Posted by: David Giacalone | July 6, 2018

my camera took some liberties with the Casino fireworks


I hope you got to see this year’s Independence Day Fireworks from Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor in person. Like the first version, in 2017, it was a fine show. And, like last year, I saw them with a just-right-sized crowd in Riverside Park.

IMG_7841However, my camera, monopod, and shutter finger continued their fireworks revolt, as I tried to capture the Mohawk Harbor July 4th display, with unconventional results. (See JJF 2018, for another recent example) The randomly fashioned images are, nonetheless, like my children, and I appreciate them for their unique attributes and beauty. They’re fun to play with, too. I hope you enjoy the inadvertently pretty, and pretty strange, images

Click on any of the photos in this posting, including those in the mosaic below, for a larger version whose details I hope will please you.



  • All the photos were taken from Riverside Park, near the play lot, looking east toward the CSX/Amtrak trestle and Mohawk Harbor.  I got to enjoy them with Julianna, Richard, Laura, Finnegan and Jim. Plus, Good Doggie McKee, who agreed that the distance made the explosions a lot more tolerable. A slight dip in temperature and breeze even made the historic heat wave bearable.

Next year, maybe I’ll experiment some on the shorter, July 3 fireworks show from Rivers Casino. Then, on the 4th, work to capture a good portion of the fireworks as they actually look in the sky. And, also see what serendipity and a shaky monopod yield to surprise my inner child and Independence muse.





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Posted by: David Giacalone | June 30, 2018

still missing the view from WGB

IMG_7382cement parapet on the western side of the Western Gateway Bridge [WGB] has blocked the view of the Mohawk River for those in passenger vehicles since the summer of 2013 [image on right]. WGB is NY Rt. 5 and connects Schenectady with Scotia/Glenville, passing over the Isle of the Cayugas.

But, let’s take a peek over the parapet:

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IMG_7363 (1)

. . [above] the Schenectady side and [below] the Scotia side of Mohawk River channels created by the Isle of the Cayugas, as seen from the sidewalk of the Western Gateway Bridge, on June 15, 2018, near sunset: 


. . and, in between, the island: IMG_7373

 . . IMG_7368

 . . .

How the heck did that happen? Scenic river views are treasured everywhere, and bridge views are protected by statute in many states!

If you have lived near or used the Western Gateway Bridge for less than five years, you may not know the sad tale. You see, WGB was “rehabbed” in 2013, at a cost of $16.9 million. It previously looked like this for about 40 years:


No, the cement walls were not utilized for safety reasons, nor to save money. Instead, decision-makers at the NYS Department of Transportation decided that the “embossed” cement parapet was “aesthetically more pleasing” than steel or wooden rails, and myopically forgot about the view. Really. And, our local politicians and civil servants did not monitor the design, and then came up with lame excuses for not Demanding our Scenic View Back.

GazBenasIllus2013DetDon’t get me started. For the full story, see our posting “DOT, give us back the sidewalk guardrails and scenic view on WGB” (Oct. 3, 2013); and more concisely, my Sunday Gazette View-Point piece “Loss of scenic vistas and guardrails on Western Gateway Bridge falls on shoulders of local leaders” (Nov. 17, 2013). To the left is a detail from my favorite Gazette editorial illustration ever, by Jeanne A. Benas, which accompanied the OpEd piece. (Nov. 17, 2013; click on the detail to see the full image).

Nonetheless, our pleas for a return of the view, and for the safety of guardrails along the roadway, apparently did help the folks who use the Rexford Bridge, where the views were preserved, and the bike-ped path was raised and given a guardrail. See the Gazette photo, by Marc Schultz, taken when the Rexford Bridge opened in November 2017.

On June 15, 2018, after bemoaning the lost view when driving across the bridge for the past half decade, I took my camera to the west side of the Bridge, without a ladder or black cat.

Here are a few more images of the western view from the Western Gateway Bridge, taken that evening. (click on a photo for a larger version)


. . IMG_7380

IMG_7366 . . . .



LOOKING EAST. Thanks to a Gazette editorial and public outcry in 2013, DOT quickly reversed itself and installed steel rails rather than another cement parapet on the east side of WGB (but would not remove the west wall). The scene toward the east is not as “natural” or “scenic” as the westward view, but here are more pictures taken from the Western Gateway Bridge during that June 15 photoshoot, looking east.

IMG_7383 . . Scotia’s Freedom Park bandstand



IMG_7370 . . no, that’s not a high school or office building, it’s our “international tourist destination” Casino, above a steep rip-rap rocky bank

IMG_7391 (1) . . the Riverside Park “esplanade/overlook”

IMG_7347 . . yep, part of WGB is over Rotterdam . .

IMG_7346 . . IMG_7345

. . above: view from Schenectady end of WGB of Binnekill, with Fr. Carlito’s pontoon . . 

My Home Block: I also focused on the rear of Washington Avenue and Cucumber Alley properties, as seen from the WGB.

IMG_7390 . . happily, still mostly a natural riverbank . . 

IMG_7389 . .

. . img_7388-e1530390954316.jpg

. . above: [top, L] 4 Washington Ave., with retaining wall above bank; [R] 1 Cucumber Alley, with lawn carved along riverbank, and new doorway atop roof (see image below left) . . 


IMG_7357 . .

Finally, I snapped quite a few shots that evening from the County’s Gateway Park, f/k/a Gateway Landing, and was surprised to see it was posted with a No Trespassing sign. (Perhaps an over-reaction to its dock being destroyed in the Jan-Feb ice jam flooding.) Its lovely gazebo was empty, but some geese ignored the signs and enjoyed the Park and riverbank.


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Posted by: David Giacalone | June 30, 2018

jumpin’ fireworks



My camera must have been jumping a lot last night, as I tried to capture the 2018 Jumpin’ Jack’s Fireworks from across the Mohawk, standing at the end of Cucumber Alley. “Photo-realism” was not on the menu, it seems, as you will see in the Slideshow below. On the other hand, I enjoyed the company and the pleasant breeze a lot.

  • IMG_1617 For a more customary blend of focus and art, including reflections of the fireworks on the River, see our webpost from 2018, “Jumpin’ Jack’s fireworks a tardy treat” (July 22, 2018). Click on the Fireworks Category in the right-hand margin for more Stockade views of fireworks.


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Posted by: David Giacalone | June 22, 2018

Trail Extension Feasibility Study unveiled

IMG_4095Last night (June 21), the County held a Public Meeting at the Central Library unveiling its Bike Trail Extension Feasibility Study on linking the existing segments of the ALCO Heritage trail along the Mohawk River to Riverside Park and the Stockade neighborhood. Currently, the riverbank trail ends at River Street, along the East Front Street neighborhood.  The meeting was hosted by Ray Gillen, who is the head of County Economic Development and Planning and the chair of Metroplex, and by Gregg Urspring, a representative of the engineering firm performing the Study.

This is a brief summary of the Meeting and the Study. We were promised that the Schenectady County website will soon post the slide images and the text of the draft Study, along with a way to leave comments, and I will add that information as soon as I receive it. [update: Find a link to the PowerPoint presentation from the Public Meeting at the bottom of this County webpage.]

The Feasibility Study:

  1. TWO OPTIONS. The study presents two options for making the linkage from the current extent of the ALCO Heritage Trail to Riverside Park:
    1. OPTION 1: Under the CSX Bridge:  Trail would run under the existing CSX/Amtrak Bridge, with two alternative alighnments (a steeper one with an 11% slope and one with an 8% slope). It would require placing fill against the existing bridge abutmenmt, out to the first pier; constructing a protective cover over the trail where it runs under the bridge; removal is likely to be needed during winter months due to ice floes.
    2. OPTION 2: Front Street Path: It would start at the “Riverside Park Walkway”, cross Union College property (with an Agreement already in place), run through Front St. Park, then along a sidewalk on Front St. and through either CSX railroad or vacant property to the existing ALCO Heritage Trail.
  2. IMG_6724 STUDY ASSUMPTION: Riverside Park is already Part of the Bike-Trail System. The question addressed in the Study is how to link with it. However, to the relief of many at the Meeting who demurred at deciding how to link to the Park without first deciding whether the Park walkway would be converted to a bike trail, the Study does provide that there must be an additional planning stage in which necessary “improvements” are considered at Riverside Park, especially to its existing “walkway”. An example of a possible improvement/reconfiguration of Riverside Park is to create a separate pedestrian path to meet many concerns expressed about a trail’s impact on the Park’s current users. [editor’s note: For explanations of our concerns, see our discussion at ]
  • There was no final attempt to reach a consensus at the Meeting between Options 1 and 2. More thoughtful evaluation will be possible when the Study is online. At this point, I personally am leaning toward Option 2, given the significant problems raised by placing a segment of the trail under the bridge, with worries about floods and ice floes, and seasonal closings. I still want a chance to read the Study before coming to a final conclusion.
  • See Stephen Williams’ report on last night’s meeting here in the Gazette.

Here are images from the Study slideshow that help illustrate the points above.










    Readers of this website know that I am an avid user and strong admirer of Riverside Park (as a mellow and beautiful experience and a photography subject, in fair weather and foul). From the first declarations that Riverside Park would be getting a shared use path — one path for both pedestrians and bicyclists, going in both directions — I have voiced and posted concerns that increased numbers of bicycles, many going at fast speeds, would ruin the Riverside Park experience, for many current users, by creating a “scared use” path. The response from Bike Schenectady proponents has consistently been that they will assure that a shared-use path meets engineering requirements, not that the shared-use notion might be abandoned.

    Therefore, acknowledgment in the Feasibility Study and at the Public Meeting that there must be strong consideration to having separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists, in order for a Bike-Ped Trail to be safe and workable, is a positive outcome.

  •  I presume that, if further study and public input show it is not feasible to reconfigure Riverside Park to adequately meet justifiable concerns over safety and aesthetics — that is, without significant damage to the quality of the Park experience — options will be fully considered and proposed that have cyclists skirting the Park or walking bikes through the Park. [seeˆLet’s Make Riverside Park a Pedestrian Sanctuary“]


  • Note that Option Two in the Feasibility Study shows that trail proponents realize we can have a successful Trail without the need to hug the riverbank wherever possible.

As further information or insights arrive, I will update or follow-up this posting.


Posted by: David Giacalone | June 9, 2018

sidewalking on a pretty Saturday morning

. .


We had a lovely day for the 2018 Stockade neighborhood Sidewalk Sale, organized by the Stockade Association. Nice weather and friendly vendors made me wish there were more stops on my truncated stroll around the neighborhood. I’m sorry I never made it to east of Lawrence or up Green St. to N. College Street. This posting has two dozen or so photos, including five taken in the lovely garden of Jorge Luis Alvarez (224 Union Street), which you may remember from the fabulous 2016 Stockade Garden Tour.


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Posted by: David Giacalone | May 18, 2018

a selective 2018 Stockade tulip sampler


My tulip searches around the Stockade turned out to be too early or too late this year. But, on May 14, I grabbed my camera and monopod determined to get a few good photos, despite post-peak fears. Riverside Park’s west-end garden and the entryway to First Reformed Church are featured in this posting. As often happens, I need to thank the sunlight for helping to make things interesting. [Click on an image for a larger version.]

IMG_7195 . . . IMG_7196

. . above: west end of Riverside Park, looking [L] east and [R] west . . 

below: entryway of First Reformed Church, Union Street at N. Church St. .






 Here are two collages, one with Riverside Park tulips and one with First Reformed. Click on either for a larger version:

tulips1sReformed14May2018.   . . tulipsRiversidePark14May

Posted by: David Giacalone | May 12, 2018

more arboreal Stockade splendor

Its trees made the Stockade even lovelier than usual on May 9 and 10, 2018. We’re much more than cherry blossoms, you know.

IMG_7129-001 . . Lawrence with pear tree


 . . redbuds . 

13 Front St. rear, along Governor’s Lane . . IMG_7142-001

Please enjoy the Slideshow.

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Posted by: David Giacalone | May 6, 2018

cherry blossoms ’round Town

. . above: Central Park Rose Garden; middle: Schenectady City Hall; bottom: Congregation Gates of Heaven, Niskayuna . .


No, I did not go everywhere in Schenectady and environs where lovely arrays of cherry blossoms can be found outside the Stockade neighborhood [you can go here to see our extensive 2018 Stockade blossom coverage]. But, I did go to City Hall (on Thursday, May 3), and to Congregation Gates of Heaven and Central Park (on Saturday, May 5).  It is now rather official: I have taken enough blossom photos for 2018, and while they last I plan to actually observe them in person, with my own eyeballs.

  • To see a larger version of a photo in the Slideshow, pause the Slideshow on the photo, right-click, choose Show Image in New Tab.

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