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.

Saratoga Races

Recognized as the oldest sporting venue in America, Saratoga Springs thoroughbred racing had its start on August 3, 1863, when Irish-American boxer, New York gang member, and gaming impresario John Morrissey (later a Tammany Hall Democratic congressman) organized a four-day thoroughbred race meeting at the old Saratoga Trotting Course on Union Avenue. The meet brought more than 15,000 to the track from across the country, including millionaires, political figures, gentlemen, and fashionable women, who watched the races from their carriages. The meet was so successful that Morrissey and a group of investors formed the Saratoga Association, purchased land across the street from the Trotting Course, and constructed the Saratoga Race Course, which still stands today as one of the oldest race courses in America.

The Travers Stakes, one of the top racing events for three-year-old thoroughbreds, holds the distinction of being the very first race ever run at Saratoga Race Course on its opening day, August 2, 1864. Named after the first president of the Saratoga Association, William R. Travers, the first edition of the race was won by his own horse Kentucky, which he co-owned with John Hunter and George Osgood.

Except for a few years in 1911 and 1912, and again from 1943 to 1945, the race course has held thoroughbred races annually. From a five-day meeting in 1864, the racing season has grown to six weeks, running from July through Labor Day weekend.

The iconic Man o’ War Cup  has been presented to the victor of the Travers Stakes annually since the early twentieth century. Modeled after a trophy presented to racing legend Man o’ War after defeating the first Triple Crown winner, Sir Barton, in a match race held at Kenilworth Park in Windsor, Ontario, this Tiffany & Company replica serves as a reminder of racing greatness and Man o’ War’s own Travers Stakes victory in 1920.

Man o’ War Cup, Travers Stakes, Won by Lights Up

Tiffany & Company, New York City


Sterling silver, gilt

Courtesy of The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

Race Course – Saratoga

c. 1867

Color relief print on paper

Courtesy of Private Collection

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