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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning


"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Colonial Hotcakes

Sellin' like colonial hotcakes: It appears that one important detail was left out of last week's debate over heritage tourism in Albany - we don't have enough pankcake houses! As reported in the Sunday Times Union travel section cover story, Williamsburg, VA has more than just America's colonial history to keep its heritage tourism afloat:
Our nation, this great land America, was built on a foundation of blood, sweat and pancakes. At least, that was our impression as my friend Andy and I drove into the city of Williamsburg, Va., easily the greatest historical museum -- that is, historic living museum -- in the country. There, along one or two long blocks, we passed The Gazebo Pancakes and Waffles, International House of Pancakes, Mama Steve's House of Pancakes, Maple Tree Pancake and Waffle House, Old Mill House of Waffles and Pancakes, and Andy's Pancake House.
And just in case you were worried, this is clearly not a conicidence:
"Tourists love pancakes," said [our] waiter, a young man who wore eyeliner, sitting down to talk to us. "Williamsburg has more pancake restaurants per capita than any place else in the country. Says so in the Guinness Book of World Records."
All kidding aside, read the whole article. It gives a good sense of the tradeoffs that a community makes when it heads toward a heritage tourism economy. While the article gushes about the greatness of the Williamsburg - Chesapeake - Jamestown - Norfolk tourist corridor, one can easily see the drawbacks to such heritage-industry-as-local-economy, most notably the loss of any real local history. Williamsburg is simply one hell of a fake colonial town, stuck in 1760.

Not only will Albany never be Williamsburg, I'd never want it to be Williamsburg.

Also: Reader B.W. had this response to the Albany tourism debate:
You say "the State Museum is nice," but isn't that a bit of a stretch? Wasn't it just like a few years ago that they had to close down the best exhibit at the entire place - the thunder and lightnight room - because teenagers were getting high in there? Sure, that's just an isolated funny story, but great tourist museums don't have that problem. And when they do, they don't give in and close the exhibit. Bottom line: that place is a nice 5th grade field trip, but nothing worth a 30 mile drive.
I'm a little more charitable than that, but point taken.
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At 7:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

I love these TU "travel stories" --aka as "writing off vacation expenses."    



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