2019 Albany Pop-Up Tour – Lower Central Avenue

CENTRAL AVENEUE begins a few blocks above the capitol and is the next leg in Route 5. The history of this street is truly the history of transportation in Albany. It was built as the first turnpike in New York State, (the Mohawk and Hudson or Albany and Schenectady), begun in 1797 and Completed to Schenectady by 1803. Its fifteen-mile distance is characterized by a perfectly straight line from one end to the other.

The former turnpike is known as Central Avenue in Albany County and State Street in Schenectady County. Despite the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, this road remained as the preferred mode of travel between Albany and Schenectady throughout the nineteenth century, since the canal trip between the two cities took one whole day. Twenty-five of the entire canal’s 77 locks were located in this 20-mile section.

With the establishment of the West Albany railyards and stockyards just north of Central Avenue in the 1850s, the street took on nore importance as a route for shipment of cattle. It was not unusual in the mid-19th century for whole herds of cattle to be driven down Central Avenue!

As the main east-west route through Albany and the major route to Schenectady, Central Avenue quickly developed into the principal access to western development. As such it was the logical location for one of the city’s first horsecar lines. In 1864, the Albany Railway was chartered and its first line travelled along Central Avenue, eventually reaching the rail and stockyards. By 1901, the entire length of the former turnpike was served by electric streetcars when the Schenectady Railway constructed a line from the end of the Albany line to downtown Schenectady.

As transportation modes changed following World War I, Central Avenue became the area where this phenomenon was reflected most clearly. The first two miles of the Avenue became the location of most of Albany’s early auto dealerships, and parts and service retailers.

Downtown Albany

Downtown Albany

Downtown Albany
11 Central Avenue

11 Central Avenue

Armory Garage
12 Central Avenue

12 Central Avenue

STOP: White Tower / Fuze Box
78-80 Central Avenue

78-80 Central Avenue

Detroit Supply Company
104 Central Avenue

104 Central Avenue

Trendley and Allen Chevrolet
149 Central Avenue

149 Central Avenue

F.W. Woolworth
196 Central Avenue

196 Central Avenue

Firestone Tires
268 Central Avenue

268 Central Avenue

The Berkshire Motor Car Company
272 Central Avenue

272 Central Avenue

Carpenter Autos
292 Central Avenue

292 Central Avenue

Hamilton Motor Truck Company
314 Central Avenue

314 Central Avenue

(Gone?) William Schupp Autos
318 Central Avenue

318 Central Avenue

Harry Witte, Oakland and Pontiac (currently WAMC Northeast Public Radio
330 Central Avenue

330 Central Avenue

A. A. Franklin Auto Tires
340 Central Avenue

340 Central Avenue

Steinhardt Auto Accessories (note sign on roof)
351 Central Avenue

351 Central Avenue

James Bussey, Chervrolet
450 Central Avenue

450 Central Avenue

New York State Automobile Rationing Committee
470 Central Avenue

470 Central Avenue

Charles Barnes dealership for REO Speedwagon
476 Central Avenue

476 Central Avenue

Gahran-Pinchbeck Company
482 Central Avenue

482 Central Avenue

William Schupp Company
486 Central Avenue

486 Central Avenue

William Schupp Auto Body
504 Central Avenue

504 Central Avenue

L. R. Mack Packard and Dodge
526 Central Avenue

526 Central Avenue

(Gone) Witbeck Brothers, Graham Motor Cars
527 Central Avenue

527 Central Avenue

Capitol Lexington Motor Company
543 Central Avenue

543 Central Avenue

American Glass Company
549 Central Avenue

549 Central Avenue

Jack’s Diner
911 Central Avenue

911 Central Avenue

Westgate Shopping Center
926 Central Avenue

926 Central Avenue

Armory Garage Chrysler Plymouth
1007 Central Avenue

1007 Central Avenue

(Gone) Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry
1025 Central Avenue

1025 Central Avenue

Albany Supersonic Car Wash