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.

Hoffman’s Playland

Generations of families from New York’s Capital Region have enjoyed Hoffman’s Playland for its fun, safe, and clean atmosphere. It was truly a special place. Unlike larger amusement parks, Hoffman’s Playland charged no admission fee, but instead sold tickets for the rides. This system allowed parents to bring their children to the park for as long as they wanted. Patrons loved the idea of having no admission fee and Hoffman’s stayed in business for over sixty years.

Hoffman’s Playland was a family-owned business. It all started in 1953 when Bill Hoffman purchased a carousel and placed it on his father’s property in Latham, New York, near the family turkey farm. Determined to draw more people to his rural location, Bill expanded his park with more attractions like pony rides. His diligence paid off. The park eventually grew to include more rides, which ultimately brought more people. By the time of Bill Hoffman’s retirement, his son, Dave Hoffman, was ready to take ownership of the park. Dave expanded the park further by buying and refurbishing older rides. From bumper cars to a Ferris wheel, Hoffman’s Playland was famous for its nostalgic attractions.

In 2014, Dave and his wife Ruth retired and Hoffman’s Playland closed its long-time location in Latham. Although the rides were moved to Huck Finn’s Playland in Albany, many visitors maintain a special nostalgia for the original Hoffman’s. Bill Hoffman purchased the ticket booth in 1953 along with the carousel that featured thirty horses and two chariots.

Hoffman’s Playland Ticket Booth


Wood, paint, plastic, glass, metal

Courtesy of the New York State Museum, gift of the Hoffman Family

Carousel at Hoffman’s Playland

Photograph by Michael Gallitelli


Digital photograph

Courtesy of David and Ruth Hoffman and Hoffman’s Family

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