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.

Port of Albany

President Calvin Coolidge transformed Albany’s shipping potential when he signed legislation in 1924 to dredge the Hudson River for ocean-going ships. The following year, 1925, the New York State Legislature established the Albany Port District Commission.

Construction of Albany’s port, located just south of town on what was originally Van Rensselaer’s Island, began in 1926. On June 7, 1932, Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the completed $18 million project, which included warehouses, grain storage, rail connections, wharves, and a deepwater shipping channel. The anchor shown here was displayed during the dedication ceremonies.

Today the Port of Albany is one of the largest inland ports in the nation. General Electric generators and turbines ship from the port, as do shipments of grain, molasses, scrap iron, and woodpulp. In addition, the Port provides safe and secure terminals for Ringling Brothers Circus animals, maintains Albany’s Riverfront Park at Corning Preserve, and sponsers numerous community and educational activites.


c. 1930

Iron and paint

Courtesy of Port of Albany

Swedish Ship Unloading Woodpulp at Port of Albany

Unidentified photographer


Gelatin silver photographic print

Courtesy of Albany County Hall of Records

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