At the time, I had no idea that I was on the leading edge of an invasion by fellow General Electric employees when I built my home in the Avon Crest area of Niscayuna in 1980.
Besides, I could not imagine that I would still be there after more than 40 years when most of them were gone. My goal was to find an area without rows of cookie-cutter houses on straight streets, and I’m sure it was found in Avon Crest.
My home site was the first to be built at the end of Norwood Way, the newest quiet cul-de-sac at the time. Walking through a congested area, I had no idea what it would be like when I looked out at my new home on the first night and didn’t see a single light anywhere. But that would soon change as the neighbors built their homes as fast as they could after the wave.
Developer Albert Friedman accessed my site, as I did, down a rough dirt road that he wisely chose not to drive his car on. Advertisements in The Gazette from 1980 said 300 homes were being developed, but by 1985 that number had risen to 600. The ads also noted that a variety of styles were available, ranging from $49,000 to $250,000.
Builders involved included Hodorovsky & DeSantis, Rossi & Bora, Reuter, Schultz & Wheeler. Friedman was fixed on the idea of creating a local piece called “The English Countryside”.
They took the heavily wooded, rolling hills that influenced other developers and turned them into charming, beautiful neighborhoods with street names drawn from across the Atlantic. Most of the names stuck but some did not.
For example, a street named Shropshire had some houses built on it before residents were renamed because they didn’t want to be stuck with an indescribable/unexpected name – so Oxford was chosen to change it.
Al was an incredibly sociable person who had a lot of fun “doing his job”. For example, as they opened new blocks of development, they usually moved to the first house built there. All are still in the possession of his buyers, the last of which he lived on Avon Crest Boulevard near an old barn where Al kept the horses he loved to ride.
One could always tell when Al was moving around, as the telltale byproducts of equine digestion were left in his wake. One of the most interesting aspects of living in what I jokingly called “Ge Crest” is what I called “Niscuna Confidential”.
In the 1980s the neighborhood was disproportionately populated by “GE people”, including many VPs and general managers, in and out of Avon Crest. When times were good, friendly neighborhood pranks often centered on things like the most popular country club or those going up for promotion on another GE site.
Conversely, when business turned sour, friendships soured and there were arguments over who should keep their jobs or who were fired. Other undercurrents provided more entertainment. For example, one benefit for GE executives was access to free promotional GE products. These ranged from light bulbs to appliances to electric tractors. Executive egoism abounds.
A GE VP had changed his street address so the house number matched the output of a turbine product he was responsible for – resulting in a house on Avon Crest Boulevard, whose street number was 42 from the house next door. is more.
Yet another Turbine executive can regularly be seen driving his big Cadillac aimlessly across the neighborhood, taking time off from a stressful work day. The tension took its toll in a less benign way on another VP, who had lost his license due to overuse of a certain liquid concoction, forcing his wife to follow him to “Works” every day.
The days of rapid development at Avon Crest have long been faded as very few buildings remain in the area. Today’s Avon Crest has a wide variety of architecture and residents representing a richly diverse lifestyle. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer neighborhood.
This article was written by Nisqune resident Richard Felak after reading a Daily Gazette article by Nisqune Historical Committee member Michael Dewey. We encourage any past or present city residents to contact Niscayuna city historian Dennis Brennan [email protected] Any information, resources or stories you’d like to share about the specific history of Niscune.
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