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The city of Albany has been the state capital of New York since 1797. It is the oldest surviving European settlement from the original Thirteen Colonies that declared their independence from the British in the American Revolution, but, the area's European history pre-dates that time by a couple of centuries. In 1540, French traders built the first fort here on Castle Island. Englishman Henry Hudson, exploring for the Dutch East India Company, reached here in 1609. Many native tribes gave the city different names. The Mohegans called it Pem-po-tu-wuth-ut, meaning “place of the council fire,” and the Iroquis named it Sche-negh-ta-da or ...

The city of Albany has been the state capital of New York since 1797. It is the oldest surviving European settlement from the original Thirteen Colonies that declared their independence from the British in the American Revolution, but, the area's European history pre-dates that time by a couple of centuries. In 1540, French traders built the first fort here on Castle Island. Englishman Henry Hudson, exploring for the Dutch East India Company, reached here in 1609. Many native tribes gave the city different names. The Mohegans called it Pem-po-tu-wuth-ut, meaning “place of the council fire,” and the Iroquis named it Sche-negh-ta-da or “through the pine woods.” When the British took the land in 1664 they changed the name to Albany in honor of the Duke of York and Albany. Through the centuries Albany has grown from an outpost for fur traders, seen industrialization with the invention of steamboats, the completion of the Erie Canal connecting the Great Lakes to New York and the building of railroads. Today Albany is home to two universities the University of Albany and Albany Medical College; it brims with museums, history, art and natural environments. The New York State Capitol building was designed by noted American architects Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Hobson Richardson. It took 32 years to complete (1867-1899) at a cost of $25 million. Guided tours are available Monday-Saturday. Surrounding the capitol is the Empire State Plaza, which also encompasses the New York State Museum with exhibits detailing Albany’s history. Other notable cultural venues are the Fenimore Art Museum with its impressive collection of artworks by American painters, the homes of early settlers at the Pruyn House and Ten Broeck Mansion and the natural landscape offered on the hiking, biking and walking trails at the Crossings of Colonie.

Frances Folsom
About the Expert

Frances Folsom is the author of CitySpot Palermo, a contributor to the Reiskits guides to Milan and Italy's Lakes Region, and Thomas Cook's Independent Traveller USA.

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