Visitors Assistance Office
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12224
The most visible example of Albany's robust 19th and early 20th century architecture is the State Capitol, which sits atop one of seven hills that fashioned the city's past. Begun in 1867, construction continued until 1897 when Governor Frank S. Black declared the building finished, ending one of the lengthiest public works projects in the state's history.
It's one of the few capitol buildings without a dome. The building's intricate and elaborate carvings are reminiscent of an opulent French chateau. The site is famous for the "Million Dollar Staircase," which boast more than 300 carved portraits of famous New Yorkers and the sculptors' families and friends. The Senate, or "Evolutionary," staircase contains depictions of simpler creatures at the bottom while the carvings (and creatures) become more complex as the stairs ascend.
The Executive Chamber, referred to as the "Red Room" because of its red drapes and rug, has been in continuous use by New York State governors, including Theodore Roosevelt, since its completion in 1881. The room, one of the truly outstanding works within the Capitol, was designed by Senate Chamber architect Henry Hobson Richardson, and the similarities between the two rooms are apparent in the carpeting, chandeliers and gold leaf wall band. The room boasts mahogany wainscoting with the intricate coffered oak ceiling stained to match. A beautiful bronze leaf band covers the upper half of the walls. Since 1881, each consecutive governor has used the large desk in the Executive Chamber and, until 1885, the room itself was used as the working office of the governor. After 1885, the governor's office was relocated to a nearby room and the "Red Room" reserved for ceremonial occasions.
Theodore Roosevelt's portrait is displayed in the "Hall of Governors," the main hallway leading to the Executive Chamber, where a lasting tribute is paid to former great leaders of the Empire State and the nation.
Guided tours of the New York State Capitol are available seven days a week. For more information, contact the Office of General Services' Visitor Assistance at (518) 474-2418, or visit the following web site: http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/Tour/1info.html.
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