New York's Capital Region in 50 Objects

New York's Capital Region in 50 Objects


Each region of the nation has its own distinctive history and identity. The New York’s Capital Region—consisting of Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Saratoga Counties—is no different. But what best identifies the region? What events, objects, people, and ideas have contributed to its character and uniqueness?

To learn the answers, we presented these questions to the numerous museums, historical organizations, libraries, and residents of the Capital Region. The fifty objects that were ultimately selected present an exciting history of the Capital Region, including well-known favorites but also unexpected surprises. Some of the fifty objects characterize very broad topics like the textile industry and the Hudson River School of art, while others embody large populations of people who shaped the character of the region, such as the Dutch and the Iroquois. Many objects represent specific people or events, such as writer William Kennedy and the Battle of Saratoga. In some instances, the objects represent themselves, like the GE Monitor Top refrigerator and Albany’s beloved Nipper statue. A complementary image accompanies each of the fifty objects, providing context and additional information.

Overall, the fifty objects clearly demonstrate that this narrowly circumscribed part of New York State has played an astonishing role in shaping the history of the nation and, in several instances, the world beyond the confines of our national borders.

Battle of Saratoga

When British General John Burgoyne began his Northern Campaign from Canada through New York in 1777, he brought with him a variety of artillery—the best available at the time. One such artillery piece was this three-pounder cannon, cast in bronze in England in 1776. Weighing over 200 pounds, the cannon fired an iron ball weighing about three pounds, thus, the name three pounder cannon.

Facing the American Continental Army at a place called Bemus Heights, north of the modern-day Village of Stillwater in Saratoga County, the British army fought two battles: one on September 19 and the other on October 7. After an American victory on October 7, the British retreated north to Saratoga (today Schuylerville), where after a siege and negotiating terms of surrender, the mightiest army in the world surrendered to the newest on October 17, 1777.

The victory at Saratoga brought much-needed aid to the American cause, and the Battles of Saratoga are considered a turning point in the American War for Independence. This cannon was one of forty-seven artillery pieces surrendered to the American Army at Saratoga. It was engraved with the honors of war several years later at West Point: “Surrendered by the Convention of Saratoga / Octr. 17. 1777.” Today, the Saratoga trophy cannons are icons of the American victory during the Revolutionary War.

Trophy Cannon (British Light Three-Pounder Cannon)

Cast by Jan and Pieter Verbruggen, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, England


Cast bronze on reproduction wood and iron cannon carriage

Courtesy of Saratoga National Historical Park, SARA-3725

The Surrender of General Burgoyne at Saratoga, October 16, 1777

John Trumbull

c. 1822–1832

Oil on canvas

Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery, Trumbull Collection, 1832.7

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