Albany is the capital of New York state, not, as some believe, New York City. The first settlers here were French traders who in 1540 built a fort on an island in the river. They were soon driven away by flooding. In 1604 Henry Hudson sailed to the site of Albany up the river that now bears his name, and in 1614 Dutchman Hendrick Christiaensen built a trading post called Fort Nassau on the site of the French fort. Even the Dutch could not keep out the floods and in 1624 they had to build Fort Orange a little to the north and abandon Fort Nassau. The area fell into English hands in 1664 and they renamed the settlement Albany. After independence, the state capital moved between Albany, Kingston, Poughkeepsie and New York City, but in 1797 Albany became the permanent capital.
St Peter's Church, State Street
The Reverend Thomas Barclay established Albany's first Anglican parish in 1708, and in 1714 he began to raise money to build a church. St Peter’s Church was built in the middle of Yonkers Street (now State Street) just below Lodge Street, and it opened its doors in 1716. Following the American Revolution, it became part of the Episcopal Church. A larger church designed by Philip Hooker was built on the site of the current church in 1802 but demolished in 1859. The current Gothic Revival church was designed by Richard Upjohn of New York City. Today, St Peter’s Church remains an active place of worship.
NY State Capitol
When Albany became the permanent capital, it needed a Capitol building. The first Capitol was designed by architect Philip Hooker. It opened in 1809, located just east of present Capitol. Construction of a bigger and better Capitol designed by Englishman Thomas Fuller began in 1867. In 1876 Fuller was replaced by Americans Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Hobson Richardson who modified his design. In 1883 Eidlitz and Richardson were replaced by Isaac G. Perry who saw the work through to completion in 1899. The building cost $25 million, about half a billion dollars in current day prices. The design was originally inspired by the Hotel de Ville in Paris, but the changes in architects resulted in a blend of Italian Renaissance, Romanesque and French Renaissance styles.
Houses in Elk Street
Elk Street was once one of the best residential streets in Albany. Notable families such as the Pruyns, Rathbones, Townsends, Vanderpoels, and Van Rensselaers lived in the elegant houses that line the street. Several governors lived in the street and Franklin D. Roosevelt lived at Number 4 during his time as a state senator. Nowadays most of the houses have been converted into offices.
Court of Appeals from Academy Park
Academy Park is named after Albany Academy, whose original building still stands in the park. The school was established in 1813 to educate the sons of the political elite of Albany and also the sons of a rapidly growing merchant class. The Academy moved to the University Heights section of Albany in 1931. This view from Academy Park shows the Court of Appeals, built in 1842 to a Neoclassical design. The Court of Appeals is the highest court in New York State.
Schuyler Mansion, Catherine Street
Entrepreneur Philip Schuyler began to acquire title to land in 1760 and by 1765 he had around 32 hectares (80 acres) of land. His mansion was built on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River between 1761 to 1762. Schuyler and his wife, Catharine Van Rensselaer, lived there from 1763 until his death in 1804. Philip Schuyler became a general in the Continental Army and an early U.S. Senator. Although the land that Schuyler owned has been sold off and developed, the house has been preserved and is open for tours. Unfortunately it was not open on the day that we stayed in Albany.
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