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