A project of Zach van Schouwen.


The Mansion District, Albany

A bit of a change of pace here, although I haven't updated in so long you've probably forgotten what the pace was like to begin with. But in this case I don't know the history and can't be bothered to even make it up, so let's just talk appearances.

When you're upstate for awhile, you start jonesing for NYC, I find. After a certain number of quaint farm towns and general stores and state troopers, etc., etc., you really wish you could just look at some tenements for a few minutes. The next best thing, as it turns out, is to cut through Albany.

I never really knew a lot about Albany, although being from Springfield it wasn't exactly a long hop. But, I mean, why would you go? Even when I tell people about it now, they don't understand what I was doing there. What I was doing was just picking random freeway exits. If you happen to take Route 20 and pull over when you're driving up a giant hill, you'll hit the Mansion, an old townhouse neighborhood just across the highway from downtown.

Let's be frank: the Mansion is a slum. At 2 PM people are drinking out in the street, and half of the [beautiful] row houses are boarded up and being left to rot. Still, it's beautiful, and familiar-looking enough to tug on even the most diehard downstater's heartstrings. A Brooklynite like me familiar with the traditional course of gentrification might be tempted to drop three months' rent and buy a house [note, remove this slight exaggeration before publishing], fix it up, see where it takes them. Of course, then you're stuck living in Albany.

So act now! You too can have your own little piece of the 1970s! When you're bored, you can go to Empire State Plaza, which is one of the most underrated architectural disasters in America. Sure, it's a flat ugly Modernist hellhole, but hey... there's a reflecting pool! And the State House sure is purdy. At the very least, you should visit.

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