The Capitol Building is located on State Street in Albany, NY. State Street, formerly called Yonker Street, is the oldest street in Albany and its original "main street.'' In 1797, Albany became the permanent capitol of the state. The Capitol Building took thirty-two years to build and was completed in 1899. It was developed by a team of five architects and, at its completion, cost roughly $25 million dollars.
The two main architects of the project were Leonard Eidlitz and Henry Hobson Richardson. Richardson made the style Richardson Romanesque famous by experimenting with it for a sanitarium in Buffalo, NY. This style incorporates semi-circular and rounded arches, thick walls, and large towers. The exterior of the building is made of white granite and marble, and is 220 feet tall at its highest point. Original plans called for a dome, but finances terminated that goal. As such, the Capitol is one of ten state capitols that do not have a dome.
The largest room in the building is the Assembly Room. This room originally had a sandstone vaulted ceiling that was over 50 feet high. Eventually, this was replaced with a lower ceiling. The building also contains three massive staircases. Eidlitz designed the Senate and Assembly staircases. The more famous Great Western Staircase was designed by Richardson. This staircase, also known as the Million Dollar Staircase, has 444 steps. The most striking feature is the 77 "faces'' carved into the walls alongside the staircase. Over 500 stoneworkers produced these carvings which include G. Washington, A. Lincoln, U. Grant, and S. B. Anthony.
The Senate Chamber room was designed by Richardson. It features a golden oak ceiling with recesses to allow for magnifying acoustics. Richardson imported materials from around the world to create this room including red granite from Scotland and onyx from Mexico. The walls have 23 carat gold leaf band on them as well.
Richardson also designed the Executive Chamber, which is nicknamed the Red Room because of its original red drapery and carpeting. Akin to the Senate Chamber, the Executive Chamber has chandeliers and gold leaf bands on the walls. The walls themselves are mahogany and oak. The desk in the room is seated on a platform.
The Capitol Flag Room is located on the first floor near the East Entrance. This room displays over 1,000 different flags contained in large cases. Some of the flags on display include: Civil War, Spanish-American War, and flags from the World Wars. Regimental flags from the Battle of San Juan Hill and 37th All Irish Regiment, and the Civil War 20th and 26th Regiments are also on display.
Tours are conducted of the building Monday through Friday at 10, 12, 2, 3 and 3:45. On Saturdays tours are run at 11, 1 and 3. The Capitol is closed on Sundays and holidays. Groups of more than ten are requested to make a reservation by calling 518-474-2418. The tour lasts roughly 50 minutes and begins at the Visitor Center in the Plaza. The tours are free of charge.
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