|UNITED STATES OF AMERICA|
Albany is situated at an elevation of 68 ft (20 m) on the Hudson river slightly south of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers. Albany is the capital of the state of New York in the United States of America. It is also the county seat of Albany County. As of the 2000 census, it had a population of 95,658.
Albany was one of the earlier permanent settlements in the 13 original American colonies. Its colonial history began when Englishman Henry Hudson, exploring for the Dutch East India Company on the ship Halve Maen (Half Moon), reached the area in 1609. In 1624 Fort Orange, the first permanent settlement in the New Netherland colony, was established in the area. The original native settlement at at this place was called Penpotawotnot. Nearby areas were incorporated as the village of Beverwyck in 1652. When the land was taken by the British in 1664, the name was changed to Albany, in honor of the Duke of York and Albany, who later became James II of England and VII of Scotland. Albany received a charter as a city in 1686.
In 1754, representatives of seven of the British North American Colonies met in the Albany Congress. Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia presented the Albany Plan of Union, the first formal proposal to unite the colonies. Although it was never adopted by Parliament, it was an important precursor to the U.S. Constitution. In 1797 the state capital of New York was moved from Kingston to Albany, about 50 miles north.
The New York State Capitol [right] sits majestically atop State Street hill. It has served as the seat of government for New York since the 1880s. The building is a marvel of late 19th century architectural grandeur. Under the direction of five architects, the Capitol was built by hand of solid masonry over a period of almost four decades (1867–1899). When Governor Theodore Roosevelt declared the Capitol complete in 1899, its cost had exceeded twenty-five million dollars.
Unlike many state capitol buildings which are inspired by Classical architecture, the New York capitol building takes its inspiration from the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. Four hundred feet long and three hundred feet wide, the Capitol has five stories with a full basement and attic. It is constructed principally of gray granite and has walls over sixteen feet thick at the foundation. With the change in architects, the exterior design became a "battle of styles", in which Italian Renaissance, Romanesque and French Renaissance were blended.
[Other Capitol buildings depicted on items of this collection are the United States Capitol in Washington, DC, the Colorado State Capitol in Denver, CO, the Massachusetts State Capitol and the Old State House in Boston, MA, and the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis, IN.]
The Albany City Hall [left] at 24 Eagle Street was designed by architect Henry Hobson Richardson, then America's greatest architect, in 1882. Constructed of Rhode Island granite with a darker stone trim, the building features a profusion of arches and a pyramidal-roofed, 200 ft (61 m) high tower. Considered to be the most Romanesque of all of Richardson's buildings (after his death, the style came to be known as Richardsonian Romanesque), it contains many of his trademark features: intricately patterned stonework, rich floral carvings, and fanciful finials and gargoyles.
The tower contains a 49-bell carillon—the first municipal carillon in the United States—installed in 1927 as a tribute to soldiers who served in World War I. Collectively weighing 27 tons (the largest bell alone weighs 11,000 pounds), the bells are regularly played at noontime on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and on Sunday afternoons during the summer.
The Robert Burns Statue [right] was erected in 1888 in Washington Park and has an amazing story. One Mary Macpherson, a poor house maid, saved all of her money and donated $30,000 to build what has been called the best statue of Robert Burns in the World and is the second oldest surviving statue of Burns to be created in the United States. It is also one of 20 monuments in the world erected before 1890 in honor of that great Scottish poet. The statue is the largest work ever produced by Charles Calverly, who was born in Albany in 1833. His most complex work was the 16 foot Burns monument, a seated figure cast in bronze, resting on a pedestal of Scottish granite. The statue is formally known as the Macpherson Legacy to the City of Albany.
[Texts adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albany,_New_York, http://www.albany.org, http://www.hudsonrivervalley.com/, http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/albanyrich/albanyrich.html, http://assembly.state.ny.us/Tour/, http://www.parsonage.net/2005agm/about_albany.html]