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.
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.
- It took 32 years to build, from 1867-1899.
- The final cost was $25 million, making it the most expensive government building of its time.
- It is one of eleven state capitols that does not have a domed roof.
- Throughout the Capitol’s construction, three different teams of architects were in charge, resulting in a mix of architectural styles.
- The foundation walls are over sixteen feet thick.
- A fire in 1911 destroyed much of the Capitol, including the original library.
- The Capitol’s most striking interior features are its three grand staircases: the Senate staircase, the Assembly Staircase, and the Great Western staircase.
- The walls of the Senate are covered in 24 carat gold leaf (!).
- Other materials in the Senate chamber: Italian marble, Scottish red granite, and Mexican onyx.
- 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:
The Assembly staircase:
The Great Western Staircase, AKA The One That Could Stand in for Hogwarts:
Some close-ups of the stone carvings:
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!