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Perfect day for a tourist

sunny 65 °F


As I mentioned in my previous blog the State Capitol was only about 12 miles from our campground. The legislature only meets 6 months of the year, although their annual pay is $110,000/yr. + perks. Therefore, the streets were fairly quiet since the politicians were not in town. I just had to get that in!

The Capitol building is very 'European-looking' contrary to all other capitols in the USA. We chose a docent-led tour with about 15 other visitors in our group. He was very much a historian but with humor. He joked along the way about happenings which occurred during the 25+ years that it took to build it. The legislators of the time wanted a building which boasted New York's wealth and prominence in the world. The project was begun in the 1880's. Five architects were hired during this quarter century with 4 fired before completion. The building's style reflects the tastes of all 5 architects so while magnificent, it is of no specific style. The cost bloated to over $25M making it the most expensive state capitol in the US exceeding that of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. In today's dollars it would be 1/2 $B. The Grand or Great Western Staircase and the Senate Chamber stood out in my mind as the most impressive. The Staircase is of gray granite with imported red Scottish sandstone trim. This particular sandstone is relatively soft when quarried making it suitable for stone carving but when exposed to air over a period of time it hardens. The four-story staircase cost $1M and it took 500 stonecarvers working continuously for 14 years to complete. This work of art contains 77 sculpted faces of famous people along with elaborate foliage adorning it. The Senate Chamber is finished with marbles from around the world and carved oak woodwork. Sixty-six elected Senators meet in this coffered-ceiling room with 23 carat gold foil wall coverings. I could not help but think of our Senator from Northern New York who is from little Heuvelton, NY (my hometown) and lives there with her family. Her husband is a plumber and she, like local people have humble roots. That's democracy. Some elected officials are 'blue-bloods' like the Rockefellers or the Roosevelts, but in our system of government anyone can run for an office and get elected.
Our docent jokingly suggested the the State Capitol building resembles City Hall in Paris, France. Perhaps it does but regardless it is a magnificent building, one which should be visited.

Our Capitol visit occurred on a Monday so the NY State Museum was closed that day. A disappointment for it truly is outstanding and I wanted to share it with my friend, Pat. We had lunch down the street from the Capitol on Washington St., a place called 'Jack's' where legislators hang out when they are in town. Just down the street from Jack's is a magnificent 'Gilded-Age' train station of the former Delaware & Hudson Railroad. It resembles a castle from Europe. (Google it) Today it is the Central Administration Building of the State University of New York. SUNY, as it is called, has 64 campuses state-wide and is the largest State University System in the US with over 400,000 students under its umbrella. The administration building is breath-taking.
All-in-all it was a nice day for our Albany visit. Tomorrow we leave, heading south into Pennsylvania then on to Washington, DC. More to come........

Posted by dixter 17:44 Archived in USA Tagged a to visit albany

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