway and Pearl Street west to Dove Street. The route further west is being researched.

State Street/Junkers Street

The section climbing up the hill from the river to the Capital is of the original streets in the Dutch settlement, a major road in Albany to this day.

Broadway/Handlers Street

Original street, still major today.

Pearl Street

Another original street, and still a major road, albeit much longer than it was in the 1700s.

Rapp Road (Historic District)

In the 1930s and 1940s, a cohesive majority black neighborhood grew along Rapp Road. This area is now surrounded by development (Washington Avenue Extension, Crossgates Mall) and has shrunk a bit as a result, but is still fairly cohesive. The map of the area is derived from a 1952 USGS Aerial image which predates modern developments.

Sheridan/Canal/Fox

Originally the east end was Fox with a name change to Canal at Hawk Street. The street was renamed Canal in its entirety (date being researched) and then changed again to Sheridan after General Phillip Sheridan, who was allegedly born in Albany.

Lydius Street/Madison Avenue

Western Avenue/Great Western Turnpike

Schenectady

Troy

Railways

At its peak, the railway network footprint was substantially bigger than it is today. The West Albany yards in particular were once quite large and busy, and the area in Downtown Albany occupied by the passenger station and associated holding tracks was also much larger.

Downtown Albany/Union Station

West Albany Yards

Rensselaer Stations & Yards

Bridges

Maiden Lane Bridge (the "South Bridge")

Built in 1869, reconstructed 1899-1900, closed 1968, dismantled 1969. It was primarily used carrying New York Central passenger trains over the Hudson River to Union Station in downtowm Albany. Its name comes from Maiden Lane, on its western end.

Also referred to as the South Bridge.

Livingston Avenue Bridge (the "North Bridge")

Construction start 1864, finished in 1866, reconstructed 1900-1901, still extant in 2020 although its future is being discussed. Originally built for freight traffic over the Hudson. When the Alfred H Smith Memorial Bridge was constructed in 1924 most freight traffic was diverted south of Albany. In 1968 the NYC closed its passenger terminal in Downtown Albany in favor of a much smaller station in Rensselaer; the Maiden Lane Bridge (the "South Bridge") was then removed and all passenger traffic shifted to the Livingston Avenue Bridge. The bridge's name comes from its proximity to Livingston Avenue on its western end (Livingston Avenue was originally Lumber Street during the period when the bridge was merely identified as the "North Bridge".)

The Livingston Avenue Bridge had been unused by rail traffic for a period before 1968 and its swing span had been locked open to river traffic for a time. When traffic was diverted from the Maiden Lane Bridge to the Livingston Avenue Bridge, this was reversed.

Originally referred to as the North Bridge. The modern name was adapted with the 1901 reconstruction.

Greenbush Bridge

Highway Bridge between Albany and Greenbush (now Renssealer) NY. Built 1882, replaced 1933, appears to have stood for several years after new bridge built.

Dunn Memorial Bridge (1)

The first Dunn bridge, which replaced the Greenbush Bridge in 1933. The full name of the bridge waa the Private Parker F. Dunn Memorial Bridge.

Dunn Memorial Bridge (2)

The modern bridge, which replaced the first Dunn Bridge in 1969 as part of the Riverside Arterial Project (aka I 787). Its full name is the same as the previous Dunn Bridge.

The east end of the bridge (in Rensselaer) ends abruptly. It was originally intended to connect to an arterial that would connect with NY 43 in Defreestville at the top of the hill, but that project was cancelled.

This bridge is not in OHM, but is well mapped in OSM.

Troy-Menands Bridge

Built in the early 1930s, this bridge is still present today. It is mapped in both OHM and OSM. It is in OHM because it ties into historic highway routings and because the western approaches were substantially reconstructed when I 787 was built, and because it provides context for other mapped entities such as Empire Raceways and the Menands drive in.

Hawk Street Viaduct

The Hawk Street Viaduct provided a connector between the area near the State Capitol and the Arbor Hill neighborhood to the north, connecting Clinton Avenue to Elk Street. Built in the 1890s, it was reduced to a 3 ton load limit in 1949, restricted to pedestrians in 1968 and demolished in 1970.

Rivers and Water Transportation

The Erie Canal originally terminated in Albany and the Albany Basin was built to support it. Various side channels of the Hudson River have been cut off and filled in over time.

Albany Basin

Constructed in 1824 as the Albany Terminus of the original Erie Canal. Partially filled between 1892 and 1909 (date in OHM is currently a guestimate). Remainder filled in 1953-4. Site was used by the NYC railroad from 1954 until 1968 to support passenger service. Now partially underneath I 787 and area closest to the Hudson River is part of the Corning Preserve.

The 1909-1952 basin outline is taken from the 1952 USGS aerial imagery pass. The original basin outline is based on the 1892 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, and is not quite finished yet.

Erie Canal

There have been several versions of the Erie Canal. Albany was the original eastern terminus; the current canal starts further north in the Capital District.

The version currently represented at the Albany terminus is from the 1892 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map. It is generally referred to as the Enlarged Erie Canal or the Improved Erie Canal.

Survey maps of the Canal in 1834 are available on the NYS Education department website. They depict the canal in its original form. The original Albany terminus will be mapped soon.

The original terminus shows on the 1838 Atlas of New York State on NYPL mapwarper. The upgraded terminus shows on the 1843 John Bradt map in the Boston Public Library collection. The transition date will be set to 1840 in OHM pending development of better information.

Little Basin

A basin in the Erie Canal, between Lock 1 and the Weigh Lock. Its location, size and shape are clear in the 1892 Sanborn Insurance Map.

Champlain Canal

The Champlain Canal extends north from the Erie Canal near the junction of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers to Lake Champlain. It was built at around the same time as the Erie Canal.

Highway Routes

As the street grids have evolved, so have the routes taken by various US and State Highways.

Thruway (I 87 & I 90)

The first section of Thruway in the Capital District is being constructed in the 1952 Aerial imagery. This was the section between exits 23 and 24. It would subsequently be grandfathered into the Interstate system, with the leg running from Exit 24 south to NYC designated I 87 and the leg running from Exit 24 west to Buffalo designated I 90. I 90 shifted its route significantly when the "free 90" section was built through Albany in the early 1970s.

Northway (I 87)

Riverside Arterial/I 787/NY 787

The Riverside Arterial was projected in the 1950s as a highway along the Hudson River north through the communities of Menands and Watervliet. The plan morphed into I 787 when Federal funding became an option. It was long delayed, but when it came it profoundly changed the Albany Waterfront. Current mapping efforts are focused on the pre-787 era.

I 890

NY 2

The west end NY 2 currently ends in Latham at the interchange with I 87 (the Northway). It once turned south through Troy, crossing the Hudson on the Troy-Menands Bridge, then continuing south on Broadway into Albany.

NY 43

The west end of NY 43 currently terminates at I-90 in Rensselaer County. It once traversed the City of Rensselaer, crossed the river on the Dunn Memorial Bridge, passed through Albany, and continued through Albany County. Much of the old section of NY 43 in Albany County is now numbered NY 443.

Air Travel

Albany Airport

The Albany Airport was built on the current site in 1928. It has been expanded multiple times since. The current map in OHM is from 1952 aerial imagery.

Troy Airport

The Troy Airport was located south of Campbell Highway (Campbell Avenue today) on the south side of Troy NY. It is not yet mapped in OHM.

Historic Fortifications

Albany was the site of three colonial era forts and two different stockade walls.

Fort Nassau

The original fort in the area was located on Castle Island south of the later settlement. Built in 1614, it was flood prone and was destroyed by the 1617 flood and not rebuilt. Records useful for mapping do not exist, and Castle Island has long been merged with the shoreline of the Hudson. It is not currently mapped in OHM.

Fort Orange/Fort Albany/Fort Nassau

Originally Fort Orange, it was renamed Fort Albany when the British took the colony, Fort Nassau when the Dutch retook it, and Fort Albany when the British took it for the final time. It was abandoned when Fort Fredrick was built up the hill. The location is now largely buried under the interchange between i 787 and the South Mall Arterial. The OHM footprint is based on the 1970 Archeological Dig map, thanks to Paul Huey.

Fort Frederick

Fort Frederick replaced Fort Orange, moved further west to provide better defense against natives. Originally wood, it was reconstructed in stone during its service life. It would be abandoned in the late 1700s and disappeared by 1790. It was located at the intersection of State and Lodge Streets. The current representation in OHM was traced from a 1755 map.

Stockades

The first stockade enclosed the smaller dutch settlement. It was replaced by a much larger wooden stockade about 17xx(?). OHM currently contains the later stockade, traced from a 1755 map.

Motor Racing Circuits

The Ghost Tracks project is documenting old racing circuits, and has located many venues in the immediate Capital District. A listing of Ghost Tracks in NY may be found here: Ghost Tracks NY.

Contact

The primary mapper for this project is Richard Welty/nfgusedautoparts