I live in North Central. It's the neighborhood in Troy between Downtown and Lansingburgh. For far too many people, it's been the part of Troy that people drive through as fast as they can, and feel is best seen from the rear view mirror. Well, they are wrong.
When we first moved here, we had to have the water turned on, the roof repaired, and other workmen and agencies come to the house. Almost all of the locals, like the guys from the water department, told us we were living in a bad neighborhood. Were we sure we wanted to be here, they asked us? It wasn't "safe." They also told us that Happy Lunch, down the street, has the best breakfast sandwiches in town. I guess some things are worth taking a chance on, in spite of the "danger." Can I tell you how tired I am of people telling me where I live is not "SAFE?"
Hey, I lived in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn during the "Crack Wars" of the 1980s and 90s. After that I lived in Crown Heights, another inner city neighborhood that wasn't supposed to be "safe" either. Both were overrated for their awfulness too. I'm not going to say there wasn't gun violence and crime, and certainly drug dealing going on all around me then, because there were some bad times, but my block in Bed Stuy was pretty peaceful, and I was never robbed, never accosted, never in danger. The same went for my end of the block in Crown Heights. Of course I had my urban radar on, but anyone who lives in NYC and does not have their urban radar on anyway is a fool. But I digress...
Anyway, there is nothing in the worst places in Troy, which are not North Central, I might add, that compares to some parts of Brooklyn, so we listened to the local "experts," told them we were not worried or frightened, and basically put their advice in the Ignore File. As we got more familiar with Troy in general, and North Central, specifically, we were right.
Of course there is poverty here, a lot of it. And there is crime, too. Of course there is, this is a city that still hasn't recovered from the double whammy of the loss of industry, which hit all of upstate NY hard a long time ago, and a national recession of a more recent nature.
But I have lived in few places where we have been made more welcome. Poverty has nothing to do with human decency, and the people of North Central are by and large, good decent folk. We've met and become friends with our neighbor and his family, we've joined local grass roots improvement organizations.
Since preservation and architecture are my thing, I immediately noticed that NC has some really great architecture. I'm going to find out as much as I can about this neighborhood and its history, and feature it here on the blog. All the while I'm going to also feature Troy as a whole. This great city has much to offer, and ALL of its neighborhoods are worthy of notice.
The official city website has North Central on the map, but it's the only one of Troy's neighborhoods to not have a description or any links regarding its organizations or its people. That's going to change too, if I have anything to say about it. North Central deserves to be on the map.
My name is Suzanne Spellen. I've been many things: a writer, historian, preservationist, musician, traveler, designer, sewer, teacher, and tour guide; a long time Brooklynite and now, a proud resident of Troy, NY.