The news is abuzz recently with tales of Hoffman’s Playland’s final days and the near miraculous 11th hour efforts to save the memorable park’s rides and relocate them to Huck Finn’s Warehouse, where they will be reassembled. This is a win win win.
Win #1: My 2-year son is a third generation Playland attendee. When I was a kid, I was rewarded with ride tickets for good grades so Hoffman’s was a treat, if not a little bit of a bummer because my grades weren’t all that good. But in all seriousness, the Playland is synonymous with growing up in Albany. It’s legendary status isn’t for nothing. Like me, many new parents counted down the days until their kid was tall enough to ride the little park’s rides. The bumper cars at the Playland were hands-down he absolute best bumper cars I’ve EVER been on. Ever. The Paratrooper ride still scares me. In the days leading up to the park’s closing, before a deal was put together to save it, so many folks scrambled to get their last visits in. And ride the Scrambler.
So how come this nostalgia is making it’s way onto a blog about the Livingston Avenue Bridge? In a word: proximity. The walk from the base of the bridge to the new “Huck Finn’s Playland” is less than 15 minutes. It’s not the most pleasant, today. But heck, there’s potential. Lets say that a Casino comes to Rensselaer, sure the walkway could provide a direct access to employment and entertainment, but with a little dressing up, the walkway and a path north could provide a connection to the Playland. Continuing that path further north could connect Albany and Menands with some previously inaccessible undeveloped land that could be a park.
Kudos to the folks at Hoffman’s, Huck Finn’s, Albany County, and National Grid. Especially those putting their money where their hearts are: $250,000 from the state; $150,000 from the Albany County Industrial Development Agency, plus a $250,000 grant from National Grid. Imagine the possibilities.