Section: HOME,  Page: H1

Date: Sunday, June 28, 1992

Once a retreat for Albany`s wealthy, Pine Hills today is a neighborhood in transition, with a population of upper-income residents, students and

lower-income residents.

Housing in Pine Hills is a study in contrasts, ranging from large well- kept privately owned homes with manicured lawns to rental apartments and

houses run by absentee landlords. Students who attend area colleges, including the College of Saint Rose, located on Madison Avenue in the center of the

neighborhood, make up a significant proportion of the area`s population.

Pine Hills had its beginnings near the end of the 19th century. In the

halcyon days of Albany, many wealthy residents retreated to the bucolic

outskirts of the city. Quick to see the need for elegant housing were two area businessmen. In 1890 law partners Louis Pratt and Gaylord Logan purchased two large farms - the McIntyre and Hawkins farms - for real estate development, with a

$100,000 loan from the Mechanics and Farmers Bank in Albany.

The developers began their plan with South Pine Avenue, where Pratt

built his own residence at No. 1. At 50 by 200 feet, the lots for the

subdivision cost $1,200.

The name of the neighborhood derived from pine trees Pratt and Logan

planted for shade. The conifers have since died and stately maples have

replaced them.

Pratt and Logan advertised their neighborhood in the first edition of

the periodical The New Albany, stating that Pine Hills offered pure air,

abundant shade, smooth lawns, asphalt pavements, perfect drainage, detached

residences and rapid transit.

The two developers were determined that Pine Hills be zoned residential to keep out commerce and manufacturing. Neighborhood taverns were kept to the commercial areas.

By the summer of 1891, Pratt and Logan`s Land Improvement and Building Co. was auctioning off lots at the reduced price of $840. In 1893, disaster

struck and the pair`s dream was shattered when a depression forced a

foreclosure on Pratt and Logan, who were unable to meet the mortgage payments on their Pine Hills investment.

Much of Pine Hills` growth was sporadic until 1896, when the West End

Building Co. began the construction of 400 homes. That building boom was

followed by another 200 homes, constructed in the early 1900s by the firm of

Cameron and Hawn.

The Pines Hills Neighborhood Association, the oldest in the city, was

formed in 1900. The rectangular boundaries of Pine Hills today include

Washington, Woodlawn, North and South Lake and North and South Pine avenues,

which represent more than 87 blocks.

Other than major renovations on the commercial blocks, Pine Hills

closely resembles the original development plans of Pratt and Logan, although many of the larger homes have been converted into multifamily dwellings. The

College of Saint Rose, founded in 1920, has since taken over many of the older homes on Western and Madison avenues for office and dormitory space, and it

has constructed several new buildings.

As in any neighborhood with a transient population, Pine Hills is

vulnerable to crime - particularly when the students leave, whether it be for holidays or at the end of the school year, or don`t take secure measures to

protect their dwellings.

The Pine Hills Neighborhood Association has formed several neighborhood watch groups in response to the recently reported rash of assaults and

burglaries. The association also has been working for some time now with

students, dealing with quality-of-life issues, which include respecting

private property.

TAXES: The 1991-`92 city and county taxes are $134.31 per $1,000 of

assessed value; school taxes are $158.70 per $1,000.

HOUSING: Prices for residential housing range from approximately

$48,000 to $248,000.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Western Avenue is the dividing line; on the north side of the avenue, children in elementary grades K-6 attend School 16 and on the

south side they attend Schuyler Elementary; children in grades 7 and 8 attend either Hackett School to the south or Philip Livingston to the north; and

grades 9-12 attend Albany High.


PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Before 1890 a one-way trip from downtown Albany to Pine Hills took more than one hour by horsecar, with several changes of

horses, and cost five cents. The horses became history in 1890 when the Albany Railway Co. electrified the lines. A trolley ride to downtown Albany took a

half-hour one way. In 1925 buses began replacing the trolleys. Today CDTA

crisscrosses all of the main streets in Pine Hills and loops back downtown on Mondays through Saturdays. On Sundays and holidays buses travel only the main thoroughfares. All rides cost 75 cents each way.

AMENITIES: Pine Hills is residential except for parts of Allen Street

and Madison Avenue. On those streets residents can find one of the last of

Albany`s large movie theaters, the Madison. The neighborhood is served by a

police station and a firehouse. Other amenities include several churches, a

pharmacy, bookstore, supermarkets, liquor stores, gas stations, library,

Steamer No. 10 Theatre for children, the College of Saint Rose and restaurants offering everything from down-home cooking to Chinese food.