Downtown Albany New York Walking Tour
This walking tour includes some of the landmark structures, museums, monuments, and governmental buildings in downtown Albany.
What is now the home to the governor of New York did not begin as such. Built in 1856 by a local banker, it served as a private residence until it was rented by Governor Samuel Tilden in 1875. It was then purchased by the state in 1877. It has since served as the home to 32 of New York’s 56 governors, to include future presidents Grover Cleveland and Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The small private home expanded over the years and now encompasses 40 rooms, 29,500 square feet, and 3.5 acres. It is open for free guided tours and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
Established in 1836, the New York State Museum is the nation's oldest and largest state-operated museum and has been located in this modern structure since 1976. Visitors to the museum can see a number of exhibits related to the museum's early mission of preserving the natural history and conducting geological research throughout the state. The first floor holds the museum's permanent collection as well as several smaller galleries that hold thematic exhibits that change throughout the year. The second and third floors are home to staff offices, artifact storage and preservation spaces, and offices of numerous research agencies. The fourth floor offers additional exhibit spaces, a wonderful view of the adjacent Empire State Plaza, and a favorite for children of all ages- a carousel that was built in the early 20th century that guests can ride.
The Corning Tower is 44 floors and is the tallest building in New York State outside of New York City. It was constructed as part of the Empire State Plaza complex and was completed in 1966. It houses the New York State Office of General Services. The 42nd floor has an observation deck that is open to the public.
The Performing Arts Center in the Empire State Plaza is instantly recognizable because of its unique shape. Universally known as "The Egg" it stands out as the only smooth, round edifice on the plaza otherwise composed largely of imposing angular structures. Building started on the Egg in 1966 and it was completed twelve years later in 1978. It contains two theaters that showcase a variety of performances throughout the year.
This Romanesque three-story building was completed in 1883. Albany's city hall is distinguished by a 200-foot tower that hosts a carillon--one of only a few cities that have both a carillon and a clock tower. This building replaced a previous city hall that was destroyed by fire in 1880.
This Italian Romanesque Revival building is the third incarnation of this church on this site. The parish was incorporated on October 6, 1796. It is the second oldest Catholic parish in New York state and it was the fifth or sixth church constructed in Albany. The current edifice was completed in 1869 and was designed by local architect Charles Nichols.
This Greek Revival building was constructed on 1842 to house state offices, such as the Comptroller and the State Architect. It was designed by local architect Henry Rector. It served in this capacity for 75 years. After refurbishments in 1916, it was officially dedicated as the Court of Appeals home on January 8, 1917.
This federal-style brownstone was built in 1815 and remains the oldest public building in the city. It served as home to the Albany Academy, a college preparatory school, until the 1930s. During the 1820s and 1830s, Albany was the tenth-largest city in the United States and this was the largest school of its kind at that time. The building is currently the headquarters of the Albany City Schools.
New York's fourth and current capitol building, this historic structure was completed in 1899 for the cost of $25 million. When completed, the capitol had set the record for the most expensive government building of the 19th century. The building was almost completely destroyed by a fire twelve years after its completion. The New York capitol building is one of only ten state capitols to not inlcude a dome. The capitol building is open for daily tours.
This Beaux-Arts style building, with it's impressive colonnade, was built between 1908 and 1911. It is one of the longest colonnades in the world and the 36 Corinthian columnns provide a striking facade on Washington Avenue. Its architect Henry Hornbostel had trained in Paris and was also inspired by the buildings of the "White City" at Chicago's 1893 World's Fair. When it was dedicated in 1912 it contained the New York State Education Department, the New York State Museum and the New York State Library.
This Art Deco skyscraper was once said to be the tallest building between New York City and Chicago. Completed in 1928 and dedicated in 1930 it has 34 floors. The names of every county in New York State are engraved around the perimeter of the building. Originally called simply The State Office Building it was renamed in 1945 in honor of former governor Alfred E. Smith.
This Albany Institute of History & Art traces its roots back to 1791, making this one this one of the oldest museums in the world. The museum offers a variety of regional collections in addition to a variety of exhibits and works of art. Highlights of the museum include the "Albany Mummies" and works from ancient Egypt, collections of manuscripts and diaries from the colonial period and American Revolution, and the Hudson River School collection of paintings.