The Pastures Historic District includes one hundred twelve (112) buildings; only two of which are non-contributing. The neighborhood gets its name from the fact that it was the communal pastures for the early Dutch city. The city deeded the land to the Dutch Reformed Church in 1687 and it was not subdivided and sold until the end of the 18th century.
The district grew rapidly at the beginning of the 19th century with the majority of buildings constructed in a 40-year period from 1815 to 1855 (National Register nomination report, section 8, page 1). The district is significant for its early- to mid-19th century residential architecture, specifically the early Federal style rowhouses. As South Pearl Street developed as a commercial thoroughfare, many of the area’s home were constructed by merchants. As the neighborhood developed it became ethnically and socially diverse; indications of this are found in the construction of St. John’s Church (1903) designed in the Gothic Revival style, the Beth El Jacob Synagogue (1907) which shows Byzantine Revival influences and the synagogue at 71 South Ferry Street (c. 1817) in the Federal style.
Many early examples of the Federal style are found in the district, including the rowhouses at 75 and 77 South Ferry Street (c. 1813) and the brick rowhouses at 48 to 62 Westerlo Street (1828-1831). Other early styles include Greek Revival, found at 91 to 95 Herkimer Street (c. 1838) and 65 South Ferry Street (c. 1831-32); and Italianate found at 139 Green Street (c. 1863-64). There has been some demolition of individual buildings, as well as significant new construction by the Albany Housing Authority along South Pearl and Westerlo Streets.
The Pastures Historic District was designated as a local district in 1983.