Albany: Economy

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Albany: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

State and local governments employ nearly a quarter of the Albany area workforce, a phenomenon that has brought long-term stability to the economy. A network of service industries, especially restaurants and food stores, law firms, and related businesses, has grown up in Albany to serve the needs of government. Area colleges and universities and an extensive healthcare network also play a dominant role in the city's economy. The presence of scientific research facilities has stimulated the growth of the high technology industries that are replacing traditional manufacturing industries.

Technology has, in fact, been targeted as a prime growth industry for Albany. The Austin (TX) American-Statesman declared in 2003 that the city is " . . . laying plans to storm past Austin as a high-tech hot spot." Albany NanoTech, a university-based research facility for nanotechnology that opened in 2003, received a large portion of the $1.4 billion that the state committed toward the establishment of research centers throughout New York. In a deal that was named one of the top economic development projects of 2002 by Site Selection magazine, Albany successfully attracted a new branch research center of Austin-based International Sematech. Later, Tokyo Electron Ltd., one of the world's leading makers of computer chip manufacturing equipment, decided to send researchers to Albany instead of its North American headquarters in Austin, Texas. New York City-based International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) followed suit, moving researchers to Albany.

Albany is home to a number of manufacturers, producing such items as felt products, sporting goods, and beer, but major manufacturing is represented by national companies with divisions located throughout Albany County, including General Electric Company's plastics operation in Selkirk and its silicon plant in Waterford. The sectors of finance, insurance, and real estate enjoy a strong presence in Albany, which is one of the nation's largest banking cities. As the focal point of a six-county greater metropolitan area that encompasses prime East Coast recreational areas, Albany is also affected economically by the tourists who flock to the region each year.

Items and goods produced: machine tools, paper products, felt, athletic equipment, aspirin, brake linings, cement, steel products, electrical equipment, dental products, chemicals

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Businesses

Local programs

The City of Albany's Department of Economic Development and Industrial Development Agency help coordinate incentive packages. Some of these incentives are low interest rate loans, property tax abatements, job training assistance, and tax credits. The Albany County Partnership, a venture between the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Albany County Department of Economic Development, Conservation, and Planning, offers finance programs, loan funds, and assistance funds to qualified businesses seeking to expand, relocate, or retain operations in the region.

State programs

The Empire State Development Corporation, the state agency responsible for promoting economic development in New York State, has programs available to assist businesses that are expanding and creating jobs. Its programs range from direct financing through the Job Development Authority to low-interest subsidies and loan guarantees. Depending on the financing source, funds can be used for building construction, equipment acquisition, building purchases, and working capital. New York state's progressive tax structure combines tax credits, deductions, exemptions, and write-offs to help reduce the tax burden on businesses. State financial incentives available include those offered through the Regional Development Corporation, New York Job Development Authority, Urban Development Corporation, and locations in Economic Development Zones. As the state capital, Albany offers accessibility to information and assistance from legislators and agencies eager to assist companies locating in New York state.

Job training programs

Through the On-The-Job Training program and the Capital Region ReEmployment Center, the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce offers incentives to employers of qualified individuals, including reimbursement for up to 50 percent of a trainee's salary for an approved training period. In addition, prescreening of candidates can be handled by center staff so that a business is presented with only qualified applicants.

Development Projects

Between 1995 and 2005, more than $2 billion was realized in economic development projects in Albany. During 2004 alone, 30 companies committed to investing $49 million and creating 320 new jobs in the city's Empire Zone. The state government also fueled local development, particularly with Albany NanoTech, a university-based research facility for nanotechnology that opened in 2003 and has since attracted such corporate partners as International Sematech, Tokyo Electron Ltd., and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM). Other recently completed projects include the newly constructed Hudson River Way, featuring a pedestrian bridge linking downtown with the new Corning Park. The Palace Theatre received $5.5 million in renovations and improvements by 2004.

One of the largest projects underway is construction of the Albany Convention Center/Hotel complex. This $185 million project, comprised of a 300,000-square-foot convention center attached to a 400-room hotel, is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2006; it is expected to generate $3.2 billion in the local economy and create 1,740 jobs. In December 2004 an advisory committee tapped three existing library facilities, including the main library, be renovated; four new library branches be constructed in local neighborhoods; and a wireless, mobile library brancha "Cybermobile"be implemented.

Economic Development Information: City of Albany Department of Economic Development, City Hall, 4th Fl., Albany, NY 12207; telephone (518)434-5192

Commercial Shipping

Albany was named one of the nation's "100 Best Metro Areas for Logistics" by Expansion Management magazine in September 2004. Inland 124 miles from New York City, the Port of Albany's 32-foot channel on the Hudson River admits international oceangoing vessels and serves as an important stop on the barge canal system of the state, ultimately connecting the city with the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. CIBRO Petroleum maintains a specialized installation, and the port has facilities for molasses storage and a grain elevator. The port is served by three railroads and more than 100 motor freight carriers. The cargo terminal of Albany International Airport serves FedEx, UPS, and DHL carriers. Albany is within overnight trucking distance of 35 of the country's 100 largest retail markets. The city is also the site of Foreign Trade Zone #121, an area where foreign goods bound for international destinations can be temporarily stored without incurring an import duty. The area's global presence is also facilitated by the Capital Region World Trade Center, located in nearby Schenectady, New York.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Albany's workforce is highly educatedthe public school system is strong, the state university well-regarded. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 17.2 percent of all residents have obtained a bachelor's degree, and 15.4 percent have achieved a graduate or professional degree. In recent years, the city has rapidly worked to redefine itself as a hub for research and high technology, further fueling the educational profile of its citizens.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Albany metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 444,100

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 17,900

manufacturing: 22,700

trade, transportation and utilities: 79,200

information: 10,900

financial activities: 26,100

professional and business services: 50,600

educational and health services: 78,200

leisure and hospitality: 31,600

other services: 18,400

government: 108,200

Average hourly earnings of production workers in manufacturing: $17.29 (2004; statewide figure)

Unemployment rate: 3.6% (April 2005)

Largest employers (2003, Albany County)Number of employees
State of New York30,762
General Electric Co.9,000
United States Government8,092
Albany Medical Center5,269
St. Peter's Health Care Service3,388
Northeast Health3,059
Verizon Communications Inc.3,000
County of Albany2,995
Stewart's Ice Cream Co.2,840
Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory Inc.2,650

Cost of Living

Because a large portion of property in Albany is tax-exempt, the tax burden on individuals can be onerous. While property taxes have been lowered in recent years, school taxes tend to rise each year. The cost of housing is competitive with other metropolitan areas in the Northeast and is substantially below major areas such as Boston and New York.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Albany area.

2004 ACCRA Average Home Price: Not reported

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported

State income tax rate: 4%-7.7%

State sales tax rate: 4%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 4%

Property tax rate: $22.01 per $1,000 of assessed valuation times the tax rate (2004)

Economic Information: Albany-Colonie Region Chamber of Commerce, 107 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12210; telephone (518)431-1400; fax (518)434-1339

Albany: Recreation

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Albany: Recreation


Walking tours of renovated downtown historic sites are a popular way to see Albany. The Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center provides information about these and other programs; it also houses a hands-on exhibit detailing the city's past and present. Among the interesting sights in downtown Albany is the New York State Capitol, completed in 1898 under the supervision of five architects over a thirty-year period. Its combination of classic architectural styles contrasts with the modern complex of buildings that comprises the Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, encompassing cultural and recreational features as well as the state's tallest tower outside of New York City. The Empire State Plaza contains several memorials, including the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, NYS Fallen Firefighters Memorial, NYS Vietnam Memorial, NYS Women Veterans Memorial, State of New York Police Officers Memorial, and World War II Memorial. Albany's other memorials located outside of the Empire State Plaza are the Henry Johnson Memorial, Moses Smiting the Rock/King Memorial Fountain, Soldiers & Sailors Monument, and Spanish-American War Monument.

Visitors can experience Albany's history by touring eighteenth-century mansions, including the Schuyler Mansion, where Betsy Schuyler married Alexander Hamilton in 1780, and Historic Cherry Hill, built in 1787 for the Van Rensselaer family and occupied until 1963 by their descendants. Several other mansions, historic churches, and government buildings are also open to the public. The Ten Broeck Mansion now contains the Albany County Historic Association. As the seat of the state's government, Albany is also home to the New York State Court of Appeals and the New York State Education Building. Another interesting sight is the USS Slater, a destroyer escort built in 1943; the Slater is one of only three remaining Destroyer Escort ships built during World War II.

Arts and Culture

As part of its effort to revitalize the downtown area, Albany has designated the area around the Palace Performing Arts Center as the "Theatre Arts District." The Palace, located in the heart of downtown, hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including Broadway shows and classical and rock concerts. It is one of two homes of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, which also performs at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. This music hall, located in Troy, was built in 1875 and is one of the nation's only three continuously operating nineteenth century concert halls. "The Egg" (named for its unique architectural shape) is located in the Empire State Plaza and houses two theaters: the Swyer Theatre seats 450 for chamber music concerts, cabaret, and lectures, and the Hart Theatre can accommodate up to 982 people interested in music theater and concerts. The Capital Repertory Theatre, a 250-seat facility, presents new and classic plays throughout the year. Other Albany performing groups include the Albany Ensemble and eba Dance Theater.

Albany and its environs are home to many historical, art, and specialized museums. The newly renovated and expanded Albany Institute of History and Art, founded in 1791, features an extensive permanent collection covering four centuries of regional history, art, and culture, and changing exhibits portraying life in the upper Hudson Valley through paintings, furniture, silver, and other artifacts. The New York State Museum presents multimedia exhibits dealing with everyday life through the ages in New York City, the Adirondacks, and the Upstate region, as well as the nation's first permanent exhibition of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center brings the past to the present with a museum gallery showcasing Albany's history, along with explorations of space at the Henry Hudson Planetarium.

Other notable museums in the city include the University Art Museum, which displays contemporary art dealing with diverse and challenging issues, and the Albany Center Galleries. The Plaza Art Collection, housed at the Empire State Plaza, is the world's largest collection of modern art in any single public site that is not a museum.

Festivals and Holidays

Albany's best-known celebration is the colorful Tulip Festival, held in May to commemorate the city's Dutch heritage; festivities include reenactments of the Old World tradition of scrubbing the streets, a flower show, a children's fair, and the crowning of the Tulip Queen. Also in May is the Annual Albany History Fair. June brings the Lobster Festival and the Father's Day Pops Concert. Fireworks light the sky at the Independence Day Celebration at the Empire State Plaza, which is also the setting for the Blues Fest, a weekend of blues performances held later in July. The Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival takes place in September at the Riverfront Amphitheater, while Larkfestone of upstate New York's largest street festivalsextends along Lark Street with more than 100 vendors of arts, crafts, and cuisine. Harvest Fest is a November celebration of the state's food and wine bounty. More than 10,000 lights are set ablaze on State and Pearl streets in the Symphony of Lights, which runs from mid-November to early January. The Christmas season is further celebrated with the Capital Holiday Lights in the Park, a drive-through light display, and the Annual Holiday House Tour, featuring historic homes decorated for the holidays. The new year is ushered in by First Night Albany, a family celebration throughout downtown featuring music, art, and fireworks.

Albany hosts a number of parades throughout the year, including those that commemorate St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. The Columbus Day Parade is followed by an Italian Festival, one of the city's many ethnic festivals. Others include May's annual Grecian Festival, July's annual Celtic Heritage Festival, and the African American Arts & Cultural Festival and LatinFest, both held in August.

Sports for the Spectator

The Albany Conquest play football at the Pepsi Arena from November through March. The Arena also hosts the Albany River Rats, a member of the American Hockey League and an affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. The Pepsi Arena is the home of the Eastern College Athletic Conference Hockey League Championship and a frequent host of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. The Albany Patroons play home games in the Continental Basketball Association at the Washington Avenue Armory. Fans of the New York Giants can witness practices and pre-season games at their football training camp, held during the summer at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany. Three area speedways present auto races from spring to fall, and the horses run at Saratoga Raceway from February through November. Saratoga Race Track is the scene of thorough-bred horseraces during August.

Sports for the Participant

Surrounded by more than 25,000 acres of state forests and many lakes, the Albany area offers recreational opportunities for all seasons. The Hudson River is now clean enough for recreational use and is connected to the city of Albany by the Hudson River Way, a pedestrian bridge that was completed in 2002. In recent years, the Erie Canal has been experiencing a renaissance of recreational use by boaters; guided tours of the canal are conducted out of Fultonville, about 35 miles west of Albany. Summer activities include golf, tennis, sailing, boating, hunting, fishing, and swimming. The area is a short distance from some of the North-east's most popular ski centers and is within 35 minutes of Adirondack Park, at six million acres the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River and home of the Lake Placid Olympic facilities. State and private operators maintain campgrounds in the park, and other campgrounds are located at historic sites throughout the area and on islands in Lake George. One of the region's most popular recreational attractions is the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway (35 miles), which travels along those rivers and connects the areas of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy.

Albany provides several outlets for the competitor, whether serious or recreational. Freihofer's Run for Women is a women-only 5K race held in June. The Pinebrush Triathlon invites participants age 10 and up to compete in a swimming, biking, and running event in July. FirstNight Albany, held on New Year's Eve, features both the 5K "Last Run" and the children's "Jingle Jog."

Shopping and Dining

Crossgates Mall in nearby Guilderland, is the Capital Region's premiere family shopping and entertainment complex with more than 250 shops, including Lord & Taylor, Macy's, and Filene's. There are also 30 cinemas, 22 eateries, and eight restaurants. Colonie Center Mall in downtown Albany boasts more than 120 stores, including Macy's, Sears, Boscov's and Christmas Tree Shops. It is just five minutes away from major hotels along Wolf Road. Adjacent to historic downtown, Lark Street is known as "Albany's Greenwich Village," with its unique boutiques and specialty shops.

Albany's restaurant selections span the globe. Visitors can sample the spices of Indonesia, the delicacies of France, the surprises of the Orient, the aromas of Italy, or the charm of the southwest. They can dine by candlelight, al fresco at an outdoor café, by a crackling fireplace, aboard a river cruise, or in an old-world setting.

Visitor Information: Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 25 Quackenbush Square, Albany, NY 12207; telephone (518)434-1217; toll-free (800)258-3582; fax (518)434-0887


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ALBANY , capital of the state of New York, 150 miles north of New York City; population, 95,000 (2004); estimated Jewish population, 12,000–13,000 with half living in suburbs but members of Albany congregations. Public records indicate the presence of Jews as early as 1658. Asser Levy owned property, obtained burgher's rights, and lived in Albany in the 1650s. Other early Jewish merchants and traders who resided in Albany included Jacob Lucena, Hayman Levy, Jonas Phillips, Asher Levy, Levi Solomons and Levi Solomons (ii). The second Solomons, who lived with his family in Albany in the early 19th century, started a chocolate and snuff business and belonged to New York's Shearith Israel.

A Jewish community emerged in the 1830s as immigrants from Bavaria and Posen arrived in Albany. German-speaking Jews organized Congregation Beth El in 1838. By 1841, the congregation had bought a burial ground and purchased its first synagogue building. Divisions over language and ritual led to the founding of Beth El Jacob in 1841 by Jews of Polish origin. After acquiring property for a synagogue and separate burial grounds, the congregation built a new synagogue in 1847. Prominent Gentiles including Mayor William Parmalee attended the dedication of Beth El Jacob on April 28, 1848. Isaac Mayer *Wise arrived in the United States from Bohemia and became Albany's first rabbi when he took over leadership of Beth El in 1846. He was the teacher at the congregation's Hebrew school, then one of only four in the United States. Wise's advocacy of changes in ritual split the congregation with the famous confrontation at the Rosh Ha-Shanah service on September 7, 1850. Synagogue officers prevented him from taking out the Torah scrolls, a fight ensued, and Wise and members of the congregation were arrested. By October 11, 1850, Wise and 77 supporters had organized Anshe Emeth, the fourth Reform congregation in the United States. Members of all three congregations were poor and worked as peddlers, tinsmiths, tailors, or middlemen. About 800 Jews lived in Albany in 1860.

By the 1880s, the arrival of Jews from the Russian Empire expanded the Jewish population to 3,000. Further immigration of Russian- and Polish-speaking Jews increased the community to 4,000 in 1900 and 10,000 in the 1920s. Assimilation and Americanization led to the merger of Beth El and Anshe Emeth in 1885 to form Beth Emeth, the only Reform congregation in Albany. Rabbi Wise returned to Albany in 1889 to dedicate the synagogue for the combined congregation. Recent immigrants, while Orthodox, did not feel comfortable in Beth El Jacob and formed a separate congregation, Sons of Abraham, in 1882. In 1902 another group of Russian Jews split off and established the United Brethren Society, as a separate congregation that followed a ḥasidic prayer book, and the congregation incorporated in 1905.

From the 1830s to about 1950, the South End, especially the area around South Pearl Street, remained a Jewish neighborhood with kosher meat markets, restaurants, Jewish-owned businesses, synagogues, and communal institutions. As Albany expanded in the early 1900s Jewish residents moved "up the hill" and started new congregations in the Pine Hills and Delaware neighborhoods. Ohav Shalom, the first Conservative congregation, began in 1911, and purchased property for a synagogue in 1922. Another group of Jews in Pine Hills began to meet at Schwartz's Mansion and became Tifereth Israel in 1936. Sons of Israel, a third Conservative congregation, began in the 1930s, and constructed a synagogue in 1935.

The passing of the immigrant generation, Americanization, and suburbanization led to a relocation and reorganization of the synagogues. The Orthodox synagogues merged with the United Brethren Society, joining Beth El Jacob in 1959, and Beth El Jacob merged with Sons of Abraham in 1974 to form Beth Abraham-Jacob. The combined congregation dedicated a new synagogue in 1991. A small group of Orthodox Jews sought to create an informal religious community, and established a shtibl, a small house of prayer, Shomray Torah, in 1965. Reform Congregation Beth Emeth built a new synagogue in 1957. A split within the congregation created a new Reform congregation, Bnai Sholom, in 1971, and the new congregation dedicated its own synagogue in 1979. Two Conservative congregations merged in 1949 as Tifereth Israel, and Sons of Israel joined to build a new synagogue, dedicated as Temple Israel in 1956, which was led for a generation by Rabbi Herman Kieval and produced rabbis and scholars. A Hebrew-speaking day camp, Camp Givah, was perhaps the only one in the United States at the time. Ohav Shalom remained separate and dedicated a new building in 1964. Starting in November 1991 Jews seeking an informal and egalitarian community created the Havurah Minyan of the Capital District, following Conservative ritual. In 1995, Ohav Shalom voted to become equalitarian in worship and ritual life. While the Jewish community increasingly resides in the suburbs, synagogues and the Albany Jewish Community Center remain in the city. This led ḥasidic Jews to establish Chabad houses in Albany, Delmar, Guilderland, and, in December 2004, in Colonie.

Jewish residents organized social, fraternal, mutual aid, and self-defense institutions. In 1843 the Society for Brotherly Love became the first mutual aid and burial society. Congregations started burial societies and in 1855 merged their mutual aid groups into the Hebrew Benevolent Society. Merger with the Jewish Home Society led to the Albany Jewish Social Service in 1931, now Jewish Family Services. It aided Jewish refugees in the 1930s, Holocaust survivors in the 1940s and 1950s, and from 1988 it resettled 1,300 Soviet Jews, the latest Jewish immigrants to the Albany area. State government workers and scholars working at the local universities including State University of New York at Albany are a distinct component of the current Jewish community.

B'nai B'rith opened a German-speaking chapter in 1853, but an English-language chapter, the Gideon Lodge, began in 1870 and replaced the German language branch by 1910. A women's organization, United Order of True Sisters, started a chapter in 1857, and is still active. Concern for the elderly poor led to the Jewish Home Society in 1875, which merged with Daughters of Sarah in 1941, and in the 1970s they built a new facility in Albany. Gideon Lodge joined with the Albany Jewish Community Council to build senior citizen housing, Bnai Brith Parkview Apartments, which opened in 1973, and Congregation Ohav Shalom built senior citizen housing next to their synagogue in 1974.

In the early 2000s Jewish educational institutions included the Orthodox Maimonides Hebrew Day School. Combining Jewish and secular education is Bet Shraga Hebrew Academy, which is named after a Jewish educator and not a prominent donor – the brilliant and dynamic Jewish educator Philip "Shraga" Arian, who served as the educational director at Temple Israel, opened in 1963. Responding to the antisemitism of the 1930s and activities of the German-American Bund, local veterans formed the Jewish War Veterans in 1935, and it remains a local veterans organization concerned with patriotism, education, and antisemitism. Starting in 1938 local Jewish groups created the Albany Jewish Community Council, now the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, to combat antisemitism, coordinate among Jewish organizations, and represent the community. The Holocaust Survivors and Friends Education Center raises public awareness of the Holocaust, especially in public schools. Starting out in the Hebrew Institute in 1915, the ymha and ywha merged into the Jewish Community Center in 1925. Formally incorporated in 1926, the jcc gradually replaced the Hebrew Institute as a meeting place for Jewish groups and as a center for recreational activities. The jcc built its current headquarters and recreational center in 1960. The variety of Jewish institutions peaked in about 1915, when there were anarchist, socialist, Zionist, and Yiddish-language benevolent societies in Albany. Today's synagogues and organizations reflect the ongoing tensions between assimilation and retention of Jewish identity and religious practice. While probably half of Albany's Jewish community actually resides in suburbs, synagogues have not followed the pattern in other Jewish communities and relocated to the suburbs. All the congregations have relocated but remain within the city of Albany. Finally, the resettlement of 1,300 Soviet Jews in the Capital District since 1988 represents the most significant Jewish immigration into the Albany area since the early 1920s.


S.W. Rosendale, in: ajhsp, 3 (1895), 61–71; I.M. Wise, Reminiscences (1945); L. Silver, in: yivoa, 9 (1954), 212–46; N. Rubinger, "Albany Jewry in the Nineteenth Century" (Ph.D. diss., Yeshiva University, 1971); M. Gerber, Pictorial History of Albany's Jewish Community (1986); H. Strum, in: Jewish History and Community in Albany, ny (Exhibition Catalogue, Opalka Gallery of the Sage Colleges, 2003), 1–37; D. Ornstein, ibid., 37–41; D. Cashman, in: A. Roberts and M. Cockrell, Historic Albany: Its Churches and Synagogues (1986), 120–40.

[Harvey Strum (2nd ed.)]

Albany: Education and Research

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Albany: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The administration of policy for the Albany public schools is vested in an elected Board of Education, which is independent of city government and appoints officers and employees of the school district. The seven, non-paid board members each serve a four-year term.

The district's newest school, a third middle school, opened in September 2005. Earlier that year, the 99-year-old School #16 shut its operations down with plans to reopen as an elementary facility in 2007.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Albany public schools as of the 2004-2005 school year.

Total enrollment: 9,101

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 12

middle schools: 3

senior high schools: 3

other: 1 adult learning center

Student/teacher ratio: 12.5:1

Teacher salaries

average: $55,161

Funding per pupil: $12,690

Public Schools Information: Albany City School District, Academy Park, Albany, NY 12207; telephone (518)462-7100

Colleges and Universities

Albany is home to seven colleges and universities. The State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, one of four university centers of the SUNY system, is the largest college in the region, enrolling 11,500 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students pursuing degrees ranging from bachelor's to doctorate. Advanced study is also available at Albany Medical College, Albany Law School, and Albany College of Pharmacy. The College of St. Rose offers bachelor's and master's degrees in liberal arts, business, education, science, and fine arts. The Junior College of Albany and Maria College both offer two-year associates degrees in a variety of disciplines.

A number of colleges and universities are located in the region outside of Albany. Schenectady is home to Union College, which offers degrees in law and pharmacy; this college houses the Dudley Observatory and is also the birthplace of the Phi Beta Kappa society. Two institutes of higher learning are located in Troy: Hudson Valley Community College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which specializes in engineering, architecture, and technology, and supports a high-technology business center. Sienna College, a Catholic and Franciscan college, is an undergraduate, liberal arts institution located in Loudonville.

Libraries and Research Centers

Founded in 1833, the Albany Public Library and its four branches hold more than 300,000 volumes, with special city and county history and oral history collections, along with a reading machine for the visually impaired. Recommendations were made in December 2004 for the construction of four new branches, renovation of three others, and the launch of cybermobile services. Thirteen New York state departments maintain libraries in Albany, as do area colleges, universities, and health centers. Of cultural and educational interest is the New York State Library, founded in 1818 and holding more than 20 million volumes; special collections focus on Dutch Colonial and Shaker history as well as the political and social history of the state. The New York State Archives contain records dating back 350 years.

Albany has dozens of research facilities. One of the newest and grandest is Albany NanoTech, a research facility for nanotechnology that has partnerships with such industry heavy-hitters as International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), International Sematech, Tokyo Electron Ltd., Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Motorola Inc., and Lockheed Martin Federal Systems. The nationally renowned Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy conducts extensive research in the fields of engineering and technology and maintains a technology park. Scientists at General Electric Research and Development in Niskayuna developed high field magnetic resonance imaging, a noninvasive diagnostic test. General Electric Company, Sterling-Winthrop Research Institute, which specializes in drug research, and other private companies in the area also conduct ongoing research. The three research universities and Albany Medical College conduct research in such areas as cancer, blood diseases, and pediatric medicine. The State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany has research institutes in law, government, management, economics, education, media, and technology.

Public Library Information: Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12210; telephone (518)449-3300; fax (518)427-4321


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Located 135 miles north of New York City and 165 miles west of Boston, Albany was founded by the Dutch in 1624 as a fur trading post and was chartered as a city by the British in 1686. The settlement first came to international attention in 1754 as the site of the Albany Congress, a gathering of colonial representatives and Native American Iroquois leaders. The colonials, delegations of which came from seven of the thirteen British colonies, needed this Indian alliance as a defense against the armed power of New France in the looming imperial conflict that would be known as the French and Indian War (1754–1760).

Despite difficulties, the Iroquois' assistance was secured and the colonial delegates turned their attention to a plan of union to enable greater cooperation and coordination between their colonial governments. The plan that was adopted, conceived by Benjamin Franklin, advocated a single American government with far-reaching powers, uniting the thirteen colonies under one president general appointed by the crown. While it was rejected by both the British government and the colonial legislatures as encroaching on their authority, the Albany Plan paved the way for subsequent national assemblies such as the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 and the Continental Congress of 1774.

During the French and Indian War, Albany was a major base for English regulars and colonial soldiers. Twenty years later, Albany was a Patriot stronghold in the American Revolution, and in 1775 it was again the site of important negotiation as General Philip Schuyler tried to persuade the Six Nations to remain neutral in the escalating conflict. Throughout the war, Albany's three thousand residents doggedly resisted British attempts to invade the city. Albany's riverfront location held strategic value for both sides, and the city thus served as a major supply depot for the Continental Army.

Albany developed rapidly after the war, becoming the capital of New York State in 1797, chosen because its inland location promised safety from naval attack and also gave access to new farmlands to the west. The transportation revolution of the early nineteenth century made the city the center of a new web of commercial links. The introduction of steamboats put New York City within twenty hours' reach, while the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 connected the city to the Great Lakes. While the colonial settlement had once been an entrepôt between frontier colonists and Indian traders, now Albany grew wealthy on the trade between the coastal cities and the resource-rich interior. As Albany expanded, the grid system was adopted and the city acquired banks, hotels, newspapers, a hospital, and a jail. While many of the city's residents were still of Dutch origin, the population, which reached twenty-four thousand in 1830, was now swelled by Irish construction workers as well as large numbers of northern European Presbyterians and Episcopalians.

The city would enjoy continued antebellum prosperity with the arrival of the country's first commercial railroad, the Mohawk and Hudson, in 1831. Further industrial growth was spurred by the city's iron foundries and leather industries, creating a period of general growth that would last for much of the century.

See alsoAlbany Plan of Union; Erie Canal; Fur and Pelt Trade; Transportation: Canals and Waterways .


Munsell, Joel. The Annals of Albany. 2nd ed. Albany, N.Y.: Munsell, 1869.

Shannon, Timothy J. Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2000.

Richard J. Bell

Albany: History

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Albany: History

In 1609, when explorer Henry Hudson reached the end of the river that bears his name, he found a thriving community of Mohican Indians on the site of present-day Albany. In 1624 Dutch settlers established a permanent trading community there to replace one that had burned ten years earlier, and they named it Fort Orange. The British captured the fort in 1664, renaming it Albany in honor of England's James, Duke of York and Albany. The resident Dutch were permitted to retain their own language and customs. Albany became a fur-trading center and a residence for owners of the ships that carried produce down the Hudson River to the Atlantic and on to the West Indies.

In 1754 Benjamin Franklin presented his Plan of Union, a forerunner of the U.S. Constitution, at Albany, earning the city its nickname of "Cradle of the Union." Following the American Revolution, the city served as a supply center for settlers heading west. Albany was declared the capital of New York State in 1797. Banking, iron manufacturing, and lumber trading enriched the city's economy during the nineteenth century and, with the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the creation of the New York Central Railroad in 1853, Albany became an important commercial center as well.

By the early 1900s supplies of iron ore and lumber from the Adirondacks were dwindling, and Albany's industries declined. At the same time, the state of New York became increasingly important in national politics, with Albany nurturing such prominent figures as Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Thomas E. Dewey, and Nelson A. Rockefeller. By the 1980s government had become the city's chief activity.

Albany, despite its reliance on government as its primary economic sector, was affected by the economic downturn of the late 1980s and early 1990s that resulted from a decline in the high technology sector. Gradually resurfacing through increased efforts at economic development and downtown restoration and beautification, the city recovered by the turn of the century. Republican George E. Pataki was first elected governor of New York in 1995 and was reelected to a third term in November 2002. Pataki, referred to as a catalyst for increasing New York's presence in the high technology industry, committed state funds totaling more than a billion dollars for research centers in support of this industry. Albany became the site for one of just six of these centers throughout the state, and the resulting Albany NanoTech, a university-based research facility that opened in 2003, promptly drew such high technology leaders as chip equipment manufacturer International Sematech. The first of many such partnerships, including those with Tokyo Electron Ltd. and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), the Sematech deal was such a boon for the region that Governor Pataki stated that it " . . . could be the most important thing to happen to the upstate economy since the Erie Canal."

Historical Information: New York State Museum, Cultural Education Center, Room 3023, Albany, NY 12230; telephone (518)474-5877


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ALBANY. Located along the upper Hudson River, Albany is best known as the capital of New York State. The city once had an important role as a transportation crossroads and manufacturing center.

In 1624, the Dutch West India Company established Fort Orange, the first permanent European settlement in the area, as the company's fur trading outpost. In 1664, British forces seized the fort and the surrounding village of Beverwyck, and changed the latter's name to Albany. In 1686 Albany received its first city charter. In 1797 it became the state capital. The Erie Canal connected Albany to the West in 1825, and the nation's first functioning railroad linked Albany and Schenectady in 1831. In 1830, Albany had a population of 24,209. A center of Irish and German immigration and a much smaller African American migration, Albany's major industries included iron casting, apparel, brewing, tobacco processing, publishing, and shipping. A powerful Democratic machine, built by Dan O'Connell and maintained by Mayor Erastus Corning, dominated Albany politics between the 1920s and the 1980s. After World War II, Albany lost much of its port traffic and industry, and its population declined from its 1950 peak of 135,000. Major highway and urban renewal projects, such as the Empire State Plaza, helped create a new service economy but displaced thousands of residents. In 2000 Albany's population was 95,658.


Grondahl, Paul. Mayor Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma. Albany, N.Y.: Washington Park Press, 1997.

Kennedy, William. O Albany! Improbable City of Political Wizards, Fearless Ethnics, Spectacular Aristocrats, Splendid Nobodies, and Underrated Scoundrels. New York: Viking, 1983.

Roberts, Anne F., and Judith A. Van Dyk, eds. Experiencing Albany: Perspectives on a Grand City's Past. Albany: Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, 1986.


See alsoErie Canal ; Hudson River ; New York Colony ; New York State .

Albany: Communications

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Albany: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Albany readers are served by The Times Union, which is published every morning. Albany's Business Review is a weekly business publication serving the Capital Region of New York. Several special interest newspapers and magazines are also published in the city, including The Evangelist and Metroland. Locally published periodicals cover such topics as library science, law, business, employment, film literature, the food industry, organizational management, criminal justice, institutional research, dentistry, and pharmacy.

Television and Radio

Five television stations, including four network affiliates and one independent, broadcast from Albany area. The Albany area is served by more than 40 AM and FM radio stations7 of which originate within the citythat feature a wide range of programming, including broadcasts from several area colleges.

Media Information: Times Union, Box 15000, News Plaza, Albany, NY 12211; telephone (518)454-5694

Albany Online

Albany City School District. Available

Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce. Available

Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available

Albany County Department of Economic Development. Available

Albany County Department of Health. Available

Capital District Regional Planning Commission. Available

City of Albany home page. Available

The Times Union. Available

Selected Bibliography

Kennedy, William, O Albany! Improbable City of Political Wizards, Fearless Ethnics . . . (New York: Viking Press; Albany, N.Y.: Washington Park Press, 1983)

Killips, Tom, New York's Capital District 1978-2003 (Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia, 2004)

McEneny, John J., Robert W. Arnold, and Dennis Holzman, Albany: Capital City on the Hudson (Sun Valley, CA: American Historical Press, 1998)

Albany: Population Profile

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Albany: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1990: 861,623

2000: 875,583

Percent change, 1990-2000: 1.6%

U.S. rank in 1980: 46th

U.S. rank in 1990: 49th

U.S. rank in 2000: 56th

City Residents

1980: 101,727

1990: 101,082

2000: 95,658

2003 estimate: 93,919

Percent change, 1990-2000: -5.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 164th

U.S. rank in 1990: 192nd (State rank: 6th)

U.S. rank in 2000: 277th (State rank: 21st)

Density: 4,474.6 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 60,383

Black or African American: 26,915

American Indian and Alaska Native: 301

Asian: 3,116

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 34

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 5,349

Other: 2,060

Percent of residents born in state: 74.8%

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 5,384

Population 5 to 9 years old: 5,584

Population 10 to 14 years old: 5,142

Population 15 to 19 years old: 8,772

Population 20 to 24 years old: 12,678

Population 25 to 34 years old: 15,166

Population 35 to 44 years old: 12,805

Population 45 to 54 years old: 10,768

Population 55 to 59 years old: 3,664

Population 60 to 64 years old: 2,914

Population 65 to 74 years old: 5,674

Population 75 to 84 years old: 4,781

Population 85 years and older: 2,326

Median age: 31.4 years

Births (2002, Albany County)

Total number: 3,226

Deaths (2002, Albany County)

Total number: 2,817 (of which, 34 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $18,281

Median household income: $30,041

Total households: 40,772

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 7,009

$10,000 to $14,999: 3,712

$15,000 to $24,999: 6,513

$25,000 to $34,999: 5,707

$35,000 to $49,999: 6,064

$50,000 to $74,999: 6,005

$75,000 to $99,999: 2,977

$100,000 to $149,999: 1,874

$150,000 to $199,999: 573

$200,000 or more: 338

Percent of families below poverty level: 16.0% (54.9% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: Not reported


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Albany: Introduction
Albany: Geography and Climate
Albany: History
Albany: Population Profile
Albany: Municipal Government
Albany: Economy
Albany: Education and Research
Albany: Health Care
Albany: Recreation
Albany: Convention Facilities
Albany: Transportation
Albany: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1624 (chartered, 1686)

Head Official: Mayor Gerald D. Jennings (D) (since 1994)

City Population

1980: 101,727

1990: 101,082

2000: 95,658

2003 estimate: 93,919

Percent change, 1990-2000: -5.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 164th

U.S. rank in 1990: 192nd (State rank: 6th)

U.S. rank in 2000: 277th (State rank: 21st)

Metropolitan Area Population

1990: 861,623

2000: 875,583

Percent change, 1990-2000: 1.6%

U.S. rank in 1980: 46th

U.S. rank in 1990: 49th

U.S. rank in 2000: 56th

Area: 21.84 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 29 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 47.5° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 38.6 inches of rain; 64.1 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: Government, services, trade, manufacturing

Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (April 2005)

Per Capita Income: $18,281 (1999)

2004 ACCRA Average Home Price: Not reported

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: Not reported

Major Colleges and Universities: State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany; Albany Law School; Albany Medical College; Albany College of Pharmacy

Daily Newspaper: The Times Union

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