Menands is a village in Albany County, New York, United States. The population was 3,990 at the 2010 census. The village is named after Louis Menand. The village lies inside the town of Colonie and borders the north city line of Albany.
Menands would have been first spotted by Europeans around 1609 when Henry Hudson dropped anchor somewhere near Cuyler or Pleasure Island during his voyage on the river later to be named after him. This would be the furthest north on the river that Hudson would go in the Half Moon. Today those islands are connected to the mainland, and are the site of Interstate 787 exits 6 and 7, which includes the cloverleaf interchange with NY 378 and the Troy-Menands Bridge.
Louis Menand settled in the village in 1842 and established an important horticultural business. He at first rented land that later became the Home for Aged Men, and then in 1847 bought 11 acres of land where the Albany-Watervliet Turnpike (today Broadway) met the road going to Ireland's Corners (today Loudonville), that road is today called Menand Road. When the Albany and Northern Railroad was built in 1856 it established a stop in present-day Menands and named the stop "Menand's Crossing" since Menand was the only landowner in that area at the time. When the Albany and Northern became part of the Delaware and Hudson a station was built at that stop and called "Menand's Station". In the early 1920s rumors circulated that the city of Albany was going to annex the area and so on August 23, 1924 a vote was taken and the village of Menands was incorporated by a vote of 167 for and 47 against, the population of the new village at that time being 1,272 people. The boundaries of the new village were those of the 15th School District of the town of Colonie. The original boundaries did not include what are now the Sage Hill Lane, Sky Hollow, and Roost Country Estates, those were annexed later and continue to be in the North Colonie Central School District.
When the Erie Canal was originally constructed it passed through what would become Menands. Bridges spanned the canal to allow access to the land between the canal and the Hudson. From north to south they were- Richardson, Mix, Leary, Keyes, Kanes, Lundergans, Island Park, Delaware and Hudson Railroad, and Garbarance. Most of the names of the bridges were those of the neighboring farm owners.
In 1938 the first large scale Federal Housing Administration multiple housing project in Upstate New York was conceived by Harry D. Yates on of land in Menands. The land was purchased for $20,000, from the Van Rensselaer family who had owned it since 1639. Original plans called for 30 buildings, but cost overruns trimmed it to 13. All thirteen were named for historic people and locations in the Capital District; subsequent additions have kept to that tradition with the exception of Tremaine House, named for a former NY State Comptroller and Yates House for a former manager of Dutch Village.
In 1940 the now-defunct New York Herald Tribune declared Dutch Village to be "one of the most interesting scale housing developments in the East". The steeped roofs and brick construction were designed to reflect early Dutch architecture. Wards Lane at the time was small and unpaved on a steep slope, but by using money from a federal program designed to pave "farm to market" roads the project was able to improve the road to Dutch Village without any cost to the village of Menands.
The village's current motto, "Urban-Surburban Village," and its official seal, came into being as part of the village's 50th anniversary celebrations in 1974. The motto and seal were chosen based on contest entries submitted by local school children at Menands Elementary school. Two boys came up with the design for the seal, and the motto was chosen from an entry by a girl in the school's seventh grade class.
In the mid-late 19th and early 20th centuries Menands was a popular destination for entertainment and amusement. Pleasure Island and Park Island (constructed in 1866) had trotting tracks and various entertainment venues. In 1884 the Island Park Association leased the race course, Island Park, directly north of Pleasure Island, it was considered one of the fastest and safest in the nation.
Among the festivities and activities at Pleasure Island were a two-mile (3 km) bicycle race, a sack race, barrell race, swimming exhibition, trotter race, and fireworks. In 1907 Al-Tro Island Park renovated Pleasure Island, Al-Tro was named for being halfway between Albany and Troy, and the park's manager boasted of surpassing Coney Island. The park had a and boardwalk, with amusements on each side. About halfway down the boardwalk was an amphitheater that could seat 4000, it was one of the largest in the state. At the time Al-Tro Park was considered the finest pleasure resort in northern New York. In the early 1920s Al-Tro closed and the concept was used in the late 1920s by nearby Mid-City Park, an amusement park along Broadway on the other side away from the river, it had a roller coaster, merry-go-round, roller skating rink, and swimming pool; it too would close after a few decades. It was replaced by the current Mid-City Shopping Center.
Baseball was also a popular entertainment venue in Menands bringing in spectators from across the region. Chadwick Park was home to the Albany Senators who played in the New York State League, Eastern League, International League, New York-Pennsylvania League, and the modern Eastern League. On May 30, 1924 the Senators played a double header at home against the Pittsfield Hillies, the first game lasted 9 innings but the second game went for 20, it is still one of the longest double headers by number of innings in professional baseball. In 1928 Chadwick Park was rebuilt, in 1929 it was renamed Hawkins Stadium, and in 1930 General Electric installed lights for night games.
It was at Hawkins Stadium that the New York Yankees played the Albany Senators in 1931 before a crowd of 6,300; Babe Ruth hit two home runs. The Senators folded in 1959. It too was demolished to make way for the Mid-City Shopping Center and a state office building for the New York State Office of Workmen’s Compensation. From June 12, 1947 to September 2, 1963 Empire Raceways was a popular entertainment venue. It was a quarter mile paved oval track and was located close enough to the Hudson River that spectators would sit on the Troy-Menands Bridge and watch the races for free. The location would later become the site of a Two Guys Department Store and Interstate 787.
Two Guys was just one of the retail locations in Menands that made Menands a shopping destination for the surrounding area. In addition to Two Guys there was a Woolworth, Montgomery Wards, several grocery stores, and various other shops along Broadway. The Two Guys location on Broadway, located next to the Troy-Menands Bridge, was one of only two in the area, the other being in downtown Schenectady. Another retail landmark in Menands was the Montgomery Ward Retail Store and Warehouse built in 1929, it was one of nine similar buildings built in the 1920s, and one of four that still remain. The building had its own railroad spur that allowed boxcars to be unloaded inside, making delivery of goods to the building easier. Montgomery Wards left the building in the 1970s. Today the building is office space, mostly geared towards state agencies. Woolworth was located at the Mid-City Shopping Center, it closed in 1997.