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.”

follow-up (August 27, 2019): Walking out of the Schenectady main Post Office yesterday, I glanced across the street at City Hall, and got another perspective on the City’s excuse that the uprooted cherry blossom trees were just too darn close to the building to allow proper work on replacing its windows. Here, without further comment, except to note that the cherry trees were on the lawn-side of those hedges, is the photo I took:

City Hall - lost cherry


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 . . . .




Posted by: David Giacalone | February 14, 2019

the flamingo tradition continues in 2019


Valentine’s Day 2019 has brought another flock (flamboyance) of flamingos to Lawrence Circle in the Schenectady Stockade. Below are a few noctural images taken before midnight on the 13th, and many more taken in daylight with some pretty blue sky and gauzy white clouds on Valentine’s Day 2019.

IMG_0234 Lovers of the Valentine Flamingo tradition would like to dedicate this year’s Flamboyance at Lawrence Circle to our dearly missed, joyful friend Joan Bessarab, with thanks for all the smiles over the decades.

JoanBessarab-Flamingos2009 . . [L] Joan Bessarab heading to Arthur’s Market, Valentine’s Day, 2009.

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. . Flamingo arrival, late on Feb. 13, 2019 . .








. . IMG_0216

. . Valentine’s Day beauty and romance at Lawrence Circle . . 


IMG_0229 . .

Click on any image in this column of square tiles for a full, larger version of the photograph.


IMG_0259 . . IMG_0254


update (7 PM, 14Feb2019): Thanks yet again to Steve Caporizzo of NewsChannel10 and Stormtracker Weather for featuring our flamingos in his weather segment:


Posted by: David Giacalone | February 4, 2019

watching the warm-up [with updates]

Saturday AM Update (Feb. 9, 2019): The Mohawk rose to about 219.9 ft. overnight (220′ being minor flood stage at Schenectady), but is now slowly receding. It barely crested the Riverside Park riverbank in a few places.

IMG_0134 . . Left and below: the Riverside Park overlook at 9 AM, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 . . 


Click on a photo in the following column of square tiles for a full, larger version.



 follow-up (Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, 7 PM): A surge in the Mohawk River has been forecasted for this evening. At this time, levels are not expected to reach flood stage along the Schenectady Stockade riverbank. This Slideshow has photos taken between 4 and 5 PM today, near sunset, along the Mohawk and Riverside Park. The only flooding seen was at rear yards on Cucumber Alley, along Binnekill creek.

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. .  original posting, with updates . . 


. . [above]: mouth of the Binnekill [Creek] at the Mohawk River off of Cucumber Alley, with sunset reflected in ice melt [Feb. 4, 2019-

After a late-January deep freeze in Schenectady (and much of the nation), we are entering a few days with temperatures significantly higher than average for early February. And, we may have a few days with light rain along with the above-freezing temperatures. Naturally, there is a concern that melting snow and thinning ice, plus rain, might crack the ice sheet on the Mohawk and start ice jamming and/or flooding.

  • to see current water levels along the Schenectady portion of the Mohawk River, click here: NWS Hydrograph


. . [above] view west from yard of 16 Washington Ave. ..

IMG_0029 . . [L] view from the west end of Riverside Park, looking north toward Scotia. A mysterious almost-rectangular cube of dirty ice can be seen just off the east end of the Isle of the Cayugas. It has been anchored there for quite a few days. Melting may cause it to head downstream soon. 

We’ll be watching the River near the Schenectady Stockade over the next few days, with periodic photo-shoots. The first three pictures above were taken February 4, 2019 near sunset.

2019-02-05meltcollageFebruary 5, 2019 Update: The collage to the Right has images captured this afternoon. [click on it for a larger version] There was a bit more melting, and a lovely day on the Mohawk. Click on any of the images in the square-tile columns below to see the full photograph in a larger version.




  • FloeHenge06Feb2019 Feb. 6, 2019: Temperatures above freezing again and rain are increasing runoff, and even shrinking (or tilting) our mysterious Floe-Henge monolith at the east end of the Isle of the Cayugas [R].
  • IMG_0037-002 February 7, 2019: A lot more melting of the ice cover, on this dull gray day, with the water clear west of the Great Western Gateway Bridge and east of the CXS Trestle. To the left is a close-up detail of the still-shrinking “floe-henge” burg.


Here are few more scenes from February 7, in a tiled mosaic. Click on an image for a larger version.

Posted by: David Giacalone | January 25, 2019

not quite a flood at Riverside Park


At 10:30 AM on Friday (Jan. 25), the Mohawk River had risen to the top of the Overlook flood gauge at N. Ferry Street, see photo above. The Hydro Chart from the National Weather Service continues to predict the River topping off at Freeman’s Bridge about 218 ft., which is about 222 ft at N. Ferry Overlook. However, there may be an ice jam at Freeman’s Bridge, so it is a good thing to stay alert, if you live in the flood-prone area.

  • Evening Update (Jan. 25, 9 PM): According to the Gazette, and the NWS Hydro Chart, the River is no longer rising and is expected to recede overnight. Of course, with ice jamming in spots, some flooding continues to be a threat, even if a small one.
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looking east in Riverside Park from Governor’s Lane

. . Below: yard, 4 Cucumber Alley, along the Binnekill and the Mohawk


Below you will find an array of views from the river end of Cucumber Alley and at Riverside Park along the Mohawk around 10:30 AM. Friday. Click on a square tile for a full, larger version of an image. Scroll over the image for a caption.


img_9948 . . view west from 4 Washington Ave. – with not quite-floating birdhouse

Posted by: David Giacalone | January 21, 2019

our first snow storm lures me outside

img_9876 The Capital Region, including Schenectady and its Stockade neighborhood, had its first snow storm of the winter of 2018-2019 this past weekend (January 19-20). Against the advice of my saner friends and family members, I headed out with my camera and monopod (and long-johns) to capture a few images, with”real feel” temperatures heading toward zero degrees. For most of my snow stroll, the sky was low and gray, and blowing snow limited visibility. Also, I had resolved not to climb over tall snowbanks to make special shots, as previously done in my reckless “youthful” exuberance. Thus, to my eye, despite about 14 inches of new snow, I did not capture images quite as gorgeous as those presented by the Mohawk River and the Stockade in previous winter storms. (Such as the first snowy day in December 2006; and a nighttime snow stroll in 2014.)

Nonetheless, below are a few pictures presented to memorialize the event. (The image above is out my front door, Washington Avenue at Front Street/Cucumber Alley.) At the end of my Snow Sojourn, a bit of blue appeared in the sky as I approached home, as seen here above the Schenectady County Historical Society.



Of course, the bit of sun did little to help the lengthy struggle of my neighbor (above), who was eventually able to urge her Chevy Volt up the scarcely-plowed Cucumber Alley roadway.

You can see a full and larger version of the images in the following mosaic by clicking on an image, and roll over the image to see a caption.



img_9886 . . did Lawrence leave to grab some hot cocoa?

Posted by: David Giacalone | December 30, 2018

Nearly New Year’s Eve


. . above & below: Light and Laser show caps the premiere Nearly New Year’s Eve event at Gateway-Liberty Plaza (Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018) . . 


. . share this post with this shorter URL:; for many daytime photos of Gateway-Liberty Plaza and background information, see .

IMG_9834-001 . . Right: Gateway Plaza designer (and Planning Commission Chair) Mary Moore Wallinger at the Nearly Event with her son; Below: Light-show screen viewed from behind the urban pillar art chosen by Ms. Wallinger for the Plaza . . 


According to this morning’s Sunday Gazette, “Despite frigid winds, the inaugural Nearly New Year’s Eve attracted approximately 200 people to Gateway Park Saturday night.” See “Kids, adults celebrate Nearly New Year in Schenectady: Live music and laser light show draws families and community” (Daily Gazette, by Jason Subik, Dec. 30, 2018). The article adds:

I did not arrive at the event until just before the light show, and so I did not see how busy the Schenectady County Ale Trail tents were. But, to mention a personal pet peeve, I saw no mention on their signs that customers should Drink Responsibly or appoint a Designated Driver.
Here are a few more images from the event. Click on an image in the mosaic for a larger version.

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