The city of Albany is the second oldest city in the United States and one of the last remaining settlements from the original thirteen British colonies. The streets of Albany are peppered with imposing structures, each showcasing unique architectural styles of visionary architects and highlighting the important developments that have occurred in the Empire State’s capital. One such structure is the Albany City Hall.
The current building that stands at 24 Eagle Street is the third incarnation of the City Hall that opened in 1883. Historians are quiet sure about the exact dates of construction of the first two city hall buildings, though most of them have been pegged to have been built during the late 17th century by the Dutch settlers in the area.
The first city hall was called Stadt Huys and served as the venue for the Albany Congress where Benjamin Franklin first proposed the union of all the British American colonies. When Albany was declared as the capital of the state of New York in 1797, the New York Legislature was housed in the city hall. As the Albany government expanded, a need for a bigger city hall arose. The city government eventually purchased the plot of land where the present city hall stands and had architect Philip Hooker build the new city hall in 1832.
In 1880, Hooker’s building was destroyed by a fire. Henry Richardson, one of the most prominent architects during that time, was commissioned to make a design. The current Albany City Hall features trademark designs of Richardson’s unique style called Romanesque. Generations of critics have cited Albany City Hall as one of Richardson’s finest works, despite the financial woes the building faced during construction. The building was eventually added to the National Register of Historic Places.
A carillon was also added to the tower in 1927, the first ever municipal carillon in the country.