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.


In 1884, Charles Freihofer, the son of German immigrants, opened a bakery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was determined to provide bread made from the finest ingredients, and subsequently,  his business boomed. By 1913, Charles and his brothers built a new commercial baking plant, the Freihofer Bakery, in the Lansingburgh section of Troy, New York. With its innovative seventy-foot-long traveling bread oven, the brothers were able to meet the demands of their customers. Two weeks after the opening, a torrential rainfall struck Troy and the Freihofer Bakery used their newly constructed baking facility to bake and distribute hundreds of loaves of bread to flood victims.

From Lansingburgh, Freihofer’s delivered breads, cakes, and cookies to a growing customer base, first by horse-drawn wagons and then by motorized trucks. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Freddie Freihofer Show aired on WRGB. It offered a birthday treat for many youngsters who were the in-studio audience for the show. A hat, a box of chocolate chip cookies, and a “Squiggle”—souvenirs of the show—can still bring back happy memories that were unique to children in Rensselaer County and the Capital Region.

Four generations of the Freihofer family have maintained Charles Freihofer's dedication to the freshest, purest ingredients in their baked goods. The quest for innovation, linked to their home-style imagery, has been a cornerstone of the company’s success. Today, Freihofer's is part of Bimbo Bakeries USA.

Freihofer’s Window Sign

Unknown maker | 1945-59

Photographer: Unknown maker

Medium: Paper and ink

Credit: Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase

Freddie Freihofer Show

c. 1954

Gelatin silver photographic print

Courtesy of Linda McLean

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