This was one of those layover trips, but a long one. When I showed Oana the trip pairing (it's what we call all the flights in a trip) and that we were going to layover in Albany, she said she wanted to come with me. We checked the flight loads, and there was room for another standby, so she came with me.
What was nice about this layover was that it was 32 hours. We arrived late the night of July 29th, and left the morning of July 31st, so we had the entire day of July 30th to goof off.
But it's a state capitol!
Downtown Albany has two things: historic buildings and the state capitol. After that it falls off pretty fast. No good restaurants, no shopping, nothing. It's mostly residential and industrial after that. We couldn't even find a place to have a nice dinner after our tour of the State Capitol Building, so ventured onward.
The State House Tour
Every time we are in a state capitol we tour the state house. Our stretch goal is to hit all 50 state capitols. Fortunately they had a guided tour that was free, and interesting. New York has a robust history, considering a few of their Governor's have moved on to be President of the United States, mostly notably, my favorite President, Teddy Roosevelt.
While Oana is into all the history, I'm more interested in cool stuff. One of the first things we found was the New York Seal machine. It was made when New York first became a state (a long long time ago in a place far far away...). What makes this seal machine cool is that it is still in use! The state seal resides in the Governor's office suite.
Senate and Assembly Chambers
The entire state house cost about $25M to build. While that doesn't sound like a lot of money, in today's dollars that's over $700M. Not only that, one of the rooms, the Senate Chamber, over $1M was spent just in that small room. It's ornately decorated, and the gold looking trim all over the room is actual gold.
One cool thing they told us was that when a state Senator left office, he got take his chair with him as a souvenir. There are lots of stories about this place, many included Teddy Roosevelt.
The New York State Senate Chamber is also listed on the National Historic Registries and named one of the most beautiful rooms in the US.
The assembly chamber is equally as impressive, but much larger. They told us on the tour that they pass over 3,000 new laws in New York each year (we probably broke a few without knowing) and that the average amount of time debating a bill is 22 seconds!
The entire place is covered with frescos (wall paintings) and intricately carved marble throughout. What's amazing is that they are all original still.
While we did not see Col. Mustard, Mrs White, a pipe, or a knife, we did see many candlesticks in the statehouse library. This room was fun to look at, but its not really usable by the general public. We were told the Governor and members of the State Senate and Assembly can go in there and look through the books etc, but I doubt most of them knew where the room was. It looked like nobody ever went in there.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
After leaving the statehouse tour, we headed back to our rental car, and a block away was this magnificent cathedral. Having seen literally hundreds of churches in Europe, we decided to go inside.
Overall we would say this is our favorite state house tour so far. There is a lot of history here, and the 90 minute tour couldn't possibly cover it all. But if you are in Albany, check this place out.
Expect to drive about 20 minutes to find a suitable restaurant.