Albany, a city, capital of Albany county and of the state of New York, at the head of sloop navigation and near the head of tide water, on the W. bank of the Hudson river, in lat. 42° 39' 3" N., lon. 73° 32' W., 145 m. N. of New York city, 164 m. W. of Boston, and 370 m. N. E. of Washington. According to the official censuses, the population of Albany in 1790 was 3,506; in 1800, 5,349; 1810, 10,762; 1820, 12,541; 1830, 24,238; 1840, 33,762; 1850, 50,762; 1855, 57,333; 1860, 62,367; 1865, 62,613; 1870, 69,422. But the population now (1873) is probably not far from 80,-000, as the boundaries have been enlarged by the addition of parts of Bethlehem and Water-vliet, and the territory now comprised within the city limits had in 1870 a population of 76,-216. At a little distance from the river the ground rises into a plateau about 200 feet above tide level, and then extends westward in a sandy plain. The slope toward the river is divided into four distinct ridges, separated by valleys, which were originally deep and difficult to cross; but these have been much improved by grading, and within a mile from the river nearly disappear. The tide rises about one foot in the river here.
Notwithstanding the occasional obstruction of navigation by the "overslaugh" (see Hudson River), Albany is peculiarly favored as a commercial town.
View of Albany from Greenbusb.
The Erie canal terminates in a basin here, and the New York Central and Hudson River railroad passes through the northern border of the city, crossing the Hudson river upon a bridge. The Albany and Susquehanna railroad extends to Binghamton on the Erie railway; the Albany and Vermont railroad connects with lines to Vermont and Canada; and the Boston and Albany railroad terminates on the opposite side of the river. The extension of the Walkill Valley railroad to Albany was permitted in 1870, and a railroad on the west shore of the Hudson southward has been proposed, but neither has yet been built. A road is also projected from opposite Albany to Sand Lake. The Hudson river bridge, built of timber, was opened Feb. 22, 1866. It has 21 piers, a draw which leaves an open passage 110 ft. wide on each side when turned, 4 spans of 172 ft., and 14 of 72 ft, each. It is 1,953 ft. long, and including the approaches 4,253 ft., and cost with real estate, etc, about $1,100,000. The bridge company, consisting of the railroads in interest, having been authorized to construct a new bridge near the foot of Exchange street, while retaining the former, it was commenced in May, 1870, and finished Jan. 1, 1872. It is an iron truss bridge, 1,014 ft. long and 30 ft, above the water, with 11 spans and a draw of 274 ft, It is used only for foot passengers and passenger trains, while the former is used for freight. - The old state capitol, a plain brown stone structure built in 1807 for $173,000, is still occupied, but will be demolished as soon as the costly new capitol is finished.
In 1865 an act was passed authorizing the erection of a new capitol, on condition that the city of Albany should give to the state for the purpose the ground commonly known as the Congress Hall block, extending from State street to Washington avenue, immediately in the rear of the old capitol. In 1867 the first appropriation of $250,000 was made for the building, and the corner stone was laid June 24, 1871. The material is Maine granite, and the edifice will be the largest and most splendid in America, excepting the federal capitol at Washington. The ultimate cost can only be conjectured, but up to Jan. 1, 1872, when the foundation and basement story only had been erected, the Expenditure already amounted to $2,037,670 41. The state library, a handsome fire-proof building fronting on State street, in rear of the old capitol, contains 86,000 volumes; its law section is the strongest and best. In February, 1872, congress appropriated $350,000 for a building in Albany to accommodate the United States courts, post office, custom house officials, etc, the city giving the site. - Among the state institutions are the geological and agricultural hall, and a state normal school established in 1844 for educating teachers in common schools.
The state hall on Eagle street, built of white marble in 1843 at a cost of $350,000, contains the offices of the secretary of state, attorney general, comptroller, treasurer, canal board, superintendent of public instruction, etc. The city hall, on Eagle street, foot of Washington avenue, a beautiful structure of white marble, was finished in 1832, It is 100 ft. front by 80 deep, three stories high, and has in front a recessed porch in the second and third stories, supported by six Ionic columns. In 1869-'70 a new city building was erected on S. Pearl street at a cost of $200,000, and is used by the police and civil justices' courts, fire and police departments, park commissioners, assessors, etc. Among the local institutions most worthy of note are the merchants' exchange, the Dudley observatory, the Albany medical college, the law school of the university of Albany, the city hospital, the St. Peter's hospital, the Albany and the St. Vincent orphan asylums, the city dispensary, the home of the friendless, the Albany institute, the young men's association, the young men's Christian association, the Albany academy, the Albany female academy, the academy of the Sacred Heart, and the academy of the Christian Brothers. The Dud-lev observatory, named after Charles E. Dudley, once mayor of Albany and United States senator, and founded by the gifts of his widow (Mrs. Blandina Dudley) and others, was incorporated in 1852 and dedicated in 1856. It has a valuable special library, a 13-inch equatorial instrument, a meridian circle, a transit instrument, a calculating and printing engine (the only one in the country), and self-recording meteorological instruments of many kinds.