Main Births etc
Albany, New York
—  State capital and city  —
A medley of different scenes to represent the diversity of the city. At top is a photo of the city's skyline, juxtaposing modern towers from the 1960s with older buildings dating back to the 19th century. Above center, right shows cookie-cutter, single-family houses, all two-stories with porches. Below center, right shows the marquee of a buff- and red-brick theater; marquee reads "PALACE". Bottom is a panoramic view of an open courtyard split by reflecting pools and surrounded by four modern, glass and concrete towers on left and one taller tower on right; in center is a Romanesque, granite, five-story capitol building. Below center, left shows a city street populated with old brick buildings. Above center, left shows a modern, glass and concrete tower surrounded by a shorter building of the same style.
Clockwise from top: Albany skyline from Rensselaer; middle-class housing in the Helderberg neighborhood; Palace Theatre; Empire State Plaza from the Cultural Education Center; North Pearl Street at Columbia Street; and the State Quad at SUNY Albany.
A flag with three equal horizontal stripes colored orange, white, and blue from top to bottom. In the center is the city seal (except for text and circular outline).
Circular seal with central images of a shield at center and sailing ship above it, with a European man to the left and a Native American to the right. The seal's edge reads "THE SEAL OF THE CITY OF ALBANY" with "ASSIDUITY" in a banner above the bottom.
Nickname(s): Cradle of the Union[1]
The 518 (area code)
Cap City
Motto: Assiduity[lower-alpha 1]
Map shows Albany on the west bank of the Hudson, surrounded by the towns of Colonie, Guilderland, and Bethlehem. Roads are also shown. Interstates 90, 87, and 787 pass through the city boundaries.
Boundaries of and major thoroughfares through Albany
Located on the east border of the county, north of center. County is located in east section of the state, just south of center.
Location in Albany County and the state of New York

Albany, New York is located in New York <div style="position: absolute; top: Expression error: Missing operand for *.%; left: 963.9%; height: 0; width: 0; margin: 0; padding: 0;">
Albany, New York
Location in New York, United States & North America
Country  United States
State  New York
Region Capital District
County Albany
Settled 1614
Incorporation 1686
 • Type Albany City Hall
 • Mayor Kathy Sheehan (D)
 • State capital and city 21.94 sq mi (56.81 km2)
 • Land 21.39 sq mi (55.40 km2)
 • Water 0.55 sq mi (1.42 km2)
 • Metro 6,570 sq mi (17,000 km2)
Highest elevation 378 ft (115 m)
Lowest elevation 0 ft (0 m)
Population (2010)
 • State capital and city 97,856
 • Estimate (2016)[4] 98,111
 • Density 4,587.20/sq mi (1,771.11/km2)
 • Metro 1,170,483
 • Metro density 180/sq mi (69/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
ZIP Code 12201-12, 12214, 12220, 12222-32
Area code 518, 838
Geocode 977310, 978659
ISO 3166 code 36-01000
FIPS code 36-01000
GNIS feature ID 978659
Demonym Albanian[5]

Albany ( /ˈɔːlbəni/ ALL-bə-nee) is the capital of the U.S. state of New York and the seat 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 150 miles (240 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 [6] the Capital District is the third-most populous metropolitan region in the state and 38th in the United States.[7][8] 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.[9]

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.[10] In the early 21st century, Albany has experienced growth in the high-technology industry, with great strides in the nanotechnology sector.[11][12]


Colonial times to 1800[]

A piece of rectangular parchment with a ribbon and seal hanging from the bottom.

The Dongan Charter legally established Albany as a city in 1686; it is the oldest United States city charter still in effect.[9]

A watercolor painting of brown and yellow row houses in front of a dirt road, two of which have classic Dutch stepped gables; a white church spire is seen in the background.

North Pearl Street from Maiden Lane North by James Eights, circa 1805

Albany is one of the oldest surviving European settlements from the original thirteen colonies[13] and the longest continuously chartered city in the United States.[lower-alpha 2] The Hudson River area was originally inhabited by Algonquian-speaking Mohican (Mahican), who called it Pempotowwuthut-Muhhcanneuw, meaning "the fireplace of the Mohican nation."[16] 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.[17][lower-alpha 3] 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.[19]

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.[20] 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.[21] Both forts were named in honor of the Dutch royal House of Orange-Nassau.[22] Fort Orange and the surrounding area were incorporated as the village of Beverwijck (English: Beaver District) in 1652.[23][24] In these early decades of trade, the Dutch, Mohican and Mohawk developed relations that reflected differences among their three cultures.[25]

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).[26][lower-alpha 4] Duke of Albany was a Scottish title given since 1398, generally to a younger son of the King of Scots.[27] The name is ultimately derived from Alba, the Gaelic name for Scotland.[28] The Dutch briefly regained Albany in August 1673 and renamed the city Willemstadt; the English took permanent possession with the Treaty of Westminster (1674).[29] 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;[30][31] Albany became the county seat.[32] 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.[33] Dongan created Albany as a strip of land 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and 16 miles (26 km) long.[34] 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.[35]

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.[36] Although it was never adopted by Parliament, it was an important precursor to the United States Constitution.[37][lower-alpha 5] 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.[38] 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.[39] In 1776, Albany native Philip Livingston signed the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.[40]

During and after the Revolutionary War, Albany County saw a great increase in real estate transactions. After Horatio Gates' win over 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.[41] Albany reported a population of 3,498 in the first national census in 1790, an increase of almost 700% since its chartering.[35] 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.[42] Albany is the tenth-oldest state capital in the United States, but only the second-oldest state capital that is a city, after Santa Fe, New Mexico.[43]

1800 to 1942[]

A yellowed map of the city showing streets, the Hudson River, and municipal boundaries; Albany is shaded to distinguish from neighboring towns.

This 1895 map of Albany shows the gridded block system as it expanded around the former turnpikes.

Albany has been a center of transportation for much of its history. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Albany saw development of the turnpike and by 1815, Albany was the turnpike center of the state. Simeon De Witt developed a grid block system in 1794, and renamed streets for birds and mammals that had honored British royalty.[lower-alpha 6] This grid was intersected by the major arterials coming out of Albany, which cut through the city at unexpected angles.[46][47] The construction of the turnpike across the state, in conjunction with canal and railroad systems, made Albany the hub of transportation for pioneers going to Buffalo and the Michigan Territory in the early- and mid-19th century.

A white steam ship is seen near the shore of the Hudson River in front of the downtown area of Albany; the New York State Capitol can be seen in the background.

The steamer Albany departs for New York City; at the height of steam travel in 1884, more than 1.5 million passengers took the trip.[48]

In 1807, Robert Fulton initiated a steamboat line from New York to Albany, the first successful enterprise of its kind.[48] By 1810, with 10,763 people, Albany was the 10th-largest urban place in the nation.[49] The town and village were known as "the Colonie"[lower-alpha 7] to the north of Albany was annexed in 1815.[50] In 1825 the Erie Canal was completed, forming a continuous water route from the Great Lakes to New York City. Unlike the current Barge Canal, which ends at nearby Waterford, the original Erie Canal ended at Albany; Lock 1 was north of Colonie Street.[52] The Canal emptied into a 32-acre (12.9 ha) man-made lagoon called the Albany Basin, which was Albany's main port from 1825 until the Port of Albany-Rensselaer opened in 1932.[53][54] In 1829, while working as a professor at the Albany Academy, Joseph Henry, widely regarded as "the foremost American scientist of the 19th century",[55] built the first electric motor. Three years later, he discovered electromagnetic self-induction (the SI unit for which is now the henry). He went on to be the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.[56] In the 1830 and 1840 censuses, Albany was ranked as the 9th-largest urban place in the nation,[57][58] then back to 10th in 1850.[59] This was the last time the city was one of the top ten largest urban places in the nation.[60]

Albany also has significant history with rail transport,[61] as the location of two major regional railroad headquarters. The Delaware and Hudson Railway was headquartered in Albany at what is now the SUNY System Administration Building.[62] In 1853, Erastus Corning, a noted industrialist and Albany's mayor from 1834 to 1837, consolidated ten railroads stretching from Albany to Buffalo into the New York Central Railroad (NYCRR), headquartered in Albany until Cornelius Vanderbilt moved it to New York City in 1867.[63][64] One of the ten companies that formed the NYCRR was the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, which was the first railroad in the state and the first successful steam railroad running regularly scheduled service in the country.[65][66]

A flat boat with large, wooden boards piled on it floats in a narrow channel surrounded by more piles of wooden boards. A few men pose on the boat.

The Albany Lumber District was home to the largest lumber market in the nation in 1865.[67]

While the key to Albany's economic prosperity in the 19th century was transportation, industry and business also played a role. Largely thanks to the city's Dutch and German roots, beer was one of its biggest commodities. Beverwyck Brewery, originally known as Quinn and Nolan (Nolan being mayor of Albany 1878–1883),[68] was the last remaining brewer from that time when it closed in 1972. The city's location at the east end of the Erie Canal gave it unparalleled access to both raw products and a captive customer base in the west.[69] Albany was known for its publishing houses, and to some extent, still is. Albany was second only to Boston in the number of books produced for most of the 19th century.[70] Iron foundries in both the north and south ends of the city attracted thousands of immigrants to the city for industrial jobs. To this day, one can see many intricate wrought-iron details that were constructed in those years on what are now historic buildings. The iron industry waned by the 1890s due to increased costs associated with a newly unionized workforce and the opening of mines in the Mesabi Range in Minnesota.[71]

Albany's other major exports during the 18th and 19th centuries were furs, wheat, meat, and lumber.[72] By 1865, there were almost 4,000 saw mills in the Albany area[72] and the Albany Lumber District was the largest lumber market in the nation.[67] The city was also home to a number of banks. The Bank of Albany (1792–1861) was the second chartered bank in New York.[73] The city was the original home of the Albank (founded in 1820 as the Albany Savings Bank),[74] KeyBank (founded in 1825 as the Commercial Bank of Albany),[75] and Norstar Bank (founded as the State Bank of Albany in 1803).[76] American Express was founded in Albany in 1850 as an express mail business.[77] In 1871, the northwestern portion of Albany—west from Magazine Street—was annexed to the neighboring town of Guilderland[78] after the town of Watervliet refused annexation of said territory.[79][80] In return for this loss, portions of Bethlehem and Watervliet were added to Albany. Part of the land annexed to Guilderland was ceded back to Albany in 1910, setting up the current western border.[50]

Albany opened one of the first commercial airports in the world, and the first municipal airport in the United States, in 1908. Originally on a polo field on Loudon Road, it moved to Westerlo Island in 1909 and remained there until 1928. The Albany Municipal Airport—jointly owned by the city and county—was moved to its current location in Colonie in 1928. By 1916 Albany's northern and southern borders reached their modern courses;[50] Westerlo Island, to the south, became the second-to-last annexation, which occurred in 1926.[81]

1942 to present day[]

Two classic, buff-colored brick buildings are connected by a modern glass and steel atrium on an urban street.

The Albany Institute of History & Art

Erastus Corning 2nd, arguably Albany's most notable mayor (and great-grandson of the former mayor of the same name), was elected in 1941.[82] Although he was one of the longest-serving mayors of any city in United States history (1942 until his death in 1983), one historian describes Corning's tenure as "long on years, short on accomplishments."[83] Grondahl cited Corning's preference for maintaining the status quo as a factor that held back potential progress during his tenure.[84] While Corning brought stability to the office of mayor, it is said even those who admire him greatly cannot come up with a sizable list of "major concrete Corning achievements."[85] Corning is given credit for saving—albeit somewhat unintentionally—much of Albany's historic architecture.[lower-alpha 8]

During the 1950s and 1960s, a time when federal aid for urban renewal was plentiful,[84] Albany did not have growth in its economy or infrastructure. It lost more than 20 percent of its population during the Corning years, as people moved to newer housing in the suburbs, followed by most of the downtown businesses moving there as well.[86] While cities across the country grappled with similar issues, the problems were magnified in Albany: interference from the Democratic political machine hindered progress considerably.[84] In 1960, the mayor sold the city's stake in the airport to the county, citing budget issues. It was known from then on as Albany County Airport until a massive upgrade and modernization project between 1996 and 1998, when it was rechristened Albany International Airport.[87]

Governor Nelson Rockefeller (1959–1973) (R) tried to stimulate the city with new monumental architecture and large, government-sponsored building projects; he drove construction of the Empire State Plaza, SUNY Albany's uptown campus, and much of the W. Averell Harriman State Office Building Campus.[88] Albany County Republican Chairman Joseph C. Frangella once quipped, "Governor Rockefeller was the best mayor Albany ever had."[89] Corning, although opposed to the project, was responsible for negotiating the payment plan for the Empire State Plaza. Rockefeller did not want to be limited by the Legislature's power of the purse, so Corning devised a plan to have the county pay for the construction and have the state sign a lease-ownership agreement. The state paid off the bonds until 2004. It was Rockefeller's only viable option, and he agreed. Due to the clout Corning gained from the situation, he gained inclusion of the State Museum, a convention center, and a restaurant, back in the plans—ideas which Rockefeller had originally vetoed. The county gained $35 million in fees and the city received $13 million for lost tax revenue. Having the state offices in the city enabled it to keep good jobs and retain middle-class residents.[90]

Black and white map shows the boundaries of Albany and surrounding municipalities, crossed with dark black lines representing planned interstate highways.

This 1955 map shows the planned expansion of the Interstate Highway System around Albany.

Another major project of the 1960s and 1970s was Interstate 787 and the South Mall Arterial.[lower-alpha 9] Construction began in the early 1960s. One of the project's main results, since regretted, was separating the city from the Hudson River, its source of development. Corning has been described as shortsighted with respect to use of the waterfront, as he could have used his influence to change the location of I-787, which now cuts the city off from "its whole raison d'être".[91] Much of the original plan never came to fruition, however: Rockefeller had wanted the South Mall Arterial to pass through the Empire State Plaza. The project would have required an underground trumpet interchange below Washington Park, connecting to the (eventually cancelled) Mid-Crosstown Arterial.[92] To this day, evidence of the original plan is still visible.[lower-alpha 10] In 1967 the hamlet of Karlsfeld was the last annexation by the city, taken from the Town of Bethlehem.[50]

When Corning died in 1983, Thomas Whalen assumed the mayorship and was reelected twice. He encouraged redevelopment of historic structures and helped attract federal dollars earmarked for that purpose. What Corning had saved from destruction, Whalen refurbished for continued and new uses.[93] The Mayor's Office of Special Events was created in an effort to increase the number of festivals and artistic events in the city, including a year-long Dongan Charter tricentennial celebration in 1986.[94] Whalen is credited for an "unparalleled cycle of commercial investment and development" in Albany due to his "aggressive business development programs".[95]

Prior to the recession of the 1990s, downtown Albany was home to four Fortune 500 companies.[96] After the death of Corning and the retirement of Congressman Sam Stratton, the political environment changed. Long-term office holders became rare in the 1980s. Local media began following the drama surrounding county politics (specifically that of the newly created county executive position); the loss of Corning (and eventually the machine) led to a lack of interest in city politics.[97] The election of Gerald Jennings was a surprise, and he served as Mayor from 1994 until his retirement at the end of 2013. His tenure essentially ended the political machine that had been in place since the 1920s.[98]

During the 1990s, the State Legislature approved the $234 million "Albany Plan", "a building and renovation project [that] was the most ambitious building project to affect the area since the Rockefeller era." Under the Albany Plan, renovation and new building projects were initiated around the downtown area. Many state workers were relocated from the Harriman State Office Campus to downtown, helping its retail businesses and vitality.[10]

Fortune 500 companies with offices in Albany include American Express, J.P. Morgan and Chase,[99] Merrill Lynch,[100][101] General Electric, Verizon, Goldman Sachs,[102] International Paper,[103] and Key Bank.[104]

Albany won the All-America City Award in both 1991 and 2009.[105]

Albany, as viewed from the Capitol looking southeast, circa 1906. City Hall is left of center; the twin spires of the Immaculate Conception church can be seen on the far right; the future Empire State Plaza is located at the extreme right of the image.
Albany, as viewed from the Capitol looking southeast, circa 1906. City Hall is left of center; the twin spires of the Immaculate Conception church can be seen on the far right; the future Empire State Plaza is located at the extreme right of the image.


A tall bush with spreading branches on the side of a road in front of the viewer. Behind it is a chainlink fence and a large shadow on the ground; an antenna tower is in the background. Above it are utility wires; part of a wooden pole supporting them is on the right.

The highest point in Albany

Albany is about 150 miles (240 km) north of New York City on the Hudson River.[23] It has a total area of 21.8 square miles (56 km2), of which 21.4 square miles (55 km2) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) (1.8%) is water.[106] The city is bordered on the north by the town of Colonie (along with the village of Menands), on the west by the town of Guilderland, and on the south by the town of Bethlehem.[107] The Hudson River represents the city's eastern border. Patroon Creek, along the northern border, and the Normans Kill, along the southern border, are the two major streams in the city. The former Foxes Creek, Beaver Kill, and Rutten Kill still exist, but were diverted underground in the 19th century.[108][109][110] There are four lakes within city limits: Buckingham Lake; Rensselaer Lake at the mouth of the Patroon Creek; Tivoli Lake, which was formed as a reservoir and once connected to the Patroon Creek; and Washington Park Lake, which was formed by damming the Beaver Kill.[107][109]

A few pine trees are surrounded by a number of low-lying oak-scrub bushes and trees during summer months.

The Albany Pine Bush is the only sizable inland pine barrens sand dune ecosystem in the United States.[111]

The highest natural point in Albany is a USGS benchmark near the Loudonville Reservoir off Birch Hill Road, at 378 feet (115 m) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level at the Hudson River (the average water elevation is 2 feet (0.61 m)),[107][112] which is still technically an estuary at Albany and is affected by the Atlantic tide.[113] The interior of Albany consists of rolling hills which were once part of the Albany Pine Bush, an area of pitch pine and scrub oak, and has arid, sandy soil that is a remnant of the ancient Lake Albany. Due to development, the Pine Bush has shrunk from an original 25,000 to 6,000 acres (10,100 to 2,400 ha) today. A preserve was set up by the State Legislature in 1988 and is on the city's western edge, spilling into Guilderland and Colonie;[114] it is the only sizable inland pine barrens sand dune ecosystem in the United States,[111] and is home to many endangered species, including the Karner Blue butterfly.[115]


Albany is in the humid continental climate zone (Köppen climate classification: Dfa),[116] and features cold, snowy winters, and warm, humid summers; the city experiences four distinct seasons. Albany is in plant hardiness zone 6a near downtown and along the shore of the Hudson and 5b at its western end.[117] Albany receives 39.4 inches (1,000 mm) of precipitation per year,[118] with 138 days of at least 0.01 in (0.25 mm) of precipitation each year. Snowfall is significant, totaling 59.1 inches (150 cm) annually,[118] but with less accumulation than the lake effect areas to the north and west, as it is farther from Lake Ontario. However, Albany is close enough to the Atlantic coast to receive heavy snow from Nor'easters and the city occasionally receives Alberta clippers.[119] Winters can be very cold with fluctuating conditions; temperatures drop to 0 °F (−18 °C) or below on nine nights per annum.[120] Summers in Albany can contain stretches of excessive heat and humidity, with temperatures of 90 °F (32 °C) or hotter on nine days per year.[120] Record temperature extremes range from −28 °F (−33 °C), on January 19, 1971, to 104 °F (40 °C) on July 4, 1911.[120]

Climate data for Albany International Airport, New York (1981–2010 normals,[lower-alpha 11][lower-alpha 12] extremes 1874–present[lower-alpha 13])
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 71
Average high °F (°C) 30.6
Average low °F (°C) 14.5
Record low °F (°C) −28
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.59
Snowfall inches (cm) 17.9
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 12.8 10.4 12.1 11.9 13.1 12.2 10.8 10.7 9.8 10.4 11.7 11.9 137.8
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 10.3 7.6 5.6 1.2 0.1 0 0 0 0 0.1 2.5 7.4 34.8
humidity 71.1 68.5 64.8 61.2 65.5 69.5 70.5 74.1 75.7 72.4 73.1 73.9 70.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 141.1 158.5 200.3 218.9 248.9 262.2 289.2 253.2 210.5 168.8 100.7 108.3 2,360.6
Percent possible sunshine 48 54 54 54 55 57 62 59 56 49 34 38 53
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)[118][120][121]


New York has an effective statewide crime rate of 385/100,000 people as of 2009.[122] Albany's violent crime rate is nearly on a par with Rochester (1028 violent crimes/100,000 population vs 968/100,000 in Rochester) and much lower than Buffalo at 1514/100,000. By comparison, New York City's violent crime rate was 639/100,000 in 2013.[123]


Panorama of Albany and the Hudson River from Rensselaer, looking southwest
Panorama of Albany and the Hudson River from Rensselaer, looking southwest


Rowhouses with arts-and-crafts styled porches (on both first and second floors) sit on a street across from a park.

Housing in Ten Broeck Triangle, a subset of the Arbor Hill neighborhood

The neighborhoods of Albany[124] are varied demographically, geographically, architecturally, and historically. Downtown Albany is the city's oldest neighborhood, centered on State Street, one of Albany's oldest streets and its original main street. North and south of Downtown Albany are old residential communities often consisting of row houses; to the north, those neighborhoods include Sheridan Hollow, Arbor Hill, and North Albany, while to the south is the super-neighborhood of the South End, which includes several smaller neighborhoods.

West of Downtown Albany is the Empire State Plaza, which effectively cuts Downtown off from the gentrified neighborhoods of Center Square and Hudson/Park. Single-family detached homes, duplexes, and apartments, along with single-family houses that have been divided into multiple units, can be found west of the older neighborhoods. These neighborhoods, such as Pine Hills, Delaware Avenue, Whitehall, Helderberg, and New Scotland/Woodlawn, tend to have larger lots and more suburban surroundings than the neighborhoods nearer to the Hudson River. Further west, the neighborhoods become more affluent and are dominated almost exclusively by single-family dwellings. The western portion of the City includes the W. Averell Harriman State Office Building Campus and the University at Albany's main campus, as well as offices and commercial properties lining frontage roads along Washington Avenue Extension.

Parks and recreation[]

An orange-red mission-style building is seen on the banks of a lake, surrounded by trees.

The 1929 Washington Park Lake House replaced a wooden lake house built in 1876.[125]

Albany has more than 60 public parks and recreation areas.[126] Washington Park was organized as the Middle Public Square in 1806. Its current location has been public property since the Dongan Charter of 1686 gave the city title to all property not privately owned. Washington Park was designed by John Bogart and John Cuyler in 1870,[127] and opened for public use the following year. The original lake house, designed by Frederick W. Brown, was added in 1876. The park had previously been used as a cemetery; its graves were moved to Albany Rural Cemetery. Washington Park is a popular place to exercise and play sports; skate during the winter; people-watch during Tulip Fest; and attend plays at the amphitheater during the summer.[127][128][129][130]

A green space with trees and rolling lawns is flanked by tall, modern-style buildings in the background on a sunny day.

Lincoln Park is flanked on the north by the Empire State Plaza.

Other parks in Albany include Lincoln Park, Buckingham Park, the Corning Preserve, and the Pine Bush. Lincoln Park, southwest of the Empire State Plaza, was organized in 1886 and was originally known as Beaver Park.[131] Today, the park has a pool that is open during the summer months. Buckingham Lake Park is between Manning Boulevard and Route 85 in the Buckingham Pond neighborhood; it contains a pond with fountains, a footpath, a playground, and picnic tables.[132] The Albany Riverfront Park at the Corning Preserve has an 800-seat amphitheatre that hosts events in non-winter months, most notably the Alive at 5 summer concert series. The Preserve's visitors center details the ecology of the Hudson River and the local environment.[133] The park has a bike trail and boat launch[133] and was effectively separated from downtown by Interstate 787 until the opening of the Hudson River Way in 2002.[134]

Other public parks include Westland Hill Park, Hoffman Park, Beverwyck Park,[135] and Liberty Park, today a small circular grassy patch in downtown on Hudson Avenue, which is Albany's oldest park.[136] Ridgefield Park is home to the clay courts of the Albany Tennis Club, one of the oldest tennis clubs in the United States.[137] The municipal golf course, New Course at Albany, was constructed in 1929 as the Albany Municipal Golf Course, later renamed the Capital Hills at Albany, and remodeled in 1991.[138]


The New York State Capitol

An aerial view of Albany showing tall buildings at center, a river running from the 11:00 to 3:00 positions of the photo, surrounded by greener housing zones.

Aerial view of Albany looking northeast

System Administration Building of the State University of New York

The Empire State Plaza, a collection of state agency office buildings, dominates almost any view of Albany. Built between 1965 and 1978 at the hand of Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller and architect Wallace Harrison, the complex is a powerful example of late American modern architecture[139] and remains a controversial building project both for displacing city residents and for its architectural style. The most recognizable aspect of the complex is the Erastus Corning Tower, the tallest building in New York outside of New York City.[139] Juxtaposed at the north end of the Plaza is the 19th-century New York State Capitol, the seat of the New York State Legislature and the home of the Governor's office.[140]

A black and white etching shows a number of houses along a street, many with stepped gables, which are classic Dutch architectural attributes.

This 1789 etching shows the Dutch influence on the architecture of early Albany.

Albany's initial architecture incorporated many Dutch influences, followed soon after by those of the English.[141] Quackenbush House, a Dutch Colonial brick mansion, was built c. 1736;[142] Schuyler Mansion, a Georgian-style mansion, was built in 1765;[143] and the oldest building in Albany is the 1728 Van Ostrande-Radliff House at 48 Hudson Avenue.[144] Albany's housing varies greatly, with mostly row houses in the older sections of town, closer to the river. Housing type quickly changes as one travels westward, beginning with two-family homes of the late 19th century, and one-family homes built after World War II in the western end of the city.[145]

Albany City Hall, designed by Henry Hobson Richardson, was opened in 1883. The New York State Capitol was opened in 1899 (after 32 years of construction)[140] at a cost of $25 million, making it the most expensive government building at the time.[146] Albany's Union Station, a major Beaux-Arts design,[147] was under construction at the same time; it opened in 1900. In 1912, the Beaux-Arts styled New York State Department of Education Building opened on Washington Avenue near the Capitol. It has a classical exterior, which features a block-long white marble colonnade.[148] The 1920s brought the Art Deco movement, which is illustrated by the Home Savings Bank Building (1927) on North Pearl Street[149] and the Alfred E. Smith Building (1930) on South Swan Street,[150] two of Albany's tallest high-rises.[151]

Architecture from the 1960s and 1970s is well represented in the city, especially at the W. Averell Harriman State Office Building Campus (1950s and 1960s) and on the uptown campus of the University at Albany (1962–1971). The state office campus was planned in the 1950s by governor W. Averell Harriman to offer more parking and easier access for state employees.[152] The uptown SUNY campus was built in the 1960s under Governor Rockefeller on the site of the city-owned Albany Country Club. Straying from the popular open campus layout, SUNY Albany has a centralized building layout with administrative and classroom buildings at center surrounded by four student housing towers. The design called for much use of concrete and glass, and the style has slender, round-topped columns and pillars reminiscent of those at Lincoln Center in New York City.[153]

Downtown has seen a revival in recent decades, often considered to have begun with Norstar Bank's renovation of the former Union Station as its corporate headquarters in 1986.[lower-alpha 14] The Times Union Center (TU Center) was originally slated for suburban Colonie,[155] but was instead built downtown and opened in 1990.[156] Other development in downtown includes the construction of the State Dormitory Authority headquarters at 515 Broadway (1998);[157] the State Department of Environmental Conservation building, with its iconic green dome, at 625 Broadway (2001);[158] the State Comptroller headquarters on State Street (2001);[7] the Hudson River Way (2002), a pedestrian bridge connecting Broadway to the Corning Preserve;[134] and 677 Broadway (2005), "the first privately owned downtown office building in a generation".[159][160]


City of immigrants[]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 3,498
1800 5,349 52.9%
1810 10,762 101.2%
1820 12,630 17.4%
1830 24,209 91.7%
1840 33,721 39.3%
1850 50,763 50.5%
1860 62,367 22.9%
1870 69,422 11.3%
1880 90,758 30.7%
1890 94,923 4.6%
1900 94,151 −0.8%
1910 101,253 7.5%
1920 113,344 11.9%
1930 127,412 12.4%
1940 130,577 2.5%
1950 134,995 3.4%
1960 129,726 −3.9%
1970 115,781 −10.7%
1980 101,727 −12.1%
1990 101,082 −0.6%
2000 95,658 −5.4%
2010 97,856 2.3%
Est. 2016 98,111 [4] 2.6%
Sources: 1790–1950,[161]
1960–1980,[162] 1990–2000[163]

Historically, Albany's population has been mixed. First dominated by the Dutch and Germans, it was overtaken by the English in the early 19th century. Irish immigrants soon outnumbered most other ethnicities by the mid-19th century, and were followed by Italians and Poles. In the mid-to-late 20th century, the African-American population increased with thousands of people from the rural South, as part of the Great Migration. As historian (and Albany Assemblyman) John McEneny puts it,

Dutch and Yankee, German and Irish, Polish and Italian, black and Chinese—over the centuries Albany's heritage has reflected a succession of immigrant nationalities. Its streets have echoed with a dozen languages, its neighborhoods adapting to the distinctive life-style and changing economic fortunes of each new group.[164]

Until after the Revolution, Albany's population consisted mostly of ethnic Dutch descendants. Settlers migrating from New England tipped the balance toward British ethnicity in the early 19th century.[165] Jobs on the turnpikes, canals, and railroads attracted floods of Irish immigrants in the early 19th century, especially in the 1840s during the Irish potato famine, solidifying the city's Irish base. Albany elected its first Irish Catholic mayor (Michael Nolan) two years before Boston did.[166] Polish and Italian immigrants began arriving in Albany in the wave of immigration in the latter part of the 19th century. Their numbers were smaller than in many other eastern cities mainly because most had found manufacturing jobs at General Electric in Schenectady.[167] The Jewish community had been established early, with Sephardic Jewish members as part of the Beverwijck community. Its population rose during the late 19th century, when many Ashkenazi Jews immigrated from eastern Europe.[167] In that period, there was also an influx of Chinese and east Asian immigrants, who settled in the downtown section of the city. Many of their descendants have since moved to suburban areas.[168] Immigration all but halted after the Immigration Act of 1924.

Albany was also a destination of internal migration, as many African Americans moved north in their Great Migration from the rural South before and after World War I to fill industrial positions and find new opportunities. In the early years, they lived together with Italians, Jews and other immigrants in the South End, where housing was older and less expensive.[169] The black community has grown as a proportion of the population since then: African Americans made up 3 percent of the city's population in 1950, 6 percent in 1960, 12 percent in 1970, and 30 percent in 2010. The change in proportion is related mostly to middle-class white families moving to the suburbs, and black families remaining within city limits during the same time period.[5][163]

Since 2007 the number of Burmese refugees has increased, who are mostly of the Karen ethnicity; an estimated 5,000 reside in Albany as of January 2015.[170][171]

Modern overview[]

As of the 2010 census,[163] there were 97,856 people residing in the city.[163] The population of the census area in 2009 was estimated to be 1,170,483.[6][17] The population density in 2010 was 4,572.7 per square mile (1,779.2/km²). There were 46,362 housing units at an average density of 2,166.4 per square mile (842.9/km²); 5,205 of these units (11.2%) were vacant. The racial makeup of the city residents was 52.3% white; 27% black or African American; 0.06% Native American or Native Alaskan; 7.4% Asian; 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; .06% from other races; and 3.6% from two or more races. A total of 9.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[lower-alpha 15] Non-Hispanic Whites were 52.0% of the population in 2010,[106] compared to 87.0% in 1970.[172]

As of the 2000 census, the top five ancestry groups in the city were African (27%), Irish (18.1%), Italian (12.4%), German (10.4%), and English (5.2%); (33.1%) of the population reported "other ancestries". Albany is home to a Triqui language-speaking community of Mexican-Americans.[173][174]

The population had 20.0% under the age of 18, 19.3% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.4 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.5 males. Some 81.3% of the population had completed high school or earned an equivalency diploma.[163]

There were 40,709 households in 2000, out of which 22.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 25.3% were married couples living together, 16.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.8% were non-families. 41.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.95.[163]

The median income for a household in the city in 2000 was $69,813, and the median income for a family was $72,456 (male, year-round worker) and $65,727 (female, year-round worker). The per capita income for the city was $53,407.[175][lower-alpha 16] About 16.0% of families and 21.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.8% of those under age 18 and 12.5% of those age 65 or over.[163] The rate of reported violent crimes for 2008 (1,095 incidents per 100,000 residents) is more than double the rate for similarly sized US cities. Reported property crimes (4,669 incidents per 100,000 residents) are somewhat lower.[176][177]

Demographically speaking, the population of Albany and the Capital District mirrors the characteristics of the United States consumer population as a whole better than any other major municipality in the country. According to a 2004 study conducted by the Acxiom Corporation, Albany and its environs are the top-ranked standard test market for new business and retail products. Albany, Rochester, and Syracuse all scored within the top five.[178]


Nightlife and entertainment[]

Blue and red fireworks explode over a complex of buildings after dusk.

Price Chopper sponsors the annual Fourth of July fireworks show at the Empire State Plaza (2009 show pictured).[179]

Albany's geographic situation—roughly equidistant between New York City to the south and Montreal to the north, as well as approximately 4.5 hours east of Buffalo, and 2.5 hours west of Boston—makes it a convenient stop for nationally touring artists and acts. The Palace Theatre and The Egg provide mid-sized forums for music, theater, and spoken word performances, with the Capital Repertory Theatre filling the small-sized niche.[180] The TU Center serves as the city's largest musical venue for nationally and internationally prominent bands. It also hosts trade shows, sporting events, and other large-scale community gatherings.[181] While some praise the cultural contributions of Albany and the greater Capital District,[94] others suggest the city has a "cultural identity crisis" due to its widespread geography, which requires a car (and driving time) to experience most of what the area has to offer, a necessity not seen in larger and more densely populated metropolitan areas such as New York and Boston.[182]

In recent years, the city's government has invested resources to cultivate venues and neighborhoods that attract after-hours business. Madison Avenue, Pearl Street, Delaware Avenue and Lark Street serve as the most active entertainment areas in the city. Many restaurants, clubs, and bars have opened since the mid-1990s, revitalizing numerous areas that had once been abandoned; various establishments have reclaimed old row houses, businesses, and even a pump station.[180] The bar scene generally incorporates three main strips. The downtown scene is focused on Pearl Street, stretching about two blocks. Up State Street, past the business district, is the Lark Street strip, home to smaller bars that fit into the neighborhood's artistic and eclectic style. Lastly, the midtown strip, with several bars on Western and Madison Avenues, centers around the campuses of the College of Saint Rose and SUNY Albany's downtown campus. The midtown strip generally draws a younger crowd, as it is popular to the local college students.[183]

Last call in Albany is 4:00 am nightly; New York law sets that time as last call throughout the state by default, and although counties may set an earlier time, individual municipalities may not. More than half of the state's counties have an earlier closing time, but Albany County, as with all counties in the Capital District, has retained the 4:00 am last call time.[184]


A woman in a large hat is doing a watercolor painting of pink tulips in front of her.

An artist paints tulips during the Tulip Fest at Washington Park.

Alive at 5 is a free, weekly concert series held downtown during the summer on Thursdays;[185] with 10 concerts in 2010, total attendance was roughly 100,000.[186] The Tulip Festival is set in Washington Park and celebrates the city's Dutch heritage. This traditional Albany event marks the beginning of spring as thousands of tulips bloom in the park in early May;[187] attendance to the Tulip Festival in 2010 was approximately 80,000.[186] Another large festival in Albany is the Capital Pride Parade and Festival, a major gay pride event held each June, attended by an estimated 30,000 spectators annually from across Upstate New York.[188]

The Price Chopper Fabulous Fourth and Fireworks Festival at the Empire State Plaza celebrates Independence Day with musical performances and the region's largest fireworks display.[179] Freihofer's Run for Women is a 5-kilometer run through the city that draws more than 4,000 participants from across the country; it is an annual event that began in 1978.[189]The Albany Chefs' Food & Wine Festival: Wine & Dine for the Arts is an annual Festival that hosts more than 3500 people over 3 days. The Festival showcases more than 70 Regional Chefs & Restaurants, 250 Global Wines & Spirits, a NYS Craft Beer Pavilion, 4 competitions (The Signature Chef Invitational, Rising Star Chef, Barista Albany and Battle of the Bartenders) and one Grand Gala Reception, Dinner & Auction featuring 10 f Albany's Iconic Chefs. The Albany Chefs' Food & Wine Festival donates all net proceeds to deserving Albany Arts Organizations and is held the Thursday-Saturday preceding Martin Luther King Weekend. Smaller events include the African American Family Day Arts Festival each August at the Empire State Plaza;[179] the Latin Fest, held each August at the Corning Preserve;[190] the Albany Jazz Festival, an annual end-of-summer event held at the Corning Preserve;[191] and Lark Fest, a music and art festival held each fall.[192]

Museums and historic sites[]

The rear of a classic, red-brick building with beige trim is shown beyond a driveway.

Ten Broeck Mansion is home to the Albany County Historical Association.[193]

Southwest corner of the Cultural Education Center on Empire State Plaza housing the State Museum, Library, and Archives.

Because of Albany's historical and political significance, the city has numerous museums, historical buildings, and historic districts. Albany is home to the New York State Museum, the New York State Library and the New York State Archives; all three facilities are in the Cultural Education Center at the south end of Empire State Plaza and are free to the public.[194] The USS Slater (DE-766), a decommissioned World War II destroyer escort that was restored in 1998, is a museum ship docked in the Hudson River at Quay Street. It is the only ship of its kind still afloat.[195] The Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center, at the corner of Clinton Avenue and Broadway at Quackenbush Square, hosts a museum, gift shop, and the Henry Hudson Planetarium.[196] In early 2012, the Irish American Heritage Museum opened in downtown Albany. The museum is home to exhibits highlighting the contributions of the Irish people in America.[197]

The Albany Institute of History and Art, on Washington Avenue near the Center Square Neighborhood and State Capitol, is "dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting and promoting interest in the history, art, culture of Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley region." The museum's most notable permanent exhibits include an extensive collection of paintings by the Hudson River School and an exhibit on Ancient Egypt featuring the Institute's "Albany Mummies."

Albany is home to 57 listings on the National Register of Historic Places[198] (NRHP) and five National Historic Landmarks.[199] The Ten Broeck Mansion, a 1797 Federal-style mansion (later renovated in the Greek-Revival style) built for Abraham Ten Broeck (mayor of Albany 1779–1783 and 1796–1798)[200] is a historic house museum and the headquarters of the Albany County Historical Association;[193] it was added to the NRHP in 1971.[201] Later known as "Arbor Hill", it gave the current neighborhood its name.[202]

Literature and film[]

Albany has been the subject, inspiration, or location for many written and cinematic works. Many non-fiction works have been written on the city. One of the city's more notable claims to fame is Ironweed (1983), the 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Albany native William Kennedy. Ironweed was the third in a series of books by Kennedy known as the "Albany Cycle".[203][204] The elusive author Trevanian also grew up in Albany and wrote The Crazyladies of Pearl Street (2005), about a North Albany neighborhood along Pearl Street. The book is considered a semi-autobiographical memoir.[205]

In 1987, the film version of Ironweed premiered at the Palace Theatre.[206] The movie starred Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, each of whom were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances;[207] much of the filming was done on location in Albany.[206] Most recently the downtown area was the site of filming for the action-thriller Salt, starring Angelina Jolie,[208] and the action-comedy The Other Guys, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.[209]

Authors Herman Melville and Henry James lived with their families in Albany when young, before their careers. James identified his character Isabel Archer, the heroine of his novel The Portrait of a Lady, as being from Albany.[210] Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (adapted for the Broadway hit Wicked), grew up in North Albany[211] and graduated from SUNY Albany.[212]


A brick courtyard is flanked by three-story brick buildings with a black glass bridge between them. Trees are visible to the right.

Albany High School is the central high school of the City School District of Albany.[213]

The City School District of Albany (CSDA) operates the city's public school system, which consists of 17 schools and learning centers;[213] in addition, there are 7 charter schools.[214] [lower-alpha 17] In the 2015-16 school year, over 9,000 students were enrolled in the public school system.[213] The district had an average class size of 18,[218] an 81-percent graduation rate,[lower-alpha 18] and a 5-percent dropout rate.[219] The district's 2010–11 budget is $202.8 million.[220] Although considered by the state to be one of the lowest-achieving high schools in New York, Albany High was listed as the nation's 976th best high school in a 2010 Newsweek/Washington Post report.[221] Albany also has a number of private schools, including the coed Bishop Maginn High School and Albany Free School; the all-boys Albany Academy;[lower-alpha 19] and the all-girls Academy of the Holy Names and Albany Academy for Girls.[223]

A single modern-style tower is surrounded by a lower open-air pavilion with trees accenting the area.

State Quad is one of the four iconic dormitory towers at SUNY Albany's Uptown Campus.[224]

Albany has a prominent history in higher education and was ranked third in a Forbes survey called "The Best Places with the Best Education" in 2005;[225] it ranked top on Forbes' "IQ Campuses" list as part of its 150 Cheap Places to Live series in 2006.[226] The Albany Medical College (private), today part of Albany Medical Center, was founded in 1838. Albany Law School (private) is the oldest law school in New York and the fourth-oldest in the country; it was opened in 1851. President William McKinley was an alumnus. The Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (private) is the second-oldest pharmacy school in New York and the fifteenth-oldest in the United States.

The New York State Normal School, one of the oldest teachers colleges in the United States, opened in 1844; it was later known as the State Teachers College. It eventually evolved into the University at Albany, also known as SUNY Albany (public), which inherited the Normal School's original downtown campus on Western Avenue. The center of the campus moved to its current Uptown Campus in the west end of the city in 1970. SUNY Albany is a unit of the State University of New York and one of only four university centers in the system.[224] Other colleges and universities in Albany include Empire State College, The College of Saint Rose, Excelsior College, Maria College, Mildred Elley, and Sage College of Albany. Nearby Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) fills the community college niche in the Albany-Troy area.[227] The effect of the campuses on the city's population is substantial: Combining the student bodies of all the aforementioned campuses (except HVCC) results in 63,149 students, or almost 70 percent of the 2008 estimate of Albany's permanent population.[228]


A tall, white, steel-framed building with black windows.

One Commerce Plaza [229]

Albany's economy, along with that of the Capital District in general, is heavily dependent on government, health care, education, and more recently, technology. Because of these typically steady economic bases, the local economy has been relatively immune to national economic recessions in the past.[230] More than 25 percent of the city's population works in government-related positions.[231] The current recession has been more difficult to deal with because of the many issues on Wall Street, from which the state government receives much of its tax revenue. In March 2010, the Albany area had the lowest unemployment rate of any major metropolitan area in New York, at 7.8%, compared to 9.4% in New York as a whole.[232] Albany's estimated daytime population is more than 162,000. Companies based in Albany include Trans World Entertainment and Clough Harbour.

Tech Valley[]

A round white building with dark blue windows, three stories tall.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering embodies Albany's emerging high-tech industry.[230]

Since the 2000s, the economy of Albany and the surrounding Capital District has been redirected toward a high technology focus. Tech Valley is a marketing name for the eastern part of New York State, encompassing Albany, the Capital District, and the Hudson Valley.[233] Originated in 1998 to promote the greater Albany area as a high-tech competitor to regions such as Silicon Valley and Boston, it has since grown to represent the counties in the Capital District and extending to 19 counties from IBM's Westchester County plants in the south to the Canada–US border in the north. The area's high technology ecosystem is supported by technologically focused academic institutions including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute.[234] Tech Valley encompasses 19 counties straddling both sides of the Adirondack Northway and the New York Thruway,[233] and with heavy state taxpayer subsidy, has experienced significant growth in the computer hardware side of the high-technology industry,[230] with great strides in the nanotechnology sector, digital electronics design, and water- and electricity-dependent integrated microchip circuit manufacturing.[235]

In 2012, the Albany-Schenectady area was listed fourth on Forbes Magazine's annual "Best Cities for Jobs" list, noting that job losses in state and local government were overcome by expansion of the high-tech field.[236]


A brown and tan brick building with dark brown trim. The building has a tall bell tower on the nearest corner.

Albany City Hall, an 1883 Richardsonian Romanesque structure, is the seat of Albany's government.

Albany has a mayor-council form of government, which functions under the Dongan Charter, adopted in 1686 when Albany was incorporated as a city. A revised charter was adopted by referendum in 1998, but was applied strictly as an amendment to Dongan. This gives Albany the distinction of having the oldest active city charter in the United States and "arguably the longest-running instrument of municipal government in the Western Hemisphere."[9][237] The mayor, who is elected every four years, heads the executive branch of city government.[238] The current mayor, Kathy Sheehan, was first elected in 2013. She replaced former mayor Gerald Jennings who was mayor for 20 years from 1994 to 2013.[239] The Common Council represents the legislative branch of city government and is made up of fifteen council members (each elected from one ward) and an at-large Common Council President.[237] The current president is Corey Ellis;[240] he began his term in January 2018.[241]

While Albany has its own city government, it has also been the seat of Albany County since the county's formation in 1683 and the capital of New York since 1797. As such, the city is home to all branches of the county and state governments, as well as its own. Albany City Hall sits on Eagle Street, opposite the State Capitol,[242] and the Albany County Office Building is on State Street.[243] The state government has offices scattered throughout the city.

Albany is in the 20th Congressional district, represented by Paul Tonko (D) in the United States House of Representatives. The city is represented by Chuck Schumer (D)[244] and Kirsten Gillibrand (D)[245] in the United States Senate. On the state level, the city is in the 44th district in the New York Senate, represented by Neil Breslin (D). In the New York Assembly, the western portion of the city is in the 109th district, represented by Patricia Fahy (D) and the eastern portion is in the 108th district, represented by John T. McDonald III (D). As the seat of Albany County, the city is the location of the county's courts including Family Court, County Court, Surrogate Court, Supreme Court, and Court of Appeals.[246] Albany is the site of a United States district court for the Northern District of New York courthouse.[247]


Albany's politics have been dominated by the Democratic Party since the 1920s; Daniel (Uncle Dan) O'Connell established a political machine in the city with the election of William Stormont Hackett as mayor in 1922.[248] Prior to that, William Barnes Jr. had set up a Republican machine in the 1890s. Barnes' success is attributed to the fact that he owned two newspapers in Albany and that he was the grandson of Thurlow Weed, the influential newspaper publisher and political boss.[249] O'Connell's organization overcame Barnes' in 1922 and survived well into the 1980s (even after his death), as the machine put forth candidates for whom the electorate dutifully voted. In many instances, votes were outright bought;[250] it was not uncommon for the machine to "buy poor folks' loyalty and trust with a fiver".[251]

Gerald Jennings' upset in the 1993 Democratic mayoral primary over Harold Joyce, who had the Democratic Party's formal endorsement and had only recently been its county chairman, is often cited as the end of the O'Connell era in Albany.[252] Albany continues to be dominated by the Democratic party as enrollment in the city was 38,862 in 2009 compared to Republican enrollment of 3,487.[253] This gives Democrats a 10–1 advantage in the general election. Every elected city position has been held by a Democrat since 1931.[254]

In November 2013, Kathy Sheehan became the first woman to be elected Mayor of Albany.[255]

Religious life[]

A brick church with two tall, symmetric steeples is seen in front of a city street, to the right of a wooded park.

The First Church in Albany (Reformed) is the oldest congregation in Upstate New York.[256]

Like most cities of comparable age and size, Albany has well-established Orthodox Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish communities. Albany is home to the oldest Christian congregation in Upstate New York and the Mother Churches of two Christian dioceses. As of June 2010, eight churches or religious buildings in the city were listed on the National Register of Historic Places,[198] one of which—St. Peter's Episcopal Church on State Street—is a National Historic Landmark.[199]

Established in 1642,[257] the congregation of the First Church in Albany (Reformed), also known as the North Dutch Church (lon North Pearl Street), is the second-oldest Reformed Church in America.[256] The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Eagle Street and Madison Avenue, built 1852) is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic diocese, led by Bishop Edward Scharfenberger,[258][259] and the Cathedral of All Saints (South Swan Street and Elk Street, built 1888) is the cathedral of the Episcopal diocese, led by Bishop William Love.[260][261] The city is home to eleven Catholic churches[262] and six Episcopal churches.[263]

A significant Jewish presence has existed in Albany since as early as 1658,[264] and today includes many synagogues; there are two Conservative, a Chabad-Lubavitch, an Orthodox, and two Reform synagogues.[265] Albany is also home to one of the few Karaite synagogues outside Israel.[266] The city has a membership of between 12,000 and 13,000.[264]

Exact numbers on religious denominations in Albany are not readily available. Demographic statistics in the United States depend heavily on the United States Census Bureau, which cannot ask about religious affiliation as part of its decennial census.[267] It does compile some national and statewide religious statistics,[268] but these are not representative of a city the size of Albany. One report from 2000 offers religious affiliations for Albany County. According to the data, 59.2% of Albany County residents identified as Christian: 47% are Roman Catholic, 8.4% are mainline Protestants, 2.7% are Evangelical Protestants, and 1.1% are Eastern or Oriental Orthodox Christians. Residents who practice Judaism make up 4.2% of the population and Muslims represent 0.2%.[269] Note that these values are county-wide; city values could be significantly different.


A two-story, dark- and white-brick building with tall, dark windows. On its flat roof is a white satellite dish and in the background is seen a tall radio tower. Over the entrance are the letters "WTEN".

WTEN (headquarters pictured), WXXA, and Spectrum News broadcast from within city limits.

The Times Union is Albany's primary daily newspaper and the only one based close to the city; its headquarters moved from within city limits to suburban Colonie in the 1960s after a dispute with Mayor Corning over land needed for expansion.[270] Its circulation totals about 73,000 on weekdays and 143,000 on Sundays.[271] Serving Albany to a lesser degree are The Daily Gazette, based in Schenectady,[272] and The Record, of Troy.[273] Metroland is the alternative newsweekly in the area, publishing each Thursday,[274] while The Business Review is a business weekly published each Friday.[275] The Legislative Gazette, another weekly newspaper, focuses exclusively on issues related to the Legislature and the state government.[276]

The Albany-Schenectady-Troy media market is the 63rd-largest in the country in terms of radio[277] and the 57th-largest in terms of television audiences.[278] It is a broadcast market with historical significance. The pioneering influence of General Electric in Schenectady directly contributed to the area emerging as the birthplace of station-based television with WRGB; the station was also the first affiliate of NBC.[279] In 1947, the region was home to the first independently owned and operated commercial FM radio station in the United States: W47A.[279] WGY was the second commercial radio station in New York and the twelfth in the nation.[279] The Capital District is home to ABC affiliate WTEN 10,[280] CBS affiliate WRGB 6 (also operating CW affiliate WCWN 45),[281] Fox affiliate WXXA 23,[282] NBC affiliate WNYT 13 (also operating MyNetworkTV affiliate WNYA 51),[283] and PBS member station WMHT 17. Charter Communications hosts Spectrum News Capital Region, the area's only local 24-hour news channel.[284] The area has numerous radio stations.



The Northway (Interstate 87 north of the New York State Thruway) connects Albany by car to Canada at Champlain; Autoroute 15 continues into Quebec, linking Albany to Montreal. Interstate 90 connects Albany to both Buffalo and Boston, via the New York State Thruway and the Massachusetts Turnpike respectively, both of which use I-90 (the NYS Thruway partially, the Massachusetts Turnpike fully). South of Albany, I-87 becomes part of the Thruway and ends at Interstate 278 in the Bronx. Albany is literally at the crossroad of I-87 and I-90, creating a junction between Buffalo and Boston, and Montreal and New York. Interstate 787 links Albany to Watervliet, Colonie, and Menands; by way of Route 7, I-787 connects to the Northway, offering Saratoga County residents a rather direct, albeit congested route to and from Albany during rush hour.[285]


Three-story brick building with three gables on roof; large clock tower made of green glass seen at center of left gable.

Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station

With the closure of Union Station on Broadway, area passenger-rail service is provided by Amtrak at the Albany-Rensselaer station across the river in Rensselaer. In 2009, the station saw more than 720,000 passengers, making it Amtrak's second-busiest in New York, behind New York's Penn Station.[286] Amtrak provides service south to New York City; north to Montreal, and Rutland (Vermont); west to Niagara Falls, Toronto and Chicago; and east to Boston.


Three-story brick building with blue windows; a glass pedestrian bridge travels from building to unseen parking garage on left, crossing entrance road. "ALBANY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT" sign is visible on side.

Albany International Airport

Albany's nearest airport is Albany International Airport in Colonie. Major airline service to Albany includes service by: American Airlines, Cape Air, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, and United Air Lines; Million Air is the local fixed-base operator.[287] In 2010, Albany had the highest average airfare in New York, though the per-mile cost on its busiest routes was second-lowest in the state.[288]


The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) provides bus service throughout Albany and the surrounding area, including Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga Springs.[289] The city was once served by an urban streetcar service maintained by the United Traction Company. As in many American cities, after the advent of the automobile, light rail services declined in Albany and were replaced by bus and taxi services.[290] Greyhound Lines,[291] Trailways,[292] Peter Pan,[293] Short Line, Vermont Translines, and Yankee Trails[294] buses all serve a downtown terminal. Brown Coach provides commuter service.[295] Low-cost curbside bus service from the SUNY Albany campus and the Rensselaer station is also provided by Megabus, with direct service to New York City.


Aerial view of an industrial zone; large silos, cranes, storage tanks, and a highway are seen.

The Port of Albany-Rensselaer adds $428 million to the Capital District's $70.1 billion gross product.[296]

Albany, long an important Hudson River port, today serves domestic and international ships and barges through the Port of Albany-Rensselaer, on both sides of the river. The port has the largest mobile harbor crane in the state of New York.[297] The New York State Barge Canal, the ultimate successor of the Erie Canal, is in use today, largely by tourist and private boats.[298]


A man in a white jersey with green "SIENA" and "25" on front dribbles a basketball past another man in a forest-green jersey with white "LOYOLA" and "31" on front.

Siena guard Ronald Moore dribbles toward the basket in a game against Loyola in January 2010.[299][300]

Albany has no major league professional sports teams, and minor league teams have low support.[301]

The most recent attempt at a minor league team in Albany were the Albany Devils ice hockey team, which moved to the city for the 2010–2011 season. They played in the American Hockey League and were affiliated with the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League.[302][303] The Devils replaced the Albany River Rats, who played in the Capital Region from 1990 to 2010, when they relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina. The Albany Devils moved to Binghamton, New York in 2017.

The Albany Firebirds played in the Arena Football League from 1990 to 2000, while a second team, originally known as the Albany Conquest and later the Firebirds, played in af2, the AFL's developmental league, from 2002 to 2009. The Tri-City ValleyCats short season minor league baseball team have played at the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on the Hudson Valley Community College campus in North Greenbush since 2002. Prior to the ValleyCats' arrival, the Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs (1995–2002) played at Heritage Park in Colonie; due to financial pressures, and facing impending competition from the ValleyCats, the franchise folded in 2002.[304] The local basketball team is the Albany Legends (International Basketball League), who play in the Washington Avenue Armory.[305] The Albany Patroons were two basketball teams that played at the Armory. Both folded due to financial problems.[306]

With the large number of local colleges and universities around Albany, college sports are popular. The University at Albany's Great Danes play at the Division I level in all sports. The football team is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), while all other sports teams play as members of the America East Conference (AEC).[307] In 2006, UAlbany became the first SUNY-affiliated school to send a team to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.[308] UAlbany has also hosted the New York Giants training camp since 1996.[309] The Siena Saints have seen a rise in popularity after their men's basketball team made it to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship (March Madness) in 2008, 2009, and 2010.[310] All 18 Saints teams are Division I and play in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).[311] Although Siena's campus is in nearby Colonie, the men's basketball team plays at the TU Center.[299]

Sister cities[]

Albany has five official sister city agreements and two other twin-city relationships. The city of Nijmegen, Netherlands connected with Albany following World War II. With the help of the Catholic university in Albany, the Catholic University of Nijmegen (Radboud University Nijmegen) rebuilt its partly destroyed library, with over 50,000 books being donated to the Dutch university. To show its gratitude for post-war assistance, the city sent Albany 50,000 tulip bulbs in 1948; this act led to the establishment of the annual Tulip Festival.[94] Most of the other connections were made in the 1980s during Mayor Whalen's term in office as part of his cultural expansion program.[94] The official sister cities are:[312]

The additional twin-city relationships are with:[94]

See also[]

Capital District
Hudson Valley
  • List of capitals in the United States
  • List of cities in New York
  • List of incorporated places in New York's Capital District
  • List of people associated with Albany County, New York
  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Albany, New York
  • Neighborhoods of Albany, New York


  1. ^ In this instance, assiduity, "the quality of acting with constant and careful attention."[2]
  2. ^ The Dongan Charter incorporated Albany three months after New York City's charter was ratified. However, the latter forfeited its charter during Leisler's Rebellion, making Albany's the oldest effective charter in the country.[14][15]
  3. ^ This name would later be adopted by the city of Schenectady, to the west.[18]
  4. ^ James Stuart (1633–1701), brother and successor of Charles II, was both the Duke of York and Duke of Albany before being crowned James II of England and James VII of Scotland in 1685. His title of Duke of York is the source of the name of the province of New York.[26]
  5. ^ The Plan of Union's original intention was to unite the colonies in defense against aggressions of the French to the north; it was not an attempt to become independent from the auspices of the British crown.[37]
  6. ^ A rough grid pattern was established in 1764, aligning the streets with Clinton Avenue, which marked the northern border of Albany at the time. Patroon of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck Stephen Van Rensselaer II followed the same directional system north of Clinton Avenue on his lands; however, the two systems were not related otherwise, which is why cross streets north and south of Clinton Avenue do not align. The stockade surrounding the city was taken down shortly before the Revolutionary War, allowing for expansion. De Witt, city surveyor at the time, continued the grid pattern to the west and renamed on his 1794 map any streets that had honored British Royalty. Hawk Street is the only road that retained its original name; the rest were renamed after birds and mammals.[44][45]
  7. ^ "The Colonie" made up the current area of Arbor Hill and was the more urban part of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, which surrounded Albany.[50] It is the source of the name of the current town and village of Colonie.[51]
  8. ^ Grondahl summarizes it as, "This hard-line position of isolationism on the part of the machine was a curse economically – but a strange blessing unintentionally in architectural terms. While downtown went to seed and plans for large-scale construction and improvements came to a virtual standstill in Albany without federal money, pockets of the city's historic housing stock escaped the wrecking ball."[84]
  9. ^ The Empire State Plaza was originally known as the South Mall; the South Mall Arterial is the only remnant of that naming scheme.
  10. ^ For example, the Plaza has four traffic tunnels, two intended for through traffic, and two for local traffic (only the outer, local traffic tunnels are in use); the Arterial ends abruptly between Jay Street and Hudson Avenue just west of South Swan Street (42°39′6.17″N 73°45′43.54″W / 42.6517139, -73.7620944); the east end of the Dunn Memorial Bridge ends abruptly in Rensselaer (42°38′33.33″N 73°44′44.78″W / 42.6425917, -73.7457722); and Henry Johnson Boulevard, which would have extended as part of the Mid-Crosstown Arterial, ends abruptly at Livingston Avenue (42°39′49.92″N 73°45′30.58″W / 42.6638667, -73.7584944).
  11. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  12. ^ According to the National Weather Service, the snowfall data has been readjusted as of June 3, 2015. As such, snowfall data is based the source at Albany Snowfall Normals
  13. ^ Official records for Albany kept January 1874 to May 1938 at downtown and at Albany Int'l since June 1938. For more information, see Threadex
  14. ^ In 2009, Bank of America (which now owns FleetBank, the bank that eventually bought Norstar) consolidated its operations in an office building on State Street, leaving the former train station vacant.[154] Mayor Corning made great efforts to save the building, which had been owned by his great-grandfather's railroad a hundred years before. He was able to do it when governor Rockefeller brought state money in to purchase the building.[89]
  15. ^ The percentages listed here were calculated using the raw population data given by the Census Bureau divided by the total population, rounded to the nearest hundredth. Note that these percentages were calculated using the total population value of 97,856 as the divisor, not the 94,233 people claiming one race.[163]
  16. ^ These values were given in 1999 dollars; here they have been adjusted for inflation.[163]
  17. ^ Albany was once home to 12 charter schools[215] until the closing of New Covenant Charter School in 2010.[216] It was announced in July 2010 that the Harriet Gibbons High School, an alternative high school for at-risk ninth graders, would close after a negative report from the State Department of Education demanded the elimination of ineffective programs.[217]
  18. ^ The Accountability and Overview Report[218] puts the class of 2009 at 513 students and the Comprehensive Information Report[219] states that 416 of them graduated.
  19. ^ Christian Brothers Academy was located in various Albany locations throughout the 19th century and then moved to the University Heights neighborhood in 1937. The school moved out of the city to Colonie in 1998 and has remained there since.[222]


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