Thursday, May 31, 2012

A capitol idea

We walked through the New York State Capitol after our church experience. The capitol was built in the style of a French château (the design is reportedly based on Paris' Hôtel de Ville) and was completed in 1899. It's the fourth building to serve as the state's capitol and is one of ten American state capitols without a dome.

The New York State Capitol at Albany seen from the top of Corning Tower.

When I was seventeen and had my first state job, I would get off the bus on the north side of the capitol, then walk through to the south side and enter the tunnel to the Empire State Plaza's concourse and on to my office building. Walking through the capitol felt like going back in time, not only because of the building's age and design, but also because of the old-timey newsstands, shoe-shine stalls, telephone booths (for reporters and the public), and cafeteria that lined the north-south corridor at street level.

The north-eastern staircase, on the Assembly side of the capitol.

Most of that is gone now, replaced with not-so-elegant security lines, metal detectors, and x-ray machines. The only security back in the old days were some rather jolly looking men in uniform. There used to be elevator operators in the capitol, too, also victims of modern times.

The Great Western, or Million-Dollar, Staircase.

Our little party wandered around the building, not wanting to take the time for a formal tour. We found our way into the eastern staircase and then to the Senate lobby. We got a peek into the Senate chamber as one of the formal tours was exiting. Then we made our way to the Great Western Staircase, sometimes called the "Million Dollar Staircase." It was quite pricey and controversial when it was built.

The Assembly Chamber, seen from the western gallery.

Finally we found the Assembly Chamber and the gallery was open, so we walked in for a look and some pictures. I remember that at one time the Assembly's carpet was an awful green color. It has thankfully been replaced with a more dignified red.

Ken and Lewis confer, converse, and otherwise hob-nob in the Great Western Staircase.

The whole building has been under renovation for the past few years, but that seems to be winding down now. I did get lost inside a time or two, but I don't think anyone minded too much. We made our way out on the south side of the building onto the vast Empire State Plaza.


  1. What a lovely building. Do all the states have such impressive capitol buildings?
    Belated congratulations on your marriage. A very memorable trip.

  2. Definitely the old Paris Hotel de Ville model, before it burned down -- just like the Philadelphia City Hall!

  3. Very grand staircase, indeed! Is the light brown stone of local origin or does it come from some exotic place?

  4. St Louis's city hall is somewhat similar in design, and is also said to be based on Paris' Hôtel de Ville.Yours is so grand! I love a big, grand stone building :)

  5. Looks like I should show this series of pics to Y. Would be interesting to spend a couple of days visiting the state capital wrt architecture in the fall!

  6. What a grand tour of Albany you have provided, Walt. Now, I wish I had been there in person. I had no idea how beautiful the city is. I love that staircase. Someday...

    Mary in Oregon

  7. It does look a bit like Hôtel de Ville.

  8. lesley, states do take pride in their capitols, if not their capitals. Many (especially the later ones) are loosely based on the national capitol in Washington, DC, with a central dome flanked by the two houses of the legislature.

    ellen, yes, I've seen the exterior of Philadelphia's city hall. And impressive building!

    chm, the stone is called Red Corsehill Sandstone, and it was quarried in Annan, Dumfriesshire, in Scotland.

    judy, they are works of art.

    t.b., not quite as cosmopolitan a city as Montréal...

    mary, and it ain't over yet! LOL

    morningaj, I love the red tile roofs.

    starman, :)

  9. Walt,
    No way are you boring me with your vacation photos. I was sort of hoping you post them all! I love 'em!


  10. Walt,

    If and when you're in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania check out their City Hall. It is the largest city hall building in the United States. It is also undergoing renovation which seems to never end. I used to work next to City Hall and when I left in 1994 (18 years ago!) they were undergoing renovation!



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