Albany: Photo Adventure

This is the final post about my trip to Albany and Troy for the NY State Historic Preservation Conference. Hopefully, I visit again in the near future to explore other cool sections of Albany and Troy!

I noticed while going through all of my photos from the trip that I definitely had some themes going, which is how I grouped the photographs for this post. I did not do a ton of research into the history of the buildings because we don’t always have to focus on that. It’s nice to just appreciate the beauty of the built environment around us without worrying about the architectural style or what year something was built.

Windows and Doors

This isn’t really a flashy title for this collection of photos. You’re probably thinking, GREAT, more windows and doors. Just what I wanted to see in my life. More mundane building features. But I promise, these doors and windows are actually cool. Check them out!

Floors are Just as Cool

So there’s this thing about preservationists always looking up at buildings. I on the other hand love to look down where I’m walking. Maybe it’s because I’m always on the lookout for tripping hazards. Or, maybe it’s because some buildings have really awesome historic floors. I don’t just mean nice wide wooden pine plank flooring. I mean fancy mosaic tile flooring. That stuff is nice. In both Albany and Troy I saw some great floors.

Women History

So I did not see a lot of historic things related to woman’s history but the things I did see where pretty amazing. The first photograph is a table that is located in the State Capitol Building The following is an inscription of what the first half of the tablet says:

“To Honor Those Great Women of the State of New York

Elizabeth Cady Stanton    Susan B. Anthony     Carrie Chapman Catt

Who In Succession Gloriously Led The Long Struggle For the Enfranchisement of theWomen of this Nation And to Commemorate the Signal Services of These Other Citizens of New York to the Same Cause Throughout the Nation and in the State This Tablet is Erected by The New York League of Women Voters”

Then there is a list of women involved in the suffragette movement for both the National Honor Roll and then a State Honor Roll.

The other photograph is of the Women Veteran Memorial, which honors women who have served in the armed services over the past two hundred years. The memorial is located near the State Museum on Madison Avenue.

Historic Signs

For me, historic signs are like a scavenger hunt. It’s fun to see how many I can find on my adventures. Plus, they give a tidbit of history on the surrounding area. If you’re into photographing historic markers, tablets, signs, etc. There are a few websites that are doing a wonderful of documenting them: and I know on the “Historical Marker Project” webiste you can register and help add your own photographs of historic markers in your area. I’ve done one for the St. Lawrence Academy historical tablet located in Potsdam, NY.

The first photograph here is a tablet located on City Hall in Albany. The inscription of the tablet reads as such:

“Tablet Commemorating The Two Hundredth Anniversary Of Albany As A Chartered City Settled About 1624 Charter Granted By Gov. Dongan July 22, 1686

State Legislature held here permanently since 1797

Early Names of the City

Fort Orange-Beverwyck-Wilemstadt

First City Hall Erected Near Fort Orange about 1686. Second One North East Corner Broadway and Hudson St. About 1705. Third One On This Site 1829: Burned 1880. Fourth Or Present Building Erected 1883

First Mayor 1686 Pieter Schuyler

Centennial 1786 Johannes Jacobse Beekman

Bi-Centennial 1886 John Boyd Thatcher”

Then there is a list of citizens involved with the tablet.

The other photographs are other historic signs seen in and around the State Capitol Building.

If there are any buildings or photographs you’re interested in learning more about. Leave a comment and I’ll see what more information I can find.

Thanks for reading!


Albany: Washington Park

This post begins while I was a graduate student at the University of Vermont. My class did this really awesome project using historic postcards as a research tool. We picked postcards related to Burlington and the surrounding area and then re-photographed the locations depicted in the cards. Using the postcard and the new photograph, we wrote a “before and after” history comparison.

Since that project I’ve had a new appreciation of historic postcards because they can offer a wealth of information about both buildings, landscapes, and any changes that have occurred. Let’s be honest any historic photograph can offer a ton of information when researching the history of a place. I found a wonderful collection of historic postcards to go through at North Country Neighbors, a type of flea market located under the Roxy movie theater in Potsdam, NY.

North Country Neighbors is a pretty cool place to check out since the different vendor booths are always changing their wares. One of those booths has a bunch of historic postcards, which every now and then I go through and see what I can find. The most recent time there I found a few postcards including one for Washington Park in Albany, NY. Since I was going to Albany for the historic preservation conference I figured it would be a fun postcard to buy so I could compare it with the Park today.


Typically you would be able to date the postcard on the design located where the stamp is suppose to go but the stamp on this postcard is blocking that. The stamp is a called a Washington “Olive Branch” design that was issued around 1912. Another website called the “Albany Postcard Project,” actually has an estimated publishing date range for this card as 1907-1915. So in other words the postcard dates to the early 20th century!


So when I was in Albany I check out Washington Park and took photos of the Mall which extends form Knox Street to Northern Boulevard. This area is the eastern section of the park and is actually the old parade ground. It is the most formally planned section of the park and has a lot of things including: flower gardens, croquet lawn, and a tree lined promenade (the Mall).

The Park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Washington Park Historic District. The district includes portions of South Lake Avenue, Madison Avenue, State Street, Willett Street, Thurlow Terrance, Eaglewood Place, and Western Avenue.

The park has technically been in existence for a little over a hundred years but the land has always been designated for public use since 1686 when Albany was first chartered during the reign of King James. Let’s take a moment to realize that Albany is an extremely old city. I did not realize that until I was there and walking around and listening to the different presentations on the City during the Conference. For comparison, Boston is a little over 50 years older than Albany (it was founded in 1630).

The Park has had many uses during its history. It has been the location of Albany’s powder house (1802), a burial ground (1800), the public square (1806), and used as a parade ground for drills, county fairs, and skating parties. By 1869 a law had been passed allowing for a public park and obviously the parade ground was the prime candidate for the City’s new public park. Frederick Law Olmsted (a really important landscape architect) was hired as a consultant to write a report on the possibility of a park.


About a year later the firm, Bogart & Cuyler, began to design the park and started construction, which lasted for 20 years. The gentlemen had worked previously with Olmsted on another project and were heavily influenced by the report Olmsted had written for Albany. Design elements that are Olmsted features include the natural scenery of rolling meadows and lake views within the realm of formal spaces. It’s all about the view in the parks inspired by Olmsted and feeling like you’re in the wilderness when really you’re in the middle of a city. Think Central Park in NYC, which is designed by Olmsted.

According to the Washington Park Conservancy’s website the Knox Street Mall was completely renovated in 2001. I tried looking for information in regards to the restoration but could not find that much information. In general their website was lacking a lot of information. Hopefully in the future they add to the contents of the site. Check out the photos below to see what the Mall in Washington Park looks like today. When I was visiting Albany, the Tulip Festival was happening, so there were a lot of tulips and people in the Park one of the days I visited.

I was facing Madison Street while standing on the Knox Street Mall.
Looking in the opposite direction towards State Street. The Albany Postcard Project thinks the original postcard was facing this direction.
During the Tulip Festival, the Mall was lined with vendors. It gave the area a totally different feel with this many people and the vendors!
Since I saw the Park during the Tulip Festival, I might as well share a photo of some tulips!

If you own any historic postcards, see if you can find the locations depicted. It’s always cool to see how things have changed over time or maybe there haven’t been that many changes over the years. The photos I took of the Mall today look pretty much like it did in the early 1900’s. It’s most likely because of the renovations that occurred in 2001. It was also fun to be at the Park on a week day when it wasn’t so busy and then compare what was going on during the Tulip Festival when the Park was buzzing with life!

If you have any thoughts or comments about Washington Park, or are interested in the history of your old postcards and need help, leave a comment!

If you’re interested in learning more about the UVM postcard project see this link: I specifically worked on the “University, Hill Section.”

Or if you’re interested in what other UVM historic preservation groups are researching follow this link:

For further information about today’s blog post:

Washington Park:

Frederick Law Olmsted:

Albany Postcards:


Albany: State Capitol Building

Last week I was adventuring in Albany for the New York State Historic Preservation Conference; Albany and Troy were host cities for the conference’s events. If you’ve never been to either of those cities I highly suggest going. There are a lot of cool cultural and historical sites. Plus, many local shops and eateries to check out!

While at the Conference, I saw and learned a lot of cool things related to architecture, preservation, and the Capitol Region. This week and next, I’m going to focus on some of the places I saw and visited starting with the State Capitol Building.

I’ve been to the Capitol Building one other time, which was in 6th grade for a class trip. I really don’t remember a lot about seeing the Capitol Building and the photos I took then, were with a disposable camera! This time around, I had a much better camera, an amazing tour guide, and was surrounded by a bunch of building geeks, which was exciting!

So first off, let’s history about the State Capitol Building because that’s what we’re here for! The planning for the building began in 1866 and wasn’t declared complete until 1899 by Governor Theodore Roosevelt. And by “declared complete” it really meant that the building was costing too much and needed to end. On the tour there was one room we visited where the incomplete parts were pointed out by the tour guide. So you’re wondering now, how MUCH did the New York State Capitol Building cost? It cost $25 million dollars! That makes our New York Capitol Building more expensive than the US Capitol Building. Let’s all thank Henry Hobson Richardson, one of the architects for this. He designed the “Million Dollar Staircase.” Hopefully that gives you an idea of how Richardson helped push the costs of the building way, way up. Anyways, that price tag is impressive and I’m not sure in a good way but at the least the building looks pretty!

During the 33 years of construction, the building had five different architects that all brought unique thoughts and details to the building. Those architects include: Thomas Fuller, Leopold Eidlitz, Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted (he was a landscape architect), and finally Isaac G. Perry. Perry finished the building after Richardson and Eidlitz were dismissed because of the costs of the building.

Most recently, the complex has went through major restoration work from 2000 to 2013. Things that were completed during the restoration included the skylight and lay light over the Great Western Staircase and Assembly Staircase, conservation cleaning of the staircase masonry, and ornamental and light fixtures. There’s a link at the bottom of this post for more information on the restoration work. The building also had work done so that it would meet ADA requirements. ADA the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it is a law requiring buildings to be accessible for people with disabilities and equal opportunities for those with disabilities.

The tour guide was named Jack and he was a former Assemblyman for the Albany area. I’m not sure if he’s a normal tour guide or was asked to do the tour for the Preservation Conference. Either way, he was very knowledgeable about the history of the building and what had occurred during the restoration. He had a very interesting point to make about touring the property, to paraphrase Jack, he said that as residents of NY State, we own the building and we have a right to see everything in the building because we pay for it.

So let’s look at the photographs I took of the building to give you an idea of how awesome it is and hopefully it makes you want to visit the New York State Capitol.

A view of the exterior of the Capitol Building. The building is considered to be “French Revival” but it was suppose to be more “Italian Revival” but Richardson had other plans and basically said no one would know the difference!

The following “galleries” of photos are related to different sections of the Capitol building. There are descriptions for each photo giving a little back ground of what you’re looking at.

Free tours are offered Monday through Friday at 10:00 am, Noon, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm. For more information on the tours follow this link:

For more information on the architecture, more photos, and more history on the NY State Capitol Building check out these links:

Be on the lookout for my upcoming posts about places and history in Albany and Troy.