1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Albany (New York)

For works with similar titles, see Albany.

ALBANY, a city and the county-seat of Albany county, New York, U.S.A., and the capital of the state. It is situated on the W. bank of the Hudson river, just below the mouth of the Mohawk, 145 m. N. of New York City and 165 m. W. of Boston. Pop. (1880) 90,758; (1890) 94,923; (1900) 94,151, of whom 17,718 were foreign-born (6612 being Irish, 5903 German, 1361 English and 740 Russian) and 1178 were negroes; (1910) 100,253. Albany is a terminus of the New York Central & Hudson River, the Delaware & Hudson and the West Shore railways, and is also served by the Boston & Maine railway, by the Erie and Champlain canals (being a terminus of each), by steamboat lines on the Hudson river and by several inter-urban electric railways connecting with neighbouring cities.

Albany is attractively situated on a series of hills rising sharply from the river. The older portions of the city are reminiscent of Dutch colonial days, and some fine specimens of the Dutch and later colonial architecture are still standing. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Schuyler mansion (now St Francis de Sales Orphan Asylum), built in 1760–1761. The Van Rensselaer manor-house, built in 1765, was pulled down in 1893 and was reconstructed on the campus of Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, where it is used as a fraternity club-house. Among the public buildings, the finest is the new State Capitol, one of the largest and most imposing in America. It occupies a commanding position in Capitol Square (7·84 acres), one of the highest points in the city. It is built of white Maine granite, and cost about $25,000,000. Its dimensions are 300 × 400 ft. The corner-stone was laid in 1871, and the building was completed, with the exception of the central tower and dome, in 1904. The legislature first met in it in 1879. The original designs were by Thomas Fuller, who also designed the parliamentary buildings at Ottawa; but the plans underwent many changes, Isaac Gale Perry, Leopold Eidlitz and H. H. Richardson being associated with the work before its completion. The beautiful “western staircase” of red sandstone (from plans by Perry) and the senate chamber (designed by Richardson) are perhaps the most notable parts of the structure. The building houses the various executive departments, the legislature and the court of appeals. A large and handsome building of white granite was begun in 1908 directly opposite the Capitol to accommodate the department of education and the magnificent state library (about 450,000 volumes). Other important buildings are the old state hall, a handsome white marble building erected in 1842; the city hall, a beautiful French Gothic building of pink granite trimmed with red sandstone, designed by H. H. Richardson; the Federal Building; the State Museum of Natural History; the galleries of the Albany Institute and Historical and Art Society, in State Street, opposite the Capitol; Harmanus Bleecker Hall, a theatre since 1898; and the Ten Eyck and Kenmore hotels. Among the finest office buildings are the structures of the Albany City Savings Institution, National Commercial Bank, Union Trust Company, Albany Trust Company, the National Savings Bank, First National Bank, the New York State National Bank (1803, probably the oldest building in the United States used continuously for banking purposes) and the Albany Savings Bank. The Fort Orange Club, the Catholic Union, the Albany Club, the University Club, the City Club of Albany, the Country Club, the German Hall Association and the Adelphi Club are the chief social organizations. The principal church buildings are the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic), a fine specimen of Gothic architecture, built of brownstone, with spires 210 ft. high; the cathedral of All Saints (Protestant Episcopal), an English Gothic structure of pink sandstone designed by R. W. Gibson and begun in 1883; St Peter’s Episcopal Church (French Gothic), of Hudson River bluestone; Emmanuel Baptist Church, of white granite; the Madison Avenue Reformed Church; and St Joseph’s (Roman Catholic), of bluestone and Caen stone with marble trimmings. Among the educational institutions are the Albany Medical College (1839) and the Albany Law School (1851), both incorporated since 1873 with the Union University, the Collegiate Department of which is at Schenectady; the Albany College of Pharmacy (1881), also part of Union University; the Albany Academy (1813), in which Joseph Henry, while a member of the faculty, perfected in 1826–1832 the electro-magnet and began his work on the electric telegraph; the Albany Academy for Girls, founded in 1814 as the Albany Female Academy (name changed in 1906); and a State Normal College (1890), with a Model School. The hospitals and charitable institutions include St Vincent’s Orphan Asylum, the Lathrop Memorial (for children of working mothers), Albany City Hospital, the Homeopathic Hospital, St Peter’s Hospital, the Albany City Orphan Asylum and the House of the Good Shepherd. There are a county penitentiary and a State armoury. The city has 95 acres of boulevards and avenues under park supervision and several fine parks (17, with 307 acres in 1907), notably Washington (containing Calverley’s bronze statue of Robert Burns, and Rhind’s “Moses at the Rock of Horeb”), Beaver and Dudley, in which is the old Dudley Observatory—the present Observatory building is in Lake Avenue, south-west of Washington Park, where is also the Albany Hospital. In the beautiful rural cemetery, north of the city, are the tombs of President Chester A. Arthur and General Philip Schuyler. The city owns a fine water-supply and a filtration plant covering 20 acres, with a capacity of 30,000,000 gallons daily and storage reservoirs with a capacity of 227,000,000 gallons.

The first newspaper in Albany was the Gazette, founded in 1771. The Argus, founded in 1813 by Jesse Buel (1778–1839) and edited from 1824 to 1854 by Edwin Croswell (1797–1871), was long the organ of the coterie of New York politicians known as the “Albany Regency,” and was one of the most influential Democratic papers in the United States. Previously to their holding office, Daniel Manning (1831–1887), secretary of the treasury in President Cleveland’s cabinet, was president of the Argus company, and Daniel Scott Lamont (1851–1905), secretary of war during President Cleveland’s second administration, was managing editor of the newspaper. The Evening Journal, founded in 1830 as an anti-Masonic organ, and for thirty-five years edited by Thurlow Weed, was equally influential as an organ of the Whig and later of the Republican party.

Albany is an important railway and commercial centre, particularly as a distributing point for New England markets, as a lumber market and—though to a much less extent than formerly—as a depot for transhipment to the south and west. Among the city’s manufactories are breweries, iron and brass foundries, stove factories, knitting mills, cotton mills, clothing factories, slaughtering and meat-packing establishments, cigar and cigarette factories, and manufactories of adhesive pastes, court plaster, spring beds, ribbed underwear, aniline dyes, chemicals, gas meters, fire-brick, and glazed paper and cardboard. The value of the total factory product in 1905 was $20,208,715, which was 17% greater than that for 1900.

History. — Albany was probably the second place to be permanently settled within the borders of the original Thirteen Colonies. It seems likely that French traders ascended the river as far as the site of the present city in the first half of the sixteenth century, and according to some writers a temporary trading post was established here about 1540. Albany’s authentic history, however, may be dated from 1614, when Dutch traders built on Castle Island, opposite the city, a post which they named Fort Nassau. Three years later the fort was removed to the mainland, and near here in 1618 the Dutch made their first treaty with the Iroquois. In 1624 arrived eighteen families of Dutch Walloons, the first actual permanent settlers, as distinguished from traders. In that year, on a hill near the site of the present Capitol, Fort Orange was built, and around it, as a centre, the new town grew. At first it was known by the Dutch simply as the “fuyck” (hoop), from the curve in the river at this point, whence was soon derived the name Beverfuyck or Beverwvck. In 1629 the Dutch government granted to Killiaen van Rensselaer, an Amsterdam diamond merchant, a tract of land (24 sq. m.) centring at Fort Orange. Over this tract, the first patroonship granted in the colony, he had the usual powers and rights of a patroon. The grant was named Rensselaerwyck in his honour, became a “manor” in 1685, and remained in the family until 1853. The colonists whom he settled upon his grant (1630) were industrious, and “Beverwyck” became increasingly prosperous. From this time the town, on account of its favourable commercial and strategic position at the gateway of the Iroquois country and at the head of navigation on the Hudson river, was for a century and a half one of the most important places in the colonies. In 1664. with the transfer of New Netherlands to English control, the name “Beverwyck” was changed to “Albany”—one of the titles of the duke of York (afterward James II.). In 1673 the town was acain for a short time under Dutch control. In 1686 Governor Donaan granted to Albany a city charter, which provided for an elected council. The first mayor appointed by the governor was Peter Schuyler (1657–1724). In 1689 was held here the first inter-colonial convention in America, when delegates from Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut and New York met to treat with representatives of the Five Nations and to plan a system of colonial defence. During the 18th century there was a great influx of English colonists, and in 1714 the first English church was erected. During the French and Indian wars Albany was a starting-point for expeditions against Canada and the Lake Champlain country. In June 1754, in pursuance of a recommendation of the Lords of Trade, a convention of representatives of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland met here for the purpose of confirming and establishing a closer league of friendship with the Iroquois and of arranging for a permanent union of the colonies. The Indian affairs having been satisfactorily adjusted, the convention, after considerable debate. in which Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Hopkins and Thomas Hutchinson took a leading part, adopted (July 11) a plan for a union of the colonies, which was in great part similar to one submitted to the convention by Franklin. This plan provided for a representative governing body to be known as the Grand Council, to which each colony should elect delegates (not more than seven or less than two) for a term of three years. This body was to have control of Indian affairs, impose taxes, nominate all civil officers, authorize the opening of new lands to settlement, and in general have charge of colonial defence, and of the enlistment, equipment and maintenance of an army. An executive or viceroy, to be known as the president-general, was to have the veto power over the acts of the Grand Council and the right of appointment of military officers. Finally, it was provided that the acts of the Grand Council should be valid unless vetoed by the crown within a period of three years. Neither the British government nor the growing party in the colonies which was clamouring for colonial rights received the plan with favour—the former holding that it gave the colonies too much independence, and the latter that it gave them too little. The strategic importance of Albany was fully recognized during the War of Independence, and it was against Albany that Burgoyne’s expedition was directed. Albany became the permanent state capital in 1797. In 1839 it became the centre of the “Anti-Rent War,” which was precipitated by the death of Stephen van Rensselaer (1764–1839), the last of the patroons; the attempt of his heirs to collect overdue rents resulting in disturbances which necessitated the calling out of the militia, spread into several counties where there were large landed estates, and were not entirely settled until 1847.

See William Barnes, The Settlement and Early History of Albany (Albany, 1864); J. Munsell, The Annals of Albany (10 vols., Albany, 1850–1859: 2nd ed., 4 vols., 1869–1871); E. B. O’Callaghan, Documentary History of the State of New York, vol. iii. (Albany, 1850); A. J. Weise, The History of the City of Albany (Albany, 1884); G. R. Howell and J. Tenney, Bi-centennial History of Albany (New York, 1886); Amasa J. Parker, Landmarks of Albany County (Syracuse, 1897); and Cuyler Reynolds, Albany Chronicles; or Albany Mayors and Contemporaneous Chronology (Albany, 1907).