Vintage Photo Wednesday, Vol. 28: Albany Street Ads, 1948

While looking for material for a possible St. Patrick’s Day theme post, I found this outstanding vintage photograph taken in Albany, New York on August 31, 1948. I don’t know the local street name, but it appears to be in a downtown area where state routes 32 and 9W run nearby. I can just make out an actual street sign name in front of the Phillips Hardware sign, but can’t tell what it says. Any idea?

There are so many great things to look at here I don’t know where to begin, but I suppose I’ll start with one of the biggest items in the picture — the billboard for Beverwyck Beer & Ale, which makes the oddly specific claim of being the “first truly great beer and ale in 8 years!”

(Click the image for a larger version.)

Albany, New York street signs (1948)

Long-time Albany residents should know the Beverwyck name well. Not only is the original spelling for the word — Beverwijck — tied intimately to the city’s history, it also became lent its name to the brewing company that started in 1878. Beverwyck produced many varieties of beer for almost a century, including the ale and Irish cream ale seen in the billboard, until they were closed by parent company F. & M. Schaefer in 1972.

As for the rest of the photo — there’s a car of undetermined make in the lower right, streetcar tracks going down the cobblestone street, and an almost countless assortment of outstanding signage. What makes it even better is the abundance of neon. This street must have looked amazing at night!

If anyone reading this is from Albany or is up on their Albany history, I’d love to know more about the sights in this photo. Anything about the businesses or the general culture and climate (not the temperature kind) of Post-War Albany would be most appreciated.

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4 Comments

  • Garry

    Chris,
    I live in Albany, but I had never seen this photo before. I was able to track down Breslaw Brothers to 96 South Pearl Street, which makes the cross street Market St. If you go to “66 South Pearl Street, Albany NY” in Google Street View, and look directly south, you see the exact same vantage point as it is today. Virtually everything in the old photo is gone now. What was once Market Street is now a highway off-ramp on the left, with a stunted remnant of Market Street on the right. The hat shoppe, furniture store, and cigar store on the left are all vacant lots now, just beyond the building at the far left in the new view. The bustling business district, which clearly extended several blocks southward, has been replaced by vacant lots, and block after block of slums. The only businesses that survive today beyond the highway overpass are almost entirely neighborhood convenience stores and second-hand shops (most of which have hand-painted signs). I hope you find this information useful.

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