Albany: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Last updated: July 19, 2022

New York State is more than just the big city. There is a large territory to the north, being centrally located Albany was chosen to be the state capital in 1797. The Dutch were the first to establish a colony as early as 1614, the English seized it in 1664. The city centre is home to a number of public buildings that can be visited in one day.

01. State House

The completion of the State House took thirty years with three teams of architects until 1899. It was inspired by the European neo-Romanesque and neo-Renaissance styles. The central tower and its dome were never built. The foundations proved insufficient and the building slid down the hill, a massive staircase tried to block the sliding.

02. Empire State Plaza

The esplanade was built in the 1960s and 1970s at the instigation of Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Inspired by the example of Brasilia, it brings together several administrations of the State of New York, more than 11,000 people work there. Formerly a slum, its transformation into an esplanade has completely reshaped the city centre.

03. The Egg

The Egg is a theatre whose unique form naturally attracts attention, its reflection in the pools gives a changing perspective. It is the most recent construction of the Plaza, dating from 1979. No surprise, it has become an icon for the city seeking to refresh its image. It contains two theatres, one of which has almost a thousand seats.

04. New York State Museum

Inheriting an institution created in 1836 and installed in this building in 1978, the museum closes the esplanade opposite the Capitol. Its brutalist architecture contains eleven floors devoted to the history and culture of New York State. Through temporary exhibitions and an impressive permanent collection, the museum strives to educate and interest the population.

05. City Hall

Succeeding other premises, the present City Hall dates from 1883, built at the same time as the Capitol and designed by one of its architects. Its belfry contains a carillon of 49 bells. With the exodus to the suburbs, the population of Albany fell to less than 100,000 inhabitants, although the agglomeration now has more than a million people.

06. D & H Building

The impressive D&H Building was built in 1915 as the headquarters of a railway company. Later it became the premises of a newspaper owned by an influential politician who ruled the city. Today it is the seat of the university and its square has been elegantly laid out, bordered by the old Broadway facades.

07. Education Department

The massive colonnade of 36 columns may seem a bit emphatic to house a ministry of the state. The construction dates back to 1912, referring massively to the classical standards of Antiquity, which are supposed to embody the seriousness of education. Free visits are organised, the interior being as monumental as the exterior.

08. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

The Catholic Cathedral, completed in 1852, owes much to the strong Irish immigration in the mid 19th century. Threatened by the construction of the nearby Empire State Plaza, the cathedral was eventually preserved. After extensive work, it became a monument to the past and in addition to its religious role, it has become a concert venue.

09. Washington Park

The large urban park of Albany dates back to 1686. Redesigned in the 1870s, inspired by Central Park in New York City. It covers 81 acres, 32 hectares, with sports fields and various monuments, and is often used as a setting for outdoor events. The lake house was built in 1929 in a Hispanic style, replacing an older structure.

10. University

The university expanded in the 1960s with a campus outside the city centre. The central, slightly off-centre tower has a carillon and serves as a water reservoir for the campus fountains. The buildings are arranged on three levels under a roof supported by a multitude of slim columns. There are more than 17,000 students.

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    • It’s true that it’s worth taking a closer look outside of New York City. Especially from Toronto, it is easy to go for a day trip or a weekend in the north of the state or even in the Hudson Valley. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wonderful photographs and such a variety of cool architecture. The Egg is really compelling. Hard to believe there are two theaters inside. It reminds me of Singapore’s ArtScience Museum — similar in concept and balance. Thanks for this introduction to Albany!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As this is a capital city, there is always a desire to set an example in public buildings. Administrators also have the vision to leave a legacy for the future while protecting the past. Hence this diversity and the search for style. Thanks for appreciating.


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