Albany, New York State’s capital, makes its home along the Hudson River shore and has been a pioneer for commerce and government since its inception. Originally settled in 1614, Albany was officially established as New York's capital in 1797; in 1754, though, the city made a name for itself as the spot where colonists convened to develop a strategic defense against the French. It was also here that Benjamin Franklin led the effort to create The Albany Plan as the map for the colonies' defenses. From diamond merchants and fur traders to signers of the Declaration of Independence, the city's rich past with its many historical firsts and its modern technological trends offer visitors a wide variety of Albany attractions.
Visitors interested in Albany historic sites can tour the grounds of the Schuyler Mansion on the city’s southern border; the grand house sits on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River. Originally home of Revolutionary War General Philip Schuyler, the mansion also served as the prison of British General John Burgoyne after his tide-turning surrender at Saratoga in 1777. In 1780, this same location played host to the marriage of Alexander Hamilton to General Schuyler’s daughter, Elizabeth.
A short distance north of the Schuyler Mansion is the Albany Institute of Art and History near Washington Park. Established in 1791, this Albany attraction preserves and exhibits more than a million items that pay tribute to the Hudson River Valley’s history. In addition to historic objects, the museum houses notable manuscripts such as the Native American Deed to the Three Islands in the Hudson River and the contract to quarry stone for the Erie Canal. Works of art include portraits of George Washington and Colonel Richard Varick. Photographs provide additional insights into this flourishing city’s past.
Those interested in spending time outdoors can enjoy the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway. The 35-mile hiking and biking trail follows the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, as well as the Erie Canal, and is one of the longest paved trails in the United States. The trail stretches west from the Erastus Corning Riverfront Preserve in downtown Albany to the Rotterdam Junction and leads visitors through the Stockade Historic District, one of the nation’s oldest neighborhoods occupied without interruption since its first resident arrived.
Another popular Albany attraction is The Egg, Albany’s unprecedented performing arts center. Taking over a decade to build and originally designed by Wallace Harrison, this hub of live entertainment provides a performance venue for comedy, dance, live theater, film and music, with special attention paid to spotlighting local entertainers.
Albany’s North End, known as the Warehouse District, has the reputation of being Albany’s industrial neighborhood; however, recent efforts to renovate warehouses as artistic venues have succeeded, and the area currently has expanded its appeal by offering a variety of authentic pubs like Wolff's Biergarten. Housed in the remnants of an old firehouse, Wolff’s serves up culture-specific German fare such as Fleischkase Spiegelei, homemade Bavarian meatloaf, and Schwabische Rindsrouladen, sliced steak rolled and filled with mustard, pickles, bacon and onions. Visitors will also discover a trove of arts and crafts.