A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 17, 2008
Smallbany or Smalbany or SmAlbany (Albany nickname)

New York City is the most populous city in New York State, but Albany is the capital city. Some New Yorkers (including some from Albany) have called the capital city “Smallbany” or “Smalbany” or “SmAlbany.”

The nicknames are cited in print from at least the 1990s.


Wikipedia: Albany, New York
Albany is the capital of the State of New York and the county seat of Albany County. Albany is 136 miles (219 km) north of New York City, and slightly to the south of the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. The city has a population of 94,172 (July 2007 est.).

Albany has close ties with the nearby cities of Troy, Schenectady, and Saratoga Springs, forming a region called the Capital District. This area makes up the bulk of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) with a population of 850,957, making it the fourth largest urban area in New York State, and the 56th largest MSA in the United States.

Albany is built on the site of the Dutch Fort Orange and its surrounding community of Beverwyck. The English acquired the site from the Dutch in 1664 and renamed it Albany, in honor of James II, Duke of Albany. A 1686 document issued by Thomas Dongan granted Albany its official charter. This date makes Albany the second oldest city in the state in terms of its date of incorporation, after New Amsterdam.

City Dictionary
Smallbany
A derogatory local nickname for Albany invoked by its more disenchanted residents.  Posted by: nycapital on Apr 07, 2008 05:00 PM

Urban Dictionary
Smallbany
A pejorative nickname for the capital of New York State, Albany. So called because of its diminutive size, especially compared to New York City.
This spelling is preferred over smalbany, since it preserves the rhyme with ‘small’ and avoids the pronunciation AL-bany (which is, as far as most New Yorker’s are concerned, a city in southern Georgia).
“So, you’re from upstate? Where? Syracuse? Buffalo?”
“Ha, I wish! Nah, I grew up in Smallbany, where the only thing to do at night is drive to another city.”

by packy Apr 12, 2008

smallbany
Alternate spelling of smalbany
Heather: Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it.
Patty: What?
Heather: Smallbany… and you missed it.

by DEC Feb 14, 2005

Urban Dictionary
smalbany
The capital of NY. So named because of its diminutive size, especially compared to New York City.
Mark: Hey, you want to head to x-gates?
Tom: Smalbany, that’s gheto!

by DEC Feb 14, 2005

smAlbany
The live event held annually in Albany NY focusing on the technology needs of small businesses.
That’s a really cool T shirt! Where did you get it? I got it at smAlbany ‘08, great show and great guidance.
by Larry Zimbler Aug 16, 2008

Oh, SmAlbany!
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!
(...)
How do I define SmAlbany?: This is really three questions in one. First, how is the term “SmAlbany” used? Second, what geographical area do you consider “SmAlbany?” And third, why is your blog, which is unabashedly pro-albany, using the term?

The word “SmAlbany” is certainly of unknown origin, but most people who grow up around here encounter it for the first time when they are about 16. Invariably, one of their friends decides that “this town stinks” and that “there’s nothing to do here.” At that moment, someone will either recall having heard the term “SmAlbany” from an older sibling, or they will “invent” it themsevles, fancying themselves quite clever in the process. Either way, hordes of bored teenage friends will be using the term shortly thereafter. And so it goes.

If you don’t believe me, just google “Smalbany” and read a few entries. The user of the term is invariably trying to put down the capital district and bemoan how much better life is in other places, typically new york city.

The problem, of course, is that Albany isn’t a bad place - in fact, it’s greast. It takes most users of the word a short trip into the real world outside of Albany around age 22 to discover that this is a pretty great place to live. Bordeom is everywhere, but places that can duplicate Albany are not. One needs only witness the retention rate that Albany has of those who grow up here ( and compare that to other cities) to see that there really is something to the capital region that doesn’t exist elsewhere.

So that’s the genesis of the word, SmAlbany.

Question #2 - What geographical area do you consider SmAlbany?

For me, SmAlbany is more a cultural idea than a physical place. For sure, Saratoga in August is part of SmAlbany but Hudson - no less far away - is not. I would say that SmAlbany is roughly the traditional captial district (Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and the suburbs between and around them) plus much of saratoga county. But really, SmAlbany is the common experience of people who grew up here - be it the AC Yankees, the track, the egg, Crossgates Mall, or Pine Bush little league.

Question #3 - Why is this blog called “Oh, SmAlbany!”?

I like the term SmAlbany. I like using it in a positive sense. My downstate friends from college used to call every city upstate “Albacuse,” because they had trouble distinguishing them. I took that phrase and started using it to positively describe upstate culture. I think the same can be done with SmAlbany. Face it - you don’t want to admit it, but everyone likes the fact that Albany is a small place and that it’s not New York City.

The actual title of the blog is a play on the famous book by William Kennedy, O Albany!

Google Groups: rec.sport.football.pro
Newsgroups: rec.sport.football.pro
From: (T. Steegman)
Date: 8 Apr 92 04:26:00 GMT
Subject: Any Bills Fans…

Do any Bills fans have any recent info about the team? I’m from Buffalo, but I go to school in SmAlbany, and I havent heard a thing since the Super Bowl, other than what I have read here

Google Groups: soc.singles.moderated
Newsgroups: soc.singles.moderated
From: (songbird)
Date: 1998/09/30
Subject: Re: Walesboink II

> It must have come to “Smallbany” with the Italians - I always see it
> at our Italian delicatessens.

Google Books
USA
By Jeff Campbell, Loretta Chilcoat, Susan Derby, Beth Greenfield and Carolyn Hellor
Published by Lonely Planet
2004
Pg. 160:
ALBANY
While the New York State capital is far from a high-culture destination, the town (nicknamed ‘Smallbany’ by jaded locals) has revived its northeastern charm in several neighborhoods.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (1) Comments • Friday, October 17, 2008 • Permalink


I always thought Smalbany referenced the idea that everyone knows everyone—like in a small town. For instance:

“Dude, would you believe my wife’s cousin refills the vending machine at work? And, he always wants to stop and talk.”

“What are you going to do, man? Smalbany …”

Posted by Nick  on  10/17  at  04:57 PM

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