Sara Foss

Daily Gazette

Can Albany’s riverfront once again become a thriving hub of city life? These advocates say yes

Albany was once a bustling riverfront city, where sloops, schooners and steamboats plied the mighty Husdon, laden with goods from around the world. A mile-long strip of shoreline was enclosed by a wharf of warehouses, coal yards and dockage facilities. This lively scene is but a distant memory, kept alive by a small historical marker honoring what was then known as the Albany Basin.

The Albany Basin was eventually filled in, with the construction of Interstate 787 perhaps the final nail in the coffin of a once-thriving waterfront. For decades, the city’s downtown languished, with retail, restaurants and other businesses finding it tough to survive in an area mostly sustained by state employees and other daytime workers.

Proctors to screen documentary on controversial 2000s Albany terrorism prosecution

The story of Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain is well known in the Capital Region. Arrested in 2004 in a dramatic FBI terrorism sting in downtown Albany, the men were accused of taking part in a plot to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat in New York City. Several years later, they were convicted of money laundering and terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Yet the arrests were controversial almost from the start, with friends and relatives insisting the two men were innocent and many coming to believe they were wrongfully prosecuted.

Meet the ‘Eagle Man,’ founder of the Schoharie County Eagle Trail

Bill Combs Jr. sees bald eagles where others see only trees or sky or banks of clouds. He’s driving on New York State Route 7 in the Schoharie County hamlet of Central Bridge when an eagle catches his eye — something most motorists wouldn’t notice, or even know to look for. He parks his truck on the side of the road, hops out and gazes upward intently. “I think that’s one over our heads,” he says, while watching the bird soar amongst the clouds, perceptible but barely. “Yup.” He pauses, tracking the swiftly moving speck. “He’s getting closer to us. He’s getting up in the blue now.”  

Combs has a knack for finding bald eagles, and he’s also a fount of knowledge, with a storyteller’s gift for relating facts and anecdotes about the majestic, once-rare birds. He points to a small group of turkey vultures circling some distance from the eagle and narrates the drama unfolding in the sky. “Those four turkey vultures have found something dead, and the eagle knows that turkey vultures eat only dead things,” Combs explains. “So it’s flying around kind of like, ‘OK, what have they found? What have I found?’” 

Saying good-bye

After nearly two decades at The Daily Gazette, I’m undergoing something of a realignment myself.

I need a change – to do new things and see new things, to get out and explore the world. 

I want to visit with people I haven’t seen very much during the past year and a half, and a young son I want to spend a little more time with this summer. 

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that this is my final column for The Daily Gazette. 

Back to the movies

In April, the movie theater beckoned to me. Of course, the movie theater has always beckoned to me, ever since I was a child growing up in a town without a movie theater. Back then, trips to the movies were rare – I spent more time reading reviews and listing the films I wanted to …

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‘Any death hurts’: In Schenectady and Albany, being born black is a fight against the odds

Kyshawn Tyree Hope’s time on earth was short — just 1 hour and 45 minutes. But that didn’t make his life any less precious.

His mother, Schenectady native Shekia Hope, says she thinks about Kyshawn every day. “His brothers and sisters talk about him,” Hope told me, when I asked her about the baby boy who died shortly after he was born in 2003. “They know that he was here, and then he wasn’t.” Hope left the hospital with the onesie Kyshawn was wearing, his footprints and handprints, and his umbilical cord. She says he was born early, at seven months, and that “he couldn’t breathe that good on his own.” “For that 1 hour and 45 minutes, I loved him,” Hope told me. “That 1 hour and 45 minutes was everything to me. I wanted him to know, in that 1 hour and 45 minutes, that I loved him.”