Friday, July 29, 2016

The East Front

The grand stair on the east front is the ceremonial entrance to the New York State capitol. Although nobody uses it. Especially in these days of heightened security, the stair is closed altogether by barricades. It's a shame, but that's the way it is. The stair was added to the capitol after its construction to help stabilize the front facade which had started to shift downhill.

In front of the capitol is an equestrian statue of General Philip Sheridan, a Civil War general born in Albany.

Most people, I think, enter the capitol on the north or south sides. The north entrance is adjacent to one of the city's major bus corridors. That is where I would enter every day on my way to work in the plaza, crossing through the capitol, past the old-fashioned news stand, the shoe-shine stations, and the building's ground-floor cafeteria on my way to the plaza on the south side. The south entrance connects directly to the underground concourse of the Empire State Plaza and the Legislative Office Building.

Under the monumental staircase is a porte-cochère, presumably where the governor and other dignitaries enter the building.

The building, one of the few American state capitols without a dome, was completed in 1899 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1979. It is thought that one of the building's primary architects (there were several over the thirty-two year construction period) was inspired by Paris' city hall building.

An historical marker near the spot of the colonial- and revolutionary-era Fort Frederick.

The exterior of the capitol was cleaned and restored between 2000 and 2014. Visitors can take guided tours of the building, including the Senate and Assembly chambers. I can't remember the last time I did that, but I did wander around inside in 2012 without taking the tour; some of my photos from then are here.


  1. It is such an impressive-looking building. I love the fact that the grand staircase was added to keep the building from falling downhill! I do remember learning years back that the capital suffered quite a bit from structural problems over the years.

  2. There are many faces carved in stone around the Capitol building's million dollar staircase. Most are said to be the family members of the stone carvers, but there is said to be a tiny devil face that brings the building bad luck. Maybe some of New York's legislators would agree.

  3. mitch, I've always like the building. And yes, there were lots of problems with the construction. Hopefully, they've all been addressed over the years!

    kiwi, I've seen the face carvings, but I don't think I remember seeing the devil face. I'll have to look for it the next time!


Tell me what you think!