The Sunken Garden

Pine Hills

The Sunken Garden

Albany, New York 12207, United States

Created By: Upper Madison Improvement Group

Point of Interest Details

A little more than a century ago, an open creek ran through here – and not the kind you'd want to go wading in.

For years, as one contemporary account put it, the creek “carried away practically all of the sewage of the Pine Hills district,” and it got worse as the neighborhood grew. The land belonged to the Roman Catholic Diocese, and rather than bearing the expense of enclosing the creek in a trunk sewer, the diocese deeded the land to the city. They put one condition on the deal: that after the sewer was built, the land be made into a street-lined park.

So in 1910 the Roman Catholic Diocese gave the city a long strip of land bounded by North Main on the west and Ontario Street on the east. Grand plans for a sunken garden were announced: Sloping lawns, flower beds, paths, benches, a pavilion, perhaps a fountain. But the plans fizzled. In its 1917 report, the city Department of Public Works wrote, “There seems to be no need or popular desire for a park of this kind. … [T]he chances are that it would be used or visited by comparatively few people, not enough to justify the cost.” They suggested the adjacent St. Mary's cemetery along Washington Avenue would be a better site for a park. At that time the interred were being removed to St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands. Over the years, different parts of the parcel were indeed used as parkland (and, after World War II, as the site of emergency housing). Today, Albany High and the former Reserve Center occupy the cemetery grounds, and the “sunken garden” that never was has become the Albany Youth Soccer fields.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Pine Hills


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