Kurt's Historic Sites

Albany, New York capitol

New York

Admission to the Union Sequence in Admission Sequence in Capitols I Have Visited
July 26, 1788 11th admitted 11th visited

Photographed May 22, 2010.

New York: the Big Apple, the City that Never Sleeps, and the most populous municipality in the U.S., but not the state capital. The Empire State’s seat of government is 150 miles up the Hudson River from NYC in Albany. This blue and yellow historical marker in front of the New York State Capitol Building recalls that the street was once the location of Fort Frederick. In 1777 during the American Revolution, General John Burgoyne of the British Army intended for his forces to converge with those of generals William Howe and Barry St. Leger at Fort Frederick, overtake the Americans, and split the colonies by controlling Albany and the Hudson River. The Campaign of 1777 was unsuccessful in that regard, as Howe put his focus on Philadelphia, St. Leger retreated to Canada, and Burgoyne surrendered his army at Saratoga.

The construction of the New York State Capitol was a prolonged process. Construction began in 1867, and it was not until 1899 — 32 years later — that it was fully finished. The structure was originally projected to cost $4 million, a number which ballooned to $25 when all was said and done.

Photographed May 22, 2010.
Photographed May 22, 2010.

The prime statuary spot on the capitol grounds is occupied by this equestrian sculpture of General Philip Henry Sheridan. The general and his horse were designed by John Quincy Adams Ward and completed by Daniel Chester French, while the granite base was designed by Henry Bacon. Sheridan, who grew up in Albany, was crucial to the Union’s defeat of the Confederacy during the Civil War and was subsequently a key figure in the Indian Wars on the Great Plains. Sheridan was also a leading advocate for the preservation of Yellowstone ahead of its establishment as a national park. A “mighty throng” turned out in October 1916 to see Sheridan’s Albany memorial dedicated. Some people have advocated for its removal due to Sheridan’s role in the massacres of Indigenous tribes in the quest to “win the West,” but no efforts to date have gained enough traction to initiate a change.

Sources Consulted and Further Reading

Albany Institute of History & Art. “New York State Capitol.” Accessed February 14, 2022. https://www.albanyinstitute.org/new-york-state-capitol.html.

All Over Albany. “10 facts about Philip Sheridan, whose statue has stood in front of the state Capitol for 100 years.” October 7, 2016. http://alloveralbany.com/archive/2016/10/07/10-facts-about-philip-sheridan.

National Park Service. “Burgoyne’s Campaign: June-October 1777.” Updated December 14, 2018. https://www.nps.gov/fost/learn/historyculture/1777-campaign.htm (Broken Link as of December 17, 2023).

New York State. “General Philip Henry Sheridan Memorial.” Accessed February 13, 2022. https://empirestateplaza.ny.gov/general-philip-henry-sheridan-memorial.

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