Posted by: David Giacalone | July 14, 2019

another colorful Summer Night

SummerNight2019Logo The weather was perfect for the 2019 version of Schenectady County Summer Night (July 12). And, I continued my custom of taking an early stroll-and-shoot on the Jay Street Pedestrian Mall and the Proctors block of State Street. Like last year, the blue skies and soft sun created beautiful colors, and the growing crowd held many smiles. Read about the attractions and sponsors at the Summer Night Facebook Page.



. . lots of fun at a very popular bubble machine . .


Toy Story sand sculpture by Phil Singer

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Click on any of the square images in the columns below to see a full, larger version of the photograph. Many have captions you can see by scrolling over the image.


Posted by: David Giacalone | June 29, 2019

surreally good fireworks on the Mohawk



“JJ” Fireworks

Yesterday’s 2019 version of the Jumpin’ Jack’s pre-Independence Day Fireworks proved again that photo-realistic images of fireworks are not my forté. Rather than bemoan that fact, I am going to celebrate the fun and often lovely designs that I inadvertently created again last night from the Stockade riverbank near Cucumber Alley. For example, see the image to the right, which seems to prove that my shorthand name of “JJFireworks” for these annual photoshoots at the end of Cucumber Alley and across from the Isle of the Cayugas is spot on.

This photo, taken about 9 PM, shows the canvas for last night’s accidental pyrotechnic creativity:


You should recognize the scene here:


. . and, here (click on a photo for a larger image):


. . and, it is only a little more obscure in next couple of shots:

IMG_1420 . .


But, there are large and small details from that “canvas” that may be a little harder to place:




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A favorite benefit for me of the shooting from the river-end of Cucumber Alley has always been capturing the exploding fireworks and its reflection in the Mohawk River, in the south channel between the Isle of the Cayugas and the Stockade shoreline. Last night, however, the vegetation at the end of Cucumber Alley had grown too tall from Spring rains to allow me to see the reflections from ground-level. So, I moved next door to the rear yard of 10-16 Washington Avenue, where lost trees and bushes left an open view of the River. This mosaic shows several more images featuring river reflections. Click on a tile to see a larger version:



IMG_7836  . . Note: On July 6, 2018, I posted my first batch of “artsy fireworks mistakes,” after shooting at the Rivers Casino fireworks from Riverside Park. They are rather dramatic and are still my favorites. Please take a look. (example to the right)

This slideshow features other surreal images from last night’s Jumpin’ Jack’s show on June 28, 2019 that were colorful, lively surprises I did not want to die on the virtual cutting floor.

  • As with our other slideshows, you can see a larger version of one of the images by pausing on the image; right-clicking on the photo, and then choosing Show Image in a New Tab. 


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Our traditional, sincere thanks to all the folks at Jumpin’ Jack’s for giving us this fine event again this year.

. . Western Gateway Bridge:





Posted by: David Giacalone | June 22, 2019

summer solstice at the Rose Garden

. .

. . click on a photo for a larger version . . 

 . .

It was a little too breezy yesterday at Schenectady’s Central Park Rose Garden for a quick photoshoot. You had to wait for the rose bushes to calm down. And, that was good: The required patience meant enjoying the flowers and the entire scene more thoroughly than I could do just looking through a camera lens and shooting. And, did I mention there was a lovely blue sky and puffy white clouds that were just about perfect for the first day of Sumer?

Scotia magnolia . . IMG_0833

There were quite a few lovers of summer beauty of all ages enjoying the award-winning Rose Garden.

  • The Rose Garden is located at the Park’s main entrance, Wright Avenue and Central Parkway. Learn more about its history and projects at the Rose Garden’s Website and see featured flowers plus current events on its Facebook Page.

 . .

 . .


Click on any of the tiles in this mosaic for a full, larger version. And, don’t forget to head over to the real thing for a little bit of true Renaissance in Schenectady.



followup: the Rose Garden was even more lush on July 8, 2019 . . click on collage:


Posted by: David Giacalone | June 2, 2019

Rainbow Pride blooms at Liberty’s Plaza



I‘ve been curious to see how the Schenectady Pride Art Project at Gateway-Liberty Plaza would turn out, ever since I first learned about it last November. (spoiler alert: I like it a lot more than I had anticipated). At the time, frankly, I was concerned that “rushing it through with no chance for meaningful public input on its basic design, size, materials, or location within the Plaza, undermines the public consensus for celebrating the important civil rights victories.” And, I opined that “Schenectady PRIDE and the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising deserve a much better design.”

 DSCF4698  . . IMG_0607 . .

. . above: Work in Progress: May 29, 2019 [R]; May 31, 2019 [L] . .

PrideArt31May2019 So, I’ve been watching the proposal’s “doorway/arches” being erected and painted this past week (see images immediately above; and collage to left), and saw the finished Project for the first time this morning (June 2, 2019), camera in hand. [And, as you will see below, I brought my “friend” Silhouette Lady to see the display of equality and Enlightenment at the place long known as Liberty Park, and the home of a replica Statue of Liberty since 1950.]

IMG_0652Below are a handful of additional photos of the Rainbow Pride Art Project taken several hours before the exhibit would be “revealed” and dedication this afternoon (June 2, 2019). Each arch has a Milestone title in wooden letters on its crossbeam, as well as a placard that describes the Milestone and its history. Two of the Milestones are stated as acronyms for legislation protecting LGBT rights. A set of mosaic tiles after this set of photos shows the placards; click on a tile for a larger version. After the placards, I’ve included several images of Silhouette Lady, who feels very much at home at the Pride installation, and hopes Schenectady Pride will reciprocate and help Lady Liberty back to her Liberty Park home.



IMG_0649  . . IMG_0646

 IMG_0642 . . buses often block the view from State St..




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Some vital liberties have taken far too long to be achieved, protected, and accepted in the United State of America. When created, the original Statue of Liberty was titled “Liberty Enlightens the World” and specifically celebrated the emancipation of America’s slaves. While She holds high her light, Lady Liberty is also shown breaking shackles and stepping forward. The rights that were fought for at and since Stonewall make us all more free.

In her Implementation Plan for Gateway Plaza, designer Mary Wallinger stated that the Plaza was meant to “celebrate our past, present, and future.” There is no single symbol in Schenectady that fills that role better than our Replica Statue of Liberty. Nonetheless Lady Liberty has been “exiled” by Mayor McCarthy and Ms. Wallinger for failing to be “contemporary” enough. Silhouette Lady disagrees strongly, and made the point this morning while visiting the Schenectady Rainbow Pride Art installation. As you can see in this collage:


. . for more information about the Liberty Exile Controversy, see . .



 p.s. First Afterthoughts. The Rainbow Pride Project turned out better than I had expected, and is a plus for our City. Congratulations to Schenectady Pride and designer Mary Wallinger. However, public input and more brainstorming within the Pride organization about locating the project in the Plaza would have been beneficial.  If the public had been able to make recommendations last autumn about the design and location within the Plaza, there might have been many suggestions worth consideration.

IMG_9225 We were told at the Council meeting last November that alternative spots within the Park for the project would be considered. An alternative spot could have avoided the traffic issues caused by passing vehicles slowing down to see and photograph the Installation at the busy traffic location, especially when CDTA buses are actually blocking the view. An internal spot within the Plaza would have made it more likely that visitors wanting to enjoy the Pride Art would park and walk to it.

Posted by: David Giacalone | May 17, 2019

Tubman-Seward Sculpture unveiled at Central Library




A brass statue of Harriet Tubman and William Seward, by sculptor Dexter Benedict, was dedicated and unveiled today at the Schenectady County Central Library, 99 Clinton Street. It stands along Clinton Street, between the Library parking lot and Liberty Street.

IMG_0589 Union College Professor Emeritus Frank Wicks, who was inspired by the social activism of Tubman and Seward, spearheaded the project. Prof. Wicks was supported in this endeavor by Professor Emeritus Twitty Styles and Professor Emeritus Carl George, also of Union College, where Seward received a degree in 1820.  According to the Underground Railroad History Project, they were “Desirous of commemorating the historic impact of these two individuals . . and reminding the community of their empowering stories that can be models for us today.” For more, see . And, Stephen Williams’ article at the Gazette.


. . Click on any image in this tiled mosaic for a larger version. . 



Posted by: David Giacalone | April 25, 2019

in mem. City Hall Cherry Blossoms

. . . No words needed, but I will update* this posting if the McCarthy Administration or others at Schenectady City Hall issue an explanation for the removal of its Cherry Blossom Trees. 

*SeeRemoval of City Hall cherry trees leads to muted bloomsTrees removed to make way for restoration project” (Daily Gazette, by Pete DeMola, April 29, 2019, at C1), and Update at bottom of this posting.


April 23, 2019




May 3, 2018

CIty Hall May 3, 2018

 . . . IMG_7012-001





April 28, 2013



cb HarborFinally, a question: who would have guessed there would ever be more cherry blossoms at Mohawk Harbor than at our City Hall? See “cherry blossom surprises.”

update (April 29, 2019):

In the Gazette article “Removal of City Hall cherry trees leads to muted blooms (Daily Gazette, by Pete DeMola, April 29, 2019, at C1, City Engineer Chris Wallin gave the City’s explanation for removal of the trees:

“They were removed so the city could perform our window restoration project,” City Engineer Chris Wallin said. “Under that contract, all of our original windows in the building will be removed, restored and replaced.”

With the help of a consultant, the city determined six trees were located too close to the building to perform the work effectively, prohibiting the installation of equipment and rigging.

The trees were not original to the building’s construction, and were planted in 2005 to commemorate Arbor Day by Re-Tree Schenectady, a non-profit organization that plants trees around the city.

. . .

IMG_7012-001 Wallin acknowledged the pleasant springtime vibrancy produced by the trees, but said cherry trees, in particular, require vigilant pruning and maintenance to keep under control, and the city hadn’t always performed the work.

“They started to really obscure the front of the building, which is a historically significant building,” Wallin said.

That wouldn’t happen in front of White House or Executive Mansion in Albany, he said.

A few points in rebuttal and in sorrow:

  • The sub-headline in the website edition of the Gazette was fact-based: “Trees removed to make way for restoration project”. But, the sub-headline in the print edition draws a conclusion: “Loss of blooms was unavoidable, but may make a return following city hall restoration project.” (Emphasis added, and sentiment rejected by your Editor.)
  • It is almost too obvious, but I might as well say it: Proper pruning over the years, and/or additional pruning last year to prepare for the restoration project should have been sufficient to save the trees. In my opinion, our so-called Tree City really needs an Arborist, and she or he should not be under the thumb of the Mayor or City Engineer, but should make recommendations based on good-faith, tree-oriented evaluations.
  • I’ve noted before that “Our Tree City has never found a reason too trivial to justify removing even healthy trees.”

p.s. Thank you, Gazette, for reporting on this topic and using our photo to illustrate what was lost.


Posted by: David Giacalone | April 22, 2019

Stockade blossoming in 2019 (updated)

 Tuesday Update (April 23, 2019) Today was just about perfect for viewing Stockade cherry blossoms and magnolia trees (some forsythia, too), with full branches under sunny skies and puffy white clouds. There are about 40 more photos in this Slideshow, all taken April 23rd. Also, scroll down for yesterday’s posting, with photos taken April 22, 2019.

 . . front lawn of YWCA

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 . . magnolia tree and forsythia bushes in St. George’s cemetery. .


ORIGINAL POSTING (April 22, 2019)


. . above: sunset sets cherry blossoms aglow on Washington Ave.

IMG_0368-001 My return from a brief Easter trip this afternoon brought a smile to my face, as I turned from Church St. onto Union Street and saw cherry blossoms on display. My favorite shots today were taken as the sun was setting and set many blossoms aglow. I will surely be adding many more tomorrow, Tuesday April 23, 2019, as sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures should fill out the trees even more. I’ll also stroll the Stockade neighborhood for other blossoming trees and bushes. Please enjoy one of our very special weeks in the Stockade.

IMG_0302 . . . IMG_0338

Of course, we have more than cherry blossoms showing off. Magnolia trees, forsythia bushes and more will soon be on display here, too. For example (behind the Schenectady County Historical Society):


The columns of mosaic tiles below have about 40 images, from the west end of Union Street and Washington Avenue between State Street and the Mohawk River. Click on an image to see a larger version of the photograph.



FRIDAY FOLLOW-UP (April 26, 2019)

By Friday, there was a carpet of cherry blossoms along the sidewalks of Washington Avenue.

DSCF4612 . . . cherry blossom carpet


And, although the well-loved display of weeping cherry blossoms at Congregation Gates of Heaven was a bit past peak, and the skies gray, it was well worth the trip down Eastern Parkway to see and photograph the sight.


DSCF4609 Ditto for the magnolia tree alongside the Scotia Branch of the County Library. The proof is in the following Slideshow. Enjoy.

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Posted by: David Giacalone | April 2, 2019

mitigation recollection

Last night’s workshop (April 1, 2019) on finding solutions for Stockade flooding was interesting and useful. See “Details begin to emerge on flood mitigation solutions for Schenectady’s Stockade” (Daily Gazette, by Pete DeMola, April 2, 2019). The most prominent bit of mitigation in the Stockade to date, of course, is the moving and lifting of 4 Washington Avenue, which sits at the river dead-end of that street. For a photo history of that project, click here.

The following are images, river-view and street-view, of the 2010 Irene Flooding at the end of Washington Avenue and . . . . .


 . . . . of the rear and front of 4 Washington Ave. in the summer of 2018 . . . .




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