This week, we’re chatting with Michael Murray. We met Michael downtown last summer, and ended up chatting about cars, road trips, and all the reasons we love Glens Falls. Another example of what is great about our little city - you’re just one conversation away from learning something new. Read on to find out where he’s from, what brought him to Glens Falls, and why he’s decided to stick around.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m Michael Murray and I work for an amazing architecture firm right here in Glens Falls. My responsibilities are varied at AJA Architecture, but my main goal is to introduce new clients to our firm so they can know more about the great work that we do as designers for local, regional, and international design projects.
On Life in Glens Falls
I’m not originally from Glens Falls, but every time I’ve visited, I’ve found another reason to like it here – and last year I decided to move here and so now I’m a “local”!
I grew up in southern Connecticut but moved out west in my late 20’s and lived in Boulder Colorado for several years. I first became familiar with Glens Falls about 10-years ago while visiting friends here in town. Whenever I’d come to visit, their family would always be active doing things in town and so my visits with them over the years always gave me a very good glimpse of what Glens Falls and the surrounding area was all about. I remember going to the Balloon Festival with them, boating on Lake George, going to a drive-in movie, taking in the scenery on several different hikes, going to hockey games at the Cool Insuring Arena, and of course, lots of dinners out and lots of laughs in the local restaurants and pubs. We also took a few road-trips to Albany, Saratoga Springs, Lake Placid, and other areas of the Adirondacks. With each of my visits I discovered something new that I liked and appreciated about the area. And I especially liked the “small-town” feel of Glens Falls.
I started visiting Glens Falls a bit more frequently a few years ago after I left Colorado and moved back to my hometown of Greenwich Connecticut. My move from Colorado was on the same day my friend, Andy Allison, started his own architecture firm in Glens Falls – AJA Architecture and Planning. That moving-day was an exciting day for me for two reasons; I was excited to be back on the east coast again after being out west for so many years, and I was excited to hear about Andy starting his own firm. I began helping AJA early on with some marketing strategies which gave me a good excuse to drive up to Glens Falls more often. As the firm grew, so did my involvement. At the time, I was working with AJA as a consultant out of my home-office in Connecticut, but as AJA’s client-base increased, so did my 3-hour drives to the office. And so after a few years of up-and-back drives from Greenwich to Glens Falls, I began working for AJA full-time and decided to relocate here. I’ve only been living here a year but with all my visits over the years, I already feel like a “local”.
Some Glens Falls Favorites
What I like most about Glens Falls is the people and the more relaxed pace compared to living an hour outside of NYC. The people of Glens Falls seem to be very down-to-earth and genuinely friendly. And now that I live up here, I regularly see people in town that I’ve met at an event, or at the local YMCA, or at one of the coffee shops, and it’s always a good opportunity to stop and say ‘hi’ and catch-up. It’s just great to be in a small town where community is important.
I’ve discovered countless great hikes, bike rides, and snowshoeing around town. Cole’s Wood is a great place for nighttime cross country skiing, Gurney Lane has some of the best single-track mountain bike trails I’ve ever done, and the Rush Pond Trail is one the area’s best-kept secrets for both biking and hiking. And last summer I learned about the rail-trail that goes all the way to Lake George. Another favorite of mine is West Mountain. It’s really amazing to have such a fun ski area right here in town. And in the summer being on a boat in nearby Lake George is such a great way to spend the day. The lake is so beautiful. There’s really so much to do in and around Glens Falls that the list is too long to name. And that’s not even mentioning anything about the wonders found further north in the Adirondack Park – Whiteface Mountain and Lake Placid, Gore Mountain, Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and so much more. I think it’s great that all these towns and all that they have to offer in the winter and in the summer, are just a couple of hours of relaxed scenic driving to the north.
A Perfect Glens Falls Day
Before I moved to Glens Falls, I would typically stay at the Queensbury Hotel when I visited, and so I’m very familiar with all the great restaurants and pubs in the downtown area. I’ve frequented nearly all of them and I like them all – Morgan and Co for their amazing food and expertly made martinis, Downtown City Tavern for their lunch and good selection of brews, Rock Hill Bake House (now “The Exchange”) for their awesome sandwiches and fresh breads, Davidson Brothers for their outdoor seating, the Bullpen Tavern for when the game is on, and of course, Raul’s Mexican Grill for locally sourced Mexican food (and the best margaritas in town!). I also like that Glens Falls has a variety of coffee shops. I like them all, but I think SPoT Coffee is my favorite (with Spektor Roasters being a close second). SPoT Coffee is a very social spot and a good place to chill on a Sunday morning, especially when the weather allows for the large window-wall to be open.
On the Future
It’s great that there are some new restaurants in Glens Falls, which to me, shows that this area is improving. The new Downtown Social has a great menu and was designed thoughtfully and elegantly. It has an upscale feel to it, without feeling pretentious. It’s got a really great atmosphere. Mikado’s new location also offers a very upscale look, while keeping its local flavor and fun hibachi tables. I haven’t been to the [farmacy] restobar yet, but I’ve heard some great reviews and so I’m looking forward to checking it out. And soon Craft On Nine will be moving to South Street, which I know will be as popular as their current location in Fort Edward.
I’ve seen lots of improvements in Glens Falls over the past few years and I believe there’s more to come without altering much of the personality of the town as we all know it today. The newly renovated Park Theater is a good example of how a run-down building can come back to life and be something special for Glens Falls. My hope is that more of the local retail stores will thrive, which I know is an on-going issue with any small retail shop. But with the new restaurants coming in, new apartments recently built, and a new parking structure soon to be built, I believe we’ll all see some nice improvements to Glens Falls soon and in the coming years.
Thanks, Michael! We agree - great things to come!
P.S. See more of our My Glens Falls series here.