Demolished Troy NY Intersection Hoosick and North Lake
Demolished Troy NY Hoosick and North Lake medallion

On April 2, 1930, President Herbert Hoover stood on the south steps of the White House and kicked off the Fifteenth Decennial Census by giving an enumerator the First Family's data. Four hundred miles northeast in Troy, a 66 year old Methodist minister and temporary census-taker named William H. Edwards began this "great stock-taking of American progress" on his own front porch.

It would be three censuses before households enumerated themselves on questionnaires received in the mail. In 1930 census-takers conducted a face-to-face interview at each household, recording the answers to almost three dozen questions about each person in a ledger-like "Census Schedule". On Line 1 of Schedule Sheet 1A, Reverend Edwards enumerated his downstairs neighbor at 551 Hoosick Street, George H. Krug, a 43 year old public school teacher. Then, on successive lines, he enumerated George's wife Erma, their 3 sons, and his sister Gertrude, the office supervisor for a coated abrasives manufacturer.

Demolished Brunswick NY 553 and 555 Hoosick

Next Reverend Edwards enumerated his own family, which included his wife Addie and daughter-in-law Annette. Like the Krugs, the Edwards paid $40 monthly rent and owned a radio.

The Troy city line ran along the eastern edge of Reverend Edwards' yard, putting the neighboring houses at 553 above left) and 555 Hoosick (above right) in the Town of Brunswick. Because Reverend Edwards' enumeration district was within the city boundaries, he turned left after leaving his house (below left) and walked west toward downtown Troy.

Demolished Troy NY 549 and 551 Hoosick Street

Next door at 549 Hoosick (above right), he enumerated 33 year old Gardner Patterson, a dentist and veteran of the Great War, his wife Virginia, and their infant daughter Elizabeth. The Pattersons paid $50.00 rent to Raymond Sibbald, a machinery salesman and veteran, who lived upstairs with his wife Ruth, and her mother, Matilda Lurch. Raymond Sibbald estimated that his shingle-sided building was worth $7,000.

Census Day was clear, but still bore the heavy handprint of March, with temperatures that never rose above 40 degrees. As Reverend Edwards walked west on Hoosick Street , his thoughts may have turned to that morning's paper. In 1930, "American progress" was still measured by aviation "firsts", part high technology and part pure adventure. In the big city papers, an experimental seaplane flight from New York to the Bahamas captured the headlines, a scientist rashly predicted that an experimental medium called television might someday show live sporting events, and British students protested the killing of seabirds by oil discharged from tankers. Although it would only be apparent in hindsight, the news was filled with harbingers of the war to come, from international negotiations about the Japanese fleet to President von Hindenburg's threat to dissolve the Reichstag.

Demolished Troy NY 4 North Lake

Turning the corner of North Lake Avenue, Reverend Edwards stopped at a single family house that would be demolished in the 1970s. He continued northeast to 4 North Lake Avenue (left), valued at $8,000 by its owner, Duncan Kaye. Kaye, a 39 year old lawyer who lived with his wife Mildred and their 13 year old son, received $50.00 monthly rent from his downstairs tenants, Frank Stander, an engineering equipment salesman, and his wife Grace.

"Two flats" like 4 North Lake and 549-553 Hoosick, with their identical unit floor plans and stacked front porches, are classic factory town housing anywhere in the northern United States.

Property values rose as Reverend Edwards continued walking away from downtown. Samuel Morse, a 65 year old railroad foreman, thought his large two-family bungalow at 6 North Lake Avenue (right) was worth $13,000. Besides his wife Edith and mother-in-law Alice Haight, its occupants included 29 year old Edward and Harriet Hurwood, who paid $55.00 rent. The Hurwoods were both from Massachusetts, but, befitting an Army family, their two young children had been born in North Carolina and Hawaii.

Louis Birkmeyer, a 40 year old automobile salesman, lived at 8 North Lake Avenue with his wife Helen and 5 year old son Donald. The Birkmeyers' stylish craftsmen bungalow, with knee braces under the eaves of its hipped roof (below) was valued at $15,000.

Demolished Troy NY 6 North Lake

Demolished Troy NY North Lake craftsman bungalow

Demolished Troy NY North Lake Foursquare

In 2007, the "American Foursquare"at 10 North Lake (left) became the easternmost house demolished to build the Walgreen's whose footprint stretched from 555 Hoosick Street on the west. In 1930, 10 North Lake was home to John Howell, a 40 year old school teacher from New Jersey, his wife Frances, and their children Frances, John, and Mary. Among the households Reverend Edwards enumerated, just two "heads" were born outside New York. However, over half the wives had come from other states, including Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Georgia.

As Reverend Edwards interviewed these households, he may have recalled other Census Day news. Six months after "Black Monday", many economic bulletins were hopeful. After spending October and November 1929 in free fall, the stock market had turned bullish, with March the strongest month since autumn's "market decline". However, unemployment was thought to be rising, although there was no reliable baseline data. Reverend Edwards was helping to fill this gap, as the 1930 census included an employment question for the first time since 1910.

Had Census Day come six months later, Reverend Edwards' report might have been much grimmer. But on that crisp afternoon, waves of falling industrial production and layoffs had yet to ripple through the factories of downtown Troy and up the hill to white collar neighborhoods like Hoosick and North Lake. Each "head of household" in the Rite-Aid site houses had been at work on his last regular working day, as was Gertrude Krug, the only employed woman.

Instead of crisis, the neighborhood depicted in Reverend Edwards' schedule shows a calm, familiar order, even as its bonds were about to be torn and its members scattered like the electrons in the nuclear fission experiments of the next decade. Certainly its homogeneity is difficult to imagine today. Every household included a married couple with a working husband and non-working wife. All were white and had been born , if not in New York, within the United States, although almost everyone had a parent born in Great Britain or Germany.

Today the weave of everyday life at Hoosic and North Lake is lost to us. But even with no idea of the neighborhood personalities, we know that someone organized evening poker games, complained that the people upstairs walked too heavily, or grew the best tomatoes on the block. For more than 80 years this was a neighborhood. Then came the summer of 2007.

Demolished Troy NY Walgreens site