Travel

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol

January 3, 2015

If you are stricken with perpetual wanderlust like I am, it’s easy to forget that there are ways to travel without getting on a plane and putting a stamp in your passport. Think of those things you enjoy doing on your travels, and there’s probably a way to incorporate them into your life at home.

As you guys know, I pay attention to architecture a lot when I’m on the road. And in April, I visited the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg. So the week before Christmas, Andy and I drove up to Albany to take a tour of the New York State Capitol.

It’s a pretty impressive building.

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

The Capitol offers free guided tours every weekday, and we lucked out when no one else showed up for the 1:00 tour. It was just the tour guide, Andy and I! It was so nice: no straining to hear his explanations, no one getting in our way when taking pictures, and plenty of opportunity to ask questions along the way.

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Some interesting tidbits about the New York State Capitol (found here and here):

  1. ย It took 32 years to build, from 1867-1899.
  2. The final cost was $25 million, making it the most expensive government building of its time.
  3. It is one of eleven state capitols that does not have a domed roof.
  4. Throughout the Capitol’s construction, three different teams of architects were in charge, resulting in a mix of architectural styles.
  5. The foundation walls are over sixteen feet thick.
  6. ย A fire in 1911 destroyed much of the Capitol, including the original library.
  7. The Capitol’s most striking interior features are its three grand staircases: the Senate staircase, the Assembly Staircase, and the Great Western staircase.
  8. The walls of the Senate are covered in 24 carat gold leaf (!).
  9. Other materials in the Senate chamber: Italian marble, Scottish red granite, and Mexican onyx.
  10. The Great Western Staircase is also known as the Million Dollar Staircase. Over 500 stone cutters and carvers were employed to give it its intricate, unique design and construction lasted fourteen years.

Inside the Assembly Chamber:

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

I love how the voting device is straight out of the 1970’s.

ย And the Senate Chamber:

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

The Assembly staircase:

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

The Great Western Staircase, AKA The One That Could Stand in for Hogwarts:

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Some close-ups of the stone carvings:

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

A Tourist at Home: The New York State Capitol - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Nerdy as I feel admitting this, touring the State Capitol was a lot of fun. It’s the kind of thing I want to do more often. Happily, there are several historic mansions within an hour of us, including a nearby Persian, Victorian and Moorish-style villa that I can’t wait to share with you!

Have you ever visited your State Capitol? What other touristy things can you take advantage of in your area? And by all means, share any upcoming travel plans so I can live vicariously through you!ย 

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  • Kelly January 4, 2015 at 7:46 am

    What a gorgeous building! I have been to the State House in Boston, but it was years ago, and I was chaperoning a group of kids. I think it’s time to revisit. I love tours; in fact, I think that’s why I love those hop on/hop off tours. I like to make the complete loop first and hear the history and then choose my stops. Thanks for a great post, Christy. Pinning to my weekend getaway board. ๐Ÿ™‚
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    • Christy January 5, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Haha, I feel like it’s so geeky admitting that I like tours, but I suppose I’m just embracing that geekiness ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for the pin, Kelly!

  • AwesomelyOZ January 4, 2015 at 10:46 am

    This building is so gorgeous! It looks like something truly old world from Britain or somewhere in Europe. Not very familiar with the appropriate architectural wording but you know what I mean ๐Ÿ˜› I don’t visit PA often but if and when we do I’ll put this on our list of stops – it’s truly a striking building. My bf loves historical stops like this too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for Sharing Christy! Happy 2015 to you and yours! -Iva

    • Christy January 5, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      I know, you’re right it does seem like it’s European! This is actually in Albany, NY. I visited the PA capitol building in April ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Tamara January 5, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Those staircases just need to move around! Then it’s totally Hogwarts! Totally.
    Definitely so gorgeous. I wonder what something of that scale today would take to build. 32 years??

    • Christy January 5, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      Certainly the most impressive staircases I’ve ever seen. It’s incredible the amount of work that went into each carving. But yeah, thirty-two years is my whole lifetime!

  • Carolann January 5, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Wow that is impressive. I live in PA and have never been there. I must add this to my list of places to visit for sure. Beautiful pics! Thanks much for the heads-up!
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    • Christy January 5, 2015 at 9:46 pm

      It’s NY, not PA, but the Capitol in Harrisburg is beautiful, as well!

  • Amber January 5, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Beautiful building! I would love to visit a place like that.
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    • Christy January 5, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      I was really blown away- I didn’t think Albany had anything this impressive!

  • Rabia @TheLiebers January 9, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Gorgeous!! We live in Virginia and we really need to do more exploring in our own state. We are so close to so much history!
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    • Christy January 9, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Yes, exactly! There is so much of NY that I still haven’t seen, too. Time to rectify that!

  • Nancy January 9, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    First, I LOL’d at your comment about Albany not having anything impressive. ๐Ÿ™‚ Albany actually has a very rich history and has been featured in some pivotal moments in American history. Check out William Kennedy’s books for some of the history.
    Second, I grew up there and never went to the State Capitol. I had no idea it wa so amazing inside.
    Next time you go to Albany, check out the State museum. It was my favorite place to hang out as a kid.
    Did you go anywhere to eat? There’s a great burrito joint called Bombers, on Lark Street. My fave is the BBQ tofu fries!

    • Christy January 10, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Okay you got me! I’m sure there’s a lot I don’t know yet about Albany. My sister recommended the State Museum; we probably would have gone there if we didn’t have to get home to our dog!
      And funny enough, we ate at Bombers, also on her suggestion! ๐Ÿ™‚

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