The nine miles from Amsterdam to Schenectady was once an afternoon's journey by canalboat. But, by the 1920s, it took just 25 minutes to ride the trolley from the Carpet City to the Electric City. In 1920, Schenectady was a near-metropolis of 90,000, with a diversified industrial base including the General Electric Works that employed 20,000 workers and the ALCO plant that built over 30,000 locamotives. The city was a technology center; in 1928, the site of the first television broadcast to combine picture and sound. State Street was a boulevard of department stores and theatres that drew crowds from across the Capital District. But by the 1970s, much of the industry left town.
By 2000, the State Street shopping district was named one of the most imperiled historic neighborhoods in New York State. The Hough Block at State and Erie started life as a fashionable hotel with fancy shops at street level. One hundred years later, the glamor was gone, but the building still served as office space until shortly before this picture was taken in July, 2001. A few days later, its corner lot became a pit.