Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Knickerbocker Arena, 51 S. Pearl Street, Albany, NY


The building, designed and built by Clough Harbour & Associates at a cost of $68.6 million, was opened on January 30, 1990, with a performance by Frank Sinatra.[1]

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Knickerbocker as ''a description of the original Dutch settlers of the New Netherlands in America, hence a New Yorker.'' The dictionary says the first written use of the word came in 1809, when Washington Irving wrote a history of New York State under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker.
But maybe, just maybe, it was named after this beer.
Made by the Ruppert Brewery, Knickerbocker was the official beer of the New York Giants, a bit ironic given that Jacob Ruppert, a.k.a. "The Colonel," was the owner of the New York Yankees during the heyday of Ruth and Gehrig. The brewery was located at 92nd and Second, but it closed in the late 1960s. The Knickerbocker brand was acquired by another brewery, but discontinued during the 1970s.
(This ad appeared in 1955.)
There was a newspaper in Albany, The Knickerbocker, from 184?-1866. And there was a Knickerbocker News from 1937-1969.

The Albany Knickerbockers Rugby Football Club was established in 1973.Or perhaps it was named after these guys.

Members of the New York Knickerbockers baseball team, 1843.
What really happened was that the name Knickerbocker Arena was victorious in a phone-in election to choose the name of Albany's new sports arena.
The Knickerbocker Arena defeated its closest competitor, ''AlbaN.Y. Civic Center,'' by a vote of 1,195 to 747.
The phone-in election was held to break a six-month stalemate over what to name the 15,000-seat arena, which was scheduled to open in early 1990. To vote, area residents called a 900 number given to the name of their choice. Among the names that suffered defeat were the Albany Imperium, the Vetradome and the Empire Center. At any rate, Albany County officials have pledged to abide by the results of the election. That didn't last long. The naming rights of the arena were sold to Pepsi in 1997, and it was known as Pepsi Arena from 1998-2006. In May 2006 the naming rights were sold to the Times Union, a regional newspaper, and the name of the arena became the Times Union Center on January 1, 2007.
It seems totally appropriate that New York City's oldest historical icon is imaginary. Diedrich Knickerbocker began as Washington Irving's playful attempt to satirize the first wave of New York historians, but his nostalgia for bygone New Amsterdam and his idiosyncratic combination of pretension and modesty struck a chord with the fledgling metropolis. New Yorkers rapidly elected him—reality aside—as their representative, sparking a symbiotic relationship that has survived to this day. In Knickerbocker: The Myth Behind New York, Elizabeth L. Bradley traces the origins and evolution of this bond, and explains how 19th-century New York's eagerness to accept mythology as history set the tone for the city's legendary attitude. It is often overlooked that "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle"—stories that rocketed Irving to international fame and secured his place as America's first literary celebrity—portray Dutch traditions and communities. Irving himself was not of Dutch descent, so why the prevalence of Netherlander characters in his work? Bradley answers this with a detailed account of New Yorkers' early aspirations to write their own history, which mostly resulted in dry, pedantic tomes omitting any mention of New Amsterdam. Irving noticed this absence, and set about countering the dull fake histories of his city with (at least) an entertaining fake history, in which cows are urban architects and Spuyten Duyvil is so named because the devil actually resides there. To add insult to injury, he made his narrator arguably the most aggressively Dutch character of all time: the cocked-hat-wearing historian Diedrich Knickerbocker.
Exactly two hundred years after his debut in The History of New York, Knickerbocker's name has graced New York residents, beer brands, streets, neighborhoods and an NBA team it really hurts to root for. His resilience to time is multi-faceted: it's in the sense he had, even in 1809, of New York's "peculiar combination of wonder and weariness", in his balance of nativism and cosmopolitanism, in his nostalgia for bygone times, which Bradley shrewdly notes bespeaks New Yorkers' habit of "lamenting the passing of the city's 'golden days' regardless of when they believe them to have been.
Washington Irving is the person most responsible for reviving the holiday of Christmas. In his Knickerbocker stories, he told how the old-timers would celebrate the holiday, with Santa Claus, etc. And it became a fad, then a tradition. Before this, December 25th was just another religious holiday, not the major blowout it is now.
He was also among the first magazine editors to reprint Francis Scott Key's poem "Defense of Fort McHenry", which would later be immortalized as "The Star-Spangled Banner", the national anthem of the United States.
On the evening of November 28, 1859, only eight months after completing the final volume of his Washington biography, Washington Irving died of a heart attack in his bedroom at Sunnyside at the age of 76. Legend has it that his last words were: "Well, I must arrange my pillows for another night. When will this end?"(3)

Jerry performed here on
11/16/91 and 11/3/93.
Grateful Dead holds the record for most concerts played at the arena (13) between 1990 & 1995.

1.)^ "Times Union enters a new arena". Carol DeMare. Times Union. May 5, 2006.
2.)^1988-11-01, ny times, Knickerbocker Is Name For New Albany Arena
3.^Nelson, Randy F. The Almanac of American Letters. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981: 179. ISBN 086576008X


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