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Albany, NY: The Empire State Capital
Located in upstate New York, the city of Albany has a long and storied past, one that dates all the way back to early seventeenth century Dutch settlers. Today, serving as the state capital, the city is at the centre of legislature and government in the Empire State. Despite this formal status though, there are still plenty of attractions and delights that any tourist can enjoy. From historic architecture and picturesque parks to modern shopping centres and amusement parks, a trip to Albany is sure to be more rewarding than you expect.
The Capital of the Empire State
At the heart of Albany, NY stands the New York State Capitol. Completed in 1899, this grandiose structure took 32 years to build at a cost of some $25 million. At the time, no government building had ever cost that much to construct, a somewhat dubious claim to fame. Today, city visitors can take a guided or self-guided tour of the building. Outside the Capitol stands the Empire State Plaza. Walking distance from almost all Albany hotels, the plaza is a popular choice with tourists, many of whom head for the Erastus Corning Tower. The 44-story tower features an observation deck on its 42nd floor from which visitors can take in impressive views of the city. The tower itself is the tallest skyscraper in the state outside of New York City. Scattered throughout the plaza you’ll find a collection of artwork from some of America’s most influential artists, including Jackson Pollock.
Albany, NY is home to an array of museums and galleries, including a number of state-specific establishments. These include the New York State Museum, which features permanent and temporary exhibitions detailing the history of the Empire State; the New York State Library, which houses more than 20 million items; and the New York State Archive. All three can be found within the Cultural Education Centre, conveniently situated at the Empire State Plaza. Other popular museums include the Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA) and the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology (CMOST) in nearby Troy, NY. To experience one of the more unique museums in the city, leave your hotel room behind and make a beeline for the USS Slater, which you’ll find docked in the Albany Harbour. Active for the latter part of World War II, this ship spent some 40 years as part of the Greek Navy. Today the ship serves as a museum, as well as a part-time film star.
Historic Mansions & Homes
One of the oldest continuous settlements in the state, if not the country, it should come as no surprise that a host of other historical attractions can be found scattered around Albany, NY. The Schuyler Mansion, located on Catherine Street, is a popular choice for tourists. Built in the 1760s, the Georgian mansion was once home to Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States. A short walk from downtown hotels, Ten Broeck Mansion was constructed in 1797 and today serves as a museum, complete with 19th century furnishings. Meanwhile, Quackenbush House dates all the way back to the 1730s, and is considered one of Albany’s oldest buildings. All three are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are well worth a visit.
Modern Day Attractions
Despite the city’s rich past, Albany, NY isn’t just about history. Walk the city streets and you’ll come across a wide assortment of modern amenities, including shopping malls, luxury restaurants, vibrant nightclubs, and more. One of the more popular attractions in the city is Times Union Centre, a multipurpose event venue located in downtown Albany, close to many of the city’s hotels. The arena is home to the Albany Devils ice hockey club and regularly sees fervent fans descend upon it. Additionally, the building has been known to host the likes of collegiate wrestling, professional wrestling, mixed martial arts, and music concerts. An eclectic list of past performers includes Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti, the Grateful Dead, and Aerosmith. Not too far away from the arena stands the Palace Theatre. Built in the 1930s, the historic theatre sees regular live performances (ballet, music, theatre, and more), as well as movie screenings. Meanwhile, for families with younger children, Huck Finn’s Playland is a popular amusement park located within the city, while the Six Flags Great Escape amusement and water park, located in Queensbury, NY, is 80 minutes away by car.
Despite being an urban destination, the city of Albany, NY also offers a range of outdoor pursuits for you to enjoy. Why not head for one of the city’s parks to enjoy some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle? Lincoln Park, which flanks the Empire State Plaza, is a convenient choice close to many of the city’s hotels, whilst Washington Park features a picturesque lake. Albany Riverfront Park is a popular choice thanks to pleasant scenery. The park also houses an 800-seater amphitheatre which hosts live music during the summer. Furthermore, there are 41 miles of riverside trails and paths in or near the city, perfect if you’re looking to cycle, skate, jog, or stroll. Both the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers make for beautiful backdrops whatever you’re planning. Perhaps the best way to enjoy the river is by taking a riverboat tour, marvelling at the surrounding scenery as you go.
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