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 Springs

“Life at the springs is a perpetual festival.” When this statement appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in 1859, Saratoga Springs was the queen of American resorts. It had nearly fifty hotels and boarding houses and was fortuitously situated near a transportation network of steamships and railroads. The town boasted tree-lined streets and parks illuminated with gas lamps. It had theaters, fancy shops, and a circular railroad amusement ride. Most prominently, Saratoga had mineral springs.

When Philip Schuyler cut a path from his house on the Hudson River to High Rock Spring in 1783, he opened Saratoga Springs to visitors. Twenty years later, Connecticut native Gideon Putnam built the first tavern in town and began laying out streets and diverting springs through ornate fountains. As early as 1822, the water from Congress Springs was bottled and sold around the world. Drinking the mineral waters remained a favored activity at Saratoga Springs into the twentieth century and bottled Saratoga water still holds a prominent place on grocery shelves today.

In 1872, a spring of bubbly water was discovered on a farm in Saratoga Springs. Later in the century, a company named Saratoga Vichy began bottling and selling the naturally effervescent water. Saratoga Vichy won a gold medal at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, and Scotch and Saratoga Vichy became a favored drink—the water’s natural effervescence was sworn never to cause a hangover.

Saratoga Vichy Water Six Pack

Saratoga Vichy Springs Company | c. 1960

Maker / Manufacturer: Saratoga Vichy Springs Company

Credit: Gift of June Price

Congress Spring, Saratoga, N.Y.

c. 1870

Printer: Hatch & Co., 111 Broadway, New York City

Medium: Chromolithograph on paper

Dimensions: 15 1/16 H x 19 3/4 W

Credit: Gift of Fleet Boston Financial Corporation

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