Albany, New York has a long history, going back to at least 1624, when it was called Fort Orange, then later Beverwyck, under Dutch rule. From the city’s webpage: “In 1664 when the Dutch surrendered to the British without a battle, King Charles II granted territory… to his royal brother James, the Duke of both York and Albany. Thus Beverwyck became Albany and New Amsterdam became New York… It was on July 22, 1686 that Governor Thomas Dongan representing the British crown granted a charter recognizing Albany as a city.” It became the permanent capital of New York State in 1797.
As a city on the Hudson River, the city was important in trade. That song The Erie Canal has a line about it running “from Albany to Buffalo.”
One of the more controversial situations in 20th century Albany history was the razing of dozens of buildings to build the South Mall. It changed the skyline, but cut off one side of the city from the other.
My own history in Albany, I believe, started in 1970. I was selected to participate in something called The Governor’s Conference on Children and Youth. I flew with a half dozen other people from Binghamton to Albany, only 150 miles away, in a little plane, maybe a 12-seater, during a thunderstorm; I was terrified. I did, however, get to meet Governor Nelson Rockefeller.
I moved from New Paltz, my college town, to Schenectady, not far from Albany, at the end of 1977, and then to Albany in August 1979.
I must admit that sometimes Albany can be quite parochial. I blame it in part on as long series of one-party rule, the Republicans around the turn of the 20th century, but the Democrats since the early 1920s. Albany had the same mayor, Erastus Corning 2nd, for over 40 years, from 1941 until his death in 1983.
I noted here that most folks have to be here 30 years before one’s REALLY from Albany. One somewhat derisive term for the place is Smallbany, which basically means that folks you meet in one set of circumstances you’d likely run into another. There’s a certain snarkiness by Albanians about the city touting the fact that it is about equidistant to NYC and Boston, rather than discussing the city’s many virtues, including two universities, one of which I attended.