Home to just under 100,000 residents and the majority of New York State's government offices, Albany is the capital and political hub of the Empire State. Named after the Duke of York’s Scottish title, “Duke of Albany,” the capital city is considered by many to be the oldest continuous settlement in the original 13 English colonies (Jamestown was settled a few years earlier but was abandoned in 1699).
Once called Fort Orange, the land that is today Albany was discovered by Henry Hudson (for whom the Hudson River is named) while he was seeking a shorter route to the Far East in 1609. Soon after, merchants from the Netherlands settled here to bring furs from the north to Europe.
Albany's prime spot on the banks of the busy Hudson River cemented its place in American history. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries the city was a bustling hub of international trading, from early fur trading to the smuggling of alcohol from Canada during the U.S. Prohibition. Such a long and varied history as a trading town affords Albany an interesting mix of many centuries' worth of architectural styles—from the Romanesque-style Albany City Hall (designed by architect H.H. Richardson) to the 1960s-era anarchist style of the Empire State Plaza: Let’s just say that Albany has a lot to offer architecture nerds.
Don’t miss the spherical performing arts center referred to as “The Egg,” the war memorials, modern sculptures, the vast public spaces, the collection of public modern art and the impressive restaurants. The city is also home to the mother churches of two Christian dioceses (as well as the oldest Christian congregation in the U.S.), beautiful park spaces and The New York State Museum.
Visitors to Albany should be sure to check the surrounding metro area. The city of Troy is popular for its antique shopping, while Saratoga Springs boasts numerous wonderful restaurants and charming shops as well as the site of the Battle of Saratoga and the country’s oldest racetrack.