Monday, January 04, 2021

My home town

A friend took this photo of the New York State capitol building out his office window after a recent snowstorm. He posted the photo on his Instagram and Facebook feeds, and I asked him if he would mind if I posted it here.

The southern facade of the New York State capitol in Albany. Photo by Fran Kramer.

Construction of the capitol building was completed in 1899. It's the second capitol building since Albany was made the capital city in 1797 and it's one of eleven US state capitols without a dome. It's thought that the building's design was inspired in part by Paris' city hall.

I grew up in and around the city of Albany. This and other historic buildings around it are fixtures in my memories of home. After graduating from high school in 1977, I got a job in one of the brand new office buildings on the plaza where this photo was taken. I walked through the capitol every day on my way to and from the bus stop. Back then there was none of the security that's commonplace now. Anyone could walk into the capitol building without being stopped. I walked past the old-fashioned shoe-shine station, banks of old-timey telephone booths, a newsstand, and the building's cafeteria before taking the escalator down into the plaza's below-ground concourse and on to my very modern office building. I had several job offers that year; I chose the downtown job because it was in the plaza next to the capitol.

Albany is not a big city; the metropolitan area has just over a million people, the city itself just under 100,000. The main employer is the state government, but the city is also home to significant higher education (the state university system is headquartered downtown, its Albany campus is located uptown), health care, and high-tech employers.

I feel like I just wrote an elementary school book report.


  1. Oh, your grammar and flow ere much better than in an elementary school book report -- although, in your case, maybe you were that good at the time. At first glance I thought it was another French city. I had forgotten the look of the capital building. What a grand building.

  2. State capitals can be such fun. We finished high school the same year.

  3. I miss working downtown near the capital and plaza so much. Part of my dislike for my job is it’s relocation - downtown Schenectady. It’s just awful.

  4. Well, the elementary school book report is interesting and detailed. Good for you. You'll get an A.

  5. Replies
    1. That’s a great looking house, Judy. I would never have thought it was a Sears Kit house. Thanks!

    2. Merci, Judy! That reminds me of several homes that I've seen in Meadville, PA, where my former husband grew up. Maybe they were Sears kits as well! Qui sait?


    3. Too funny, Mary, the connections here. My grandparents lived in Meadville for some years, and I remember it fondly (as a child visiting).

  6. I have some wonderful memories of my only trip to Albany and being in the capitol. It really does look like the city hall in Paris, perhaps foreshadowing your future French life ;-).

  7. Beautiful capitol building and definitely very French looking.

  8. The original architect of the Paris Town Hall was Domenico da Cortona, a.k.a. Boccador (golden mouth ?). That building was destroyed in 1870 and rebuilt. I think the Capitol in Albany was built after the Boccador original version of the Town Hall.

  9. Albany must have been a fun place to spend those early years. My hometown, Eugene, was always rather smallish (after moving and experiencing really grand cities: Portland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Chicago and Frankfurt. Great choice for a first job to work in the center of the city and next to the City Hall! My first job was the candy department in the Sears store. (which probably explains my sweet tooth!)

  10. I've read a ton of book reports (middle school and high school, actually), and yours is much better than that.

  11. Taught for one year at SUNYA, the Persian summer palace dumped down in the middle of nowhere. Downtown Albany was then without charm or attractions, so we never went there. Have never been back, Roderick.

  12. I grew up near Lake Placid, and I went to SUNY Plattsburgh! Thanks for the photo to remind me of upstate NY!

  13. I have a vague memory of going through the Erie Canal and stopping in Albany - am I right it is on the canal?

  14. mitch, I was never a good writer in school. I struggled. Once computers came along, I got better because, I believe, it's easier to edit on the fly using a keyboard and a monitor. Writing longhand and editing and rewriting was too painstakingly slow for me. I couldn't stay focused.

    travel, indeed! I haven't been to most, but I like seeing other state capitals when I can.

    sean, especially from where you live... that's a schlep of a commute.

    chm, merci, maître. LOL!

    judy, cool!

    evelyn, it was great fun to wander through with you!

    bettyann, it reminds me of a château.

    mary, I always wanted to live in a bigger city. I got my wish and was fortunate to get to live in Paris, Washington, DC, and San Francisco. Now we've seriously downsized!

    chris, ha!

    roderick, when was that? You never went to the plaza, the museums, the theaters? And yes, that SUNY campus is unique, to say the least.

    michael, :)

    michael, the canal begins a few miles upriver, north, from Albany. There are no dams or locks south of there. But if you were sailing up from NYC, you would certainly pass Albany on the way to the canal.

  15. Walt, it was my first year teaching, my wife had a part time job with the library, and we had two very small children, so that neither the museums nor the theaters were feasible if we had known about them. We did make weekend expeditions to the west into the beautiful countryside until it snowed and snowed - a dreadful winter. Roderick


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