This Christmas season the Albany Institute of History & Art will be exhibiting America’s first commercially printed Christmas card. Printed in Albany around 1850, the card is on loan to the Albany Institute from the Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections in England as part of The Capital Region in 50 Objects exhibition. This is the only known copy of the card to survive and this is the first time the card has been on view in the United States. Continue reading
The Albany Institute of History and Art opened an exhibit in September entitled “Capital Region in 50 Objects” that runs through next April. It is a model of creative, imaginative display of historical objects, using a quotation from Henry Ford as a starting point: “Every Object Tells a Story If You Know How to Read It.”
There are 50 objects and for each a corresponding photograph putting the object into historical perspective. The captions are uniformly informative. Continue reading
Albany is a historic city! Its website includes a history of the city. Kathy Sheehan, campaigning for Mayor in 2012, cited its “deep and palpable history” as one of its assets and one of the bases for its potential development in the future. As Mayor, she initiated the Albany Heritage Tourism Initiative and gave a very impressive talk on “Albany: Our History, Our Future,” emphasizing its potential for heritage tourism at the kick-off luncheon for New York History Month organized by the University Club in November 2014.
One of her key themes was connections — among Albany’s historical buildings, its history organizations such as the Albany Institute of History and Art, and state sites such as the State Museum and Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site. Continue reading
This week’s topic on “The Historians” podcast is genealogy, three interviews recorded with members of the Capital District Genealogical Society.
The program features Eric Johnson on African American history; Terri Moran with a family history that stretches to Sweden; and Jim Richmond, whose family research inspired him to write a book, The Middleline, the story of the founding of a Saratoga County community. You can listen at “The Historians” online archive. Continue reading
In 1798, Robert R. Livingston, Jr. (1746-1813) requested and obtained a monopoly from the New York State Legislature granting him the exclusive right to operate passenger steamboats on the Hudson River.
The Livingston family was very wealthy and owned the large estate, Clermont, just south of Albany. They ran an iron foundry and machine shop for many years where they had installed a steam engine to power the equipment. Continue reading
The New York State Museum has opened a new exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone for the Empire State Plaza that occurred on June 21,1965.
The Empire State Plaza at 50 is organized in collaboration with the New York State Office of General Services and features dozens of images as well as artwork from the Empire State Plaza Art Collection. Continue reading
During the four years of the Civil War, New York would send 474,000 men, 1/8 of New York’s entire population, to comprise 1/5 of the Union Army. Ten regiments and one artillery battery would be raised in Albany County and Albany troops would play major roles and take casualties at almost every major battle of the Civil War. Continue reading
On Saturday, July 11, the publishers of AllOverAlbany.com will lead a full day excursion called “Rail, River, Hudson!” The journey begins with a 25-minute train ride by Amtrak from Rensselaer to the City of Hudson, and ends with a 2.5-hour sunset cruise from Hudson back to Albany on board the Dutch Apple II riverboat. Only a few tickets remain for this event, which sold out in 2014.
“Taking a day trip down the Hudson Valley by train or riverboat was the Saturday thing to do in Albany until the 1940s,” said Mary Darcy, one of the publishers of All Over Albany. “We’re making it possible for people today to experience what that was like. And it’s a lot of fun.” Continue reading
As had happened during the French and Indian War and later the Revolutionary War, from the first days of the Civil War Albany was converted into a military camp. Lincoln’s original request for troops designated Albany, New York City and Elmira as military marshaling points. Troops from the entire northeast, including upstate New York as far west as Buffalo, east to Vermont, New Hampshire and western Massachusetts reported to Albany. Continue reading
The Wolfert’s Roost Country Club in Albany maintains a small dam, pond, and pump house to provide water for their golf course. In the 1980s workers excavating the pond, which is fed by the Maezlandtkill, discovered several sections of ancient wooden and very early cast iron pipe along with iron bands. The pipe and other artifacts were placed in the woods near the club’s tennis courts and forgotten.
Benjamin Prescott, engineer of Albany’s first municipal water system and the man responsible for those pipes, is all but equally forgotten, despite an illustrious career in engineering. Prescott served as an Engineer in the American Revolution, Superintendent of the Springfield Armory, and was the designer of several notable projects, including one of this nation’s first inclined planes (on the Connecticut River). He also conducted a 1790s survey of Niagara Falls, consulted on the Erie Canal, designed the Troy Sloop Lock (the Federal Dam) and more. Continue reading
Early Sunday morning on April 14, 1861, barely two months after Lincoln left Albany, news arrived there that Fort Sumter had been fired on and surrendered. Fort Sumter was not far from Washington, and this news hit Albany like a shock wave.
New York State Governor Edwin D. Morgan called an emergency meeting of his staff and leaders of the Senate and Assembly that afternoon in the Executive Chamber in Albany. A bill was drafted calling for New York to appropriate $3 million to provision and provide 30,000 New York Militia to support the preservation of the Union. Continue reading
The New York State Board of Regents has unveiled a 14 million dollar four year plan to renovate the New York State Museum’s exhibition galleries. The master plan calls for 35,000 square feet of new exhibitions, a changeable wall system and new interactive technology and media. Continue reading
Following his election as President in 1860, Abraham Lincoln undertook a train ride to Washington that took him through Albany. He arrived in the city on February 18, 1861 with his wife and three sons.
As their train passed the West Albany railroad shops, an electrical switch was turned off at the nearby Dudley Observatory, causing an electromagnet mounted on the roof of the Capitol in downtown Albany to release a metal ball that slid down a pole, signaling to military officials to start a 21-gun salute in Capitol Park. Continue reading
In the study of history, a personal connection is often what draws us in to begin to explore a subject, place, or era. We might be interested in World War II after hearing grandpa’s war stories. We might begin to read about the Underground Railroad after discovering stations in our hometown.
Making a personal connection with the people we read about and study is a common impulse for history lovers. It helps make history come alive. This story isn’t about an ancestor, or a history connection to my home town, it’s about a woman with a more unique connection to me, one who shares my name. Continue reading
On Saturday, June 6th, Historic Cherry Hill will present the Hudson River Family Day, from 1 until 4 pm. Participants are invited to step into the 1700s and experience Hudson River sloop trade and daily life at this free event. The Hudson River Trading Game, with its 34-foot game board, will immerse all ages in the adventure of 18th century trade and travel. The game is based on the actual experiences of merchant and sloop owner, Philip Van Rensselaer of Cherry Hill. Continue reading
During the Revolutionary War, Alexander Hamilton served as an artillery captain and later a colonel and trusted aid to General George Washington. Colonel Aaron Burr also served in the Colonial Army and accompanied Benedict Arnold on his march through the Maine wilderness and his failed attempt to capture Quebec. Burr had been with General Richard Montgomery when Montgomery was shot and killed in Quebec. Later in the war, Burr was placed in charge of a regiment and his troops were stationed in Westchester County, New York. Continue reading
“Albany’s Only Negro Civil War Veteran” was the title of an article in The New York Age in May, 1933. The paper reported an interview with the city’s last surviving black veteran from the War Between the States, Sergeant James N. Lucas.
After serving with Company E of the 38th U.S. Colored Volunteers from early 1865 until 1867, he lived in Troy before moving to Albany in 1869. Continue reading
“Something’s Brewing: A Historical Look at Albany Brews & Spirits” is the theme of the 16th Annual Albany History Fair to be held at Historic Cherry Hill on Sunday, May 3, from 1 to 4 pm.
This free event will include an 18th century brewing demonstration by Harvey Alexander, music by Friends Union, house tours, exhibits, and a brewing and agricultural scavenger hunt for families, throughout the afternoon. Continue reading
Artist Walter Launt Palmer (1854–1932), the son of Albany sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer, has enjoyed a revival of interest in the art world over the last several years. It’s now common to see his paintings in art magazines and at major auctions across the country, bringing record prices for his oils and watercolors.
As an artist who preferred living and working in his home community of Albany, rather than New York City, Palmer carried forward the creative genius that emerged in the region generations earlier with the Hudson River School and his father’s own sculpture. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features author and Albany Times Union Reporter Paul Grondahl. Grondahl has an update on his biography-in-progress of CBS news commentator Andy Rooney. Plus he discusses the career of long-time Albany promoter Ed Lewi. Grondahl collaborated with Lewi on the book A Wild Ride: Bears, Babes and Marketing to the Max. Grondahl has also written books on longtime Albany Mayor Erastus Corning and Theodore Roosevelt. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/