PDX shuttle airport Albany, New York
- Zip code: 97321-22
Albany (/ˈɔːlbəni/ (listen) AWL-bə-nee) is the capital of the U.S. state of New York and the seat and largest city of Albany County. Albany is located on the west bank of the Hudson River approximately 10 miles (16 km) south of its confluence with the Mohawk River and approximately 135 miles (220 km) north of New York City.
Albany is known for its rich history, commerce, culture, architecture, and institutions of higher education. Albany constitutes the economic and cultural core of the Capital District of New York State, which comprises the Albany–Schenectady–Troy, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area, including the nearby cities and suburbs of Troy, Schenectady, and Saratoga Springs. With a 2013 Census-estimated population of 1.1 million the Capital District is the third-most populous metropolitan region in the state. As of the 2010 census, the population of Albany was 97,856.
The area that later became Albany was settled by Dutch colonists who, in 1614, built Fort Nassau for fur trading and, in 1624, built Fort Orange. In 1664, the English took over the Dutch settlements, renaming the city as Albany, in honor of the then Duke of Albany, the future James II of England and James VII of Scotland. The city was officially chartered in 1686 under English rule. It became the capital of New York in 1797 following formation of the United States. Albany is one of the oldest surviving settlements of the original British thirteen colonies, and is the longest continuously chartered city in the United States.
During the late 18th century and throughout most of the 19th, Albany was a center of trade and transportation. The city lies toward the north end of the navigable Hudson River, was the original eastern terminus of the Erie Canal connecting to the Great Lakes, and was home to some of the earliest railroad systems in the world. In the 1920s, a powerful political machine controlled by the Democratic Party arose in Albany. In the latter part of the 20th century, Albany experienced a decline in its population due to urban sprawl and suburbanization; however, the New York State Legislature approved a $234 million building and renovation plan for the City in the 1990s that spurred renovation and building projects around the downtown area. In the early 21st century, Albany has experienced growth in the high-technology industry, with great strides in the nanotechnology sector.
Albany is one of the oldest surviving European settlements from the original thirteen colonies and the longest continuously chartered city in the United States. The Hudson River area was originally inhabited by Algonquian-speaking Mohican (Mahican), who called it Pempotowwuthut-Muhhcanneuw, meaning “the fireplace of the Mohican nation.” Based to the west along the Mohawk River, the Iroquoian-speaking Mohawk referred to it as Sche-negh-ta-da, or “through the pine woods,” referring to the path they took there. The Mohawk were one of the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee, and became strong trading partners with the Dutch and English. It is likely the Albany area was visited by European fur traders, perhaps as early as 1540, but the extent and duration of those visits has not been determined.
Permanent European claims began when Englishman Henry Hudson, exploring for the Dutch East India Company on the Half Moon (Dutch: Halve Maen), reached the area in 1609, claiming it for the United Netherlands. In 1614, Hendrick Christiaensen built Fort Nassau, a fur-trading post and the first documented European structure in present-day Albany. Commencement of the fur trade provoked hostility from the French colony in Canada and among the natives, all of whom vied to control the trade. In 1618, a flood ruined the fort on Castle Island, but it was rebuilt in 1624 as Fort Orange. Both forts were named in honor of the leading family of the Dutch Revolt, members of the House of Orange-Nassau. Fort Orange and the surrounding area were incorporated as the village of Beverwijck (English: Beaverwick or Beaver District) in 1652. In these early decades of trade, the Dutch, Mohican and Mohawk developed relations that reflected differences among their three cultures.
When New Netherland was captured by the English in 1664, the name was changed from Beverwijck to Albany in honor of the Duke of Albany (later James II of England and James VII of Scotland). Duke of Albany was a Scottish title given since 1398, generally to a younger son of the King of Scots. The name is ultimately derived from Alba, the Gaelic name for Scotland. The Dutch briefly regained Albany in August 1673 and renamed the city Willemstadt; the English took permanent possession with the Treaty of Westminster (1674). On November 1, 1683, the Province of New York was split into counties, with Albany County being the largest. At that time the county included all of present New York State north of Dutchess and Ulster Counties in addition to present-day Bennington County, Vermont, theoretically stretching west to the Pacific Ocean; Albany became the county seat. Albany was formally chartered as a municipality by provincial Governor Thomas Dongan on July 22, 1686. The Dongan Charter was virtually identical in content to the charter awarded to the city of New York three months earlier. Dongan created Albany as a strip of land 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and 16 miles (26 km) long. Over the years Albany would lose much of the land to the west and annex land to the north and south. At this point, Albany had a population of about 500 people.
In 1754, representatives of seven British North American colonies met in the Stadt Huys, Albany’s city hall, for the Albany Congress; Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania presented the Albany Plan of Union there, which was the first formal proposal to unite the colonies. Although it was never adopted by Parliament, it was an important precursor to the United States Constitution. The same year, the French and Indian War, the fourth in a series of wars dating back to 1689, began; it ended in 1763 with French defeat, resolving a situation that had been a constant threat to Albany and held back its growth. In 1775, with the colonies in the midst of the Revolutionary War, the Stadt Huys became home to the Albany Committee of Correspondence (the political arm of the local revolutionary movement), which took over operation of Albany’s government and eventually expanded its power to control all of Albany County. Tories and prisoners of war were often jailed in the Stadt Huys alongside common criminals. In 1776, Albany native Philip Livingston signed the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
During and after the Revolutionary War, Albany County saw a great increase in real estate transactions. After Horatio Gates defeated John Burgoyne at Saratoga in 1777, the upper Hudson Valley was generally at peace as the war raged on elsewhere. Prosperity was soon seen all over Upstate New York. Migrants from Vermont and Connecticut began flowing in, noting the advantages of living on the Hudson and trading at Albany, while being only a few days’ sail from New York City. Albany reported a population of 3,498 in the first national census in 1790, an increase of almost 700% since its chartering.
On November 17, 1793, a large fire broke out, destroying 26 homes on Broadway, Maiden Lane, James Street, and State Street. The fire originated at a stable belonging to Leonard Gansevoort and was suspected to be arson set by disgruntled slaves. Three slaves were arrested and charged with arson: a male slave named Pompey, owned by Matthew Visscher; a 14-year old slave girl named Dinah, owned by Volkert P. Douw; and a 12-year old slave girl named Bet, owned by Philip S. Van Rensselaer. On January 6, 1794, the three were tried and sentenced to death. For reasons unknown, Governor George Clinton issued a temporary stay of execution, but the slave girls were executed by hanging on March 14, and Pompey on April 11, 1794.
In 1797, the state capital of New York was moved permanently to Albany. From statehood to this date, the Legislature had frequently moved the state capital between Albany, Kingston, Hurley, Poughkeepsie, and the city of New York. Albany is the tenth-oldest state capital in the United States, but is the second-oldest city that is a state capital, after Santa Fe, New Mexico.