NORTH ALBANY NURTURES ITS IRISH ROOTS

FRANCES INGRAHAM Staff writer
Section: AT HOME,  Page: H1

Date: Sunday, January 16, 1994

North Albany has been referred to as the Queens of Albany. Located along the Hudson River from Tivoli Street to the Menands village line, it is a neighborhood with many second-, third-and fourth-generation Albanians.


It contains modest single, two-and three-family frame houses, many of which were built prior to 1930, and people are proud of their political heritage and church-sponsored activities. "This is the greatest place in the world," according to Jack McDonald, former president of the North Albany Neighborhood Association, one of the largest in the city with 245 member households.


"We're a stable, close-knit, middle-class community," said Marge Riedy, the current president of the association. "No matter where you go around here to run errands, you always run into somebody you know. We're a very protective and caring community.


"For instance, if a neighbor has a snowblower, they have been known to clear the snow from four or five properties around them."


The neighborhood association was instrumental in securing a lot of new sidewalks this past year. This year, according to Riedy, the association hopes to see a crackdown on absentee landlords, who have not all tended to the upkeep of their properties, whether they are occupied or not.


North Albany is almost a town within a city, as it is physically cut off from downtown by Interstate 90, and features many small businesses. The neighborhood still carries the nickname "Limerick," in honor of the Irish village from which many of its 19th-century families came. Many came here to work on the Erie Canal.


Today the neighborhood is a spectrum of many nationalities and religions.


North Albany was originally part of Watervliet, until it was annexed by Albany in 1870.


This community became Albany's old Ninth Ward (now the Fourth Ward) -- an Irish Democratic political stronghold, which was once home to former Assemblyman Richard Conners and his father. Erie Boulevard was renamed Richard J. Conners Boulevard in honor of Conners, now 84.


The Arbor Hill Development Corp. recently completed five new homes offering more affordable housing in the neighborhood with five more planned for this year. "The first five were sold before they were put up," said Riedy.


Although businesses are dispersed throughout the neighborhood, most larger companies are situated along both sides of Broadway and to the east toward the river. "We work close with the industries around here, who in turn participate in our community," added Riedy.


In addition, activities include bingo and ice cream socials at Sacred Heart Church, which also features a small park for neighborhood use and the annual St. Patrick's Day parade organized by the Limericks, an Irish-American group. North Albany's American Legion Post 1610 is also active in community events.


In the 1870s, North Albany had mills for cutting lumber, and for many years, Albany reigned as the white-pine distribution center of the world. The car barns for the United Traction Co., one of the forerunners of the Capital District Transportation Authority, were also located in North Albany, where many of the striking workers lived during the historic streetcar strike in 1921-'22.


POPULATION: Not available.


POLITICS: Democratic.


TAXES: Residents pay a rate of $152.16 per $1,000 of the assessed value for city and county and $186.88 per $1,000 of the assessed value for school taxes.


SCHOOLS: Children attend School 20 for K-6, Livingston Middle School for grades 7-8 and Albany High School for grades 9-12.


HOUSING: $60,000 to $98,000.


POLICE, FIRE, HOSPITALS: City police, fire and hospitals.


TRANSPORTATION: CDTA bus service along Broadway, North Pearl Street and Northern Boulevard, also known as Route 9.


AMENITIES: Among the services and businesses are a church, elementary school, restaurant, taverns, convenience store/gas, laundermats, dry cleaner, grocery stores, beauty/barber shop, pharmacies, a park/playground and a small church park.