Analysis of Amsterdam’s Chalmers Mill Lofts Project. Part One – Why Not Luxury Housing?

by Daniel T. Weaver

In 2008 the City of Amsterdam made its first serious attempt to redevelop the Chalmers Mill site on the city’s south side. Since then, two city administrations have made at least four major attempts to develop the site during an eight year period. Two guiding principles emerge from interviews, numerous published studies and other documents concerning attempts to redevelop this site. The first principle is—is the proposed project viable or can it succeed. The second principle is—will the proposed project stimulate additional economic growth. Continue reading “Analysis of Amsterdam’s Chalmers Mill Lofts Project. Part One – Why Not Luxury Housing?”

If You Oppose Amsterdam’s Chalmers Mill Lofts Project, You Might Be An Elitist (Opinion)

Sometimes we say things and don’t realize what we have really said. Such is the case with those in the City of Amsterdam who oppose the Chalmer’s Mill Lofts workforce housing project because they say the plot of land the housing project will be built on, the site of the former Chalmer’s Knitting Mill near the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge, is prime real estate better suited to luxury housing. What these opponents are really saying is working people don’t deserve to live on prime real estate or on waterfront property and that property should be reserved for people with money. Continue reading “If You Oppose Amsterdam’s Chalmers Mill Lofts Project, You Might Be An Elitist (Opinion)”

Herman Melville & the White Whale That Swam to Albany (History, Literature)

By Daniel T. Weaver

Herman Melville, one of New York State’s greatest authors whose 200th birthday we are celebrating this year, had multiple sources to draw from for his greatest work, Moby Dick. One was the sinking of the Essex, a whaling ship, by a whale. Another source was an aggressive white whale known as Mocha Dick. A third inspiration for his novel may have been the story of a white whale that swam up the Hudson to Fort Orange, now the city of Albany, New York. Continue reading “Herman Melville & the White Whale That Swam to Albany (History, Literature)”

Winston Churchill’s Upstate New York Ancestors (History)

By Daniel T. Weaver

Sir Winston Churchill’s maternal grandfather, Leonard Jerome, studied law for three years with Marcus T. Reynolds, an attorney born in Minaville, NY. Reynolds, a Union College graduate, was the first person to practice law in Amsterdam before moving to Albany where he became one of New York State’s top attorneys. Before studying law with Reynolds, Churchill’s grandfather attended Union College in Schenectady, graduating in 1839. Continue reading “Winston Churchill’s Upstate New York Ancestors (History)”

When Guy Johnson Drank Everyone Under the Table & Other Stories From Stone Arabia (History)

By Daniel T. Weaver

It was a summer night in 1765 at a tavern in Stone Arabia (now the Town of Palatine, New York), and Guy Johnson had drunk all his companions under the table. One of them, Capt. Cornelius Cuyler, was so drunk he “gott into bed with the Landlady…She Cryed out—alarmed the Family—& sett us all a going!” So wrote Lord Adam Gordon in a letter to Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Division, on July 2, 1765, in which he apologized to Johnson for the behavior that had occurred. Johnson was there but slept through the “riotousness.” Continue reading “When Guy Johnson Drank Everyone Under the Table & Other Stories From Stone Arabia (History)”

Cuomo Should Emulate Rather Than Ignore Trump Tax Break That Benefits NYS (Opinion)

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s stance on the Trump Administration’s cap on State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions has placed him in a strange position, in which the self styled progressive governor is suing the federal government because he believes the rich are being unfairly penalized by the tax cap. Of course, that’s not the way Cuomo writes the narrative. The governor is not going to admit he is fighting for tax breaks for the wealthy, even though that is what he is doing. Continue reading “Cuomo Should Emulate Rather Than Ignore Trump Tax Break That Benefits NYS (Opinion)”

Made in Canada: Schenectady’s Historic Colonial Era Cannon Silent Witness to History

By Neil B. Yetwin

One of the most enduring and intriguing of Schenectady’s many antiquities is the mounted cannon at the end of North Ferry Street in the Stockade’s Riverside Park. For nearly a century this imposing piece of ordnance has stood watch eastward over the Mohawk River as if expecting to defend the city against any who threatened the peace and security of its inhabitants. Schenectady historian John J. Birch suggested in 1961 that the cannon’s history “is a mystery which undoubtedly will never be solved.” Yet physical clues and scattered anecdotal evidence might shed light upon those mysteries that have shrouded the cannon for more than two centuries and perhaps help restore it to its proper place in Schenectady’s history. Continue reading “Made in Canada: Schenectady’s Historic Colonial Era Cannon Silent Witness to History”

Thanksgiving Day 1822, 1893 & 2014 in Amsterdam, NY (History)

by Daniel T. Weaver

Thanksgiving Day 1893 was not a happy time for many people in Amsterdam. The Panic of 1893 was a financial crisis which lasted four years and had a negative impact on the city. Many newspapers blamed the crisis on free trade or the removal of tariffs on American goods. The city of Amsterdam was used as an object lesson for the “blighting effects” of “the tariff wreckers.” In an account in the Amsterdam Daily Democrat published the day after Thanksgiving, Amsterdam was described as a city where “Nearly every mill is shut down. Thousands of men and women, who a year ago were employed, are on the the brink of want. A recent Amsterdam dispatch declares that the Aid and Benevolent society is attempting to care for several thousand destitute families. People daily go from house to house begging for food. Local trade is at a standstill. Various charitable organizations are making constant appeals for help. Numbers are deserting the town.” Continue reading “Thanksgiving Day 1822, 1893 & 2014 in Amsterdam, NY (History)”

Burning Slaves at the Stake in the Mohawk Valley (History)

By Daniel T. Weaver

The sentence of the five man court was that the prisoner “be carried to the place from whence she came + to be brot from there to the Place of Execution and there be burnt till she is dead.” The five Tryon (later Montgomery) County, New York justices were Jelles Fonda, (ancestor of Jane, Henry, Peter and Bridget), Adam Loucks (later a Stone Arabia tavern keeper), John Butler (notorious Tory raider during the Revolution), Joseph Chew (his son was Sir William Johnson’s god-child) and Peter Masten, Continue reading “Burning Slaves at the Stake in the Mohawk Valley (History)”

Herman Melville in Schenectady (History)

by Neil Yetwin

The name of Herman Melville continues to retain the power to evoke images of New England whalers plying the South Seas, of desperate mutinies aboard British naval vessels, and of the epic pursuit of an elusive white whale. Yet Melville’s life prior to his attaining an honored place in American letters was anything but adventurous, marked as it was more by personal loss and financial instability than by any literary success. It was during those uncertain early years that the future author of Moby Dick and his lesser-known elder brother Gansevoort both had brief associations with the city of Schenectady. Continue reading “Herman Melville in Schenectady (History)”

Lord & Tailor: Sir William Johnson and his Clothier (History)

While wealthier residents of colonial Johnstown, New York afforded custom tailoring, almost everyone else wore clothing that itched, chafed, bagged up, or was too hot in summer and not warm enough in winter. Settler’s clothing mostly derived from sheering their sheep, spinning the wool into cloth, and sewing that into ill-fitting, patched breeches and shirts. Meanwhile, the Johnson family quartet – Sir William Johnson, Sir John Johnson, Guy Johnson and Daniel Claus – plus others of wealth and prominence, enjoyed clothing that actually fitted and was reasonably comfortable, being ‘tailor-made.’ Good tailoring has always been appreciated by those who can afford it and envied by those who can’t. Continue reading “Lord & Tailor: Sir William Johnson and his Clothier (History)”

Dear Jeff Bezos Why Are You Allowing Amazon To Ban & Burn Books? (Open Letter)

Mr. Bezos,

I received an email from one of your bots yesterday stating my book business, the Book Hound in Amsterdam, New York, could no longer sell two titles on amazon. Your botnote said, “This product was identified as one that is prohibited for sale. Amazon reserves the right to determine whether content provides an acceptable experience for customers.” The email did not enlighten me as to the following:

Continue reading “Dear Jeff Bezos Why Are You Allowing Amazon To Ban & Burn Books? (Open Letter)”

Samuel Downing One of Last Veterans of American Revolution (History)

Things were relatively quiet in the Mohawk Valley of upstate New York during 1782, even though the American Revolution was not over. Men like Private Samuel Downing of the 2nd New Hampshire Regiment stationed at Fort Plain, also known as Fort Rensselaer, spent a lot of time cutting firewood, going on routine patrols and foraging for food. Late in life, Downing recalled one of those days when he was in Johnstown foraging for food. Continue reading “Samuel Downing One of Last Veterans of American Revolution (History)”

World Series Key to Understanding Electoral College (Politics)

To what should we liken the Electoral College? How about another favorite American pastime—baseball’s world series. Because of the Electoral College, the presidential election is different than all other elections in the United States. Other elections are like a single baseball game in which the winner is the team which scores the most runs. But the presidential race is more like the world series. The baseball team that wins the world series does so not by making the most runs in the series but by winning the most games. The winning presidential candidate does not win by receiving the most individual votes (runs) but by winning the best of 50 games (states). Continue reading “World Series Key to Understanding Electoral College (Politics)”

Rip van Winkle from Mohawk Valley some Say (History)

Washington Irving’s famous story, “Rip Van Winkle,” about a fictional man who returns to his village after mysteriously disappearing for twenty years, takes place in the Catskill Mountains along the Hudson Valley. Some people theorize, however, that in real life the story might have been influenced by a man from the Mohawk Valley—Petrus (Peter) Groot of Cranesville, about 25 miles west of Albany. Continue reading “Rip van Winkle from Mohawk Valley some Say (History)”

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