TRANSITIONAL PINE HILLS A STUDY IN CONTRASTS

FRANCES INGRAHAM Staff Writer
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.


POPULATION: 12,667.


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.