1. Albany County Historical Association – Ten Broeck Mansion
The Albany County Historical Association was established in 1942. As the name indicates, the organization’s purpose is to celebrate Albany County’s history. The Ten Broeck Mansion at 9 Ten Broeck Place functions as the Albany County Historical Association’s headquarters. Visitors can marvel at its attractive lawns and gardens and the impressive view of the Hudson River from the mansion. Construction of this edifice began in 1797, the year Albany was designated New York’s official capital. The mansion was named after its original owner, Brigadier General Abraham Ten Broeck, one of the wealthiest men in Albany. He achieved this title when commanding the New York Militia during the American Revolution. When the conflict ended, Broeck became Mayor of Albany as well as a member of the New York State Senate. He was also the first president of the bank of Albany. When the mansion was completed in 1798, he gave it the name Prospect and lived there until his death in 1810. His widow Elizabeth stayed in Prospect until her death three years later. In the following years, the Ten Broeck Mansion changed ownership several times. In 1848, banker Thomas Worth Olcott purchased the home and renamed it Arbour Hill, because he planted arbor trees around the mansion. For the next century, his family continued to own the Ten Broeck Mansion. Then in 1948, Olcott’s descendants donated it to the Albany County Historical Association. Today, the Ten Broeck Mansion is a historic house museum. It retains the same appearance as it did when the Olcott family was in residence; of particular note are the Greek Revival porticos and the marble mantels in the first-floor rooms. Visitors can also study the mansion’s furnishings dating from the late 18th century and early 19th. Besides serving as a tourist attraction, the building can also be rented for private events such as weddings and receptions.
2. Albany Institute of History & Art
One of the oldest existing museums in the United States, the institute at 125 Washington Avenue was established in 1791. This museum has a variety of exhibitions that celebrate the history and culture of Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley region. The ongoing exhibitions include Nineteenth-Century American Sculpture, which showcases the artworks of Albany sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer and his assistants and proteges, and the Hudson River School, named after a mid-19th century American art movement represented by the displayed landscape paintings. The Institute also provides temporary exhibitions for visitors. Among the past displays, there has been a exposition of mid-19th century cast iron stoves manufactured in the Albany area and a historical presentation of a late 19th century-early 20th century women’s movement in the city that opposed woman’s suffrage.
3. Irish American Heritage Museum
This museum is near the Discover Albany Visitors Center at 21 Quackenbush Square. As the name indicates, this museum celebrates the history and culture of Irish immigrants and their descendants in the United States. Visitors are enlightened and enthralled by the museum’s permanent exhibition, The Irish in America. Among the fascinating objects displayed in this exhibition is a reconstruction of a typical thatched-roof cottage in Ireland (funded by Ireland’s present government, which also provides annual financial support for the museum) and another reconstruction of a typical tenement apartment which housed Irish immigrants. The Irish American Heritage Museum also has revolving exhibitions focusing on events, movements, and people that contributed to Irish and Irish American history and culture. One fascinating spectacle explored the Ireland’s Potato Famine in the 1840s and the 1850s that drove many of the country’s people to America. Another interesting presentation examined Irish revolutionary (and later President of Ireland) Eamon de Valera’s campaign in the United States for American recognition of Ireland’s independence in the early 20th century.
4. New York State Museum
At 222 Madison Avenue, this museum focuses on the history of the state of New York. The names of some of the New York State Museum’s exhibitions suggest the vast variety of explored subjects – Bird Hall, The Cohoes Mastodon (a prehistoric elephant), Minerals of New York, Black Capital: Harlem in the 1920s and The World Trade Center: Rescue, Recovery, Response. The museum also has a carousel, constructed in the 1910s and representing the popular amusement rides of the time. People can not only have fun riding, it but also get a firsthand educational experience in how New Yorkers amused themselves a century ago.
5. USS Albany Heritage Exhibit
This showcase is located at the Discover Albany Visitors Center at 25 Quackenbush Square. It presents the history of USS Albany ships from 1846 to today, as well as the individuals who served on these vessels. People can study such fascinating nautical memorabilia like crew members’ dining silver sets, a tricorn hat and shoulder epaulets of a naval uniform, and a ship’s bell.
6. USS Slater DE766
Construction of this Cannon-class destroyer began on March 9, 1943, The ship was named in honor of Frank O. Slater, a sailor from Alabama who perished on the cruiser USS San Francisco during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942. The USS Slater DE766 was launched on February 20, 1944 and fought Nazi U-boats in the Atlantic Ocean and Japanese submarines in the Pacific. When World War II ended, the USS Slater was transferred to the Greek Navy and served it until 1991. In 1993, the destroyer was towed to New York City. In 1997, it was transferred to Albany. Today tours of the USS Slater DE766 are available on the Hudson River in New York’s state capital at 1 Quay Street. 306 feet long, this destroyer is the only one built during World War II that is still afloat in America.
What a variety of attractions there are in Albany! Six intriguing places to visit in New York’s capital, each one having its own distinct character and offerings. They can be savored at any time of the year.