New York State Capitol

Albany, New York | C.1899

Photo Credit: Selvon Ramsawak

The New York State Capitol, located in Albany, New York, is part of the Empire State Plaza complex on State Street in Capitol Park. The building was completed in 1899 at a cost of $25 million (equivalent to $772.25 million in 2020), making it the most expensive government building of its time.

The current Capitol was built to become a permanent home for New York’s legislative sessions. Prior to its construction, from 1812 to 1879, Philip Hooker’s Old Albany City Hall was such a meeting place. The construction of the Capitol took place between 1867 and 1899. Three separate teams of architects worked on the design during its 32-year construction timeline.

The ground floor, designed by original architect Thomas Fuller, was built in a Classical Romanesque style. Fuller was dismissed for Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Hobson Richardson who built the second and third floors in a Renaissance Classical style, which is noticeable on the exterior two floors as light, open column work. Isaac G. Perry was tasked with completing the legislative chambers, fourth floor, and roof, and did so in Victorian-modified Romanesque style.

In the central open court of the building sits a shaft that was intended to support a large dome. The dome and tower were never completed, as it was found the building’s weight was causing stress fractures and making it shift downhill toward State Street. To prevent the building from moving, a 166 foot (51m) exterior Eastern Staircase was added to support the front façade.

Today, visitors can tour the Capitol Monday through Friday at 10AM, Noon, 2PM, and 3PM. The New York State Capitol was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1979.

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