Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Capital City

You probably know by now that Albany is the capital city of the state of New York. The state's legislature has met here since 1797, and it was Governor Theodore Roosevelt who dedicated the state capitol building on its completion in 1899.

The East Front of the state capitol, completed in 1899.

Benjamin Franklin spent time here working here in the Albany Congress, the revolutionary body that drafted the Albany Plan, a precursor to the United States Constitution. Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton worked here when they fell out, resulting in that famous duel. The city was an important strategic location during the Revolutionary and French and Indian wars.

The capitol's West Front.

Albany's primary industry and major employer is the State of New York. My first full-time job back in 1977 was as a file clerk in a state agency. Many state agencies were located in the Harriman State Office Building Campus on the western edge of town. The sprawling, automobile-oriented campus was not attractive to me as a work location. I had three job offers back then, and I chose the job I took only because it was located in the sparkling new high-rise office development downtown (I'm getting to that later).

The Governor Alfred E. Smith State Office Building, completed in 1928, built in the Art Deco style.
Below, a full shot of the A.E. Smith State Office Building.
There were still many state offices downtown: in the capitol itself, in various smaller office buildings and converted townhouses, and in some rather impressive large buildings that date from the early 1900s. There was also City Hall, the state and federal courts, and hundreds of law offices scattered around.

Albany City Hall, designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1883, boasts a 60-bell carillon at the top of the tower that is played regularly.


  1. I'm loving these posts on Albany buildings. I'm sure I was an architect in a former life.


  2. I am enjoying them too. I 'sort of' saw Albany while traveling through the Erie Canal, back in the 70s.

  3. bettyann, glad you like 'em! I wonder what buildings you designed in that former life...

    michael, cool. Do you remember much, or was it kind of a "float-by?"

  4. As a teacher, I tell students to learn world capitals by going over them many times. Now, I also made these flashcards for them to try and learn them easier. Its quite simple to create these flashcards even for a technology newbie like me!


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